I am now married to a Catholic man. However, he does not attend a Catholic church. His mother and sisters do regularly attend a Catholic church.
I have been confused by the term purgatory and everything that surrounds it. Also, a friend of mine, who was once a Catholic, said to me that the belief in purgatory means that Catholics do not believe that Jesus’ death was good enough.
I looked up the term purgatory. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Purgatory is “a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.” To summarize, in Catholic theology Purgatory is a place that a Christian’s soul goes to after death to be cleansed of the sins that had not been fully satisfied during life. (from gotquestions.org).
This made me stop and take a step back. All along I thought that when Jesus died on the cross, He paid the penalty for all our sins. I had to research this. I was right. Jesus did pay the penalty for ALL our sins. So are the Catholics saying that we still have to suffer for our sins and that Jesus’ suffering was not enough? How can this be?
Apparently, the Catholics look at the passage in 1 Corinthians 3:15 for the evidence of purgatory. It is argued that the Catholics have misinterpreted the passage to be the believer passing through flames when it should be the believer’s works passing through flames. The argument is also that Catholics misunderstand the nature of Christ’s sacrifice. Catholics fail to understand that Jesus’ once for all sacrifice was absolutely and perfectly sufficient for all of us.
I had to look up the history of the Catholic church. Now I am even more confused. The Catholic church is a continuation of the early Christian community established by Jesus. The church considers its bishops to be the successors of Jesus’ apostles. By the end of the 2nd century, bishops began congregating in regional synods to resolve doctrinal and policy issues. The Bishop of Rome was appointed by Jesus and he was the sole successor to Saint Peter. This Bishop ministered to the people in Rome. I know Jesus told Saint Peter that he was building His church on a rock.
Well, doesn’t this make one think? The Roman Catholic Church is a continuation of the early Christians. The Catholics fail to see that when Jesus died, that was good enough. Is this something that the Catholics failed to see later in time? Did they misunderstand what was said in 1 Corinthians?
It just makes me see how we humans can mess things up. I know the disciples messed up things a lot. They were also filled with doubt even though they were with Jesus. Perhaps the Catholics thought that the people would just party it up if they thought Jesus had paid for their sins. I mean, what would keep them living like good Christians and obeying the church if at the end, they would be saved? Perhaps to keep the people in line, the Bishops decided to tell them all about purgatory. Wouldn’t purgatory scare them into submission? And this is how I can wrap my head around all of this.
Now I have a better understanding of purgatory and the beginning history of the Roman Catholic church. I am not a college graduate. I did not have the privilege of attending college although I am applying now, with my husband’s support and encouragement. I am curious by nature. I also wonder about the Catholics veneration(?) of the Virgin Mary but that is for another blog.