Lent: Experiencing the Reality of Purgatory

Frank - cave

Frank - cave

The Eastern Orthodox Church designates Lent as a time of prayer for those who have gone before us. I think this observance is an appropriate gesture, especially since I am still dealing with the repercussions of my Ukrainian Orthodox grandmother’s plea for prayer.

My paternal, Ukrainian grandmother, who had been in Canada for barely 15 years, died accidentally under extreme duress as a young mother of three boys while still in her twenties. She became pregnant while her husband was at war. The incident occurred in the 1940’s, and thus she was denied a Christian burial in the Catholic Church. When my grandfather returned from the war,  the young family left the Catholic Church and my grandfather remarried a Protestant Presbyterian. In turn, I too was raised in the Presbyterian Church with no knowledge of my Catholic roots until I converted at nineteen. My father pleaded with me to reconsider my conversion; his childhood memories of how the  Church handled immigrants were to difficult to forget.

Due to a very personal family experience, I strongly support  praying for those on the other side of the veil; an act that is close to my heart. I know personally the agony of a soul who is desperate for my prayers. I have learned through personal experience that souls in purgatory, although they cannot pray for themselves, press on the most sensitive of their relatives for prayer.

It took years before I understood the emotional weight I carried. The seemingly heavy rock in my chest was not mine. What I felt was  my grandmother’s guilt, shame and sense of unforgiven sin in my own emotions. Since we are all part of the Communion of Saints, part of the Mystical Body of Christ, I apparently was  sensitive to her pleading for my attention. I heard her negative words interiorly, and again the words I heard seemed to condemn me.  These spiritual, emotional and even physical burdens were simply the only way my grandmother could get my attention. She was confident that through persistence, I would respond to her request.

After two years of interceding for her in prayer, a priest (who  is the official exorcist of my diocese) was finally led by God to give this poor soul absolution in the name of the Church; he sensed God telling him  my grandmother’s soul was very much present in the room with both of us.  After we both received absolution, instantly, and I do mean immediately, I was free and I sensed my grandmother was filled with joy, as she literally flew into the arms of Christ. I still could burst out into songs of praise every time I think of my grandmother, and in thanksgiving for the new joy which replaced the burdens I carried for years. Although I am still dealing with the aftermath of my grandmother’s demands on me, the root was severed by this priest.

The truth is we are all connected in the Body of Christ. The communion of saints, of all souls, is real, and  is relevant. My grandmother affected me, and I am still connected to her, just as St. Paul tells us in his letters. So, I would say that praying for the dead, especially for those we have known, is not simply a requirement of Christian charity, but essential to our own spiritual health and well-being.

Purgatory is part of Catholic doctrine today, as it has always been been from the earliest days of the Church. To use a modern phrase, the bottom line is  the Holy Souls in Purgatory are not able to pray for themselves, or do anything at all to relieve their suffering. Period. This fact alone is enough to call us to pray because they rely on our prayers and efforts to help them. I know this dogma is true from personal experience.

The Old Testament clearly states:

“It is a holy and wholesome thing to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins.” (II Macab. XII., 46). 

In the modern world, when many have come to doubt the Church’s teaching on Purgatory, the need for such prayers has only increased. Although they cannot pray for themselves, souls in purgatory pray for us, especially for those who pray for them. St. John Vianney said:

 “If one knew what we may obtain from God by the intercession of the Poor Souls, they would not be so much abandoned. Let us pray a great deal for them, they will pray for us.”

St. Theresa of Avila (Spain) said that she always obtained the favours, which she asked from God, through the intercession of the Souls in Purgatory.

St. Padre Pio expressed his thought on Purgatory by simply saying,

“Holy Souls are eager for the prayers of the faithful which can gain indulgences for them. Their intercession is powerful. Pray unceasingly. We must empty Purgatory.”

Prayer for the dead is one of the greatest acts of charity we can perform. Our prayers help them during their time in Purgatory so they can enter more quickly into the fullness of heaven.  The Eastern Church designates Lent as a time of fervent prayer for the faithful departed. What a blessing if we would carry this charity throughout the year.

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78 thoughts on “Lent: Experiencing the Reality of Purgatory”

  1. Do we not all love our mothers? I understand that there isn’t a perfect mother out there, but Mary was a perfect mother to Christ. That’s why she was chosen, because she was humble and because she was a miracle of the Holy Spirit too. Mary’s mother couldn’t have children and God granted her a daughter, she was produced into a world of sin but she brought forth no sin. Jesus loved his mother. When Mary told Jesus at the party that they had no wine Jesus replied “it’s not my time” by Jesus did as she requested. God obeyed his mother. Jesus would much rather let the devil tempt him, and he never let him anywhere near his mother. That’s why we believe that was sinless, because Jesus never let the devil tempt her. I understand that it’s not written in the bible word for word, but it makes sense to me. His love for his mother was great, why else would he choose her over any other woman on Earth.

  2. I really love your story, God bless! The Holy Souls do, when God allows, seek our prayers in many different ways! I try to pray for them everyday, especially those who have no one to pray for them.

    1. melanie jean juneau

      Agreed- when we do not connect with the souls in purgatory or the saints in heaven we are cutting ourselves off from so many members in the Mystical Body of Christ

  3. Melanie, your mentioned, “Since we are all part of the Communion of Saints, part of the Mystical Body of Christ, I apparently was sensitive to her pleading for my attention.” Mind I ask you how did you first come about sensing your grandmother seeking you to pray for her? What steps did you take to discern that you actually realized this was actually what it was? The reason I ask is that I’ve been “sensing” similar experiences with loved ones and wonder how did you begin seeking guidance to help you with this. I would assume my local parish priest for starters, but any insights from you would be helpful. Thank you and God bless.

    1. melanie jean juneau

      I received impressions, images and words during prayer which I asked others to help me discern. We sought God, questioned my father about his family “secrets”, checked with my spiritual director, talked with my parish priest who agreed and said the first mass for her soul and I prayed with my husband for discernment. The first impressions of my ancestors pressing in on me for prayer occurred during my quiet times- I kept seeing Prussian soldiers on white horses, brandishing swords with a village on fire in the background and women and children screaming. When I asked my spiritual director he agreed that prayer was needed for this side of my family. As he talked an unexpected sorrow rose up in me and all sorts of condemning words came to me which had nothing to do with my life or personality- like ” I am bad, guilty, I killed my baby, deserted three little boys etc.- I realized that these feelings were from my grandmother who accidently committed suicide and also killed her unborn child in the 1940’s

  4. Purgatory is a denial of what Christ did on the cross. Jesus before He died said “it is finished” and Colosians 2:13-14 tells us that all our sins have been forgiven and the debt against is taken out of the way. I John 1:7 tells us that the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin.
    What all this tells us that purgatory is unnecessary and is not taught in Scripture.

    1. Purgatory is not a place but a process, described by St Paul 1Cor 3:15, where by on that “Day” the person will be saved, but through fire. It is a purification where a soul sees, in the true light of Christ’s divinity, and sacrifice, the evil of their sin, and the urge to atone becomes manifest. This does not deny the work of Christ on the Cross but opens our eyes to its true meaning, which burdened by our earthly nature, we are unable to see fully.

      A glimpse of this can be seen in the parable of the prodigal sons return to his father, burdened by his sin, he repents and is forgiven in full by his father, and given a robe and a celebration, but who can doubt that this very act of forgiveness would not result in a greater conversion of heart, as the son understands the full nature of his transgressions, especially in the light of the overwhelming love of the father?

      Has any truly repentant sinner completely shed the understanding of the harm our sin has caused to those around us so that we do not seek atonement? On the contrary, we see it more fully. We may be forgiven but that does not mean we forget and do not seek to right the wrongs we have done to others.

      (Time in purgatory is an earthly concept, for in eternity, time and place have no meaning.)

    2. If you look at the context of I Cor 3 you will find that Paul is speaking specifically to those who are building up the kingdom of God and that kinds of “materials” that they are using. It is their “materials” that is being tested and not the person himself. Notice also that this passage has nothing to do with sin or making one fit for heaven.

    3. In finding the context of the verse, you have missed the larger context of Paul’s theology. The picture is bigger

    4. Neither did they mention the trinity by name nor any of the gospels by name…. The ideas are all there for you to see. Purgatory is The purification that paul mentions. It is alluded to elsewhere. The recognition of the true evil of our sins, in the light of God’s glory, that I mentioned in my original post can’t be denied. That is a purification of our hearts…

    5. Where else in the NT is purgatory mentioned?

      The only thing that can cleanse us is the blood of Christ that is mentioned in I John 1:7.

    6. melanie jean juneau

      God use intercessors to stand in the gap and pray on behalf of others, No one is praying for the dead because our souls do not die, just our bodies. Those who have passed through the veil to the other side and those on earth are all part of the Mystical Body of Christ, as St. Paul tells us. Of course, you are absolutely correct.; we all agree that only Jesus Christ can save and redeem anyone.

    7. No problem with other believers in this world praying for you and you them. Once a person dies, that person is cut off from this world. See Luke 19:19-31

      There is no command, teaching or example in the NT of praying to someone who has died. The only One we are to pray to is God.

    8. melanie jean juneau

      Christianity is a dynamic religion which is based on a relationship to a living God who constantly speaks and relates to His people. He is always revealing more of Himself to His chosen ones. The Bible does not demand man accept only the truth found on its pages.You have rejected 1,500 years of revelations and wisdom given by the Holy Spirit to the people of God, accepting only what is found in the Bible after the reformation, Yet the Bible was formulated by the Catholic Church 300 years after Christ gave authority to the Church. How can you accept the very Bible our Early Church Fathers put together but reject every other teaching, revelation, inspiration and discernment they received from God?

    9. Christianity is not only based on our relationship to God but also on the Scripture. It is the Scripture that guides this relationship. It is by the Scripture that we know what we are to believe and what to reject.

      For example, the Mormon also claims to have revelation from God that is not found in Scripture. They have “truth” that is not supported by Scripture. The Muslim also claims to have the final and greatest prophet in Muhammad with revelation from God and yet he rejects the Trinity and the deity of Christ. It is by the Bible that I reject these false teachings.

      Only the Bible is inspired-inerrant. Your church teachings are not inspired-inerrant. That means that the Bible stands above your church and its teachings. It is a greater authority. What this means is that the Christian can judge other teachings by the Scripture to determine if the teachings are apostolic or the teachings of men. This is why how we can determine if purgatory is taught in Scripture (which its not) and it is something a Christian is to believe.

    10. melanie jean juneau

      I would challenge you to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show you the truth. Many famous, anti- Catholics converted when they set out to prove the Church in error. But you must be truly open and humble before the Almighty, more interested in the truth than in proving you are right

    11. How do you know if your church is teaching the truth or not? What criteria or standard do you use?

      If a priest or bishop comes to you with some new revelation how would it know its of God or of Satan?

    12. melanie jean juneau

      Remember when you first accepted Jesus as your Saviour, when He revealed His love for you, when you knew, that you knew deep in your spirit that He was real and had died for your sins?

      Well, God put a deep yearning for the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist within my heart and when I first received Holy Communion, it was the most powerful spiritual experience I had ever had. I knew that I knew the host was really the Body of Christ.

      As a Protestant, I had been missing out because I had only been drinking grape juice and a cube of white bread before, simply in remembrance of Him.

      God changed my heart from a staunch anti-Catholic through a series of spiritual experiences, revelations, study, prayer, classes and discernment.

      I am simply praying that if you want to experience the fullness of revealed truth you will be courageous enough to ask Christ to show you because my words will not have any affect or power.

    13. Where do the Scriptures tell us that our faith is to be based on our experiences? Where did the apostles teach that your experiences will determine the truth about something?

      The way to determine if a doctrine is true is not by experience but by the Scripture. If you study the Scripture you will not find the real presence doctrine. That is not what Christ nor His apostles taught. Where at the last supper do we see the disciples understanding Jesus to mean His body broken then or His blood shed? His body was not broken until the next day. This alone shows that He was not speaking literally but metaphorically.

    14. melanie jean juneau

      Why don’t you put this question to the Lord? I KNOW He always reveals the truth to those who seek and knock and ask

    15. Let’s say I do that and the Lord tells me RCC is wrong about the His supper. That would mean that the RCC is wrong because the Lord told me so. Agreed?

    16. melanie jean juneau

      laughing- you ARE a worthy opponent. I know you love the Lord and are convinced you are right but what if you are wrong and missing out? I discovered I was wrong even though, at the beginning of my journey, I was repulsed by everything Catholic. That attitude had more to do with my formation by man than by the Spirit of God. It is up to you but if you want to delve into honest inquiry and not merely dismiss what you do not understand with your human mind. Many prominent Protestants converted. You also skipped a few steps I mentioned- reading, studying, talking to others who are Catholics and who are not, discernment with others and an open, willingness to learn

    17. I understand Roman Catholicism quite well and I also know Scripture and church history. There are many claims of the RCC that just don’t line up with Scripture and church history. I’m not just saying this because I’m not open or not willing to learn but its the facts that cannot be ignored.

      The truth matters to you as it does to me. If we are to be faithful to Christ then we must be faithful to the Scripture because its in the Scripture that we find the mind of Christ. It is by the Scripture that all men are held accountable to in their lives, beliefs and doctrines. If something does not line up with the Scripture then we don’t have Christ.

    18. melanie jean juneau

      Jay I accidently put my comment above.I understand your position since I was a committed Protestant who demanded that every spiritual practice should be biblical. In an attempt to purify the Church, Protestants discarded hundreds of years of teachings and revelations. and kept the bible as the only authoritative Word of God. Since the definitive books of the bible were not decided until after 300 AD, Catholics understand the Holy Spirit taught man through tradition as well as Holy Scripture.

  5. Your article really moved me – it conveys a sense of the dynamic relationship between souls on earth, purgatory, and heaven. We are all connected in mysterious, grace-filled ways, forever and always…

    1. melanie jean juneau

      exactly- the Mystical Body of Christ as described by St. Paul, the cCommunion of souls, both the living and those on the other side of the veil because no one is really dead

    2. melanie jean juneau

      I understand your position since I was a committed Protestant who demanded that every spiritual practice should be biblical. In an attempt to purify the Church, Protestants discarded hundreds of years of teachings and revelations. and kept the bible as the only authoritative Word of God. Since the definitive books of the bible were not decided until after 300 AD, Catholics understand the Holy Spirit taught man through tradition as well as Holy Scripture.

    3. What traditions that “the Holy Spirit taught man through tradition as well as Holy Scripture”? What traditions are equal in authority as the inspired-inerrant Scriptures?

    4. melanie jean juneau

      You are missing the point. IF the Eternal, Holy, All Powerful Father is also speaking through tradition and as well as the bible, you are ignoring so much wisdom and truth, shutting the door. How can you be so arrogant as to demand that your Creator must only speak through one book? The Reformation threw out every spiritual practice unless it was IN the Bible, basically throwing out the baby with the bath water. They lost 1500 hundred years of spiritual wisdom and experience, forgetting the Bible was formed in the Church, by the Church, hundreds of years after the formation of the Church.

    5. Ok. Can you give me a couple of traditions after the death of the apostles that you know with certainty that that God spoke through? Can you give me the person or persons He spoke to and the dates?

      Is there an official list of these traditions that your church has produced so I know exactly what they are?

    6. melanie jean juneau

      I would suggest you read Scott Hahn- a brilliant Protestant minister who was shocked when his best friend was considering converting to Catholicism. In an attempt to save his soul, he went to a Catholic bookstore to study and discover how to prove catholicism was wrong. An adorable little nun on the cash looked at the titles of his books and said, “I will be praying for you.” Sott almost yelled no, please don’t! He has many books, talks, tapes, articles, DVD’s explaiing what he went through and what he learned as he became catholic

    7. I have heard of Hahn and had listened to his conversion story a few years ago. If i’m not mistaken he had problems with Mary. What does he say about her and how did he overcome his resistance to her and embrace her as the RCC does?

    8. melanie jean juneau

      Hahn laid a fleece before the Lord- IF Mary was a true intercessor then if he prayed the rosary for certain intentions, God would answer him. If I remember correctly, Hahn only experienced inner peace and joy in his spirit if he asked for Mary’s help.
      My story is very similar. For three nights I barely slept. When I asked for prayers, the sense from the group was God’s light was shining in me, cleaning a space within my heart for Mary. When she moved in, I was horrified but filled with joy. After that, any spiritual, inner battle I had was only resolved if I asked her intercession. I was so resistant that time and time again God would say, “How many times must I tell you to ask my Mother?” When I did, snap, I was free from oppression and filled with peace.

    9. What would you say to a Mormon who tells me that she knows that Mormonism is true because she has this “burning in bosom” feeling that tells her that Mormonism is true?

      Also, what do you think of these quotes from the book The Glories of Mary
      St. Alphonsus de Liguori about Mary that are approved by your church:

      “She is omnipotent, for the queen, according to all laws, enjoys
      the same privileges as the king; and since the son’s power also belongs to the mother, this Mother is made omnipotent by an omnipotent Son.

      Therefore, to use the words of St. Antonine, God has put the whole Church not only under the patronage, but even under the power and authority, of Mary.

      Since, then, the Mother must have the same power as the Son, Mary became omnipotent because Jesus is omnipotent. Of course, the Son is omnipotent by nature, where Mary is omnipotent only by grace. This is proved by the fact that the Son never refuses the Mother anything she seeks, as St. Bridget learned in a revelation.

      One day this Saint heard Jesus saying to Mary:
      ” Ask Me for anything; your request can never be in vain.” And this is the beautiful reason He gave: “Because you never refused Me anything on earth, I will refuse you nothing in Heaven.”

    10. melanie jean juneau

      anie jean jaYou cannot focus on remarks about Mary without looking at how the author viewed the power of Christ’s death and Ressurection, the power of His Blood. During the Mass Catholics say to Christ, “By your death and resurrection, you have set us free.” and “Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us.” The Stations of the Cross line the walls of all Catholic Churches, inviting people to meditate on His Passion and death. A huge crucifix always hangs behind the altar, a constant reminder of our Saviour.

      The remarks you are quoting upset me as well for decades, even after I joined the Church. ( When you have a hunger for the Eucharist and a relationship to Mary, there is no one else who wants you.) I do not simply go on feelings and emotions; I have explained the years of studying, discussions, prayer and discernment I went through.before I knew I could trust in the tradition and heritage of the Church. Of course there have been abuses, some focus too much on Mary, but life is messy, especially the inner journey and God is forgiving as we stumble along

    11. melanie jean juneau

      You cannot focus on remarks about Mary without looking at how the author viewed the power of Christ’s death and Ressurection, the power of His Blood. During the Mass Catholics say to Christ, “By your death and resurrection, you have set us free.” and “Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us.” The Stations of the Cross line the walls of all Catholic Churches, inviting people to meditate on His Passion and death. A huge crucifix always hangs behind the altar, a constant reminder of our Saviour.

      The remarks you are quoting upset me as well for decades, even after I joined the Church. ( When you have a hunger for the Eucharist and a relationship to Mary, there is no one else who wants you.) I do not simply go on feelings and emotions; I have explained the years of studying, discussions, prayer and discernment I went through.before I knew I could trust in the tradition and heritage of the Church. Of course there have been abuses, some focus too much on Mary, but life is messy, especially the inner journey and God is forgiving as we stumble along

    12. Ok. So what was your study that led you to believe that Mary was without sin, queen of heaven, all grace comes through her? Did you study what Christ and His apostles said about these things?

      Also, what does the Scripture say about the kind of relationship you are to have with Mary?

      Are you saying that Liguori’s comments are some how justified by the death and resurrection of Christ? If yes, then how?

    13. melanie jean juneau

      Luke 1:28 “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”

      Luke 1:30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

      Luke 1:35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.

      Luke 1:42 “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb

      Luke 1:43-45 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

      Luke 1:46-55 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. …

      Matthew 1:18-23 Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.,.. “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

      Luke 2:51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

      John 19:26-27 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

      Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,

      Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son

      Romans 6:14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

      John 2:5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

      Isaiah 66:7 “Before she was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she delivered a son.

      Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

      Isaiah 61: I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

      Romans 8:30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

      Romans 6:22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

      Acts 1:14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus

      Luke 6:43 For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit,

      No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.

      2 Peter 1:4 By which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

      Revelation 12:13-17 And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.

      Revelation 12:1-6 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, …

    14. Love your shotgun approach :). Which one of these passages tells you that Mary is:
      1- without sin
      2- queen of heaven ( Rev 12 doesn’t fit her because of the details of the chapter and even RC scholars don’t think this is her)
      3-all grace comes through her

      ?????

      Mary did play a unique role in salvation history but it does not follow that the claims your church makes about her are grounded in Scripture nor true.

    15. melanie jean juneau

      I waged a mental war for almost five years with the very questions you raise about Mary. Meanwhile, Mary pursued a relationship with me which I knew was good and “in the Lord”. Finally a spiritual director said, why don’t you take a break for a year or so, quit tormenting yourself, shelve your doubt and simply rest in the bosom of the Church, trusting what 2,000 years of spirituality, experience and study have verified? Allow your heart and spirit to take charge rather than your human intellect. Live in your spirit, not your head. I still do not have all the intellectual arguments to prove all the Mysteries of God but I know that I know when I hear the Voice of the Spirit changing me, molding me inspite of my human limitations.

    16. How do you know “Mary pursued a relationship” with you if there is no foundation in Scripture for such a relationship with her?

      Do you think its possible your church is wrong about Mary given that these doctrines about her cannot be grounded in Scripture?

      As a Protestant and one who adheres to Scripture I can test all doctrines by the Scripture and determine by them that which is true and apostolic. That which is not grounded in Scripture is not to be believed nor is it binding.

      Christ alone is sufficient for all that we need in salvation and our sanctification. By Him alone, we grow into maturity in Christ. It is the Scripture that points us to Him alone. He alone is our model and the goal. Philippians is a great letter that speaks to this. Paul sought to live totally for Christ alone. Mary has nothing to do with conforming us to the image of Christ.

    17. melanie jean juneau

      Our disconnect is exactly like a situation I experienced two years ago.A young friend of mine was an atheist but he was searching. When I asked him what he had read about Christianity or other religions, this brilliant guy simply answered,”The library”.

      Yet all the intellectual arguments could not convince him God was real or that Christ had died for his sins. because faith is not merely an intellectual assent, no our hearts and inner spirits must receive revelation, enlightenment from Christ because Christianity is not merely a philosophy.

      On July 13 2013, he sat on the edge of a prayer meeting disconnected, a mere observer. Suddenly he sat up straight. he was grinning, glowing, actually with his eyes twinkling with excitement and joy.

      “It’s true”, he yelled.”God is real. He was here all along and it was like I was blind or not plugged into His presence. I can feel His love flowing from all of you to me. I want to shout to the whole world..God exists.”

      Intellectual argument, even scripture did not convert him, only an encounter with the living God. If you want to find out the truth about mary, ask christ to reveal her to you with honest expectation.

    18. No intellectual, no philosophy etc can convince anyone of Christ. Only the Holy Spirit can. Jesus Himself said that no man can come to Him unless the Father draws him.

      Why isn’t the Scripture enough to tell me about Mary given that its the only source we have about her?

    19. melanie jean juneau

      2 Thessalonians 2:15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

      1 Corinthians 11:2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you.

    20. What were the traditions of Paul? Since all that we have from Paul are found in the NT, where do we find him saying anything about the Marian dogmas, penance etc?

    21. melanie jean juneau

      The Church formulated the Bible after 300 A.D. Traditions surrounding Mary were written down even before this.Your thinking and theology is much later…1,500 years later-Protestants are protesting, rejecting the traditions Paul asked us to uphold- those in writing those passed on by word of mouth because there was no officialBible for 300 years.

      The early Christians were very careful to keep the relics of saints and martyrs, even if it involved great risk (like trying to retrieve the remains of those who were eaten by lions). They did this out of great reverence for the body as a member of Christ and temple of the Holy Spirit (see I Corinthians 6:15, 19).

      Early Christian Witness
      That early Christian believed in Mary’s Assumption is proven in the lack of her relics, empty tombs, the existence of Transitus Mariae stories, and quotes from early Christians.

      Gregory of Tours, Eight Books of Miracles, 1:4; 575-593 A.D.
      “The Apostles took up her body on a bier and placed it in a tomb; and they guarded it, expecting the Lord to come. And behold, again the Lord stood by them; and the holy body having been received, He commanded that it be taken in a cloud into paradise: where now, rejoined to the soul, [Mary] rejoices with the Lord’s chosen ones…”

      Ephraim the Syrian
      “You alone and your Mother are more beautiful than any others, for there is no blemish in you nor any stains upon your Mother. Who of my children can compare in beauty to these?” (Nisibene Hymns 27:8 [A.D. 361]).

      Ambrose of Milan
      “Come, then, and search out your sheep, not through your servants or hired men, but do it yourself. Lift me up bodily and in the flesh, which is fallen in Adam. Lift me up not from Sarah but from Mary, a virgin not only undefiled, but a virgin whom grace had made inviolate, free of every stain of sin” (Commentary on Psalm 118:22–30 [A.D. 387]).

      Pseudo-Melito

      “If therefore it might come to pass by the power of your grace, it has appeared right to us your servants that, as you, having overcome death, do reign in glory, so you should raise up the body of your Mother and take her with you, rejoicing, into heaven. Then said the Savior [Jesus]: ‘Be it done according to your will’” (The Passing of the Virgin 16:2–17 [A.D. 300]).

      “Therefore the Virgin is immortal to this day, seeing that he who had dwelt in her transported her to the regions of her assumption” (Timothy of JerusalemHomily on Simeon and Anna; 400 AD).

      “And from that time forth all knew that the spotless and precious body had been transferred to paradise” (John the Theologian, The Falling Asleep of Mary; 400 AD)

    22. Christ used the church to determine what the canon of the NT would be. The church does not have the power to make a book inspired-inerrant. Only God can do that.

      There is no record of Paul believing in any of the Marian dogmas. There is no record of any of the other apostles either. The only Pauline traditions that we could possibly know are found only in his letters and his letters say nothing about these dogmas.

      Consider what the Roman Catholic writer Eamon Duffy concedes that, ‘there is, clearly, no historical evidence whatever for it …’ (Eamon Duffy, What Catholics Believe About Mary (London: Catholic Truth Society, 1989), p. 17).

      For centuries in the early Church there is complete silence regarding Mary’s end. The first mention of it is by Epiphanius in 377 A.D. and he specifically states that no one knows what actually happened to Mary. He lived near Palestine and if there were, in fact, a tradition in the Church generally believed and taught he would have affirmed it. But he clearly states that ‘her end no one knows.’ These are his words:

      But if some think us mistaken, let them search the Scriptures. They will not find Mary’s death; they will not find whether she died or did not die; they will not find whether she was buried or was not buried … Scripture is absolutely silent [on the end of Mary] … For my own part, I do not dare to speak, but I keep my own thoughts and I practice silence … The fact is, Scripture has outstripped the human mind and left [this matter] uncertain … Did she die, we do not know …
      Either the holy Virgin died and was buried … Or she was killed … Or she
      remained alive, since nothing is impossible with God and He can do whatever He desires; for her end no-one knows.’ (Epiphanius, Panarion, Haer. 78.10-11, 23. Cited by juniper Carol, O.F.M. ed., Mariology, Vol. II
      (Milwaukee: Bruce, 1957), pp. 139-40).

      In addition to Epiphanius, there is Jerome who also lived in Palestine and does not report any tradition of an assumption. Isidore of Seville, in the seventh century, echoes Epiphanius by saying that no one has any information at all about Mary’s death. The patristic testimony is therefore non-existent on this subject. Even Roman Catholic historians readily admit this fact:
      In these conditions we shall not ask patristic thought—as some theologians still do today under one form or another—to transmit to us, with respect to the Assumption, a truth received as such in the beginning and faithfully communicated to subsequent ages. Such an attitude would not fit the facts…Patristic thought has not, in this instance, played the role of a sheer instrument of transmission’ (Juniper B. Carol, O.F.M., ed., Mariology, Vol. I (Milwaukee: Bruce, 1955), p. 154).

    23. melanie jean juneau

      And there is the crux of our disagreement. You have decided Christ only used the Church to determine the canon of the NT and nothing else. This is the result of your acceptance of a theology formed 1,500 years after the apostolic age. Do you not see how limited and narrow this is? Basically you are deciding when and how God must speak. You are telling God what is inspired. Even the Bible does not pretend to be the only book inspired-inerrant.

    24. Help me out. Are you saying that the RCC teaches that there are other things such as its doctrines and catechism are also inspired-inerrant as the Scriptures are?

    25. melanie jean juneau

      Yes. Protestants are left standing on the Bibe and nothing else. The Church for 2,000 years stands on inspired tradition both written and oral- just like St. Paul explains in one of his letters.These traditions underwent the same scrutiny as the Bible. The same Spirit which guided the Church Fathers to formulate the Bible helped them formulate doctrine.

      The Church Fathers only included the Gospels and letters of St.Paul and the Apostles. Other writings were collected in other books by the very same men, guided by the same Holy Spirit, but Protestants reject them because “they are not in the Bible”. Absurd

      Luther never meant to leave the Church when he posted his 91 thesis on the front door of a church; he even wrote about the Assumption of Mary and that Mary was sinless. Then the movement snowballed. In a sincere attempt to clean up the Church, the Reformation dismissed everything but the Bible. However, the Counter-reformation within the Catholic Church cleaned up the same abuses.

    26. Standing on the Bible is all that one needs.

      You claim that your church “stands on inspired tradition both written and oral- just like St. Paul explains in one of his letters.These traditions underwent the same scrutiny as the Bible.” Can you give me a list of these oral traditions so I know specifically what you are referring to?

      Protestants accept the same 27 book canon of the NT as you do. The church fathers had nothing to do with the canon in sense of approving it. What Protestants don’t accept are the apocrypha books between the last book of the OT and Matthew. There are very good reasons to reject them as Scripture. One is that they contain errors and were not written by prophets.

    27. melanie jean juneau

      By the time of Christ, all Jews accepted the five Books of Moses – the Torah – as Scripture; however, Books, like Esther and Ecclesiastes, were debated. From the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Jews at Qumran apparently read and copied Tobit, Baruch 6 and Sirach as Scripture, while Esther is missing from the scrolls.

      In the 2nd century, Greek-speaking Jews accepted the larger ” Catholic” canon found in the Greek Septuagint Bible. When the Apostles began to evangelize the Greek-speaking Jews and Gentiles, they used the already established Septuagint ( the so-called apocryphal ) as their Bible. Scholars also recognize that the NT writers quoted extensively from the Septuagint, e.g. Matt. 1:23. The Septuagint became the OT of the early Christian Church.

      After the destruction of the Temple and debates with Christians, the Pharisees at Jamnia finally limited the Hebrew Canon in the 2nd century A.D. – a century after the Resurrection of Christ. They restricted the Hebrew Canon to Books written before 400 B.C. in Hebrew because CHRISTIANS used the “Catholic” OT.

      Protestants discredit these Books by pointing out historical errors. Yet Tobit and Judith contain obvious historical inaccuracies; however, these Books are recognized as didactic parables, like Jonah. It is also common knowledge among scholars that Daniel suffers from similar historical inaccuracies

      Other Christians point to the immoral deceit of Judith in Judith 9:10-13 in an attempt to discredit this Book but the OT contains immorality – the deceit of Jacob in Genesis 27, incest in Genesis 19:32 and inhumanity in Psalm 137:9. Hosea 1:2, God commands the prophet Hosea to marry a woman who would commit adultery.

      The Catholic Church did not add to the OT. The Catholic OT Canon (also the numbering of the Psalms) came from the ancient Greek Septuagint Bible used by the earliest Chrisitans.

      Protestants, following the tradition of the Pharisaic Jews, accept the shorter Hebrew Canon, even though the Jews also reject the NT Books.

    28. There are geographical errors in some of the those books. Not one claims to be written by a prophet. Your church did not accept them as Scripture until Trent. Up to that time they were called dueterocanical i.e. second canon. Even at the time of the beginning to the Protestant reformation they were doubt to be Scripture by a number of RC scholars.

      “The Ordinary Gloss, known as the Glossa ordinaria, is an important witness
      to the view of the Western Church on the status of the Apocrypha because it was the standard authoritative biblical commentary for the whole Western Church during the middle ages. …in the Preface to the overall work it repeats the judgment of Jerome that the Church permits the reading of the Apocryphal books only for devotion and instruction in manners, but that they have no authority for concluding controversies in matters of faith. It states that there are twenty-two books of the Old Testament, citing the testimonies of Origen, Jerome and Rufinus as support. When commenting on the Apocryphal books, it prefixes an introduction to them saying: ‘Here begins the book of Tobit which is not in the canon; here begins the book of Judith which is not in the canon’ and so forth for Ecclesiasticus, Wisdom, and Maccabees etc. These prologues to the Old Testament and Apocryphal books repeated the words of Jerome.[28]”
      Is the Apocrypha Scripture?
      Aaron Brake

    29. melanie jean juneau

      Well all I can say is I must be reading and remembering Catholic sources and you must be reading Protestant sources- each supporting their stance

    30. melanie jean juneau

      And the atheists also point out inconsistencies in the NT and so reject Christ. So there are geographical errors- doesn’t matter, They are not prophets? David wasn’t either but we accept the psalms

    31. What specific inconsistencies in the NT? Please give me a couple of examples so I know if this is the case or not.

      If the Word of God has errors in the original autographs then how can it be the Word of God?

      The atheist is without excuse. He is deliberately suppressing the knowledge of God in creation and in himself.

    32. melanie jean juneau

      Those who are looking for contradictions in the Catholic tradition or in the Bible can easily point out “mistakes” and choose to reject it and Christ. Some Muslims find 119 numbered contradictions, while others such as Shabbir Ally have found 101 contradictions.

      Many inconsistencies have been solved with scientific research, and many more will be solved in the furture. A century ago the list of mistakes would have been more like 1001 contradictions. As new data is uncovered, we are continually finding answers to many of the historical mysteries.

      For example- the many “contradictions” of Holy Scripture such as how many horses David had, who was the first to arrive at the tomb after the resurrection of Jesus and the four Gospels give four different words on the sign that hung on the cross.

      In 2 Peter 1:21 we read that the writers were“carried along” by God. Thus, God used each writer, including his personality to accomplish a divinely authoritative work,

      So that means the Bible is the Word of God in the words of men. God used the culture and conventions of his writers. History must be treated as history, poetry as poetry, hyperbole and metaphor as hyperbole and metaphor, generalization and approximation as such. There are differences between literary conventions but the truth behind each genre is inspired by the Holy Spirit.

      There two truths for all believers: 1) “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16); and 2) an elementary rule of Scripture is that God has deliberately included seeming contradictions in His Word to “snare” the proud. He has “hidden” things from the “wise and prudent” and “revealed them to babes” (Luke 10:21)-choosing foolish things to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27).

      The same holds true for the Catholic faith, Anyone set on disproving it merely with their intellect find all sorts of “mistakes”.

    33. Many claim there are contradictions but when the context is considered and other factors these contradictions melt away.

      Understanding how ancient writers wrote helps to clear up many so called contradictions. Ancient did not always report things verbatim but would explain things in their own words. We see this when we compare the gospels with each other. They don’t report every detail of the life of Christ exactly. Take for example how four reporters over the last 10 years would write a report on the 911 terrorists accounts. They would all agree on the core events but the details would be different yet similar. No one would assert they contradicted each other. So it is with the gospels.

      The reason that the unbeliever rejects the Scripture is because they are dead in their sins. “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” 1 Cor 2:14

      Do you think that all that your church has taught down through the centuries is the truth?

    34. melanie jean juneau

      The Counter- reformation cleaned up many distortions and abuses which had crept into the Church during the Middle Ages. Of course, many Church leaders were corrupt, sought power, burned heretics when they were innocent. etc.. God is always clarifying, revealing more of His truth through His people and these revelations are discerned by the Church. It is a process, As St. Paul says we see darkly while we are on earth. But just as atheists jump on “mistakes” in the Bible and so reject Christ, so Protestants also jump on inconsistencies in the Church and so reject all the truth revealed only in the Catholic Church

    35. melanie jean juneau

      Where in the Bible does it say that Mary, mother of Jesus, is sinless? And if it is not in the Bible, why does the Catholic Church act like she is?

      Fr. Joe Answers:

      Catholics differ from some Christian Churches which accept the Scripture as the only source of God’s revelation. Catholics have a strong belief in the truth of Scripture, but we also believe in tradition as a way in which God continues to reveal truth to us. Tradition can include beliefs, customs, prayers, and worship, the teaching of popes, bishops, theologians and Church councils. It’s our process of continually reflecting on the way in which the Word of God encounters our own experience as a community of faith.

      Catholic understanding is that tradition includes the Scripture, and began before the gospels and letters were written. We do believe that Scripture is a unique revelation from God and that the truths of tradition must always be tested and evaluated against the truths revealed in Scripture. They should not contradict Scripture. They should find their roots in Scripture.

      The belief that Mary lived without sin from the moment of her conception springs from Church tradition. It evolved over a period of time, and was not formally defined as a teaching of the Church until 1854. It is not found explicitly in Scripture, but seems for Catholics to flow naturally from the testimony of Scripture that Mary was “full of grace” (Luke 1:28) and “blessed” (Luke 1:42).

      In Catholic understanding the belief in Mary’s “immaculate conception” does not say so much about Mary as it is about Christ’s saving power. We believe that God created the human person to be in God’s own image. Grace is more original than sin. Our natural state was to be “full of grace.” Sin is our universal experience but it’s not what God intended for us in the past nor wants for us in the future. We are saved from sin through Christ. Mary’s being conceived without sin takes place in the context of the entire saving act of Christ. In being “full of grace” she is a model of what we human beings were intended to be and who we are redeemed to be through God’s saving power. She is the first sign of God’s victory over sin in Christ.

      http://bustedhalo.com/questionbox/where-in-the-bible-does-it-say-that-mary-mother-of-jesus-is-sinless-and-if-it-is-not-in-the-bible-why-does-the-catholic-church-act-like-she-is

    36. Are you putting your traditions i.e. ” beliefs, customs, prayers, and worship, the teaching of popes, bishops, theologians and Church councils” on same level as the inspired-inerrant Word of God?

      Thank you that the RCC’s belief that “Mary lived without sin from the moment of her conception springs from Church tradition. It evolved over a period of time..”. This means that it was not taught by Christ or His apostles. Its not an apostolic teaching and is not grounded in Scripture. In fact it denies the clear teaching of Scripture. It denies Romans 3:23 and 5:12. She acknowledged her need of a Savior in Luke 1:47.

      Mary being “highly favored” does not mean without sin. Check any Greek lexicon of the NT and will find that “highly favored” does not mean sinless.

      Here are a couple quotes from others who said that she did indeed sin:
      “Augustine “ He, Christ alone, being made man but remaining God never had
      any sin, nor did he take of the flesh of sin. Though He took flesh of the sin
      of his mother.”

      Pope innocent the third (1216 a.d.) “She (Eve) was
      produced without sin, but she brought forth in sin, she (Mary) was produced in sin, but she brought forth without sin.” ( De festo Assump., sermon 2)”

      All that we know about Mary is found only in the NT. There is no mention by anyone that she was sinless nor is she presented as “he first sign of God’s victory over sin in Christ.”

    37. Richard McCullen CM

      No one has referred to Pope Benedict XVi ‘s encyclical on Christian Hope. His authoritative teaching on purification of the soul after death is for some quite revolutionary ,

  6. For many, the flaws in the theology of purgatory seem valid. It’s an act of presumption to assume
    that those who one prays for are in purgatory (saved) and not hell. The ancient roots of this idea –
    that obviously the CC was influenced by – lie in ancestor worship whereby the practice is used to garner material and temporal benefits to the living and to respect those who have gone before.
    It is still widely practiced today. The idea that souls in purgatory have intercession compared to a declared saint is moot. I think more people today believe in the transmigration of souls because
    even the worse sinners may get another chance at redemption, so the result of praying for those
    who have departed would be de facto prayers for the living – which seems more apropos than those
    (in purgatory) who are sliding into home plate regardless. It’s ironic how we Catholics are trying to
    end the death penalty while believing in a God who believes in the ultimate death sentence. What
    does that say about a supreme being who would not spare a life that he fashioned out of love ?
    One technical point noted is that if the priest detected the “soul” of your grandmother in the room
    how could she be in purgatory ? One theory of what violent and traumatic deaths do is to impede separation of the soul from this material plane until such time as they are satisfied – and from there
    we get ghosts or haunting. Even the apostles (Matt 14.25) mentioned them. I enjoyed your fine post and pray that any residual eidetic experience is healed in full

    1. One other point on this subject is the dogmatic authors behind it. Given that the
      concept was always there – in religious history – what must be taken into account
      is the specific Catholic genesis of such dogma. The same great minds – Aquinas
      and Augustine –that defined breakthroughs in sublime theological thought also
      delved into the punitive, so much as to beg questions on the limits of their credentials.
      Their agreement that unbaptized infants could never see God (Limbo) probably caused more depression to mothers and family that could ever be calculated and flies in the face of Jesus saying the kingdom of God is revealed in them. The only analogy I can think of would be if Einstein, in all his brilliance, added a caveat that black holes are the dwelling place of Norse demi gods like Loki. It’s a non sequitur of enormous proportion.
      In summation, please take into account the CC history of selling indulgences – also used for time off in purgatory – and how it all lead to the Reformation.

    2. melanie jean juneau

      Yes, the concept of purgatory have led to ridiculous abuses which led to the Reformation but throwing out a belief in purgatory was not the answer

    3. Oh, that is not what I meant at all.
      If you went to fill your gas tank at a service station
      and the attendant offered you a barrel of light sweet crude instead the only option would be to
      refine it.

    4. melanie jean juneau

      Agreed; I was addressing the Reformation which, in the face of abuses in the Church, simply threw out every spiritual practice unless it was IN the Bible, basically throwing out the baby with the bath water. They lost 1500 hundred years of spiritual wisdom and experience, forgetting the Bible was formed in the Church, by the Church, hundreds of years after the formation of the Church.

    5. melanie jean juneau

      I think purgatory is precisely a loving God’s answer to sin. If you have been living in shadows, to be thrust into pure light after death would be agonizingly painful. My sense is purgatory is a place to slowly move into the light.

  7. This is a beautiful & powerful testimony to the importance of prayer for the Holy Souls. Thank you for sharing it! Not only the Eastern Orthodox, but Eastern (Byzantine/Greek) Catholics also designate the time of the Great Fast as a time to pray for the dead, with 4 All Souls Saturdays being celebrated throughout the period of Lent. Blessings & peace ~

    1. melanie jean juneau

      Most Catholics agree souls in purgatory need our prayers but have not considered they try to get our attention so thank-you for this comment. i was afraid people would think I was flaky

  8. Pingback: FRIDAY EDITION - BigPulpit.com

  9. Get ready-a recent article on NC Register re: purgatory has engendered one of the longest lists of comments in Cath. blog history. I think old age and dealing with children lessens ones time in purgatory. And maybe end of life pain is also part of this. Guy McClung, San Antonio

    1. melanie jean juneau

      I would agree with you- end of life pain is purgatory on earth. In my experience suffering is a prerequisite for spiritual growth simply because it strips away pride and turns us to Christ for salvation

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