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                                   January 18, 2011

From Sharp Focus to Fuzziness

by Thomas A. Droleskey

Having reached a most manageable weight level of 165 pounds, which represents a loss of 105 pounds in the past 366 days, I am now able to make and partake of my own special recipe of pizza, described in There Is No Shortcut to Cure This Condition: A Catholic Man's Lifelong Battle of the Bulge (it appears that many of you are sitting on your hands about purchasing this book, depriving yourselves of a pleasant reading experience by doing so; some things in life are simply inexplicable). Obviously, as noted in my e-book (get the hint?), I must eat such delicious, rich food as my pizza in great moderation, limiting myself to but two slices. Doing this also saves a commodity that we do not much of, namely, money (currency, black gold Texas tea--get the hint?), as I one pizza can last me for about five days. That's one way to cut corners budgetarily as I maintain the weight loss.

Returning to pizza-making has brought back a lot of old memories of the wonderful times I had in the 1970s and 1980s making pizza for friends and former students around the nation.

One of the families for whom I made pizza on a number of occasions in the late-1970s lived in the Utica, New York, area, where I had taught at Mohawk Valley Community College in the 1976-1977 academic year. The father of the former student at whose house I made pizza those several times once told me a story about how his son, then a reporter for a local Utica television station, believed that a local politician was not being candid in an interview. The reporter instructed the cameraman to subtly change the exposure of the camera lens to convey an image of shiftiness, of lack of focus to portray the interviewed pol in an unfavorable light.

That story, told by a marvelous raconteur who worked as a senior level administrator for the State of New York, has remained stored in my memory bank for over thirty-three years now, and it came to mind when reading the text of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI's January 12, 2011, general audience address that dealt with the views of Saint Catherine of Genoa on Purgatory. One will see that the clever conciliar "pontiff," trained so well to make the clarity of the Catholic Faith appear to be murky and beyond easy comprehension, was quite deliberately taking sharp focus off of the common opinion of Catholic theolgians, including Saint Thomas Aquinas, to place the Church's teaching on Purgatory into a haze of fuzziness that befits his some of his senior "partners in ecumenical dialogue," those in the various camps of Orthodoxy.

Here is the text of Ratzinger/Benedict's January 12, 2011, general audience address:

Catherine's thought on purgatory, for which she is particularly known, is condensed in the last two parts of the book mentioned at the beginning: "Treatise on Purgatory" and "Dialogues on the Soul and Body." It is important to observe that, in her mystical experience, Catherine never had specific revelations on purgatory or on souls that are being purified there. However, in the writings inspired by our saint purgatory is a central element, and the way of describing it has original characteristics in relation to her era. 

The first original feature refers to the "place" of the purification of souls. In her time [purgatory] was presented primarily with recourse to images connected to space: There was thought of a certain space where purgatory would be found. For Catherine, instead, purgatory is not represented as an element of the landscape of the core of the earth; it is a fire that is not exterior but interior. This is purgatory, an interior fire.

The saint speaks of the soul's journey of purification to full communion with God, based on her own experience of profound sorrow for the sins committed, in contrast to the infinite love of God (cf. Vita Mirabile, 171v). We have heard about the moment of her conversion, when Catherine suddenly felt God's goodness, the infinite distance of her life from this goodness and a burning fire within her. And this is the fire that purifies, it is the interior fire of purgatory. Here also there is an original feature in relation to the thought of the era. She does not begin, in fact, from the beyond to narrate the torments of purgatory -- as was usual at that time and perhaps also today -- and then indicate the path for purification or conversion. Instead our saint begins from her own interior experience of her life on the path to eternity. The soul, says Catherine, appears before God still bound to the desires and the sorrow that derive from sin, and this makes it impossible for it to enjoy the Beatific Vision of God. Catherine affirms that God is so pure and holy that the soul with stains of sin cannot be in the presence of the Divine Majesty (cf. Vita Mirabile, 177r). And we also realize how far we are, how full we are of so many things, so that we cannot see God. The soul is conscious of the immense love and perfect justice of God and, in consequence, suffers for not having responded correctly and perfectly to that love, and that is why the love itself of God becomes a flame. Love itself purifies it from its dross of sin.

Theological and mystical sources typical of the era can be found in Catherine's work. Particularly there is an image from Dionysius the Areopagite: that of the golden thread that unites the human heart with God himself. When God has purified man, he ties him with a very fine thread of gold, which is his love, and attracts him to himself with such strong affection that man remains as "overcome and conquered and altogether outside himself." Thus the human heart is invaded by the love of God, which becomes the only guide, the sole motor of his existence (cf. Vita Mirabile, 246rv). This situation of elevation to God and of abandonment to his will, expressed in the image of the thread, is used by Catherine to express the action of the divine light on souls in purgatory, light that purifies them and elevates them to the splendors of the shining rays of God (cf. Vita Mirabile, 179r).

Dear friends, the saints, in their experience of union with God, reach such profound "knowledge" of the divine mysteries, in which love and knowledge are fused, that they are of help to theologians themselves in their task of study, of "intelligentia fidei," of "intelligentia" of the mysteries of the faith, of real deepening in the mysteries, for example, of what purgatory is. (Text of Benedict/Ratzinger January 12, 2011, General Audience Address.)


For Ratzinger/Benedict, my good and very few readers, the entirety of Catholic teaching must be placed in the context of historical circumstances. He is a Modernist. He believes that images of souls burning in the fires of Purgatory are merely representations common to "the time" in which Saint Catherine of Genoa lived, using her own mystical experiences to cast doubt on the existence of Purgatory as an actual  state. According to Ratzinger/Benedict, Purgatory is merely an "experience" of purification whereby the soul is made pure interiorly by the light of God's love. He believes that writings such as those of Saint Catherine of Genoa must guide "theologians" in their "deepening" of what Purgatory is.

While one could, quite understandably, be tempted to say that the false "pontiff" has contradicted Catholic teaching very clearly in this instance, it is far more accurate to state that he is undermining Catholic teaching by proposing something that has the "appearance of falsehood." He was careful not to deny the existence of Purgatory. It was his clear intention, however, to make Catholic teaching on it appear to be uncertain and in need of further "study" and "understanding." Such is the very modus vivendi (the mode of living) of Modernists. Ratzinger/Benedict was saying, yes, Purgatory exists. We simply don't know that much about it yet.

Ratzinger/Benedict continues to use his general audience addresses as a means of appealing to the theological swampland in which his friends in Orthodoxy live. One of the chief goals of his "new theology" is to so blur the clarity of Catholic teaching that it can be seen as fully conformable to the murkiness found in the "theology" of the Orthodox. How do I know this? Pope Pius XII has told us that this is so:

14. In theology some want to reduce to a minimum the meaning of dogmas; and to free dogma itself from terminology long established in the Church and from philosophical concepts held by Catholic teachers, to bring about a return in the explanation of Catholic doctrine to the way of speaking used in Holy Scripture and by the Fathers of the Church. They cherish the hope that when dogma is stripped of the elements which they hold to be extrinsic to divine revelation, it will compare advantageously with the dogmatic opinions of those who are separated from the unity of the Church and that in this way they will gradually arrive at a mutual assimilation of Catholic dogma with the tenets of the dissidents.

15. Moreover they assert that when Catholic doctrine has been reduced to this condition, a way will be found to satisfy modern needs, that will permit of dogma being expressed also by the concepts of modern philosophy, whether of immanentism or idealism or existentialism or any other system. Some more audacious affirm that this can and must be done, because they hold that the mysteries of faith are never expressed by truly adequate concepts but only by approximate and ever changeable notions, in which the truth is to some extent expressed, but is necessarily distorted. Wherefore they do not consider it absurd, but altogether necessary, that theology should substitute new concepts in place of the old ones in keeping with the various philosophies which in the course of time it uses as its instruments, so that it should give human expression to divine truths in various ways which are even somewhat opposed, but still equivalent, as they say. They add that the history of dogmas consists in the reporting of the various forms in which revealed truth has been clothed, forms that have succeeded one another in accordance with the different teachings and opinions that have arisen over the course of the centuries. (Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis, August 12, 1950.)


This is, as I have pointed out in numerous other articles on this site, a perfect description of the mind of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, deformed as it was by the "new theology" when he was in seminary in Freising, Germany, prior to his ordination to the Holy Priesthood on June 29, 1951. The false "pontiff" has told us that he rejects the clarity and certitude of Saint Thomas Aquinas, considering it "cold" and "impersonal:"

The cultural interests pursued at the seminary of Freising were joined to the study of a theology infected by existentialism, beginning with the writings of Romano Guardini. Among the authors preferred by Ratzinger was the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber. Ratzinger loved St. Augustine, but never St. Thomas Aquinas: "By contrast, I had difficulties in penetrating the thought of Thomas Aquinas, whose crystal-clear logic seemed to be too closed in on itself, too impersonal and ready-made" (op. cit., p.44). This aversion was mainly due to the professor of philosophy at the seminary, who "presented us with a rigid, neo-scholastic Thomism that was simply too far afield from my own questions" (ibid.). According to Cardinal Ratzinger, whose current opinions appear unchanged from those he held as a seminarian, the thought of Aquinas was "too closed in on itself, too impersonal and ready-made," and was unable to respond to the personal questions of the faithful. This opinion is enunciated by a prince of the Church whose function it is to safeguard the purity of the doctrine of the Faith! Why, then, should anyone be surprised at the current disastrous crisis of Catholicism, or seek to attribute it to the world, when those who should be the defenders of the Faith, and hence of genuine Catholic thought, are like sewers drinking in the filth, or like gardeners who cut down a tree they are supposed to be nurturing? What can it mean to stigmatize St. Thomas as having a "too impersonal and ready-made" logic? Is logic "personal"? These assertions reveal, in the person who makes them, a typically Protestant, pietist attitude, like that found in those who seek the rule of faith in personal interior sentiment.

In the two years Ratzinger spent at the diocesan seminary of Freising, he studied literature, music, modern philosophy, and he felt drawn towards the new existentialist and modernist theologies. He did not like St. Thomas Aquinas. The formation described does not correspond to the exclusively Catholic formation that is necessary to one called to be a priest, even taking into account the extenuating circumstances of the time, that is, anti-Christian Nazism, the war and defeat, and the secularization of studies within seminaries. It seems that His Eminence, with all due respect, gave too much place to profane culture, with its "openness" to everything, and its critical attitude...Joseph Ratzinger loved the professors who asked many questions, but disliked those who defended dogma with the crystal-clear logic of St. Thomas. This attitude would seem to us to match his manner of understanding Catholic liturgy. He tells us that from childhood he was always attracted to the liturgical movement and was sympathetic towards it. One can see that for him, the liturgy was a matter of feeling, a lived experience, an aesthetically pleasing "Erlebnis," but fundamentally irrational (op. cit. passim.). (The Memories of a Destructive Mind: Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger's Milestones.)


Pope Pius XII exploded these self-serving excuses to reject Scholasticism in the following passages of Humani Generis:

31. If one considers all this well, he will easily see why the Church demands that future priests be instructed in philosophy "according to the method, doctrine, and principles of the Angelic Doctor,"[8] since, as we well know from the experience of centuries, the method of Aquinas is singularly preeminent both for teaching students and for bringing truth to light; his doctrine is in harmony with divine revelation, and is most effective both for safeguarding the foundation of the faith, and for reaping, safely and usefully, the fruits of sound progress.[9]

32. How deplorable it is then that this philosophy, received and honored by the Church, is scorned by some, who shamelessly call it outmoded in form and rationalistic, as they say, in its method of thought. They say that this philosophy upholds the erroneous notion that there can be a metaphysic that is absolutely true; whereas in fact, they say, reality, especially transcendent reality, cannot better be expressed than by disparate teachings, which mutually complete each other, although they are in a way mutually opposed. Our traditional philosophy, then, with its clear exposition and solution of questions, its accurate definition of terms, its clear-cut distinctions, can be, they concede, useful as a preparation for scholastic theology, a preparation quite in accord with medieval mentality; but this philosophy hardly offers a method of philosophizing suited to the needs of our modern culture. They allege, finally, that our perennial philosophy is only a philosophy of immutable essences, while the contemporary mind must look to the existence of things and to life, which is ever in flux. While scorning our philosophy, they extol other philosophies of all kinds, ancient and modern, oriental and occidental, by which they seem to imply that any kind of philosophy or theory, with a few additions and corrections if need be, can be reconciled with Catholic dogma. No Catholic can doubt how false this is, especially where there is question of those fictitious theories they call immanentism, or idealism, or materialism, whether historic or dialectic, or even exRaistentialism, whether atheistic or simply the type that denies the validity of the reason in the field of metaphysics.

33. Finally, they reproach this philosophy taught in our schools for regarding only the intellect in the process of cognition, while neglecting the function of the will and the emotions. This is simply not true. Never has Christian philosophy denied the usefulness and efficacy of good dispositions of soul for perceiving and embracing moral and religious truths. In fact, it has always taught that the lack of these dispositions of good will can be the reason why the intellect, influenced by the passions and evil inclinations, can be so obscured that it cannot see clearly. Indeed St. Thomas holds that the intellect can in some way perceive higher goods of the moral order, whether natural or supernatural, inasmuch as it experiences a certain "connaturality" with these goods, whether this "connaturality" be purely natural, or the result of grace;[10] and it is clear how much even this somewhat obscure perception can help the reason in its investigations. However it is one thing to admit the power of the dispositions of the will in helping reason to gain a more certain and firm knowledge of moral truths; it is quite another thing to say, as these innovators do, indiscriminately mingling cognition and act of will, that the appetitive and affective faculties have a certain power of understanding, and that man, since he cannot by using his reason decide with certainty what is true and is to be accepted, turns to his will, by which he freely chooses among opposite opinions. (Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis, August 12, 1950.)


Readers of this site can see quite plainly that Pope Pius XII described the exact attitude that took possession of the mind of Joseph Ratzinger in his seminary days, an attitude that he still holds and upon which he bases his "encyclical letters," "homilies," general audience addresses, speeches and books, many of which are advertised regularly and with enthusiasm in glossy quasi-traditional periodicals. It is also the case, I am sure, that readers of this site can see that Pope Pius XII condemned and termed as false the sort of "experiential" approach of Ratzinger/Benedict and his "new theology" that is held to be superior to the supposedly "impersonal" school of Saint Thomas Aquinas, who Ratzinger believes represents little more than an approach relevant for "his time" but is not to be held as the model for all times.

Ratzinger/Benedict does not really have much use either for the dogmatic declarations of the Council of Trent, considering, of course, that the Fathers of that true council, whose deliberations were infallibly guided by the Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, God the Holy Ghost, relied upon the work of Saint Thomas Aquinas very extensively. Thus it is that, unlike the predecessor he is soon to "beatify," Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II, who made a passing reference to the Council of Trent in his own nefarious effort to deconstruct Catholic teaching on Purgatory (see Heaven, Hell and Purgatory) there was no mention of the Council of Trent's Decree Concerning Purgatory in the false "pope's" general audience address given one week ago today. Here is the text of that Decree:

Since the Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Ghost, has, following the sacred writings and the ancient tradition of the Fathers, taught in sacred councils and very recently in this ecumenical council that there is a purgatory,[1] and that the souls there detained are aided by the suffrages of the faithful and chiefly by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar, the holy council commands the bishops that they strive diligently to the end that the sound doctrine of purgatory, transmitted by the Fathers and sacred councils,[2] be believed and maintained by the faithful of Christ, and be everywhere taught and preached. The more difficult and subtle questions, however, and those that do not make for edification and from which there is for the most part no increase in piety, are to be excluded from popular instructions to uneducated people.[3] Likewise, things that are uncertain or that have the appearance of falsehood they shall not permit to be made known publicly and discussed. But those things that tend to a certain kind of curiosity or superstition, or that savor of filthy lucre, they shall prohibit as scandals and stumbling-blocks to the faithful. The bishops shall see to it that the suffrages of the living, that is, the sacrifice of the mass,[4] prayers, alms and other works of piety which they have been accustomed to perform for the faithful departed, be piously and devoutly discharged in accordance with the laws of the Church, and that whatever is due on their behalf from testamentary bequests or other ways, be discharged by the priests and ministers of the Church and others who are bound to render this service not in a perfunctory manner, but diligently and accurately. (Decree Concerning Purgatory, Session XXV, December 4, 1563.)


Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI is, without denying the existence of Purgatory as such, not teaching sound doctrine about it as he is providing the faithful with yet another reason to doubt the immutable teaching of the Catholic Church. Ratzinger/Benedict's unsound teaching will be used by many ordinary Catholics who are as of yet attached to the conciliar structures to ratify their false beliefs, taught to them from their parish pulpits in many instances, that everyone goes straight to Heaven, that there is no such place as Purgatory at all.

Indeed, a now deceased dentist was aghast when I told him eight years ago that I was offering up the pain of the root canal procedure that he was performing on me (a procedure that he botched and required the tooth to be extracted two years later) to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary to be dispensed as she sees fit, hoping that some of the merit that I stood to earn from a right disposition in making this offering would be applied to the Holy Souls in the Church Suffering in Purgatory. "Purgatory!" the dentist screamed. "I thought they got rid of that." I then told him that two of his patients who I thought at the time to be priests could verify that the existence of Purgatory is a defined teaching of the Catholic Church. Evidently being on a first name basis with the putative clerics, he said about one of them, "You mean (first name omitted) believes in Purgatory?" I told him that, yes, his friend believed in Purgatory. And it is my prayer that the dentist saw the truth of this matter after this death. How many Catholics in the conciliar structures will have their own misconceptions about Purgatory reaffirmed now that Ratzinger/Benedict has made it a subject of fuzziness and uncertainty that is in need of further study?

Contrary to Ratzinger/Benedict's "purification" by means of an "interior light" within the souls of the deceased, the Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent teaches that the the souls in Purgatory are cleansed by means of fire:

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 so­called.

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. (He descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead.)


Ratzinger/Benedict's attempt to consign a belief that the souls in Purgatory are cleansed by fire to a specific era in the history of the Church, namely, the Middle Ages, is even contradicted by his conciliar church's misnamed Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is a mixture of truth and error (see The New Catechism: Is it Catholic? and my own Piracy, Conciliar Style), which teaches the following about Purgatory:


1030 All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:607

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.608

1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin."609 From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.610 The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:

Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.611 (PART 1 SECTION 2 CHAPTER 3.)


It is very interesting to point out that the so-called Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to "cleansing fire" as part of the tradition of the Catholic Church as that tradition has been handed down to us by the Church Fathers and is the common theological opinion of theologians, including the Angelic Doctor, Saint Thomas Aquinas, himself:


Article 1. Whether there is a Purgatory after this life?

Objection 1. It would seem that there is not a Purgatory after this life. For it is said (Apocalypse 14:13): "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. From henceforth now, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors." Therefore after this life no cleansing labor awaits those who die in the Lord, nor those who do not die in the Lord, since they cannot be cleansed. Therefore there is no Purgatory after this life.

Objection 2. Further, as charity is to an eternal reward, so is mortal sin to eternal punishment. Now those who die in mortal sin are forthwith consigned to eternal punishment. Therefore those who die in charity go at once to their reward; and consequently no Purgatory awaits them after this life.

Objection 3. Further, God Who is supremely merciful is more inclined to reward good than to punish evil. Now just as those who are in the state of charity, do certain evil things which are not deserving of eternal punishment, so those who are in mortal sin, at times perform actions, generically good, which are not deserving of an eternal reward. Therefore since these good actions are not rewarded after this life in those who will be damned, neither should those evil actions be punished after this life. Hence the same conclusion follows.

On the contrary, It is said (2 Maccabees 12:46): "It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins." Now there is no need to pray for the dead who are in heaven, for they are in no need; nor again for those who are in hell, because they cannot be loosed from sins. Therefore after this life, there are some not yet loosed from sins, who can be loosed therefrom; and the like have charity, without which sins cannot be loosed, for "charity covereth all sins" [Proverbs 10:12]. Hence they will not be consigned to everlasting death, since "he that liveth and believeth in Me, shall not die for ever" [John 11:26]: nor will they obtain glory without being cleansed, because nothing unclean shall obtain it, as stated in the last chapter of the Apocalypse (verse 14). Therefore some kind of cleansing remains after this life.

Further, Gregory of Nyssa [De iis qui in fide dormiunt] says: "If one who loves and believes in Christ," has failed to wash away his sins in this life, "he is set free after death by the fire of Purgatory." Therefore there remains some kind of cleansing after this life.

I answer that, From the conclusions we have drawn above (III, 86, 4-5; Supplement, 12, 1) it is sufficiently clear that there is a Purgatory after this life. For if the debt of punishment is not paid in full after the stain of sin has been washed away by contrition, nor again are venial sins always removed when mortal sins are remitted, and if justice demands that sin be set in order by due punishment, it follows that one who after contrition for his fault and after being absolved, dies before making due satisfaction, is punished after this life. Wherefore those who deny Purgatory speak against the justice of God: for which reason such a statement is erroneous and contrary to faith. Hence Gregory of Nyssa, after the words quoted above, adds: "This we preach, holding to the teaching of truth, and this is our belief; this the universal Church holds, by praying for the dead that they may be loosed from sins." This cannot be understood except as referring to Purgatory: and whosoever resists the authority of the Church, incurs the note of heresy.

Reply to Objection 1. The authority quoted is speaking of the labor of working for merit, and not of the labor of suffering to be cleansed.

Reply to Objection 2. Evil has not a perfect cause, but results from each single defect: whereas good arises from one perfect cause, as Dionysius asserts [Div. Nom. iv, 4]. Hence each defect is an obstacle to the perfection of good; while not every good hinders some consummation of evil, since there is never evil without some good. Consequently venial sin prevents one who has charity from obtaining the perfect good, namely eternal life, until he be cleansed; whereas mortal sin cannot be hindered by some conjoined good from bringing a man forthwith to the extreme of evils.

Reply to Objection 3. He that falls into mortal sin, deadens all the good he has done before, and what he does, while in mortal sin, is dead: since by offending God he deserves to lose all the good he has from God. Wherefore no reward after this life awaits him who dies in mortal sin, whereas sometimes punishment awaits him who dies in charity, which does not always wash away the sin which it finds, but only that which is contrary to it.

Article 2. Whether it is the same place where souls are cleansed, and the damned punished?

Objection 1. It would seem that it is not the same place where souls are cleansed and the damned punished. For the punishment of the damned is eternal, according to Matthew 25:46, "These shall go into everlasting punishment [Vulgate: 'fire']." But the fire of Purgatory is temporary, as the Master says (Sent. iv, D, 21). Therefore the former and the latter are not punished together in the same place: and consequently these places must needs be distinct.

Objection 2. The punishment of hell is called by various names, as in Psalm 10:7, "Fire and brimstone, and storms of winds," etc., whereas the punishment of Purgatory is called by one name only, namely fire. Therefore they are not punished with the same fire and in the same place.

Objection 3. Further, Hugh of St. Victor says (De Sacram. ii, 16): "It is probable that they are punished in the very places where they sinned." And Gregory relates (Dial. iv, 40) that Germanus, Bishop of Capua, found Paschasius being cleansed in the baths. Therefore they are not cleansed in the same place as hell, but in this world.

On the contrary, Gregory says [The quotation is from St. Augustine (De Civ. Dei i, 8)]: "Even as in the same fire gold glistens and straw smokes, so in the same fire the sinner burns and the elect is cleansed." Therefore the fire of Purgatory is the same as the fire of hell: and hence they are in the same place.

Further, the holy fathers; before the coming of Christ, were in a more worthy place than that wherein souls are now cleansed after death, since there was no pain of sense there. Yet that place was joined to hell, or the same as hell: otherwise Christ when descending into Limbo would not be said to have descended into hell. Therefore Purgatory is either close to, or the same place as, hell.

I answer that, Nothing is clearly stated in Scripture about the situation of Purgatory, nor is it possible to offer convincing arguments on this question. It is probable, however, and more in keeping with the statements of holy men and the revelations made to many, that there is a twofold place of Purgatory. One, according to the common law; and thus the place of Purgatory is situated below and in proximity to hell, so that it is the same fire which torments the damned in hell and cleanses the just in Purgatory; although the damned being lower in merit, are to be consigned to a lower place. Another place of Purgatory is according to dispensation: and thus sometimes, as we read, some are punished in various places, either that the living may learn, or that the dead may be succored, seeing that their punishment being made known to the living may be mitigated through the prayers of the Church.

Some say, however, that according to the common law the place of Purgatory is where man sins. This does not seem probable, since a man may be punished at the same time for sins committed in various places. And others say that according to the common law they are punished above us, because they are between us and God, as regards their state. But this is of no account, for they are not punished for being above us, but for that which is lowest in them, namely sin.

Reply to Objection 1. The fire of Purgatory is eternal in its substance, but temporary in its cleansing effect.

Reply to Objection 2. The punishment of hell is for the purpose of affliction, wherefore it is called by the names of things that are wont to afflict us here. But the chief purpose of the punishment of Purgatory is to cleanse us from the remains of sin; and consequently the pain of fire only is ascribed to Purgatory, because fire cleanses and consumes.

Reply to Objection 3. This argument considers the point of special dispensation and not that of the common law.  (SUMMA THEOLOGICA: Purgatory; for more on Saint Thomas Aquinas and the fires of Purgatory, please see the appendix below.)


I don't know about you. I am going to stick with the common theological opinion as summarized so cogently by Saint Thomas Aquinas.

Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI relied upon his own representations of the writings of Saint Catherine of Genoa to give an allocution on Purgatory, subtly undermining the traditional teaching of the Church and thus of beliefs and practices of ordinary Catholics. He did so in a most clever way, a way that is truly diabolically inspired, I believe, as to convey a nominal belief in a teaching of the Catholic Church while undermining its content is nothing other than the work of demons.

Fortunately for us, however, there is that body of literature of private revelations that have been given to other saints that ratify and confirm the common theological opinion of theologians that Holy Mother Church has relied upon to provide us with images of Purgatory. Here is one such example as drawn from Father F. X. Schouppe's Purgatory: Explained By the Lives and the Legends of the Saints:

In the Life of St. Lutgarda, written by her contemporary, Thomas de Cantimpere, mention is made of a Religious who was otherwise fervent, but who for an excess of zeal was condemned to forty years in Purgatory. This was an Abbot of the Cistercian Order, named Simon, who held St. Lutgarda in great veneration. The saint, on her part, willingly followed his advice, and in consequence a sort of spiritual friendship was formed between them. But the Abbot was not as mild towards his subordinates as he was towards the saint. Severe with himself, he was also severe in his administration, and carried his exactions in matters of discipline even to harshness, forgetting the lesson of the Divine Master, who teaches us to be meek and humble of heart. Having died and whilst Lutgarda was fervently praying and imposing penances upon herself for the repose of his soul, he appeared to her, and declared that he was condemned to forty years of Purgatory. Fortunately he had in Lutgarda, a generous and powerful friend. She redoubled her prayers and austerities, and having received from God the assurance that the departed soul should soon be delivered, the charitable saint replied, "I will not cease to weep; I will not case to importune Your Mercy until I see him freed from his pains."

Since I am mentioning St. Lutgarda, ought I to speak of the celebrated apparition of Pope Innocent III? I acknowledge the perusal of this incident shocked me, and I would fain pass it over in silence. I was reluctant to think that a Pope, and such a Pope, had been condemned to so long and terrible a Purgatory. We know that  Innocent III, who presided at the celebrated Council of Lateran in 1215, was one of the greatest Pontiffs who ever filled the chair of St. Peter. His piety and zeal led him to accomplish great things from the Church of God and holy discipline. How, then, admit that such a man was judged with so great severity at the Supreme Tribunal? How reconcile this revelation of St. Lutgarda with Divine Mercy? I wished, therefore, to treat it as an illusion, and sought for reasons in support of this idea. But I found, on the contrary, that the reality of this apparition is admitted by the greatest authors, and that it is not rejected by any single one. Moreover, the biographer, Thomas de Catimpere, is very explicit, and at the same time very reserved. "Remark, reader," he writes at the end of his narrative, "that it was from the mouth of the pious Lutgarda herself that I heard of the faults revealed by the defunct, and which I omit here for so great a Pope."

Aside from this, considering the event in itself, can we find any good reason for calling it into question? Do we not know that God makes no exception of persons-that the Popes appear before His tribunal like the humblest of the faithful--that all the great and the lowly are equal before Him, and that each one receives according to his works? Do we not know that those who govern others have a great responsibility, and will have render a sever account? Judicium durissimum his qui praesunt fiet--"A most severe judgment shall be for his rule." (Wis. 6: 6). It is the Holy Ghost that declares it. Now, Innocent III reigned for eighteen years, and during most turbulent times; and add the Bollandists, is it not written that the judgments of God are inscrutable, and often very different from the judgments of men? Judicia tua abyssus multa (Ps. 35. 7)

The reality of this apparition cannot, then, be reasonably called in question. I see no reason for omitting it, since God does not reveal mysteries of this nature for any other purpose than that they should be made known for the veneration of His Church. (Father Francis F. X. Schouppe, S.J.,  Purgatory: Explained By the Lives and the Legends of the Saints, published originally by Burns and Oates, Ltd., London, and republished by TAN Books and Publishers in 1973, pp. 92-95.)


This is the sort of private revelation that should give even a false "pontiff" cause for concern to amend his life now as he publicly abjures his contradictions of Catholic teaching and his endless efforts to make fuzzy or unclear that which is perfectly clear, the patrimony of Holy Mother Church.


We must be willing to suffer the white martyrdom of ridicule and criticism and rejection and ostracism for refusing to recognize or associate with any of the spiritual robber barons of the counterfeit church of conciliarism who are so blithe in their dismissive approach to Catholic teaching and belief. Obviously, we must, as always, spend time in prayer before Our Lord's Real Presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament, if at all possible, and pray as many Rosaries each day as our states-in-life permit, using the shield of Our Lady's Brown Scapular of Mount Carmel and the weapon of her Rosary to protect us from the contagion of apostasy and betrayal that is all around us. We must also, of course, make reparation for our own many sins by offering up all of our prayers and sufferings and sacrifices and humiliations and penances and mortifications and fastings to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The final victory belongs to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We must pray to her so that we can be instruments, unworthy though we may be, of planting the seeds for the restoration of Holy Mother Church and of the Social Reign of Christ the King, of which Saint Canute of Denmark was such a holy exemplar, so that everyone in the whole will exclaim with hearts consecrated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary:


Viva Cristo Rey! Vivat Christus Rex!

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.


Saint Joseph, pray for us.

Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.

Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.

Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.

Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.

Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.

Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.

Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us.

Saint Marius and Companions, pray for us.

Saint Canute, King of Denmark, pray for us.

See also: A Litany of Saints

Isn't it time to pray a Rosary now?


Saint Thomas Aquinas on the Fires of Purgatory

Article 1. Whether the pains of Purgatory surpass all the temporal pains of this life?

Objection 1. It would seem that the pains of Purgatory do not surpass all the temporal pains of this life. Because the more passive a thing is the more it suffers if it has the sense of being hurt. Now the body is more passive than the separate soul, both because it has contrariety to a fiery agent, and because it has matter which is susceptive of the agent's quality: and this cannot be said of the soul. Therefore the pain which the body suffers in this world is greater than the pain whereby the soul is cleansed after this life.

Objection 2. Further, the pains of Purgatory are directly ordained against venial sins. Now since venial sins are the least grievous, the lightest punishment is due to them, if the measure of the stripes is according to the measure of the fault. Therefore the pain of Purgatory is the lightest of all.

Objection 3. Further, since the debt of punishment is an effect of sin, it does not increase unless the sin increases. Now sin cannot increase in one whose sin is already remitted. Therefore if a mortal sin has been remitted in a man who has not fully paid the debt of punishment, this debt does not increase when he dies. But while he lived he was not in debt to the extent of the most grievous punishment. Therefore the pain that he will suffer after this life will not be more grievous to him than all other pains of this life.

On the contrary, Augustine says in a sermon (xli De Sanctis): "This fire of Purgatory will be more severe than any pain that can be felt, seen or conceived in this world."

Further, the more universal a pain is the greater it is. Now the whole separate soul is punished, since it is simple: which is not the case with the body. Therefore this, being the punishment of the separate soul, is greater than any pain suffered by the body.

I answer that, In Purgatory there will be a twofold pain; one will be the pain of loss, namely the delay of the divine vision, and the pain of sense, namely punishment by corporeal fire. With regard to both the least pain of Purgatory surpasses the greatest pain of this life. For the more a thing is desired the more painful is its absence. And since after this life the holy souls desire the Sovereign Good with the most intense longing--both because their longing is not held back by the weight of the body, and because, had there been no obstacle, they would already have gained the goal of enjoying the Sovereign Good--it follows that they grieve exceedingly for their delay. Again, since pain is not hurt, but the sense of hurt, the more sensitive a thing is, the greater the pain caused by that which hurts it: wherefore hurts inflicted on the more sensible parts cause the greatest pain. And, because all bodily sensation is from the soul, it follows of necessity that the soul feels the greatest pain when a hurt is inflicted on the soul itself. That the soul suffers pain from the bodily fire is at present taken for granted, for we shall treat of this matter further on [Cf. Supplement, 70, 3]. Therefore it follows that the pain of Purgatory, both of loss and of sense, surpasses all the pains of this life.

Some, however, prove this from the fact that the whole soul is punished, and not the body. But this is to no purpose, since in that case the punishment of the damned would be milder after the resurrection than before, which is false.

Reply to Objection 1. Although the soul is less passive than the body, it is more cognizant of actual suffering [passionis]: and where the sense of suffering is greater, there is the greater pain, though the suffering be less.

Reply to Objection 2. The severity of that punishment is not so much a consequence of the degree of sin, as of the disposition of the person punished, because the same sin is more severely punished then than now. Even so a person who has a better temperament is punished more severely by the same sentence than another; and yet the judge acts justly in condemning both for the same crimes to the same punishment.

This suffices for the Reply to the Third Objection.

Article 2. Whether this punishment is voluntary?

Objection 1. It would seem that this punishment is voluntary. For those who are in Purgatory are upright in heart. Now uprightness in heart is to conform one's will to God's, as Augustine says (Serm. i in Ps. 32). Therefore, since it is God's will that they be punished, they will suffer that punishment voluntarily.

Objection 2. Further, every wise man wills that without which he cannot obtain the end he has in view. Now those who are in Purgatory know that they cannot obtain glory, unless they be punished first. Therefore they are punished willingly.

On the contrary, No one asks to be freed from a punishment that he suffers willingly. Now those who are in Purgatory ask to be set free, as appears from many incidents related in the Dialogue of Gregory (iv, 40,65). Therefore they will not undergo that punishment voluntarily.

I answer that, A thing is said to be voluntary in two ways. First, by an absolute act of the will; and thus no punishment is voluntary, because the very notion of punishment is that it be contrary to the will. Secondly, a thing is said to be voluntary by a conditional act of the will: thus cautery is voluntary for the sake of regaining health. Hence a punishment may be voluntary in two ways. First, because by being punished we obtain some good, and thus the will itself undertakes a punishment, as instanced in satisfaction, or when a man accepts a punishment gladly, and would not have it not to be, as in the case of martyrdom. Secondly, when, although we gain no good by the punishment, we cannot obtain a good without being punished, as in the case of natural death: and then the will does not undertake the punishment, and would be delivered from it; but it submits to it, and in this respect the punishment is said to be voluntary. In this latter sense the punishment of Purgatory is said to be voluntary.

Some, however, say that it is not voluntary in any way, because the souls in Purgatory are so replete with suffering, that they know not that they are being cleansed by their pains, and deem themselves damned. But this is false, for did they not know that they will be set free, they would not ask for prayers, as they often do.

This suffices for the Replies to the Objections.

Article 3. Whether the souls in Purgatory are punished by the demons?

Objection 1. It would seem that the souls in Purgatory are punished by the demons; for, according to the Master, "they will have for torturers in their pains, those who were their tempters in sin." Now the demons tempt us to sin, not only mortal, but also venial when they fail in the former. Therefore in Purgatory also they will torture souls on account of venial sins.

Objection 2. Further, the just are competent to be cleansed from sin both in this life and afterwards. Now, in this life, they are cleansed by pains inflicted by the devil, as was the case with Job. Therefore after this life also, those who have to be cleansed will be punished by the demons.

On the contrary, It were unjust that he who has triumphed over someone, should be subjected to him after victory. Now those who are in Purgatory have triumphed over the demons, since they died without mortal sin. Therefore they will not be subjected to them through being punished by them.

I answer that, As after the Judgment day the Divine justice will kindle the fire with which the damned will be punished for ever, even so now the elect are cleansed after this life by the Divine justice alone, and neither by the ministry of the demons whom they have vanquished, nor by the ministry of the angels who would not inflict such tortures on their fellow-citizens. It is, however, possible that they take them to the place of punishment: also that even the demons, who rejoice in the punishment of man, accompany them and stand by while they are being cleansed, both that they may be sated with their pains, and that when these leave their bodies, they may find something of their own in them. But in this life, while there is yet time for the combat, men are punished both by the wicked angels as foes, as instanced in Job, and by the good angels, as instanced in Jacob, the sinew of whose thigh shrank at the angel's touch [Genesis 32:25]. Moreover, Dionysius says explicitly that the good angels sometimes inflict punishment.

This suffices for the Replies to the Objections.

Article 4. Whether venial sin is expiated by the pains of Purgatory as regards the guilt?

Objection 1. It would seem that venial sin is not expiated by the pains of Purgatory as regards the guilt. For a gloss [St. Gregory, Moral. xvi, 28] on 1 John 5:16, "There is a sin unto death," etc. says: "It is vain to ask pardon after death for what was not amended in this life." Therefore no sin is remitted as to guilt after this life.

Objection 2. Further, the same subject is freed from sin as falls into sin. But after death the soul cannot sin venially. Therefore neither can it be loosed from venial sin.

Objection 3. Further, Gregory says [Dial. iv, 39] that every man will be at the judgment as he was when he left the body, because "the tree . . . wheresoever it shall fall, there shall it be" [Ecclesiastes 11:3]. If, then, a man go forth from this life with venial sin, he will be with venial sin at the judgment: and consequently one does not atone for venial sin in Purgatory.

Objection 4. Further, it has been stated (Supplement, 2, 3) that actual sin is not blotted out save by contrition. But there will be no contrition after this life, because it is a meritorious act. For then there will be neither merit nor demerit since, according to the Damascene [De Fide Orth. ii, 4], "death is to men what the fall was to the angels." Therefore, after this life, venial sin is not remitted in Purgatory as to its guilt.

Objection 5. Further, venial sin is not in us except on account of the fomes. Wherefore in the original state Adam would not have sinned venially, as was stated (Sent. ii, D, xxi, 2). Now after this life there will be no sensuality; because the fomes will cease when the soul is separated, since it is called the "law of the flesh" (Romans 7). Hence there will be no venial sin then, and consequently it cannot be expiated by the fire of Purgatory.

On the contrary, Gregory [Dial. iv, 39] and Augustine [De vera et falsa poenit. iv, xviii, by some other author] say that certain slight sins will be remitted in the life to come. Nor can this be understood of the punishment: because thus all sins, however grave they be, are expiated by the fire of Purgatory, as regards the debt of punishment. Therefore venial sins are cleansed by the fire of Purgatory as to their guilt.

Further, wood, hay, stubble (1 Corinthians 3:12) denote venial sins, as we have said (I-II, 89, 2). Now wood, hay, stubble are consumed in Purgatory. Therefore venial sins are remitted after this life.

I answer that, Some have asserted that no sin is remitted after this life, as regards the guilt: that if a man die with mortal sin, he is damned and incapable of being forgiven; and that it is not possible for a man to die with a venial sin and without mortal sin, since the final grace washes the venial sin away. They assign as reason for this that venial sin is excessive love of a temporal thing, in one who has his foundation in Christ, which excess results from the corruption of concupiscence. Wherefore if grace entirely overcome the corruption of concupiscence, as in the Blessed Virgin, there is no room for venial sin. Hence, since this concupiscence is altogether abated and removed, the powers of the soul are wholly subject to grace, and venial sin is cast out. But this opinion is nonsensical in itself and in its proof. In itself, because it is opposed to the statements of holy men and of the Gospel, which cannot be expounded as referring to the remission of venial sins as to their punishment, as the Master says in the text [Sentent. iv, D, xxi] because in this way both light and grave sins are remitted in the life to come: while Gregory [Dial. iv, 39] declares that light sins alone are remitted after this life. Nor does it suffice for them to say, that this is said expressly of light sins, lest we should think that we shall suffer nothing grievous on their account: because the remission of sin diminishes punishment rather than aggravates it. As to the proof, it is shown to be worthless, since bodily defect, such as obtains at the last moment of life, does not remove the corruption of concupiscence; nor does it diminish it in its root but in its act, as instanced in those who lie dangerously ill; nor again does it calm the powers of the soul, so as to subject them to grace, because tranquillity of the powers, and their subjection to grace, is effected when the lower powers obey the higher which delight together in God's law. But this cannot happen in that state, since the acts of both kinds of powers are impeded; unless tranquillity denote the absence of combat, as occurs even in those who are asleep; and yet sleep is not said, for this reason, to diminish concupiscence, or to calm the powers of the soul, or to subject them to grace. Moreover, granted that the aforesaid defect diminish concupiscence radically, and that it subject the powers to grace, it would still be insufficient to wash away venial sin already committed, although it would suffice in order to avoid it in the future. Because actual sin, even if it be venial, is not remitted without an actual movement of contrition, as stated above (Supplement, 2, 3), however much the latter be in the habitual intention. Now it happens sometimes that a man dies in his sleep, being in a state of grace and yet having a venial sin when he went to sleep: and such a man cannot make an act of contrition for his venial sin before he dies. Nor may we say, as they do, that if he repented neither by act nor by intention, neither in general nor in particular, his venial sin becomes mortal, for that "venial becomes mortal when it is an object of complacency"; because not all complacency in venial sin makes it mortal (else all venial sin would be mortal, since every venial sin pleases for as much as it is voluntary), but only that complacency which amounts to enjoyment, wherein all human wickedness consists, in that "we enjoy what we should use," as Augustine says [De Trin. x, 10]. Hence the complacency which makes a sin mortal is actual complacency, for every mortal sin consists in an act. Now it may happen that a man, after committing a venial sin, has no actual thought of being forgiven or of remaining in that sin, but thinks perhaps about a triangle having its three angles equal to two right angles, and while engaged in this thought falls asleep, and dies.

It is therefore clear that this opinion is utterly unreasonable: and consequently we must say with others that venial sin in one who dies in a state of grace, is remitted after this life by the fire of Purgatory: because this punishment so far as it is voluntary, will have the power, by virtue of grace, to expiate all such guilt as is compatible with grace. St. Thomas expresses himself differently, De Malo, 7, 2, ad 9,17: "Guilt is not remitted by punishment, but venial sin as to its guilt is remitted in Purgatory by virtue of grace, not only as existing in the habit, but also as proceeding to the act of charity in detestation of venial sin."

Reply to Objection 1. The gloss refers to mortal sin. Or it may be replied that although, in this life, it is not amended in itself, it is amended in merits, because a man merited here that his punishment should be meritorious to him there.

Reply to Objection 2. Venial sin arises from the corruption of the fomes, which will no longer be in the separate soul that is in Purgatory, wherefore this soul cannot sin venially. On the other hand, the remission of venial sin proceeds from the will informed by grace, which will be in the separate soul in Purgatory. Hence the comparison fails.

Reply to Objection 3. Venial sins do not alter a man's state, for they neither destroy nor diminish charity, according to which the amount of the soul's gratuitous goodness is measured. Hence the soul remains such as it was before, notwithstanding the remission or commission of venial sins.

Reply to Objection 4. After this life there can be no merit in respect of the essential reward, but there can be in respect of some accidental reward, so long as man remains in the state of the way, in a sense. Consequently in Purgatory there can be a meritorious act in respect of the remission of venial sin.

Reply to Objection 5. Although venial sin arises from the proneness of the fomes, sin results in the mind; wherefore even when the fomes is no more, sin can still remain.

Article 5. Whether the fire of Purgatory delivers from the debt of punishment?

Objection 1. It would seem that the fire of Purgatory does not deliver from the debt of punishment. For every cleansing is in respect of some uncleanness. But punishment does not imply uncleanness. Therefore the fire of Purgatory does not deliver from punishment.

Objection 2. Further, a contrary is not cleansed save by its contrary. But punishment is not contrary to punishment. Therefore one is not cleansed from the debt of punishment by the punishment of Purgatory.

Objection 3. Further, a gloss on 1 Corinthians 3:15, "He shall be saved, yet so," etc. says: "This fire is the trial of tribulation of which it is written (Sirach 27:6): The furnace tries the potter's vessels," etc. Therefore man expiates every punishment by the pains of this world, at least by death, which is the greatest punishment of all, and not by the fire of Purgatory.

On the contrary, The pains of Purgatory are more grievous than all the pains of this world, as stated above (Article 3). Now the satisfactory punishment which one undergoes in this life atones for the debt of punishment. Much more therefore is this effected by the punishment of Purgatory.

I answer that, Whosoever is another's debtor, is freed from his indebtedness by paying the debt. And, since the obligation incurred by guilt is nothing else than the debt of punishment, a person is freed from that obligation by undergoing the punishment which he owed. Accordingly the punishment of Purgatory cleanses from the debt of punishment.

Reply to Objection 1. Although the debt of punishment does not in itself imply uncleanness, it bears a relation to uncleanness by reason of its cause.

Reply to Objection 2. Although punishment is not contrary to punishment, it is opposed to the debt of punishment, because the obligation to punishment remains from the fact that one has not undergone the punishment that was due.

Reply to Objection 3. Many meanings underlie the same words of Holy Writ. Hence this fire may denote both the present tribulation and the punishment to come, and venial sins can be cleansed from both of these. That natural death is not sufficient for this, has been stated above (Sent. iv, D, 20).

Article 6. Whether one person is delivered from this punishment sooner than another?

Objection 1. It would seem that one person is not delivered from this punishment sooner than another. For the more grievous the sin, and the greater the debt, the more severely is it punished in Purgatory. Now there is the same proportion between severer punishment and graver fault, as between lighter punishment and less grievous fault. Therefore one is delivered from this punishment as soon as another.

Objection 2. Further, in point of duration unequal merits receive equal retribution both in heaven and in hell. Therefore seemingly it is the same in Purgatory.

On the contrary, is the comparison of the Apostle, who denotes the differences of venial sins by wood, hay, and stubble. Now it is clear that wood remains longer in the fire than hay and stubble. Therefore one venial sin is punished longer in Purgatory than another.

I answer that, Some venial sins cling more persistently than others, according as the affections are more inclined to them, and more firmly fixed in them. And since that which clings more persistently is more slowly cleansed, it follows that some are tormented in Purgatory longer than others, for as much as their affections were steeped in venial sins.

Reply to Objection 1. Severity of punishment corresponds properly speaking to the amount of guilt: whereas the length corresponds to the firmness with which sin has taken root in its subject. Hence it may happen that one may be delayed longer who is tormented less, and "vice versa."

Reply to Objection 2. Mortal sin which deserves the punishment of hell, and charity which deserves the reward of heaven, will, after this life, be immovably rooted in their subject. Hence as to all there is the same duration in either case. It is otherwise with venial sin which is punished in Purgatory, as stated above (Article 6).








© Copyright 2011, Thomas A. Droleskey. All rights reserved.