Purgatory and Indulgences
With All Saints Day and All Souls day in November, it’s a good time to think about Purgatory and Indulgences. What is Purgatory?
“The Church gives the name Purgatory to the final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the Damned” . Those who die in the state of friendship with God but who are not fully purified and perfected are assured of their eternal salvation. However they must undergo a purification to obtain the perfection of love and holiness needed to enter heaven, where they have a heart that is totally open to him. This process is called Purgatory .


Perhaps an analogy would be helpful. Let’s say your cousin cooked up a plan to defraud the US government of a few million dollars in Grant money and spent most of by the time he was arrested. He gets convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Even so, he still owes the money and his immediate family will have to find a way to pay it back. If he is released on parole, and lands a good job, his wages will be attached and his assets will have leans on them until all the money is paid back.
Sin causes two problems. It removes the grace God gives us that is necessary for holiness (to be with Him in heaven, forever) and it incurs a “temporal debt” that must be paid. This is a spiritual debt, but a debt none the less. The Sacrament of Reconciliation restores the grace, but it doesn’t pay the debt. So, to borrow from our example, your cousin may get out of jail early on good behavior, but the government will still want its Grant money back.
While on earth, we can do acts of penance and charity that help to pay this debt off. Once we are dead, we can’t do anything for ourselves. We rely on the good graces of God and the communion of the Saints.
What is an Indulgence? “an indulgence is a remission of the temporal punishment due to sin, the guilt of which has been forgiven. ” It is paying off the debt, so to speak.
Brothers, you are so Blessed to be here tonight! The Church grants a Plenary indulgence (by a plenary indulgence is meant the remission of the entire temporal punishment due to sin so that no further expiation is required in Purgatory) for those who will, between November 1st and 8th:
1) Pray in a cemetery for the dead, 2) Pray at least an Our Father and a Hail Mary for the Pope’s intensions, 3) Go to confession within ±20 days, 4) Receive Holy Communion on the same day or soon after, 5) Be free from all attachment to sin, even venial sin. If you are not free from all venial sin and attachment for sin, you can still obtain a plenary indulgence for someone in Purgatory if you pray to the Holy Spirit for the grace to be free of all attachment to sin during your prayers at the cemetery.
It is the 8th of November; there is a cemetery just down the street. It takes just a few minutes to say a Divine Mercy Chaplet. You could do yourself or someone dear to you an eternal favor, give them a great gift. What say Yee?
Now, for those of you who find all of this a bit thick and heavy, there is another way to look at Purgatory, all be it, from a famous Protestant theologian.
C.S. Lewis wrote: Our souls demand Purgatory, don't they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, 'It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy'? Should we not reply, 'With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, I'd rather be cleaned first.' 'It may hurt, you know' - 'Even so, sir.'
I assume that the process of purification will normally involve suffering. Partly from tradition; partly because most real good that has been done me in this life has involved it. But I don't think the suffering is the purpose of the purgation. I can well believe that people neither much worse nor much better than I will suffer less than I or more. . . . The treatment given will be the one required, whether it hurts little or much .
So either way, help a poor soul that cannot help its self, obtain an indulgence for a soul in Purgatory tonight. Otherwise you will have to wait a whole year for another opportunity just like this one.