Among many teachings of the Holy Roman Catholic & Apostolic Church; the Church’s dogma on Purgatory is what keeps our dear brothers in the Schismatic East separated. While they believe that prayers for the dead benefit the departed souls in some fashion: they refuse to accept the dogma of a ‘purification’ after death for those who died in sanctifying grace because they claim that it cannot be found in apostolic and sacred Tradition – later claiming it is a man made teaching and therefore a innovation and a heresy.
While I will not engage in theological disputes in this article, I want our dear brethren to acknowledge something; that being the book ‘Elder Hadji-Georgis The Athonite’ by a author they identify as “Saint Paisios” – in whom was a monk of Mount Athos. In the section titled ‘Three hours in Hell’ it states:
“Once, a man was ill lost his patience and cried out to the Lord asking to be relieved from his terrible pains. An angel then appeared and told him:
” The All – Merciful God had heard your prayer and will grant your petition, but under one condition. Instead of one year with torments on earth by which every man is cleansed from sin like gold in fire, you will agree to spend three hours in Hell. Because your soul needs to be cleansed with the trials of illness, normally you would have to endure sickness for another year. Since this seems difficult for you, think of what hell means where all sinners go. For this reason try it if you wish for three hours only, and them with the prayers of the Holy Church you will be saved.”
My only question is this: does this not sound like Purgatory considering the fact that Purgatory is the abode in which cleanses imperfect souls? Not to mention that it is in the same location as Hell according to the Catechism of Trent.
Section ‘Different Abodes Called Hell’:
“These abodes are not all of the same nature, for among them is that most loathsome and dark prison in which the souls of the damned are tormented with the unclean spirits in eternal and inextinguishable fire. This place is called gehenna, the bottomless pit, and is hell strictly so-called.
Among them is also the fire of purgatory, in which the souls of just men are cleansed by a temporary punishment, in order to be admitted into their eternal country, into which nothing defiled entereth. The truth of this doctrine, founded, as holy Councils declare,’ on Scripture, and confirmed by Apostolic tradition, demands exposition from the pastor, all the more diligent and frequent, because we live in times when men endure not sound doctrine.
Lastly, the third kind of abode is that into which the souls of the just before the coming of Christ the Lord, were received, and where, without experiencing any sort of pain, but supported by the blessed hope of redemption, they enjoyed peaceful repose. To liberate these holy souls, who, in the bosom of Abraham were expecting the Saviour, Christ the Lord descended into hell.”
The Council of Florence defines purgatory as the following:
“If they have died repentant for their sins and having love of God, but have not made satisfaction for things they have done or omitted by fruits worthy of penance, then their souls, after death, are cleansed by the punishment of Purgatory; also . . . the suffrages of the faithful still living are efficacious in bringing them relief from such punishment, namely the Sacrifice of the Mass, prayers and almsgiving and other works of piety which, in accordance with the designation of the Church, are customarily offered by the faithful for each other.”
So the question remains; why identify us Catholics as heretics when the description your ‘saint’ gives identical description of what Purgatory is in the first place?