Yesterday, I began explaining some of the things that people often misunderstand about the Catholic Faith. Today, I will continue with some topics that I hope will interest someone out there!
Where do Catholics get purgatory from? The bible only mentions heaven and hell.
It is true that the term “purgatory” is not mentioned in the bible. The term “Trinity” is not found in scripture, but we believe in the one God in three divine persons nonetheless, as scripture tells us about this mystery. Likewise, the bible infers the existence of an intermediate place – not heaven and not hell. We have given this place the name purgatory. It comes from the verb “purge” meaning to purify or cleanse.
As Catholics, we do believe that Christ has redeemed us, and that if we are repentant and confess our sins, we are truly forgiven. We believe that there are still consequences to our sin, however.
It’s like this. You are a parent. Your child does something really naughty. He/she comes to you and apologizes for his actions. You genuinely welcome his apology and forgive him. He is still grounded.
Revelation 21:27 tells us that “nothing unclean will enter it” (heaven). We believe that God, in His great mercy, has given us purgatory. There all remaining reparation for sin is made and all remaining self-love is purged until only love of God remains. We are perfected so that we can see God face to face. Those who go to purgatory have been “saved” and will (some sooner- some later) make it to heaven.
Where are the inferences to purgatory (an intermediate place) in the bible? Check out these references: Matthew 12:32 Here Jesus implies that some sins can be forgiven in the next world. 1 Corinthians 3:15 The fire here cannot refer to hell, as no one in hell can be saved. In Catholic bibles, we have these compelling verses from 2 Maccabees 12:44-46. This is a concrete example of the value of praying for the dead. Why pray for them if they are already in heaven or hell? There would be no point.
Why are Catholic Bibles different from other Christian bibles?
First of all, our New Testament contains the same 27 books. Parts of the Old Testament are where you will find differences. The Protestant Old Testament is based on the Hebrew canon used by the Hebrew speaking Jews in Palestine. The Catholic Old Testament is based on the Greek canon used by the Greek speaking Jews throughout the Mediterranean, including Palestine. The Greek translation was very popular during the time of Jesus and the New Testament writers, because it was the common language of many of the people in that area. The entire New Testament was written in Greek.
When the Jewish Rabbis established the Hebrew canon around 100 A.D., they rejected seven books from the Greek version, because no Hebrew versions of these books existed as far as they knew. These books are: Wisdom, Sirach, Judith, Baruch, Tobit and 1 and 2 Maccabees. The entire Christian Church continued to use the Septuagint until 1529 when Martin Luther proposed the Hebrew canon of 39 books for Protestants.
*An interesting note is that research into the Dead Sea Scrolls has revealed ancient Hebrew copies of some of the disputed books.
Last question for today-
God forgives sins. Why do Catholics believe that they must go confess their sins to a priest in order for him to grant them forgiveness?
We do believe that it is God who forgives sins. In fact, may of our day-to-day small sins (venial sins) we do confess directly to God and ask for His forgiveness. We are required to confess mortal (I can explain this term more later – for now – let’s just say “Big” ) sins in the sacrament of reconciliation. We are encouraged to go to confess venial sins. Why?
Going to confession allows us as humans to hear the very healing words, “You are forgiven.” You can’t believe how clean, how new, how free you feel when you leave the confessional! It is truly healing. It helps us to develop the virtue of humility (because it is surely not easy to tell another person the rotten things we’ve done – to admit our weaknesses) Humility helps us to grow in holiness. The two are directly related. Reconciliation helps us to truly examine ourselves and see what it is we need to work on as servants of God. We receive grace to go out and do better next time!
I once told a priest that confessing my sins has never gotten easier for me. I like it about as much as I like going to the OB/GYN. He told me to remember, that I’m not coming to talk to him. I’m coming to meet Jesus in this sacrament. That helped me a lot!
Check out John 20:19-23 where Jesus breathes on the Apostles and gives them authority to forgive sins in His name.