What the Church means by Purgatory


Catholics get a bad rap for thinking we somehow “merit” or “earn” our own sanctification (and salvation) through “works” that we do. But that’s a misunderstanding of what the Catholic Church actually teaches. Our sanctification (our being made holy) happens only by the Grace of God. But it does require a response on our part. We must cooperate with it. This submission to and cooperation with God’s Grace, Catholics call a “work” and it takes various forms.

Some identify this response to God’s grace as a kind of “saving” or “justifying” faith (a faith that produces or is accompanied by works of conversion, hope and charity) as opposed to a “work” – something we do. Such a position is reconcilable with Catholic teaching once we understand each side’s terminology. On the other hand, I think it’s confusing to refer to this cooperation with and submission to God’s Grace as simply “faith alone” – which is one reason Catholics don’t refer to it that way (and probably one reason the Bible says we are “not” saved by “faith alone” – James 2:24). Instead, you’ll usually here Catholics refer to it as “faith and works” as they are both mysteriously and intimately tied up together.

Anyway, here Fr. Barron speaks a little bit about some of these sanctifying practices of the Church and what we mean by “Purgatory” (an extension of that sanctification) in the super-natural sense.

This exclusive preview clip was from CATHOLICISM, Episode X: “WORLD WITHOUT END: THE LAST THINGS”.

Explore the Church’s conviction that life here and now is preparation for an extraordinary world that is yet to come – a supernatural destiny. Father Barron presents the Catholic vision of death, judgment, heaven, hell and purgatory as he journeys to Florence, Ireland and Rome.

The vision of the Church sees beyond this world and invites us to consider a world without end. Father Barron shows how this vision is supported by the mystery and truth of the Resurrection of Jesus.

View exclusive preview clips from all episodes of the CATHOLICISM series coming out in Fall 2011.

6 comments Add comment

Joe Watson October 23, 2011 at 6:41 pm

are good works from my faith in Jesus for salvation important or can I
replace my faith with good works and find salvation

Thank You

Joe Watson

Matthew Warner October 24, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Joe – no, you can’t replace faith with good works to find salvation. Both faith and works are all wrapped up together.

Joe Watson October 25, 2011 at 11:03 am

2 years ago my twin brother died and I have absolutely no idea what his
eternal situation is. Is there anything I can do for him now?

Thank You

Joe Watson

Julie Filby November 4, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Hi Joe,
Have Masses offered for your brother!! Prayers for the dead are never ‘wasted’ — here’s a link to an article you might find helpful: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/catholic-author-encourages-prayers-for-souls-in-purgatory/
Peace, Julie

Matthew Warner November 4, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Joe – yes, absolutely! There is always much hope with our loving, understanding and merciful God. It’s his business to know our eternal situation as only he knows any of us completely.

As Julie said, you can certainly pray for him each day. And you can ask others to pray for him as well. I will say a prayer for him and for you today. God bless you.

Martina October 27, 2011 at 5:47 pm

I like to think of both Faith and works as two blades of a pair of scissors. Both are necessary for salvation. :)

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