Dear Father Phil;
I should know this one, since I was a nun for 23 years....but somehow this particular bit of knowledge has receded far into the past. Tonight, a friend of mine, whom I met on the E-Mail, asked me if Purgatory is mentioned in the Bible. I know it is a tenet of our Faith, but was at a loss if it were just that, or something that actually had validity somewhere in the Bible...Old T. or New T. I would appreciate your input.
Chins up, Padre...these are tough times for the Church, but we will weather the storm!
Thanks for your note and question. Here are some Bible verse which indicate a state of purification after death: Matt. 12:32, 1 Cor 3:15, 1 Peter 3:19, Hebrews 12:14, Rev. 21:27. Although the exact word "purgatory" is not mentioned the idea is there. (The same by the way could be said about the word "Trinity") Also 2 Macc. 12:43–45 speaks about prayers for the dead. Unless there is some halfway house or ante-chamber before entering heaven, it would not make much sense to pray for the departed.
Prayer for the dead has been part of Christian tradition from earliest times. When you were in the convent did you read Augustine's Confessions? (If not - or if you have forgotten - it's not too late). There is a beautiful section where Augustine is with his dying mother. They are in Italy and Augustine is anxious to get Monica home to Africa. But she tells him it does not matter where they bury her, but just to remember her at Mass.
I pray often for my own mom and dad. This is probably not such a good thing for a son to say, but while I am confident of their salvation, I also have reason to believe they will need to undergo some purification before they can be eternally in each other's presence, let alone the presence of the All Holy One. And I hope, when I die, that no one will say, "We don't need to pray for Fr. Bloom because he is in heaven." I can tell you I will have to undergo much cleansing.
Speaking of cleansing, isn't that is what is happening to the Church? Thanks for the word about keeping my chins up. Prayers for you, Pat. Please remember me in yours.
P.S. Catholic Answers has an excellent tract on Purgatory.
Also Purgatory? Where's That in the Bible? by Mark Shea