The typical non-Catholic laughs at the mention of the fact that people die and go to purgatory to expiate for their sins. They claim that purgatory is an errant doctrine that cannot be found in the scriptures. This accusation is clearly an accusation made based on ignorance. Some that reject this place called purgatory reject it despite facts arising from the scriptures. They simply want to be different from Catholics for it own sake.
I presented a story told by Fr. Shuppe, the author of the famous book called Purgatory to an intelligent friend and he read the book with fascination but at the end, he said such a place as purgatory does not exist because his “church” does not believe in it. So for most non-Catholics, not believing in purgatory does not depend on facts from scriptures and tradition but on sentiments and the need to be against anything Catholic. Surely this is the devil at work.
A fascinating story was told by Fr. Shuppe about a woman that died who was the only Catholic in her family. When she died, she found herself in purgatory and God wanted to use her to once again show evidence about the existence of Purgatory. Stories like hers abound and have been told extensively by Fr. Shuppe, you can get the book here:
This woman appeared to her daughter who was a heretic in the Lutheran “Church”. She simply appeared from thin air and held the sleeves of her daughter who nearly fainted in fright. But the dead woman said “do not be afraid my daughter, Please pray much for me”. After these words, she disappeared. But she left a burnt mark on the sleeve of the shirt her daughter was wearing and then the whole room smelled of burnt flesh!
When this daughter ran to her “pastor” to narrate what happened, the “pastor” of course dismissed it as one Catholic fairy tale and wondered why this Child of Luther can believe such nonsense. But when the Lady told the man of some evidences have been left behind, that got the interest of the “pastor”. They earnestly ran to the house where the apparition had taken place.
When they got there the house still smelled of burning flesh! The “pastor” saw the burnt cloth and examined it. The fascinating thing is that the cloth is so burnt up but no particles were dropping from the cloth. The whole thing was in tact.
This “pastor” was indeed intrigued. He called in many members of their “church” living nearby to witness this event. Many of them concluded that it was the devil that is at work and all the noise should be ignored and they should all “pray” fervently to avoid being deceived by the Devil!
As all these were going on, the Lady in question was agitated and was keen to start praying for her dead mother but she does not know what prayers are required for the dead. She told the bemused “pastor” what her feelings were and the “pastor” asked her not to pray for the dead since it is a Catholic idolatry! But he called in a scientist to examine the burnt cloth since, surely if this burning were a simple burning, it would be found out.
When the scientist was brought in, he took samples from the cloth by cutting from it, assuring the people there that this was a simple burning from a fire but he was determined to know the kind of fire. On first examination, the man was fascinated to discover that such a fire that made this mark does not exist on earth. It does not make the typical mark of an earthly fire. But still he doubted what he was discovering. So the scientist decided, with the permission of the “pastor”, to contact the nearby university where the whole thing will be studied in a group with more sophisticated tools.
This they did and the whole University’s scientists that participated in the study concluded that surely, this fire that burnt this cloth does not exist anywhere on earth! This made a great impression on all that heard this. A local Catholic priest was finally contacted.
When he examined the evidence, he said that it was indeed a privileged visit from purgatory. It is privileged because the souls in purgatory hardly make this type of appearance. The whole affair was transmitted to the local Catholic Bishop who set up his own Theological commission to study the incident. After the study, it was concluded that the event was a miraculous call for us to pray for souls in purgatory.
The Lady that had the apparition promptly converted to the Catholic Church with her “pastor” in order to start praying for her mother and many in their “church” converted as well. But many remained adamant, refusing to believe in a “catholic fable”.
Apart from direct evidences like this, reading the scriptures carefully reveals that purgatory exists!
The Church established by Jesus Christ, that is the Catholic Church, teaches that purgatory exits as a place where those who died with venial sins (small sins) go for purification before they are admitted into heaven.
Because the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit who teaches her all truths, the Church cannot be wrong in matters of doctrine. Not to believe what the Church teaches is to reject the teachings of Christ!
Purgatory exists because according to Rev. 21: 27, “nothing impure can enter heaven”. This means that not even a minor sinner can go directly to heaven. Also, the bible stated that (1 John 5:17) “not all sins lead to death”. Death here is not physical death but death to the soul in hell. It means that there are great sins and there are small sins.
Great or mortal sins are those sins that lead to hell and small sins are those that do not lead to hell. So, if someone dies with small sins and cannot enter hell, where then would the person go?
The answer is the person goes to purgatory to be washed clean before entering heaven since NOTHING UNCLEAN CAN ENTER HEAVEN. Christ Himself also suggested that it is possible for sins to be forgiven in the next life. He said that the sin against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven either in this life or in the next life (Mt 12:32). This means that it is possible to forgive sins in the next life! So, where in the next life can sins be forgiven? Not hell, since those there are condemned already. Not heaven since those there are holy and without any sin. Then, it becomes purgatory!
We see clearly that the bible teaches purgatory but we need to read the bible carefully!
The bible also showed that we must pray for the dead. The problem with this is that that part of the bible that specifically shows that we can pray for the dead is not in Protestant bibles! They removed it so that they will not be like Catholics!
However, the book of Maccabee showed that prayers are offered for the dead to free them from sin!
Purgatory exists and we have the obligation based on Christian charity to pray for the dead relatives who may be in purgatory. It is possible that our relatives are in hell while we pray for them thinking they may be in purgatory, such prayers are not in vain. God uses such prayer to help the other souls in purgatory.
The Church also teaches that the souls in purgatory do pray for us even though they cannot pray for themselves. So each time you pray for the souls in purgatory, they actually reciprocate!
So please make it a point to duty to pray for the souls in purgatory. Incorporate them in your daily intensions or at least say this prayer before you leave the house daily:-
“Eternal Rest May you grant to them Oh Lord and let thy perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen
Malachy Mary Igwilo, given after Pentecost, 24th May 2016.