"Obedience is a short cut to perfection."

St Philip Neri

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"Try to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring yourself to things invisible. For they who follow their own evil passions stain their consciences and lose the grace of God. "

Thomas á Kempis

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"It is not God's will that we should abound in spiritual delights, but that in all things we should submit to his holy will."

Blessed Henry Suso

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Fr Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.  (1877 - 1964)  taught at the Angelicum in Rome from 1909 to 1960, and served for many years as a consulter to the Holy Office and other Roman Congregations.


By Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange,OP


 PART 4 : PURGATORY (cont)



The dogma of purgatory, founded in Scripture and tradition, can be deduced with certitude from revealed truths wherein it is implicitly contained. We must not confound these arguments with the reasons of
appropriateness, which we have just spoken of and which are open even to non-believers. We are now to speak of reasons which arise from revealed principles.

St. Thomas [378] expounds these theological reasons in his commentary on the Sentences. [379]

The first question is posed as follows: Is there a purgatory after death? St. Thomas gives two arguments of authority: the classic text from the Second Book of Machabees, [380] and a text of St. Gregory of Nyssa. Then he expounds the theological reason for the existence of purgatory.

According to divine justice he who dies a contrite death, but has not undergone the temporal punishment due to his sins, must endure this punishment in the other life. But at the moment of death, even when contrition has forgiven mortal sins and destroyed eternal punishment, it often happens that the temporary punishment due to these sins remains to be endured. It happens also that there remain in the soul venial sins. Divine justice therefore must insist on a temporal punishment in the other life. St. Thomas adds: "Those who deny purgatory speak therefore against divine justice and fall into heresy, as St. Gregory of Nyssa has said."

This theological reason, founded on the necessity of satisfaction, is demonstrative. It destroys the foundation of the Protestant negation. [381] It is thus formulated by the Council of Trent: [382] "It is absolutely false and contrary to the word of God to maintain that sin is never forgiven by God unless there be remitted at the same time all the punishment due to sin." [383] "This position [384] is true only of those sins forgiven by baptism. But it is not true of sins committed, with still greater ingratitude, after baptism, even when these sins were forgiven by contrition and the sacrament of penance." That baptism brings with it remission of all punishment due to sin is the reason why, in ancient times, some people put off their baptism as long as possible.

This theological reason is founded on what Scripture says concerning penance. [385] Already in the Old Testament we see that, even after the remission of sins, there often remains a temporal punishment to be endured. The Book of Wisdom says that God "brought Adam out of his sin." [386] Nevertheless he had to continue cultivating the soil in the sweat of his brow. [387] Moses, [388] in punishment of a fault already pardoned, could not enter the promised land. David [389] repented of his adultery and received pardon for it, yet he was punished by the death of his son. Jesus and His apostles preached the necessity of penance and of good works to satisfy for sins already forgiven. St. Paul [390] speaks of labors, of watchings, of fasting, which the Church has always considered as worthy fruits of penance, according to the word of the Precursor. [391] We often read in Scripture [392] that almsgiving delivers from the pain and suffering due to sin. These good works are satisfactory and at the same time meritorious. They suppose therefore the state of grace, that is, the remission of sin. [393] In the natural order it is not sufficient that one who has, for instance, kidnapped the daughter of a king simply restores her to her father. To repair the injury he must undergo a proportionate punishment.

It is not sufficient to cease sinning, not even to repent. The order of justice, if violated, must be re-established by voluntary acceptance of a compensating punishment. [394] The created will which has arisen against the divine order is bound, even after repentance, to undergo punishment. Because it has turned away from God, it is deprived of His possession for a time. Because it has preferred to Him a created good, it has to undergo a punishment called pain of sense.

But, says the Protestant objection, Christ the Redeemer has already satisfied superabundantly for all our sins. Tradition has always replied: The satisfactory merits of Christ are certainly sufficient to redeem all men, and yet they must be applied to each individual in order to be efficacious. [395] They are applied to us in baptism, and then, after our fall, by the sacrament of penance, of which satisfaction is a part. Just as the first cause does not render useless second causes but gives to them the dignity of causality, so the merits of Christ do not render our merits useless, but arouse our own wills to make us work with Him, through Him, and in Him for the salvation of souls, and in particular for our own soul. Thus St. Paul says: "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ in my flesh, for His body, which is the church." [396]

To deny the necessity of satisfaction in this world and of satispassion in purgatory amounts to denying the value of a life of reparation. Such denial involves the Lutheran negation of the necessity of good works, as if faith without works could suffice for justification and salvation.

At the end of a conference which I gave in Geneva, a Protestant, intelligent and well-instructed, came to see me. I said to him: "How could Luther come to the conclusion that faith alone and the merits of Christ suffice for salvation: that it is not necessary to observe the precepts, not even the precepts of the love of God and neighbor? " He answered me: "It is very simple." "How very simple?" "Yes," he said, "it is diabolical." "I would not dare to say that to you," I answered, "but how is it that you are a Lutheran?" "My family," he answered, "has been Lutheran for generations, but in the near future I shall enter the Catholic Church."

Father Monsabre wrote the following words : "Its principles regarding justification led Protestantism to deny the dogma of purgatory. Man, saved by faith alone, by the merits of Christ, without relation to his own deeds, need fear nothing from divine justice. Divine justice must acknowledge his audacious and imperturbable conscience in the redemptive virtue of Him whose merits he exploits, even though he himself may have violated all the commandments. The negation which follows from these principles, invented to shield the wicked, is as odious as it is absurd. It is unintelligent and barbarous, for nothing is more conformable to reason than the doctrine of the Church on purgatory, and nothing is more consoling for the heart. Protestantism, at the last hour, faces the terrible perspective: everything or nothing. How count on heaven when a man looks back on a life of sin, sees
that he is offering to God only a late repentance, without reparation for so many offenses? Hence there remains only the perspective of malediction." [397]

The chief reason for the existence of purgatory is the one we have now expounded, namely, the necessity of satisfaction for sins, mortal or venial, already forgiven. Purgatory is a place of satispassion, which
applies what was lacking on earth in the line of satisfaction.

But there are two other theological reasons for the necessity of purgatory. First, the just soul, separating from the body, often has venial sins. Secondly, sins already remitted have consequences which are called the remains of sin. Since nothing soiled can enter heaven, the soul must be purified before it can see God face to face.

That venial sins do remain is not doubtful. St. Thomas says: "A man lies in sleep, in the state of grace indeed, but with venial sin, which will not be remitted without contrition.

Many souls in the state of grace retain numerous venial sins at the moment of death." [398]

On the "remains of sin" St. Thomas [399] speaks as follows: "Mortal guilt is forgiven when grace turns the soul to God, the soul which had been turned away from Him. But there may remain an inclination toward created good. This inclination, this disposition caused by preceding acts, is called the remains of sin. These dispositions grow weaker in a soul that lives in the state of grace. They do not have the upper hand. But they do solicit the soul to fall back into sin.

Take a man who has sinned by drunkenness, and who has confessed at Easter with sufficient attrition. He has received absolution, sanctifying grace, and the infused virtue of temperance. But, not having as yet the acquired virtue of temperance, he retains the inclination to sin again. Or take the case of antipathy. If we confess with sufficient attrition, the sin is remitted, but we retain its consequences in the form of an inclination to sin again in the same way. Purgatory must erase these consequences if they are found in the soul at death.

But does not extreme unction remove these consequences? We answer: first, some die without this sacrament; secondly, some do not receive it with full dispositions. Extreme unction, [400] fortifying the soul for the last struggle, hinders disordered habitudes from harming us at the supreme moment. But these habitudes still remain, like rust. And nothing soiled can enter into glory.

Such are the theological reasons for the necessity and the existence of purgatory. First, sins already forgiven often demand a temporal suffering. Secondly, venial sins may still remain. Thirdly, defective dispositions, although their corporeal element disappears, remain as inordinate dispositions of the will. Of these three reasons, the chief is the first. It is, we think, demonstrative, because of the revealed principles on which it rests. [401]

378. Sentences, Bk. IV, dist. 21, q.1, a.1; subquestion
379. In certain edition of the Summa this Appendix is found in the Supplement after question 72, where it comprises only two articles. But in the better editions, like the Leonine (Rome, 1906), the Appendix is put at the end of the Supplement and contains eight articles. In this latter case it contains all that is said on the subject in the Commentary on the Sentences. For the sake of simplicity we shall cite the Supplement under the name of "Appendix Complete" or "Supplement."
380. II Mach. 12:45.
381. Dict. theol. cath., "Purgatoire," col. 1179 ff., 1285. This theological reasoning has been preserved by Suarez in his treatise De purgatorio, XXII, 879. It has been too little considered by recent theologians.
382. Denz., no. 904.
383. Ibid., canons 12 and 15, nos. 922, 925.
384. Ibid., no. 904.
385. Catechism of the Council of Trent, Bk. I, chap. 24, 11, Necessity of Satisfaction.
386. Wisd. 10:1.
387. Gen. 3:17.
388. Num. 20:11; Deut. 34:4.
389. II Kings 12:14.
390. II Cor. 6:5.
391.  Matt. 3:8; cf. Council of Trent, Denz., nos. 806, 807.
392. Tob. 4:11; 12:9; Ecclus. 3:33; Dan. 4:24; Luke 11:41.
393. Supplementum, q. 14, a. 2.
394. Ia IIae, q. 87, a.6. Also Appendix of the Supplement, a.7.
395. Bellarmine, De purgatorio, chap. 14.
396. Col. 1:24.
397. Conferences in Notre Dame, 1889, 97th conference,
pp. 30, 35.
398. Appendix of the Supplement, a.6; also De malo, q. 7, a. 11.
399. De malo. loc. cit. ad. 4.
400. Supplementum, q. 30, a. 1 ad 2.
401. Imitation of Christ, Bk. I, chap. 24.