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Mother?of?God Purgatory
Immaclate?Conception Hell

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The Early Church Fathers on Purgatory.


  • Early Church Fathers
  • From the Scriptures



  1. St. Cyprian of Carthage, (A.D. 200-258)
    Arnobius of Sicca, (unknown - A.D. c.320)
    Eusebius of Cæsarea, (A.D. c.263-338)
    The Apostolic Constitutions (or Constitutions of the Holy Apostles), (A.D. c.270)
    St. Athanasius of Alexandria, (A.D. 296-372)
    St. Ephrem the Syrian, (of Edessa), (A.D. 306-378)
    St. Hilary of Poitiers, (A.D. 315-367)
    St. Cyril of Jerusalem, (A.D. 315-386)
    St. Gregory of Nazianzen, (A.D. 318-389)
    St. Basil the Great, (A.D. 328-379)
    St. Gregory of Nyssa, (A.D. c.335 - c.394)
    St. Macarius of Alexandria, (late 3rd century - A.D. 395)
    St. Epiphanius of Salamis, (A.D. 332-403)
    St. Ambrose of Milan, (A.D. 340-396)
    St. Jerome, (A.D. 342-420)
    St. John Chrysostom, (A.D. 344 - 407)
    St. Paulinus of Nola, (A.D. 353-431)
St. Cyprian of Carthage, (A.D. 200-258), North African; bishop; biblical scholar, martyr.

It is one thing to stand for pardon, another thing to attain to glory; it is one thing, when cast into prison, not to go out thence until one has paid the uttermost farthing; another thing at once to receive the wages of faith and courage. It is one thing, tortured by long suffering for sins, to be cleansed and long purged by fire; another to have purged all sins by suffering. It is one thing, in fine, to be in suspense till the sentence of God at the Day of Judgment; another to be at once crowned by the Lord.

Letters 51[55]:20 [A.D. 253]

Having mentioned that some of Celerinus relatives had suffered martyrdom, he says:

"We always, as you remember, offer sacrifices for them, as often as we celebrate the sufferings and days of the martyrs on the anniversary commemoration."

Ep. xxxiv. De Celerino, p. 109.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 154-155

"It is one thing to stand for pardon, another to arrive at glory; one thing, for him who has been cast into prison, not to go out thence until he pay the last farthing, another to receive immediately the reward of faith and virtue (or courage); one thing for a man tormented by long anguish for his sins, to be cleansed and to be long purged by fire, another to have purged away all sins by suffering (martyrdom); (*) finally, one thing to wait in suspense unto the day of judgment for the sentence of the Lord, another to be crowned by the Lord immediately."

Ep. lii. ad Antonianum, pp. 154-5.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 155

Commentary on this quote:

(*) In the context, St. Cyprian is defending the practice of his Church, and that of Rome, in receiving the lapsed into the Church, after a due course of penance. He replies to the objections of Antonianus, or rather to his fears, thus: "1. Neither do we forestall the future judgment of the Lord, so as to prevent, that if He find the penitence of the sinner full and just, He may ratify what we have here decreed; whilst, if any one has deceived us by a simulated penitence, God, who is not mocked, and who sees the heart of man, may judge of those things (or persons) which we have not seen through, and the Lord rectify the sentence of His servants." 2. "Nor think that the courage of the brethren will be lessened, or martyrdoms fail, because of opening the door of penitence to the lapsed, and holding out the hope of peace to the penitent. . . . For even to adulterers a time of penitence is allowed, and peace granted. Not therefore does virginity fail in the Church, or the glorious purpose of continency languish, through the sins of others. The Church flourishes with a crown of numerous virgins, and chastity and modesty keep their course of glory, nor is the rigor of continency relaxed because penitence and pardon are meted out to the adulterer."

"The bishops our predecessors religiously considering and wholesomely providing, resolved, that no brother, departing this life, should nominate a cleric to a guardianship or executorship; and that if any one should have done this, there should be no oblation for him, nor sacrifice be celebrated on his falling asleep (for his dormition). For he does not deserve to be named in the prayer of the priests at the altar of God, who wished to withdraw from the altar the priests and ministers. And since Victor, in contravention of the rule lately given by priests in council, has presumed to appoint the presbyter Geminius Faustinus, guardian, it is not lawful that any oblation be made among you on his falling asleep (for his dormition), or any prayer in his name publicly recited in the Church."

Ep. Ixvi. ad Clerum et Plebem Furnis. p. 246.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 155-156

Arnobius of Sicca, (unknown - A.D. c.320), was an Early Christian apologist, during the reign of Diocletian (A.D. 284-305), the master of Lactantius: he was a distinguished rhetorician who taught rhetoric at Sicca, in Numidia, at the end of the third or beginning of the fourth century. He has left us seven books against the Pagans.

"In what did our Scriptures merit to be flung into the flames? Why savagely destroy our places of meeting, wherein prayer is offered to the Most High God, peace and pardon implored for all men, the magistrates, the armies, kings, friends, enemies, for those still alive, and for those freed from the trammels of their bodies."

Adv. Gentes, L iv. Lugd. Batav. 1651, p. 152: and
In Galland. T. iv. n. 17, p. 185.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 156

Eusebius of Cæsarea, (A.D. c.263-338), appointed Bishop of Cæsarea in A.D. 314, Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist, scholar of the Biblical canon who was deeply embroiled in the Arian controversy.

"The emperor (Constantine) dedicated (the Church of the Apostles), perpetuating to all ages the memory of our Saviour s Apostles: but he had also another view in building it, which at first was secret, but became in the end manifest to all. He set aside this place for the time that it would be needful at his death; looking forward, with pre-eminent alacrity of faith, to his body after death sharing the appellation of the Apostles, so also that he might be worthy (of partaking in) the prayers which would be offered there in honor of the Apostles . . . Having, therefore, raised these twelve chests, in honor and memory of the apostolic choir, he placed the receptacle for himself in the midst of them. . . . He thus dedicated the building to the Apostles, being confident within himself that the memory of the Apostles would effect aid, useful to his soul."

De Vita Const. I. iv. c. 60.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 156-157

Describing the funeral of Constantine, he thus writes:

"When his son (Constantius) had departed with his guard of soldiers, the ministers of God with the crowds, and the whole multitude of the faithful, advanced into the midst, and with prayers performed what pertains to divine worship. And the blessed prince, reposing on high, on a lofty structure, was extolled with many praises: and the whole multitude in concert with those who ministered to God, not without tears, and much lamentation, offered prayers to God for the soul of the emperor; fulfilling what was in accordance with the desires of that religious monarch. God, in this also, having shown kindness to His servant, that He had bestowed the succession to the kingdom, after his death, upon his beloved sons; and that, according to his wishes, He had vouchsafed (to unite him) with the memory of the Apostles, (Or, a burial-place in the church dedicated to their memory.) the tabernacle of his thrice-blessed soul being associated in honor with the name of the Apostles; and was, associated with the people of God, found worthy of the divine rites, and the mystic sacrifice (liturgy); and enjoyed the communion of holy prayers."

De Vita Const. I. iv. c. 71.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 157

The Apostolic Constitutions (or Constitutions of the Holy Apostles), dated A.D.c 270, is a Christian collection of eight treatises which belongs to genre of the Church Orders.

"We further offer to Thee also for all those holy persons who have pleased Thee from the beginning patriarchs, prophets, righteous men, apostles, martyrs, and all those whose name Thou knowest. . . . Let us be mindful of the holy martyrs, that we may be found worthy to be partakers of their trial. Let us pray for those who have departed in the faith."

Lib. viii. n. 13.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 184

"Let us pray for all our brethren that are at rest in Christ, that God, the lover of mankind, who has received his soul, may forgive him every sin, voluntary and involuntary, and become merciful and gracious to him, may place him in the land of the pious, who art sent unto the bosom of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, with all those that have pleased Him, and done His will from the beginning of the world, whence sorrow, grief, and lamentation are banished. . . . Do Thou now also look upon this Thy servant, whom Thou hast selected and received into another state, and forgive him if voluntarily or involuntarily he has sinned, and afford him merciful angels, and place him in the bosom of the patriarchs and prophets and Apostles, and of all those that have pleased Thee from the beginning of the world, where is no grief, sorrow, or lamentation, but the peace able reign of the godly, and of those that therein see the glory of Thy Christ."

lbid. L. viii. n. 41.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 184

"Now when you are invited to their memorials, do you feast with good order and the fear of God, as being able to intercede also for those that are departed."

lbid. n. 44.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 185

St. Athanasius of Alexandria, (A.D. 296-372), Egyptian; bishop, theologian, and Doctor of the Church. He was present, as an assistant to St. Alexander of Alexandria, at the council of Nicea who he succeeded in A.D. 326. During more than forty years he was the champion of orthodoxy, and suffered much severe persecution from the Arian party.

"To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like to leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened." (Luke 13:20-21).

Let every one that is perplexed at these words consider this, that every one whatsoever that has obtained a little leaven of virtue, but yet has not used it to make bread, though he had a wish so to do, but has not been able to do it, whether through indolence, or carelessness, or irresolution, or from putting it off from day to day, and is thus unexpectedly forestalled and cut off, such a one will not be forgotten by the just judge, but He will raise up unto him after death those of his household, and direct their minds, and draw their hearts, and bend their souls, and being thus moved, they will hasten to his assistance and help. Whence the master having touched their hearts, they will fill up what was wanting in the deceased. Whereas, he whose life has been wicked, surrounded on all sides with thorns, and full of unclean matter, who has never entered into his conscience, but fearlessly and indifferently has lain in the fetid steams of voluptuousness, doing all the incitements of the flesh, and caring nothing whatever for his soul, and having his thoughts wholly carnal, to this man, when forestalled he departs this life, no one at all shall stretch out a hand, but every thing will be so arranged in his regard, as that no assistance whatever shall be given him by wife, or children, or brothers, or relatives, or friends, because neither does God hold any measures with such a one."

Comment. in Lucam, T. ii. p. 48, Nov. Collect. Pair. Gr. (Montfaucon); and
T. iii. p. 36, Patav. 1777.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 159-160

St. Ephrem the Syrian, (of Edessa), (A.D. 306-378), Syrian; born in Nisebis, deacon, hymnist, poet. His works were even during his own lifetime almost all translated into Greek, and were, as St. Jerome informs us, held in such high estimation, as to be read in some churches after the Holy Scriptures. We have his life by St. Gregory of Nyssa.

"I now wish, brethren, to forewarn and exhort you, and to have it firmly settled that, after my departure, you make a commemoration of me, according to custom, in your prayers. . . . Do not, I beseech you, bury me with perfumes. . . . Give them not to me, but to God; but me that was conceived in sorrows bury with lamentations; and instead of a sweet odor and perfumes, assist me, I entreat you, with your prayers, always remembering me in them. . . . Come near to me, my brethren, and stretch out and compose my limbs, for my spirit has forcibly left me. And in your prayers vouchsafe to make the customary oblations for my shortcomings; and when I shall have completed the thirtieth day, make a commemoration of me; for the dead are benefited in oblations of commemoration by the living saints, (of the Anamnesis). Behold even an illustration in the individual works of God: thus that produce of the vine, the unripe grape in the field, and the expressed vine that is in the vine vessels. When, therefore, the grapes are ripe on the vine, then the wine which stands in the house, without being shaken is agitated and disturbed.

[He gives a second illustration, and proceeds.]

If then the produce of created things be thus mutually sensitive, ho w much rather are the dead affected in the commemorations of the oblations? And if you give me a scientific answer, that these instances are in accordance with the physical nature of the creatures, you will understand that you are, in some way, the first fruits of God's creatures. And if these illustrations give not full satisfaction, without I produce for you a testimony, give ear patiently to what is written, and if it please you, you will receive into your understanding what is said.

The servant of God, Moses, with blessings blessed Ruben even unto the third generation. Now if the dead are not redeemed, on what account does Moses bless Ruben to the third generation? and, if there be nothing to remind them of the resurrection, listen to what the Apostle proclaimed, "If the dead rise not again, why are they then baptized for the dead?" "For those under the law were kept, until the time of the faith that was to be, shut up in mystery in expectation of the resurrection, which was to be revealed. Since in the oblations of their divine worship, the priests under the law cleansed even those who had been wounded in battle by their unlawful acts, for they were debtors full of the unclean acts which are there recorded then with how much greater reason shall the priests of the New Testament of Christ, in the holy oblations and prayers of their lips, be able to do away with the debts of those who depart before them?"

T. ii. Gr. Testamentum, S. Eph. pp. 231, 237, 238-9.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 161-162

We now come to the Neorosima of St. Ephriem. They are eighty-five in number, and with a few exceptions, each of these pieces contains a prayer, and often more than one, for the dead. These prayers would fill, if all were given here, about twenty pages of this work.

A few extracts, as specimens, must, therefore, suffice:

"As to our duty, we undertake that the commemoration of thee shall never be neglected upon the holy altar, at which tliou didst, in chastity and piety, minister. May Father, Son and Holy Ghost, the God whom thou didst holily confess, re ward thy spirit with a life of peace free from every care, a recompense which thou hast merited."

T. iii. Syr. can. vii. pp. 234-5.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 163

"I conjure you in God's name, my companions and brethren, when you meet in the sacred ministry to sing, to remember me; let your prayer aid me, and wipe away the dust scattered in my eyes, and I will rise and give thanks to Him who raises (us) from the dead."

T. iii. Syr. can. ix. p. 236.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 163

"And now again do I beseech you, brethren and friends, and all of you that assemble in the Church, and I beg of you with tears, and I conjure you in the name of that God who has commanded me to leave you, to make a commemoration of me, when you assemble to say your prayers, beseeching God, to have mercy on me in the day of His coming, and, according to His clemency, to forgive me whatsoever sins I have committed in His sight."

T. iii. Syr. can. x.p. 239.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 163

"Let us pray distinctly and by name, my brethren, for our brother who has departed from us. Let us supplicate the judge who hearkens to the prayers of those that love Him. O God, Thou that wiliest not the death, but the life, of the sinner, in Thy goodness have mercy on Thy servant, and in Thy clemency be propitious to Thy worshipper. Enter not, O Lord, into rigorous and just judgment with Thy servant; for no one is clean from debts and faults. Remember not his sins and transgressions. Forgive his debts according to Thy clemency, and place him at Thy right hand."

T. iii. Syr. Carm. Funeb. 16, pp. 261-2.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 163

"Meanwhile, with tears and prayers overflowing from pious grief, let us supplicate for her who is dead. Receive, O Lord, according to Thy clemency, the spirit of Thy servant in peace, and according to the greatness of Thy mercies establish her in the company of Thy saints and elect; forgive her sins, unbind and pardon them; enter not into judgment with her, nor remember her errors; and as she has commended her spirit into Thy hands, defend and protect it, we beseech Thee, by the sign of Thy cross; and as she invoked Thee, on the day of her death, give heed to the voice of her supplication. Unite her to the choir of holy virgins, that she may join her song to theirs, and praise Thee who art to be praised, both by the living and the dead, for evermore."

T. iii. Syr. Necros. Can. 32, p. 288.
See Ibid. Can 4, p.230, A. B.: Can. 13, p.247, C.D. et passim.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 164

Commentary on these passages from the Neorosima of St. Ephriem:

In many of these pieces the persons prayed for are also invoked as being accounted saints, and thought to be in the enjoyment of heavenly bliss.

St. Ephraem explains this as follows: "We believe that thou art being translated, by the angels who have separated thee from us, to the abodes of the blessed a wished-for offering to thy Creator. Yet not on that account, less solicitous for thy welfare, do we omit to engage in prayer for thee; and Thee, O Lord, do we implore that Thou wouldst bestow upon Thy servant the overflowing enjoyment of good things, and tranquillize his mind with that most eagerly desired and sought after security in Heaven."

The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 164

St. Hilary of Poitiers, (A.D. 315-367), French; husband, theologian, bishop of Poiters around A.D. 355, and Doctor of the Church. Referred to as the "Hammer of the Arians" and the "Athanasius of the West.". He was obviously a firm supporter of St. Athanasius.

"In that He says, "He that believeth in me shall not be judged" (John 3:18), He has exempted believers from the judgment; and in adding, "But he that doth not believe is already judged", He admits not unbelievers to judgment. If then He has exempted believers, and rejected unbelievers, a state of judgment not being permitted either as regards one class, or the other, how is He to be understood to be consistent with Himself when He says in the third place, "But this is the judgment because the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light (19)". For there can be no room left for judgment, when neither believers, nor unbelievers, are to be judged. And this will seem to be the case, to careless hearers, and to uninquiring readers. . . .But, after having set aside the judgment in the case of believers, and unbelievers, the Lord has subjoined the cause for judgment, and the parties on whom it is needful to pass judgment. For some there are who hold a middle place between the pious and the impious, compounded of both, but belonging strictly to neither, men made up at the same time of both; who are not to be associated with the faithful (faith) seeing that there is something of faithlessness mixed up in them, nor to be classed with the faithless, in as much as they have something of faith too. For the fear of God keeps many in the Church, but the blandishments of the world tempt them also to the vices of the world. They pray, but from fear; they sin, from will: they call themselves Christians, because the hope of eternity is good: but their deeds are heathenish, because the things present are pleasant. They do not continue in impiety because the name of God is in honor with them; they are not pious, because they do things alien to piety. . . Upon these, then, is the judgment (which has already been passed upon the unbelieving, and is not necessary for the believing), "because they loved darkness rather than light:" not that they loved not the light also, but their love leant more towards darkness."

Tract, in Ps. i. n. 16-7, pp. 28-9.
See also a similar passage in Tract, in Ps. Ivii. n. 7, p 14-3. 1
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 157-159

Commentary on this quote

There are scattered through the works of St. Hilary, a great variety of passages relative to the state of the soul after death; but there is no one passage which can be adduced as presenting a complete view of his doctrine on this subject. His obscure and complicated style has also given occasion to various misapprehensions in this instance, as on various other matters. The following will be found to be a summary of his teaching:

"1. That every soul is judged immediately after death. 2. That besides this particular judgment, there is, after the resurrection, a general judgment, at which the wicked will appear, not so much to be judged as to receive their sentence, as also will the saints, to receive theirs. 3. That those who are neither utterly wicked nor perfectly holy, will therefore be alone, strictly speaking, judged, upon the reunion of soul and body. 4. That all, even the most righteous, will, after the resurrection, have to pass through fire, the just unscathed, but not so the wicked. 5. That as regards the state of souls, the martyrs, immediately after their passion, enter into the heavenly kingdom, and the perfectly righteous into rest and happiness in the "bosom of Abraham"; whilst the impious, separated from the just by an immense chaos, are consigned also at once to punishment in the "avenging fire." 6. That besides these, there are others, as stated in the text, who hold a middle place between the just and the unjust, and who are reserved in a condition neither of perfect happiness nor of utter woe, but awaiting the sentence to be passed on them at the final judgment."

From this statement it will be seen that St. Hilary agrees with and illustrates St. Cyprian in (Ep. 52, ad Anton.) See the passages collected in the preface, sect. 7, 8, pp. lxxiv.- lxxxi., Benedictine edition

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, (A.D. 315-386), Palestinian; ordained by Maximus, he was made bishop of Jerusalem in A.D. 345; scholar and Doctor of the Church. None of his writings have been preserved to us, except eighteen catechetical instructions addressed to catechumens, and five mystagogic discourses addressed to neophytes.

Then we make mention also of those who have already fallen asleep: first, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, that through their prayers and supplications God would receive our petition, next, we make mention also of the holy fathers and bishops who have already fallen asleep, and, to put it simply, of all among us who have already fallen asleep. For we believe that it will be of very great benefit to the souls of those for whom the petition is carried up, while this holy and most solemn sacrifice is laid out.

Catechetical Lectures 23:5:9 [A.D. 350]

"Then we also commemorate those who have fallen asleep before us, first patriarchs, prophets, Apostles, that God, by their prayers and intercessions, would receive our petition: then also on behalf of the holy fathers, and bishops who have fallen asleep before us, and of all, in short, who have already fallen asleep from amongst us, believing that it will be a very great assistance to the souls, for which the supplication is put up, while the holy and most awful sacrifice lies to open view. And I wish to persuade you by an illustration: for I know many that say this, "What is a soul profited, which departs from this world, either with sins, or without sins, if it be commemorated in the prayer?" . . . Now surely, if a king had banished, certain who had offended him, and their connections, having woven a crown, should offer it to him on behalf of those under his vengeance, would he not grant a respite to their punishments? In the same way, we also, offering up to Him supplications on behalf of those who have fallen asleep before us, even though they be sinners, weave no crown, but offer up for our sins, Christ crucified, propitiating, both on their behalf and our own, the God that loves man."

Catech. Mystag. v. (Alit. Catech. 23), n. 9-10, p. 328.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 160-161

St. Gregory of Nazianzen, (A.D. 318-389), Cappadocian; archbishop, theologian, Doctor of the Church.

"We, the pious parents of Gregory, have gladly put on this robe of earth, from the hands of our beloved child, who both by his labors rendered our old age light, and who now follows (or aids) us with sacrifices."

"Flying from evil, pursuing virtue, living to the Spirit walking after the Spirit, from the Spirit drawing knowledge building upon the foundation of faith, not wood, not hay, not stubble; a substance weak and easily utterly consumed, when by fire He shall judge or purify what is ours, but gold, silver, precious stones, things that abide and stand."

T. i. Or. iii. p. 49.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 166-167

St. Basil the Great, (A.D. 328-379), Cappadocian; bishop of Cæsarea in A.D. 369, theologian, monk. Studied in Palestine, Constantinople, and Athens. Many of the subsequent years of his life were spent in the deserts of Egypt and Libya. His character and works have gained for him the surname of "the great"..

"Through the wrath of the Lord has the whole earth been burned. (Isaiah 9:19). These words point out that earthly things shall, for the benefit of the soul, be given up to that penal fire, as the Lord also declares, saying, "I came to cast fire upon, the earth." (Luke 12:49), and have wished to see if it be already enkindled. And the people shall be as a man burnt by fire. (Isaiah 9:19) It threatens not extermination, but denotes purgation, agreeably to what is said by the Apostle, that, "If a man's work burn, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire." (1 Corinthians 3:15)

T. i. P. ii. Comm. in Esai. c. ix. n. 231, pp 98-9.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 167

Commenatary on this quote:

St. Basil says: "If thy sins be manifold, be not cast down at their number, for, Where sin abounded, grace did more abound (Romans 5:20), provided thou receive that grace; for to him that owes much, much also shall be remitted, that his love may be the greater. But if thy sins be little and trifling, and not unto death why are thou troubled about the future, thou who hast gone through the past not unmanfully, and this when not yet instructed in the law?"

The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 167

St. Gregory of Nyssa, (A.D. c.335 - c.394), bishop of Nyssa in A.D. 371, an erudite theologian who made significant contributions to the doctrine of the Trinity and the Nicene creed. Gregory's philosophical writings were influenced by Origen. He was the brother of the great St. Basil.

"As they who are purifying gold from matter mingled with it, do not merely melt with fire the alloy, but it is absolutely necessary that the pure gold be melted together with the adulterate matter, and when this has been thoroughly consumed, the gold remains; so is it absolutely necessary that, whilst the evil is being consumed by the fire that rests not, the soul that is united with that evil, be also in that fire, until that alloy and dross and adulterate matter commingled with the soul be utterly destroyed, consumed by the everlasting fire. . . . And the measure of the pain is the quantity of evil in each one. For it is not fitting that he who has lived to so great an extent in forbidden evils, and he who has been engaged in moderate transgressions, should be equally afflicted in the sentence passed on their evil state; but that, according to the quantity of that matter, the painful fire be, either for a longer, or a shorter, time, enkindled, according as there may be wherewith to feed it. For him, therefore, in whom there is a heavy load of alloy, there must needs be a great, and more enduring flame, to consume it; whilst to him, in whom that consuming fire is commingled for a shorter time, so much of the greater activity and bitterness of the punishment is remitted, as the amount of the evil to which it is applied is lessened."

T. iii. De Anim. et Resurr. pp. 226-7.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 164-165

Commentary on this quote:

The author proceeds in a similar strain through several pages; but as,
justly or unjustly, this part of St. Gregory's treatise has been suspected of
having been interpolated by the followers of Origen.

Treating of the future state of new-born infants who die unbaptized, he asks:

"What are we to think of such? What are we to hold concerning those who have died in this manner? Will that soul too behold the Judge? Will it stand with the rest before the judgment-seat? Will it receive a recompense according to its deserts, either purified by fire according to the declarations of the Gospel, or refreshed with the dew of benediction?"

T. iii. DePraemat. Abrept.p. 322.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 165

Commentary on this quote:

In various parts of his writings St. Gregory Nyssa teaches that the souls of
the just are admitted into Heaven immediately after death.

Explaining wherefore, after man's fall, God did not destroy free will, and force man to be virtuous, he says:

"In order, therefore, that the power (of free-will) might continue in human nature, and yet evil cease, the wisdom of God discovered this device, to permit man to be in those things which his will has chosen; that, having tasted of the evil things which he had desired, and learnt by experience what an exchange he had made, he might thereby be impelled to hasten back with gladness to his former happiness, shaking off from his nature, as a burden, whatsoever is contrary to reason, and is the offspring of the passions; being either purified during this present life, by means of prayer and the pursuit of wisdom, or, after his departure from this life, (purified) by means of the furnace of the fire of purgation."

T. iii. De Mortuis, Or. p. 634.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 165-166

"If man, indeed, thoroughly distinguish what is the characteristic of an irrational creature, and have respect unto himself by a more befitting mode of life, he will make the present life cleanse away the evil mixed up with him, by reason overcoming what is unreasonable. But if his preference lean towards giving a preponderating weight to the passions which are opposed to reason ... his will, after this, will be turned to what is good, after a different manner, being taught, after quitting this body, the difference between vice and virtue, in the not being able to partake of the Divinity, the purgatorial fire not having cleansed away the filthiness that has been mixed up with the soul."

T. iii. De Mortuis, Or. p. 635.
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"Some there are who, throughout their life in the flesh, regulate their lives in a spiritual manner, and free from (evil) passions; such, we are told, were the patriarchs and prophets, and they who lived with them and after them, men who hastened back to the perfect by means of virtue and the pursuit of wisdom . . . whilst others, through their entry into the future state, have cast aside, in the purgatorial fire, their propensity to the material, and have returned gladly, from an eager desire of good things, to that grace which was at first the inheritance of our nature."

T. iii. De Mortuis, Or. p. 636.
See also t. i. De Beatitudin. p. 809.
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St. Macarius of Alexandria, (late 3rd century - A.D. 395), also known as Marcarius the Younger, an extreme ascetic and disciple of St. Anthony ; he died, at an extreme old age, in the year 395., numerous miracles were ascribed to him. He presided over five thousand Nitric monks.

And the Abbot Macarius continued:

"I beseech you, explain to me this also. Since it has been handed down from the fathers, that an oblation is to be offered up unto God in the Church for the dead, on the third, the ninth, and the thirtieth day, what is the advantage accruing from this to the soul that has passed away?

And he saith: God has not permitted anything to have place in the Church inopportunely or unavailingly, but has permitted His celestial and terrestrial mysteries to have place in His Church; and He commanded (this) to be done. For, on the third day, when the oblation takes place, the departed soul receives from the angel that has it under care, consolation from the grief at having been separated from the body, because benediction and oblation, on its behalf, have followed it in the Church of God. And on this it becomes full of hope.

[He then says that during two days the soul is suffered to wander at pleasure, and to visit its old haunts, but on the third is recalled, raised to Heaven, and there, for the space of six days contemplates its joys.]

Rightly, therefore does the Church hold that oblation and prayer be offered for the soul on the third day."

"But if it is conscious of the guilt of sin, it begins, as it be holds the enjoyments of the saints, to be grieved and to condemn itself, saying, "Alas! how foolishly have I lived in the world in heedlessness, not serving God as became me, that I too might be worthy of His grace and glory. . . . Alas! I know not how I could have been so blind. Woe is me, no one will now be able to help me, that I, unhappy that I am, may also attain to the glory of the Lord." After having contemplated, during six days, all the joy of the just, it is again borne up by angels to adore God. Rightly, therefore, does the Church make an oblation, celebrating liturgical services, and an oblation for the dead on the ninth day. Then, after the second adoration, there comes again the command of the Lord of all, to lead it unto Hell, and to show it the punishments there, and Hell's varied torments, and the various chastisements of the unrighteous, which the souls of the sinners there placed lament unceasingly with gnashing of teeth. And the soul is borne about amidst these varieties of punishment during thirty days, trembling, lest she too be condemned to be kept in so horrible a place. And, on the fortieth day, it is borne up again to adore the Lord. And then, according to its works, the judge appoints the place of its imprisonment. Rightly, therefore, are there observed in the Church commemorations of the baptized dead. But with the souls of those who have not received baptism it is not thus. But unsparing angels rudely seize the unilluminated souls as they quit the bodies, scourging them, and saying, "Here, unrighteous soul, (know) who is thy Lord, and the Lord of all, Christ, whom thou wouldst not acknowledge during thy heedless life in the world. Know Him now,"

Galland, t. vii. Serm. De Excessu, n. 3-5, pp. 238-9.
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St. Epiphanius of Salamis, (A.D. 332-403), Palestinian; bishop, abbot, scholar.

""He Aërius next asks, "On what account do you, after their death, name the names of the departed? For, if the living prays, or shall give his substance to the poor, wherein shall the departed be benefited? But if, in fact, the prayers of those here aid those there, why, then, let no one be henceforward pious, or do any good action, but obtain, in whatever way he chooses, a certain number of friends, whether procured by money or obtained at the close of life, and let those friends pray for them, that they may not suffer anything there, and that what is due to their fearful transgressions may not be required at their hands."

As regards the giving out the names of the departed, what more useful than this? What more opportune than this, and more to be admired, that they that are present may believe that the departed live, and are not in a state of annihilation, hut are, and live with the Lord; and how could any more remarkable proof be exhibited that they that pray for the brethren have hopes of them, as of men that are departed on journey. Furthermore, the prayer that is made on their behalf is of assistance, even though it may not rescind the whole of the accusations against them. And, moreover, as whilst in this world we frequently stumble either wittingly or unwittingly, (this prayer for the dead avails) that what is more perfect be made clear unto us. For we make a commemoration of the just and on behalf of sinners; on behalf of sinners, supplicating for mercy from God; and for the just, both patriarchs, prophets, Apostles, evangelists, martyrs, confessors, bishops also, and anchorites, and of the whole host of the just, in order that on account of the honor which we pay to Christ, we may separate Him from the race of men, and may render homage to Him with the feeling that the Lord is not to be likened to any child of man. . . . And again, to take up the thread of my argument, the Church necessarily does this, having received a tradition to this effect from the fathers. But shall any one be able to annul a mother's command or a father's law? Even as was said by Solomon, "My son hear the words of thy father, and forsake not the laws of thy mother." (Proverbs 1:8), pointing out that the Father (that is, the only-begotten God) and the Holy Spirit, have taught both in the written and in the unwritten word, and that our holy mother the Church has laws abiding in her indissoluble; incapable, that is, of being dissolved. Laws, therefore, which are excellent, and all admirable, having been settled in the Church, this deceiver (Aerius) is again convicted."

T. i. Adv. Hæres. (75) pp. 908, 911, 912.
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Commentary on this quote:

In the Exposition of Faith and Practice, given at the close of his work against heresies, St. Epiphanius again mentions the custom of praying and sacrificing for the dead.

St. Ambrose of Milan, (A.D. 340-396), German; reluctantly made bishop in the A.D. 374., Doctor of the Church. He closed a great and glorious career in A.D. 396. We have his life by Paulinus.

Give perfect rest to thy servant Theodosius, that rest which thou hast prepared for thy saints. . . I have loved him, and therefore will I follow him into the land of the living; nor will I leave him until by tears and prayers I shall lead him wither his merits summon him, unto the holy mountain of the Lord.

Funeral Sermon of Theodosius 36-37 [A.D. 395]

"Thou hast tried us by fire" (Psalms 16:3), says David: Therefore shall we all be "tried by fire". And Ezekiel says; "Behold the Lord Almighty cometh and who shall abide the day of His coming? or who shall stand to see Him?. . . And He shall sit refining and cleansing the gold and silver and He shall purify the sins of Levi and shall pour them out as gold and as silver; and they shall offer sacrifice to the Lord in justice." (Malachi 3:2-3) With fire, therefore, shall be purged the sons of Levi; with fire Ezekiel; with fire Daniel. But these, although they shall be tried by means of fire, yet shall they say, "We have passed through fire and water." (Psalm 65:2) Others shall remain in fire; unto the former the fire shall be as dew, as it was to the Hebrew children, who were cast into the fiery furnace; but the avenging flame shall burn the servants of iniquity. Woe to me if my work burn, and I suffer the loss of this labor! Though the Lord shall save His servants; yet shall we be saved through faith, "saved yet so as by fire;" and if we are not utterly burned, yet shall we burn. How it is that some remain in fire, whilst others pass through it, we are instructed by the divine Scripture in another place. Thus the Egyptian people was sunk in the Red Sea, the Jews passed through it. Moses passed through; Pharaoh was over whelmed, because weightier sins drowned him."

T. i. Enarr. in Ps. xxxvi. n. 26, pp. 789-90..
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"There is more than one baptism: one is the baptism which the Church here confers by water and the Holy Ghost, where with the catechumens must needs be baptized. . . . There is also, on the threshold of Paradise, a baptism, which originally was not; but after that the sinner was cast forth, there began to be a fiery sword, — placed there by God, — which originally was not, when sin was not. Guilt began, and baptism began, wherewith they might be purified who sought to return to Paradise; that having returned they might say: "We have passed through fire and water." Here through water, there through fire. Through water, that sins may be washed away; through fire, that they may be utterly burnt away.... To wit, this baptism is to be after the end of the world, when the angels have been sent to separate the good from the bad: when, by a furnace of fire, iniquity shall be utterly burnt; that in the kingdom of God the just may shine as the sun itself in the kingdom of its Father. And if one be holy as Peter, or John, he is baptized with this fire. The great baptist, therefore, will come, and seeing many standing before the entrance into Paradise, he will wave the moving sword, and will say to those who are on his right hand, and who are without any grievous sins, "Enter in, ye who presume, who fear not the fire." .. Let then the consuming fire come; let it utterly burn away from within us the lead of iniquity, the iron of sin, and make us pure gold. But as he that is cleansed here, must needs be again purified there; may that which the Lord shall say also purify us there. — "Enter into my rest", that so each of us that has been burnt, but not utterly consumed, by that flaming sword, when he has entered upon that lovely paradise, may give thanks to his Lord, saying, "Thou hast brought us into a refreshment." (Psalms 65:12) Whosoever, therefore, shall pass through the fire, enters into rest: he passes from the material and the earthly, to the incorruptible and the eternal. One is this fire, which the Lord Jesus has prepared for His servants, wherewith sins, not voluntary, but casual, are utterly burnt away ...; another that fire which He has appointed for the devil and his angels, concerning which (fire) He says, "Go ye into everlasting fire (Matthew 25:41), in which that rich man was burning", who begged a drop of water from the finger of Lazarus."

T. i. Expos, in Ps. cxviii. (Gimel) n. 14-17, pp. 997-8

A similar passage occurs, Ibid. (Resh) n. 12-15, pp. 1225-26, and he concludes this same discourse in the following manner:

"We must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ; that every one may receive according as he hath done, whether it be good or evil. Thou seest that Paul also will stand there, as himself declares. Beware of wood, beware of stubble; carry not with thee unto the judgment of God what the fire can consume. Beware lest whilst thou hast one or two things which may be approved, thou carry with thee what, in many works, may offend. "If any man's work burn he shall suffer loss; yet he himself can be saved by fire." Whence it is deduced that the same man is both saved in part, and is condemned in part. Knowing therefore that many are the judgments, let us examine all our works. In a just man the serious burning of some one work is a grievous loss; in the impious man the punishment is fraught with woe. Rather let all the judgments be replete with grace, be pregnant with verdant crowns, lest haply while our actions are weighed in the balance, the guilt weigh down the scale." "Thou shalt not go thence until thou pay the very last mite." Luke 12:59

T. i. Expos. Ev. sec. Luc. n. 158, col. 1448.
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Speaking of the death of his brother, Satyrus, he says,

"The poor too wept, and what is far more precious, and more beautiful, they washed away his sins with their tears. These are redeeming tears, these lamentations that hide the pang of death."

"There is, therefore, no doubt but that the patronage of the Apostles is by your tears procured; there is no doubt, I say, but that Christ was moved to pity, at the sight of your tears. Though he has not here touched the bier, yet has He received the soul that has been commended to Him; and though He have not called unto the departed with His voice as when in the body, yet has He, by the authority of His divine power, liberated his soul from the pains of death, and from the assaults of spiritual wickedness."

He thus concludes:

"Do not, I beg, delay me long who am anxious to come unto Thee; wait for me as I hasten to Thee; aid me as I hurry onward; and if I shall seem to Thee to tarry too long, summon me. . . . To Thee now, O Almighty God, do I commend a spotless soul, to Thee do I offer my victim: receive propitiously and serenely a brother's gift, a priest's sacrifice."

T. ii. De Excess. Fr. Satyri, n. 5, pp. 1115; n. 79-80, pp. 1134-35.
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"Give to his soul (manes) (or, give freely) the holy mysteries; with pious affection let us beg rest for his soul. Give the heavenly sacraments; let us follow (or, aid) the nephew's soul with our oblations. Lift up, ye people, your hands with mine unto the holies, that by duty (or, gift) we may make a return for his merits."

T. ii. De Obitu Valentin, n. 56, p. 1189.
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"Blessed shall both of you be (Gratian and Valentinian) if my prayers can avail anything; no one day shall pass you over in silence; no prayer (or discourse) of mine shall omit to honor you; no one night shall hurry by without bestowing on you a mention in my prayers; in every one of the oblations will I remember you."

T. ii. De Obitu Valentin, n. 78, p. 1194.
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"We lately raised up our voices together on the death of this prince (Theodosius), and now, while prince Honorius is present before our altars, we celebrate the fortieth day, because as holy Joseph rendered to his father Jacob the dutiful rites of burial during forty days, so also does this prince perform what is just towards his father, Theodosius.

[He then notices that some observed the third and the thirteenth days, and others the seventh and fortieth.]

I am bruised in heart, because a man has been taken from us whose like we can hardly find; but yet Thou alone, O Lord, art to be invoked, Thou to be implored, to make him stand (present) amongst Thy sons. Do Thou, O Lord, who keepest even the little ones in this state of lowliness, save those who put their hopes in Thee. Give perfect rest to Thy servant Theodosius, that rest which Thou hast prepared for Thy saints: may his soul return thither whence it descended; where it cannot feel the sting of death; where it may learn that this death is the end, not of nature, but of guilt.... I loved him, and therefore will I follow him even unto the land of the living, nor will I leave him, until, by tears and prayers, I shall lead him, whither his merits summon him, unto the holy mountain of the Lord, where is life undying, where corruption is not, nor contagion, nor sighing, nor mourning, nor fellowship with the dead; the true land of the living, where this mortal may put on immortality."

lb. de Obit, Theodos. n. 3, 36-37, pp. 1197 98, 1207-8.
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St. Jerome, (A.D. 342-420), Dalmatian; born in Strido; priest, hermit, abbot, biblical scholar, translator and Doctor of the Church. In an age distinguished by men of the greatest eloquence and learning, St. Jerome, especially in all matters connected with the Sacred Scriptures, was then preeminent, and has probably never since been equalled.

In a letter of consolation to Pammachius, on the death of his wife Paulina, he says:

"Other husbands strew violets, roses ... on the graves of their wives, and soothe with these offices the sorrow of their hearts; our Pammachius bedews the hallowed dust, and the venerable remains of Paulina with balsams of alms. With these pigments and swset odors does he refresh her slumbering ashes, knowing that it is written, that as water quenches fire, so do alms extinguish sin."

T. i. Ep. lxvi. ad Pammach. n. 5, col. 394-5.
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"Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ, are perished" (1 Corinthians 15); who, though they be dead are not to perish by a perpetual death, because they are not held in mortal sin, but in light and slight sin. . . . For there is a sleep of sin which leads unto death, and there is another slumber of transgression, which is not oppressed with death."

Ib. Ep. cxix. ad Minerv. et Alex—ad. n. 7, col. 800.
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Writing against Jovinian, who taught that all are equal in Heaven, he says:

"If he whose work has burned, and perished, and who has endured the loss of his own labor, shall lose indeed the reward of his labor, but shall himself be saved, not however without the probation of fire, then shall he, whose work shall abide which he built up (or upon), be saved without the probation of fire, and between salvation and salvation there will undoubtedly be a certain diversity."

T. ii. L. ii. contr. Jovin n. 22, col. 360.
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"But whereus thou (Ruffinus) imprecatest against the brethren, that is, against thy accusers, everlasting fires with the devil, thou dost not seem to me so much to weigh heavily on the brethren, as to relieve the devil, when he is (but) to be punished with the same fire as Christians."

lb. L. i. contr. Ruffin. n. 7, col. 495-6.
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"If you cut off a finger, or the tip of the ear, there is pain indeed, but not so grievous a loss, nor, besides the pain, so grievous a deformity, as if you were to pluck out an eye, cut off the nose, or slit the mouth. We can live without some limbs, without others we cannot. There are light sins, and there are grievous ones. It is one thing to owe ten thousand talents, another to owe a farthing. And for an idle word shall we be held guilty, as well as for adultery; but it is not the same thing to be covered with shame, as to be tortured; to blush, as to be tormented for a lengthened period. Think you that we say this of our own. Listen to the Apostle John, "He that knoweth his brother to sin a sin which is not to death, let him ask, and he shall give life to him who sinneth not to death. But who so hath sinned unto death, who shall pray for him? (1 John 5:16.) You see that if we pray for lesser sins, we shall obtain pardon: if for greater, the obtaining pardon of them is difficult; and that between sin and sin there is a wide distance. Wherefore is it also said to Jeremias, concerning the people of Israel, who had sinned a sin unto death, Do not thou pray for this people. (Jeremiah 7:16) But if we all both enter into the world, and leave it with equal merit (equally), and this is a sample of the things to come, it follows that whether we be just or sinners, we shall be held in similar regard before God, seeing that we are now both born, and we die in the same way."

lb. Adv. Jovinian. n. 30, col. 372.
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"If Origen assert that no rational creature is to be utterly lost, and grant penitence to the devil, what is that to us, who declare that the devil and his associates, and all the impious and prevaricators perish everlasting, and that Christians, if they be overtaken in sin by death, are to be saved after being punished."

T. ii. Contr. Pelag. n. 28, col. 712.
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"The worm which shall not die, and the fire which shall not be extinguished, are understood by many to be that consciousness of sins which torments those who are in a state of punishment... so, however, as not to deny that the punishment of prevaricators, and of all those who deny the Lord, is eternal, seeing that the Lord says in the Gospel, "Go into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and, his angels." And elsewhere "bind his hands and feet," (Matthew 22:13). . . Now they who would fain have it that the punishments are some time or other to have an end, and that the torments, though after a long period, yet still, come to a close, make use of these texts: Romans 12:25; Galatians 3:22 ; Micheas 7:9-12; Psalms 30:20; all which testimonies they heap together in their wish to prove their assertion, that, after pains and torments, there will be refreshments, which are now to be kept from the knowledge of those to whom fear is of use, that, in their dread of punishment, they may refrain from sin. This we ought to leave entirely to the knowledge of God alone, not only whose mercies, but also whose chastisements also are nicely balanced, and He knows whom, when, and how long He ought to judge. And let our language be such as alone benefits human frailty. "O Lord, rebuke me not in Thy indignation, nor chastise me in Thy wrath." And as we believe that the torments of the devil, and of all those who deny (the Lord), and of the impious, who "have said in their hearts, There is no God," are eternal, so also do we think that the sentence of the judge upon sinners and impious men, but still Christians, whose works are to be tried and purged in fire, is tempered and mixed with clemency."

T. iv. Z. xviii. in Isai. in fine.
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"Death is that whereby the soul is separated from the body; Hell is the place wherein souls are shut up, either in refreshment, or in pain, according to the nature of their deserts."

T. vi. L. iii. Com. in Osee. col. 152.
See also T. i. Comm. in Matt. col. 28.
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St. John Chrysostom, (A.D. 344 - 407), Syrian; archbishop, Doctor of the Church. Born at Antioch in 344; he was ordained priest in A.D. 383, and raised to the see of Constantinople in the year A.D. 398. His eloquence gained him the title of Chrysostom, or the mouth of gold. His expositions of Scripture, especially the Epistles of St. Paul, are very valuable. This illustrious prelate died on his road to exile, in A.D. 407.

Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice [Job l:5), 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

Homilies on First Corinthians 41:5 [A.D. 392]

Not in vain was it decreed by the apostles that in the awesome mysteries remembrance should be made of the departed. They knew that here there was much gain for them, much benefit. When the entire people stands with hands uplifted, a priestly assembly, and that awesome sacrificial victim is laid out, how, when we are calling upon God, should we not succeed in their defense? But this is done for those who have departed in the faith, while even the catechumens are not reckoned as worthy of this consolation, but are deprived of every means of assistance except one. And what is that? We may give alms to the poor on their behalf.

Homilies on Philippians 3:9-10 [A.D. 402]

"In the world ye shall have distress." (St. John 16) But nothing like this is said of those that are there, but all the contrary; "grief, sorrow and sighing have fled away" (Isaiah 25); and that they shall come from the East and from the West, and shall recline in the bosom of Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob (St. Matthew 8); and that there is a spiritual bridechamber, and shining lamps, and a translation to Heaven. Why then dost thou put to shame the departed? Why dispose others to fear and tremble at death? Why cause many to accuse God, as though He had done very many dreadful things? Yea rather why after this dost thou invite the poor, and beg of priests to pray?

In order, you say, "that he that is dead may depart into rest; in order that he may have the judge propitious." For these things then art thou mourning and wailing. . . .And to whom, you say, "shall we leave our garments, to whom our houses, our servants and our lands?" To him again, and in a safer way, than if he were living: for there is nothing to hinder this. For if even the barbarians burn with the dead their property, much more is it just that thou send away with the dead his property, not that it be reduced to ashes, like those, but that it may invest him with more glory; and if indeed he departed a sinner, that it may loose his sins, but if a just man, that it may become an increase of reward and recompense."

T. vii. Hom. xxxi. in Matt. n. 4, pp. 409-10.
See also T. vi. Hom, xxviii. (al. xxix.) n. 3, p. 381.
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"Not in vain are oblations made on behalf of the departed; not in vain supplications; not in vain alms. All these things has the Spirit ordained, wishing us to be aided by each other. For observe, he is aided by thee; and thou art aided by him. Thou hast not considered money, impelled to do something generous; and thou to him hast become the cause of salvation, and he to thee of almsgiving. Doubt not but he will reap some profit. Not unadvisedly does the deacon cry out, "For the departed in Christ, and for those that are making a memorial of them." It is not the deacon that utters this sentence, but the Holy Spirit, I mean his gift. What sayest thou? The sacrifice is in the hands (of the priest), and all things lie to open view fairly disposed; angels, archangels are present; the Son of God is present; all stand with so great awe; they stand by crying aloud, whilst all the rest are silent; and thinkest thou that all this is done in vain. Then too is all the rest in vain, both what is offered for the Church, and what for the priests, and what for the fullness? Not so; but all is done with faith. What, thinkest thou, that oblation is made for the martyrs, because they are named at that hour? Though they be martyrs, yea, though above martyrs, great is the honor to be named when the Lord is present; when that death is consummated; that awful sacrifice; these ineffable mysteries. For see; that awful mystery,— that God gave Himself for the world, is announced; with that marvel seasonably does He bring to mind those that have sinned. For as, when the trophies of kingly victories are carried forth, both they who had a share in the victory have their praises then celebrated, and they who are in bonds are liberated on account of the occasion; but, when that occasion has passed by, he that has gained nothing, thenceforward derives no benefit from it,— so also in sooth here, this is the season of trophies: for, says he, "As often as you shall eat this bread, you show forth the death of the Lord." For another cause do we make mention of martyrs, and this in testimony of our faith that the Lord is not dead, and that this, his having become a dead man, is a sign that death is dead. Knowing these things, let us think what consolations we are able to afford to the departed; instead of tears, lamentations and monuments; alms, prayers, oblations, that so both they and we may attain to the promised blessings."

T. ix. in Acta Apost. Horn. xxi. n. 4, p. 188-9.1
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 179-181

The following curious passage occurs earlier in the same homily:

"Wonldst thou learn that this (death) is not the time for tears? This is that great mystery of the wisdom of God. The soul goes forward in haste to its Lord, as though it were leaving a dwelling. . . . Tell me, why dost thou lament? For dost thou thus only over sinners?. . . This man has squandered away his whole life in vain; neither did he live a single day for himself, but for pleasure, for luxury, for avarice, for sin, for the devil. Shall we not bewail such a one? Tell me: shall we not try to snatch him from his dangers? For it is in our power, it is indeed in our power, if we choose, for his punishment to be lessened. If we pray continually for him; if we give alms, even though he himself be unworthy, yet will God hear us. If for Paul's sake He saved others, and for the sake of other men He has spared others, why will He not for our sakes do the same? But out of his wealth; out of thine own; out of what source thou pleasest, aid him. Pour in oil yea, rather, water. Has he not alms of his own to offer? Then at least let him offer those of his relations. Has he not alms that have been given by himself, at least let him have them given for him. Thus with confidence will his wife petition for him, having put down his ransom for him. The more sins he has been subject to, so much the more does he stand in need of alms. And not for this cause only, but that he has not equal power, nay, far less. For it is not the same for him to do a thing himself, and for another to do it for him. As then the power is less, let us make it greater by the abundance of it (alms). Let not our solicitude be about his tomb, and his funeral rites. Place widows round him; that is the most important funeral rite. Tell them his name; bid them all put up their prayers and supplications for him. This will propitiate God; even though not by himself, but another for his sake is the cause of almsgiving. And this is an evidence of the mercy of God. Widows standing round and weeping, are able to snatch not from present, but even from that future death. Many have been benefited by alms given for them even by others. For though not a complete, yet have they experienced some consolation: since, if this be not so, how are little children saved? Whereas in their case they contribute nothing, but their parents all; and women have often had children vouchsafed them, though those children on their parts contribute not anything. God has given us many ways of being saved, only let us neglect them not. "But what", you say, "if one be poor?" Again, I say, the quantity of the alms is not reckoned from what is given, but from the will. Only give not less than thine ability, and thou hast discharged the whole. But, "What, you say, if he be solitary and a stranger, and have no one (to aid him)?" Tell me, why has he no one? For this very thing does he pay the penalty, that he has no one so friendly, so virtuous. This happens in our case, in order that if we ourselves be not virtuous, we may take care to have companions and friends that are virtuous, and wife and child, as reaping some benefit even for their sakes: reaping indeed little. but something nevertheless. If thy care be to marry, not a rich but a religious wife, thou shalt enjoy this consolation: in like manner, if thy care be to leave behind thee, not a rich but a religious son, and a chaste daughter, so also shalt thou enjoy this consolation. If these things be thy care, thou also wilt be the same. And this too is a part of virtue, to choose such persons as friends, as wife, as child."

lb. I.c.n. 3,4, pp. 186-8.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 181-182

"But I know not, you say, whither he has gone. Wherefore know you not; tell me? For, whether he lived well or otherwise, it is evident whither he will go. For this very reason, you say, "I do I lament; because he departed a sinner." This is but a pretext and excuse. For if, on this account, you bewail him that is departed, it was thy duty to reform and correct him while he was alive. But thou everywhere lookest to what concerns thyself, not him. But if even he departed a sinner, even on this account one ought to rejoice that he was cut short in his sins, and added not to the evil; and to help him, as far as possible, not by tears, but by prayers, and supplications, and alms, and oblations. For these things have not been inconsiderately devised, nor do we in vain make commemoration of the departed during the divine mysteries, and approach (God) in their behalf, beseeching the lamb that lies (before us), "who taketh away the sins of the world", but that some consolation a may therefore arise to them. Nor in vain does he that stands by the altar, when the awful mysteries are being celebrated, cry out— "For all that have fallen asleep in Christ, and for those who are performing commemorations in their behalf." For if there were no commemorations made for them, these words would not have been spoken; for our services are not mere scenery. God forbid! for by the ordinance of the Spirit these things are done. Let us, therefore, help them, and perform commemorations for them. For if the father's sacrifice purged Job's children, why dost thou doubt, whether, when we too offer up for the departed, some consolation accrues to them; for God is wont to grant favors to those (others) who ask for others. And this Paul signified, saying that, "In a manifold person your gift towards us, bestowed by many, thanks may be given in your behalf." (2 Corinthians 1:11) Let us not then grow weary of helping the departed, of offering up prayers for them, for even the common expiation of the world lies (before us). By this made confident, we then pray for the world, and name them with martyrs, with confessors, with priests. Yea, for one body are we all, although some members are more glorious than others. And it is possible to gather from all sides pardon for them,— from the prayers—from the gifts (offered) in their behalf—from those who are named with them. Why then dost thou grieve, why lament, when it is possible to gather so much pardon for the departed?"

T. x. Hom. xli. in Ep. 1, ad Corin. n. 4, 5, pp. 457-8.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 182-183

"Grieve for those who departed in wealth, and who thought not of any solace for their souls from that wealth, who had the power to be washed for their sins and would not. . . . Let us grieve for these; let us aid them according to our power; let us think of some help for them, small indeed, but still able to aid. How, and in what way? Both by praying ourselves, and entreating others to make prayers for them; giving continually to the poor for them. This thing contains some solace. For, hearken to God saying, "I will protect this city for my own sake, and for my servant David's sake." (4 Kings 20:6) If the memory only of a just man had so much power, when deeds also are done, how will they not avail? Not in vain have these things been by law ordained by the Apostles, that a commemoration of the departed take place at the awful mysteries. They know that much gain accrues to them, and great assistance. For when the whole people stands with hands uplifted, a priestly assembly, and the awful sacrifice lies to open view, how shall we not propitiate God when supplicating in their behalf? But this indeed concerns those who have departed in the faith; but the catechumens are not even accounted worthy of this solace, but are deprived of all such assistance, save one. And what is this? It is in our power to give to the poor for them. This effects a certain refreshment unto them ... As we pray for living men, who are in nothing different from the dead, so may we also pray for these (the dead)."

T. xi. Hom. iii. in Ep. ad Philipp. n. 4, pp. 250-1.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 183-184

St. Paulinus of Nola, (A.D. 353-431), Roman; convert and bishop Of Nola, Born at Bordeaux he was ordained priest in 393, and was appointed bishop of Nola in 409; may have been indirectly responsible for Augustine's Confessions. One who knew St. Paulinus well says he was "meek as Moses, as priestly as Aaron, innocent as Samuel, tender as David, wise as Solomon, apostolic as Peter, loving as John, cautious as Thomas, brilliant as Stephen, fervent as Apollos."

"I confess that I am sorely grieved, not so much at the bodily death of my brother, as at his spiritual negligence. We, therefore, conjure you, that while you sympathize with us in our sorrow, you would, with fatherly love, deign to call to mind that he also was once your spiritual child, begotten to you by the grace of God, and that this is a reason why you especially should take care, lest we, by squandering away the portion of our inheritance, bring shame on your piety which gloried in us as your children; but rather be the mercy granted to your prayers that his soul be sprinkled, with one cooling drop trickling if but from the little finger of your holiness; and to us who have recourse to you, whilst it is yet time, and who cry aloud, "Father, we have sinned against Heaven and against Thee, we are not now worthy to be called Thy sons (Luke 15:18-19), may the divine mercy, at Thy intercession, give relief for the sake of this confession of sin."

Ep. xix. ad Delphinum, p. 200, T. vi. Bib. Max. SS. PP.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 197

"Whilst writing this, my main anxiety arises out of the grief occasioned me by the recent death of my brother. . . . We therefore earnestly beseech you as a brother, which you deign to be unto us in the Lord, to help your loving brethren; and add this reward to the merits of your faith, sympathizing with our weakness in his regard, and uniting your labor of prayer with mine; that so, a merciful and compassionate God may refresh his soul with the dews of His pity through your prayers. For, as a fire lit up by Him will burn even to the depths of Hell, so doubtless will the dew of His mercy pierce Hell, that they who are scorched in darksome fires may be refreshed with the dewy light of His pity."

Ep. xx. ad Amandum, p. 201, t. vi. Bibl. Max. SS. PP.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 197-198

In a letter of condolence addressed to Pammachius on the death of his wife, he says:

"You have rendered what was due to each part; giving tears to the body and alms to the soul. Veritably convinced as you are of the truth, and a child of light, there were your tears where you knew was death, your works where thou believed was life. For this cause did you assemble, in the court (of the Basilica) of the Apostle (St. Peter's at Rome), those patrons of our souls, the poor. . . . Thou hast already in Christ a mighty pledge of thine own, and no lowly petitioner, thy wife prepares for thee in Heaven as much favor as you add unto her wealth from earth: not honoring her as I have said, with vain sorrow, but loading her with living gifts where with she now is gladdened; and even now does she reap the fruit of this thy labor, though thy reward from it still be in the seed. Already is she honored with thy merits, already is she fed with thy bread, and abounds with thy riches. . . . She needs not be refreshed by the finger of a stranger's hand, soaked as she is with dew from her own fingers, that is, with the works of thy right hand. Thou didst not enrich her as thy bride with so ample a dowry, as thou dost now pour wealth upon her that she is at rest. Blessed is she who has suffrages so numerous before Christ.'

Ep. xxxvii. ad Pammach. t. vi. pp. 227-30, Bib. Max. SS. PP.9
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 19



When talking about Purgatory it's important to remember that you won't find the word Purgatory in the Bible nor will you find it among the first Christians before A.D 400. Why? Because Purgatory is a Latin word and, up until the beginning of the fifth century, Greek was the spoken language among the people.


That said, Greeks weren't going to give us a Latin word. Nevertheless, you'll see the sediments of the teachings on Purgatory from the Early Church Fathers.

Catholics hold that there is a Purgatory, a place or state, where souls depart from this life who are absolved of their sins as to the guilt, but yet liable to some temporal punishment still remaining. They are not perfectly freed from the blemish of earthly defects which we call venial sins so they are purified before their admittance into Heaven, where nothing defiled can enter:

27 Nothing impure will ever enter it [Heaven], nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.


Revelation 21:27

Purgatory is the final purification of the elect. Below are Scriptures that address three different areas on this teaching:

  1. Distinction of sins and of their punishment.
  2. Sins to be forgiven in the next world.
  3. A state which is neither Heaven, nor Hell



The Church's Scriptures that support the existence of Purgatory.


On Second Maccabees

This following passage from 2 Maccabees is historical testimony of the belief and practice of the Jewish church. Even though the inspiration of 2 Maccabees may not be admitted by Protestant Christians, it imposes an obligation on the reader of the New Testament, that, in considering our Saviour's words, and those of the Apostles, he reflect on what would be the impression produced by those words and on men brought up in the faith and practice in which those texts embodied.

Prayers for those killed in battle

39 And the day following Judas cam with his company, to take away the bodies of them that were slain, and to bury them with their kinsmen, in the sepulchres of their fathers. 40 And they found under the coats o the slain some of the donaries of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbiddeth the Jews: 41 Then they all blessed the just judgment of the Lord, who had discovered the things that were hidden. 42 And so betaking themselves to prayers, they besought him, that the sin which had been committed might be forgotten. But the most valiant Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves from sin, forasmuch as they saw before their eyes what had happened, because of the sins of those that were slain. 43 And making a gathering, he twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, 44 (For if he had not hoped that the that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,) 45 And because he considered that the who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. 46 It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.

2 Maccabees 12:39-46

1. Distinction of sins and of their punishment.


Thou shall not go out from hence until thou repays the last farthing

22 But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall say, Thou Fool, shall be in danger of Hell fire. 23 If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath any thing against thee; 24 Leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother: and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift. 25 Be at agreement with thy adversary betimes, whilst thou art in the way with him: lest perhaps the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. 26 Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing.


Matthew 5:22-26

The Faithful and Unfaithful Servant will be beaten with fewer or more stripes

40 Be you then also ready: for at what hour you think not, the Son of man will come. 43 Blessed is that servant, whom when his lord shall come, he shall find so doing. 44 Verily I say to you, he will set him over all that he possesseth. 45 But if that servant shall say in his heart: My lord is long a coming; and shall begin to strike the menservants and maidservants, and to eat and to drink and be drunk: 46 The lord of that servant will come in the day that he hopeth not, and at the hour that he knoweth not, and shall separate him, and shall appoint him his portion with unbelievers. 47 And that servant who knew the will of his lord, and prepared not himself, and did not according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. And unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required: and to whom they have committed much, of him they will demand the more.


Luke 12:40, 43-48

Deadly and non-deadly Sin

15 And we know that he heareth us whatsoever we ask: we know that we have the petitions which we request of him. 16 He that knoweth his brother to sin a sin which is not to death, let him ask, and life shall be given to him, who sinneth not to death. There is a sin unto death: for that I say not that any man ask.


1 John 5:15-16

A Tree and its fruit

36 But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.


Matthew 12:36-37

The Cross and Self-Denial

27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels: and then will he render to every man according to his works.


Matthew 16:27

Compare these previous passages with Revelation 21:27


2. Sins to be forgiven in the next world.


Jesus and Beelzebul

31 Therefore I say to you: Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but the blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 32 And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come.


Matthew 12:31-32

Thou shalt not go out until you pay back the last farthing

26 Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing.


Matthew 5:26

Compare with 2 Maccabees 12:44-46 above.


Ones works will be tested and some will suffer loss, but be saved through fire.

11 For other foundation no man can lay, but that which is laid; which is Christ Jesus. 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble: 13 Every man's work shall be manifest; for the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire; and the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is. 14 If any man's work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man's work burn, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.


1 Corinthians 3:11-15

3. A state which is neither Heaven, nor Hell.


Jesus hanging on the Cross with the two thieves.

39 And one of those robbers who were hanged, blasphemed him, saying: If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 40 But the other answering, rebuked him, saying: Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art condemned under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done no evil. 42 And he said to Jesus: Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom. 43 And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise.


Luke 23:39-43

Why this day is not Heaven.

17 Jesus saith to her: Do not touch me, for I am not yet ascended to my Father. But go to my brethren, and say to them: I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and your God.


John 20:17


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