Advanced search

is there any chance that purgatory is not completely horrible?

(101 Posts)
Mitchy1nge Thu 21-Mar-13 14:43:49

I imagine it is exactly like hell, all fiery torment etc but temporal, with possibility of release at some point, instead of eternal. Please can I be wrong about this?

Pan Thu 21-Mar-13 23:53:04

I am pretty sure that the notion of purgatory is based on how you live your life now. It isn't a 'future event'. So if you are compromising yourself all of the time, it will feel like a 'purgatory', but the faith indicates you have motivation to not do that to yourself and others. It isn't rocket science or 'clever' at all.

LeBFG Fri 22-Mar-13 09:16:57

I'm sure the idea of purgatory was a money spinning thing the catholics invented. Wolf Hall (!) recounts how people used to pay the monks to pray for the dead. The more prayers for your soul, the shorter your sejourn in purgatory. Lovely idea that.

AngiBolen - to get to heaven , you have to be really sorry for your sins AND proclaim belief in Jesus. I'm really sorry for my sins but would never be allowed in heaven. I will have to burn in hell with all the other nasties of the world grin.

EllieArroway Fri 22-Mar-13 10:02:43

It isn't rocket science or 'clever' at all Or true.

sieglinde Fri 22-Mar-13 10:17:37

LeBFG, Wolf Hall is NOT history. And Mantel's historical qualifications do not make very extensive reading.

Frankly, this is a bigoted and distorted presentation of the doctrine of purgatory and the RC church.

When I broke my leg, the Red Cross lent me a wheelchair. When I returned it, they asked me for a donation, and I gave them fifty quid. It didn't mean I was 'buying' the chair, as they would have given it to me for nothing. Or that I got a 'better' chair for a bigger sum of money.

However, if nobody EVER gives the Red Cross ANY donations then they will cease to exist and NOBODY will be able to borrow a wheelchair from them.

It's the same with chantries and masses for the dead. You are supporting people in good works with a modest income. The RC church understands prayers for the dead as a good work.

EllieArroway Fri 22-Mar-13 10:26:51

LeBFG, Wolf Hall is NOT history Indeed not. It's fiction. Like the Bible & the entire teachings of the Catholic Church.

Do you think the Red Cross would lend you a dictionary, Sieglinde? I think you need to look up the term "bigot" - you continually use it wrongly and it's rather insulting to the people who are the victims of genuine bigotry. Your church is not.

ItsOkayItsJustMyBreath Fri 22-Mar-13 10:42:29

sieglinde Is that why limbo was abolished then? Because people stopped paying making donations?

sieglinde Fri 22-Mar-13 12:10:39

Bigotry, from Wikipedia:

Bigotry is the state of mind of a bigot: someone who, as a result of their prejudices, treats other people with hatred, contempt, and intolerance on the basis of a person's race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, RELIGION, language, socioeconomic status, or other status.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. described bigotry in the following quotation: "The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour upon it, the more it will contract."[1]

You qualify, Ellie.

ItsOKay... no, limbo was abolished because the doctrine caused distress to those whose children died in the womb or in childbirth.

LeBFG Fri 22-Mar-13 12:38:35

You haven't answered my question sieglinde. How come you know so much about purgatory? Also, what history book do you recommend?

sieglinde Fri 22-Mar-13 13:08:05

You might try either Christopher Haigh's English Reformations or Eamon Duffy's The stripping of the altars, LeBFG. Or Paul Binski's book Medieval Death.

I do not know ABOUT purgatory'; I was responding the OP's question, which I took and take to be a question about doctrine. I know about that from reading.

TunipTheVegedude Fri 22-Mar-13 13:20:08

I love the Duffy book. When I read it I realised how one-sided the view had been that we were taught at school ('The Reformation happened because these things were wrong with the church: pluralism, nepotism, simony, indulgences....') It was very much the reformer's eye view of something that was really more complex.
As, indeed, is Wolf Hall, and of course Cromwell has a bit of an ulterior motive....

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 22-Mar-13 13:25:44

Hi ... sorry if I have ruffled feathers, but purgatory is not made up by the Catholic Church. It's older than that. A huge number of Christians believe in praying for the death - the Orthodox Church certainly does.

I know it might seem like 'medieval crap', but I think for many people, at many different times, these ideas have been comforting. Ok, they may not seem that way to us, and they may shock and upset us. But I think it's important to remember all the people for whom these ideas are comforting and not just dismiss them as crap.

Btw, Eamon Duffy's books are great, but please be cautious about them. He can't do an accurate reference to save his life, and it can be quite irritating if you're interested in the specifics of what he's saying rather than the general argument. The general argument is fantastic and gives a really good sense of why, historically, people have actually found some of these ideas helped them, rather than just scared them.

OP, personally ... I think if there is purgatory, we feel it in the here and now. I don't know. But theologically, purgatory wouldn't be 'completely horrible', no.

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 22-Mar-13 13:26:24

I feel rude snarking at Duffy now. blush

He is brilliant. I just wish he'd footnote properly.

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 22-Mar-13 13:29:43

Oh, god, my brain is not working. I read my post back and realized it makes no sense. I mean, I'm sorry if I'm posing rudely, because this thread leaves me with ruffled feathers.

And I am triple-posting. blush

<off to mainline coffee. My purgatory will be hours of failing to communicate on internet forums>

LeBFG Fri 22-Mar-13 13:42:04

SO there is no truth in the monks' 'money for prayers' setup then? Or did Hilary get it all wrong? [genuine interest].

Thanks for the refs sieglinde but I doubt I'll find the enthusiasm to read them (or perhaps I will, who knows). Wolf Hall is more accessible for me wink. But the thing is, how can we know anything about purgatory? No one experiences it and then comes back to tell us about it. So if doctrine does tells us, where does doctrine come from? Is it based on recounting stories from people who've had 'the truth' beamed into them somehow?

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 22-Mar-13 13:46:31

No, there's loads of truth in that, I was just responding to the 'medieval' bit.

People certainly spent money on everything from buying a mass, to establishing perpetual chantries (buildings where masses could be said).

I think the thing you've got to remember is, just because people spend money, that doesn't automatically mean they're being conned, or that their money is wasted. A lot of amazing buildings grew out of that money, and a lot of clerics who were doing these masses obviously believed just as devoutly.

What price do you put on someone's sincere belief they are doing something to show their love for a dead relative?

Ok, to you or me it might seem sad, or deluded - but every society needs to have rituals for grieving of some form, and I can't think of any that don't involve spending money, often on something that isn't immediately useful.

Annunziata Fri 22-Mar-13 14:11:18

People still do donate to the priest to say a mass when it comes to your relative's anniversary or at Christmas/Easter, the feast of All Souls. I do anyway.

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 22-Mar-13 14:13:13

Well, it's someone's job, isn't it? I don't really understand why it's a shocking concept that people got paid.

People get paid for all sorts of other performances, don't they? (I don't mean any disrespect by calling a mass a performance, just that it's one way to see it if you're pretty convinced it has no deeper meaning except to people who believe).

Annunziata Fri 22-Mar-13 14:15:48

Yeah, it's the priest's 'job' to do, so he has to get paid. I don't see a problem, but I'm medieval apparently grin

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 22-Mar-13 14:16:33

There could be worse things to be than medieval. smile

Tuo Fri 22-Mar-13 14:32:09

Also read Jacques Le Goff's 'The Birth of Purgatory', for an in-depth analysis of where the doctrine of Purgatory came from and how it became established. It became part of orthodox doctrine quite late... Council of Florence, mid-C15th. Le Goff suggests that the first use of the term as a noun (i.e. to refer to a place of punishment after death) is sometime in the late C12th. The doctrine of Purgatory isn't biblical, though it is based on the notion of prayer for the dead and of 'testing in the fire' after death, both of which are biblical (but need to be stretched quite imaginatively to add up to Purgatory imho).

I'm not a Catholic and don't believe in Purgatory, though I do have an interest in things escatological, but in answer to Mitchy's original question, I would suggest that you could do worse than go back to your Dante. He's very clear that the pain of Purgatory is positive pain, because it leads ultimately to God and salvation. Suffering in Purgatory (for Dante) is not imposed on the souls by God's justice, but rather they themselves choose it as a way of reuniting themselves with him.

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 22-Mar-13 14:35:15

I didn't know it was so late as the fifteenth century that it was made part of orthodox doctrine. I think it's fair to say most people had accepted it centuries before that, as a concept if not as a term. After all Purgatorio is only early fourteenth century (I know that's not exactly theology!). And the Orthodox Church also has the concept, and a lot of Byzantine Art reflects it.

(There was a fantastic exhibition on Byzantine Art in London a few years back, that's the only reason I mention that, i don't really know anything about it.)

Tuo Fri 22-Mar-13 14:46:51

Yeah... I think it was semi-officially accepted before that (late C13th??) but only officially became doctrine at the C. of Florence. Dante is very unorthodox in all kinds of ways. He lets people who've been excommunicated into Purgatory, for example, and doesn't reserve Purgatory for venial sins but has it open to anyone, regardless of what they've done wrong (as long as they truly repent). And he does say that prayers can help the souls in Purgatory, but only if they come from 'a heart in a state of grace' which presumably would exclude corrupt churchmen who prayed only for the dosh(?).

Oh... and I can spell 'eschatological' too, honest blush [pedant].

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 22-Mar-13 15:00:28

I would think Lateran Four would have had something to say about it, because it's so closely connected to penance. But I would have to check, I don't know.

I know Dante's unorthodox ... I love the way he's got so much humanity, though, he really doesn't like the idea of so many people being in hell. I love his idea of the shining sphere of the great writers in Limbo (is it Limbo, or the first circle, I forget?).

But I think that idea of not wanting people to go to hell is what is being Purgatory as a concept, not people trying to scare the faithful into giving the nasty greedy Church money.

And I can't spell that word so won't try! grin

sieglinde Fri 22-Mar-13 15:22:27

Yeah, LRD - quite right. I made a comparison with making donations to a charity you find helpful, and that's apt. If you think priests are useful then someone has to make sure they are fed. NB: RC priests earn virtually NO money compared with other persons in other religious orders.

Mantel is tbh a historical twit, working off some childish rage against her school. I HATE it when people cite historical fiction as if it were history, she scowled...

And yyy Dante, as I said upthread - VERY comforting and sensible. Dante has some pagans in Purgatory, even, so it's very inclusive and gentle.

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 22-Mar-13 15:25:02

Is she? I like her books, but I didn't know she had a particular axe to grind.

I get the citing historical fiction, though. I think it's quite difficult not to do it.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now