But what would be these “rewards” that one would lose?
Penance isn’t done in order to “work off” the guilt of a sin that has been committed. The breach between a man and God is fully repaired in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession) with the invocation of the words of absolution by the priest:
“God the Father of Mercy has through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. Through the ministry of the Church, may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
It should be noted that the priest, in using the term “I” is not envoking his own authority, but that of Jesus. He is acting vicari Christi, in the place of Christ. In laymans terms, it isn’t the priest saying that, it is Jesus, who is using the priest as a tool by which to affect his desired goal. The Mass is similarly scripted.
In any case, the penance has nothing to do with the actual forgiveness of the sin in question.
The point of penance is, instead, to fortify the believer. It is, in effect, a spiritual exercise meant to instill greater piety in the believer, in order to help avoid future sin. It is also a means by which one reenters the full communion of the Church itself. When one commits a sin, one breaches not only thier relationship with God, but that with the Church as well. Sin has two effects, one vertical (between the sinner and God) and one horizontal (between the Sinner and the Church). God forgives freely, closing that breach.
Penance helps one avoid furthering the damage their sin has done to the body of the Church corporate by instilling a greater awareness of the sin and its ramifications.
It also helps edify the faith of the believer. Everytime a person sins, they deform their soul just a little. Over a lifetime, these deformations pile up. Like excess weight piles up if you eat nothing but junk food. While God freely forgives sin penintently confessed every time, the deformations remain – that is why, the more one sins in a certain way, the easier it is to continue to commit that same sin.
Penance helps you focus on the root of your attraction or addiction or relationship with certain sins, allowing the Grace you recieve – from confession, from acts of piety, from Communion – to work out the knots in your soul, to draw you away from your sins. In effect, to help you burn off your spiritual beer belly.
Those who die with knots or deformations which are unresolved upon their death – ie, the spiritual remnants of forgiven sins – must have those warts removed prior to Heaven. Because even if your sins are all forgiven, you must be perfect to enter heaven (Rev. 21:27 et al). Purgatory is the place/event (it’s not necessarily a physical realm) in which this perfection occurs. Purgatory, properly understood, is not a place of suffering, but a process by which the Grace earned by Jesus is directly applied upon the souls of the saved towards the end of their total perfection, so that they might be capable of entering Heaven. Contrary to being removed from Jesus’ work, Purgatory is, in fact, his final gift to his flock. We cannot perfect ourselves in this life, so he does it for us at the start of the next.
Since I don’t think anyone asked:
Its not needed for punishment or payment of sins, but rather for you to be purified. Its generally depicted as taking some time, though I’m not sure whether one can accurately relate mortal timekeeping to non-material divine will. On the plus side, that means I can pray for people and have it “count” as helping them even if they died 10,000 years ago and won’t be born for another 10,000!
BTW: I’ve never heard of Purgatory as a place of punishment, but rather of healing. WHile not filled with ultimate, eternal perfection of Heaven, it should be pleasant and enlightening.
I’m not totally sure as to what they are, but the story about the foundation (Jesus) and what we build upon it appears to say that the situation in heaven will be different for the Christian who has lived for the Lord compared to the one who has squandered his or her life doing nothing for the kingdom. This is the way it appears to me anyway. Exactly what the rewards will turn out to be, I can’t say for sure. I’ve heard some say it could be crowns, or the type of mansion you have, or position of authority, etc. I don’t have the reference at present but I believe there’s a scripture that says something about “that ye lose not those things which ye have wrought, but that ye may receive a full reward.” I’ll have to look it up.
Excuse-me, His4ever, but here, i’m looking at your answer with amazement…
Do you mean you believe that in Heavens people will have houses, and some will have fancier houses than others? That they’ll have material possessions, and more importantly that people reunited with god will care about having “crowns” or such things? That there will be “positions of authority” up there???
It’s the very first time I hear a christian having such a materialistic view of heavens. Honestly it looks more like the afterlife of say, the ancient egyptians than to the spiritual heaven of the christians.
I’ve never even considered that there could be “mansions” in heavens, and though it’s something I never thought about, so it’s not a well-thought opinion, thinking that people could have a “position of authority” in heavens, in the presence of god, etc…seems extremely weird to me from a christian point of view…
That’s just what I’ve heard said from others. I don’t know if that’s what it’s going to be. I don’t know that it’s what I believe. We’ll find out exactly what they are when we get there. In the meantime, we can only go on what we can glean from the Bible. I don’t have a materialistic view. None of those things would mean a thing to me if Jesus wasn’t there. Being with Him is enough for me. When I have time I’ll see if I can find a few scriptures on this.
“In My Father’s house are many mansions” (John 14:1) is basically what you’re looking for.
::: Polycarp offers up prayers of thanksgiving for the return of Kirkland as clear exegete of Catholic theology :::
I’ve missed you, brother!
As this is Great Debates, I will happily “witness” by writing that I look with great anticipation and hope for purgatory. Weak-willed as I am, I fear my impending personal judgment, but purgatory somehow makes it bearable–as if I can do something, you know, contribute to the team.
Silly, certainly. Mature, not at all, but in way purgatory is the green room where one can discard hurts and wrongs that have not been properly addressed in life.
Note the above views are my personal take on purgatory and should be confused with the official Church position.
The concept of Purgatory is a poorly disguised or poorly understood description of reincarnation. If you do not get it right during your lifetime, you have to be punished. For somebody (somesoul?) who wants to see God, reincarnation might seem like punishment. Throw in a little karmic retribution and it will be.
Once you finally get it right, you get to be in the Divine Presence. Same as a release from Purgatory. But at least reincarnation explains Bridey Murphy.
I’d forgotten about that, masonite – the idea of Purgatory as spiritual Listerine gives new, uh, Scope to the concept!
Mipsman, there have been debunkings of the Bridey Murphy story, which I’m sure somebody will link to – although in turn I want to observe that Heinlein made a personal investigation (he was living in the same town) and shot holes in the principal debunkery.
I personally see no reason why God could not use reincarnation as a means of inducing spiritual growth in people – but the majority of Christian tradition, Origen to one side, holds that He does not. This of course does not prove or disprove anything, but it’s data from authority and tradition, to which the person investigating the question is well behooved to give some weight – how much weight will depend on the individual and on the other data available to him/her.
Part of my Catholic Great-Grandmother’s attempts to guilt my mother into returning to the church and raising my brother and I Catholic centered on " If you don’t raise them Catholic, they’ll spend eternity in Purgatory and never go to heaven." Is this an actual RC belief about non-catholics, or just something she made up?
She may not have made it up (in that she might have heard it from someone else who was equally poorly informed), but Catholic belief and teaching has always been that Purgatory is simply a stop on the way to Heaven. No one spends eternity there.
Whether you are Christian or Atheist, in the spiritual world only one thing determines your status: how much love you have in your heart.
Jesus said “the first (in the physical world) shall be last, and the last (in the physical world) shall be first.”
If you are looking forward to ruling, crowns, mansions, and other material things, I believe you will be disappointed.
The more you love and serve others, the brighter your being will be, and the more power you will have in the spiritual.
God, who is the greatest, loves all, serves all, in Him we all have are being.
I still don’t get it. You guys keep talking about needing to be cleansed before entering heaven and our clothes being dirty and having bad breath, etc. Those who’ve accepted Christ need no purgatory. His blood has done all the cleansing that needs to be done. His shed blood for me and my trust in that makes me fit for heaven. You can believe in it if you want, of course, but I just see it as a doctrine of catholicism, not of the Bible. And no, I don’t believe the scripture " saved yet so as by fire" constitues a doctrine of a purgatory but I’m sure some take it that way. I guess it’ll remain a doctrine I don’t understand or believe in as Jesus has done everything necessary by shedding His blood and there’s nothing further to be done to get us into heaven.
And no, Leroy I’m not looking for wealth in the afterlife. I’m looking for Jesus. His is the first face I want to see.
Has it truly cleaned you His4Ever. I have never seen a man without Sin, and have never seen a man who can claim not to Sin any longer. Quite frankly, neither you nor I nor any man, not even the Holy Father in Rome can claim to be pure enough that he (or she) may enter heaven.
And after all, your own words tend to undermine that position: you say that Jesus shedding his blood is all that is required. Yet your own religion still requires faith, does it not?
OK, He is a very brightly, glowing being, lots of love. Probably won’t be able to see His face distinctly at first.
His4Ever, I’m sorry you’re bemused by the belief. I know it’s incredibly foreign to some Protestants, but there are scriptures that refer to it in the parts of the Bible that Catholics still use – those parts which the Reformers removed, precicely because they justified belief in Purgatory, which the Reformers had problems with. Also there are several hints at Purgatory in some parts of the Bible that all the churches have in common.
All this is pretty basic stuff - I’m no scholar and others can explain it better and in more detail, and have, in this thread. The point is, there is a a long tradition of Purgatory, and it is justified in Scripture - just not the scripture you use. I’m certainly not asking you to believe in it; I’m not a firm believer in Purgatory myself but I suspect it is true because “my soul demands it”. I can’t imagine meeting God in my current state; I know Christ’s blood paid for my sins, but I’m still a sinful man. I can’t conceptualize being instantly transformed at death into a perfect being, ready to join in the company of heaven. I’d be ashamed. I’m guessing Heaven is such a rarefied place that there must be some sort of Basic Training camp one goes through to learn how to get along there.
I could be wrong; perhaps I’ll be instantly transformed into someone who can have a conversation with St. Paul, 30 seconds after my death, without losing my identity in the process. I’m sure God has things well in hand. I’m only guessing; I don’t think it’s a “salvation issue”, do you? It’s not even something I talk about much - it’s more of a religious opinion than a matter of faith for me. But I’m not very orthodox, as you’ve probably guessed.
Well, even more than that, masonite, a nice chunk of the Catholic dogma is not taken directly from the Bible. Reason being, Christianity was around for about 300 years before the Bible was ever finalized. So obviously the Bible cannot be the end all and be all of Christian faith. It is obviously a very important element, but not everything. Of almost equal importance to the Catholic Church is what is called Church tradition. Essentially, this is the collected theological and philosophical arguments of various bishops, popes, clergy, etc. that have gone into creating Church doctrine. I’m sure Orthodox has something similar (but I could be wrong).
Purgatory is largely something that came out of this. The need to reconcile the need for heaven to be completely pure and the lack of purity of humans.
I believe that Mary being an eternal virgin has to do with arguments like this, but I’m not sure what they are.