by Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622), Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Extracted from the "Catholic Controversy" (originally published by Burns and
Oates, London 1886)
Translated by Rev. Henry Benedict Mackey, O.S.B.
The Catholic Church has been accused in our age of superstition in the prayer which she makes for the faithful departed, inasmuch as by this she supposes two truths which, it is maintained, do not exist, namely: that the departed are in punishment and need, and that they can be helped. Whereas, the departed are either damned or saved; the damned are in pain, but it is irremediable; and the saved enjoy perfect bliss: so the latter have no need and the former have no means of receiving help; wherefore it is useless to pray to God for the departed. Such is the summing up of the accusation. It ought surely to suffice anybody who wishes to frame a right judgment of this accusation to know that the accusers were private persons and the accused the universal body of the Church. But still, as the temper of our age has led to the submitting all things, however sacred, religious, and authoritative they may be, to the control and censure of everybody, many persons of honour and eminence have taken the cause of the Church in hand to defend it, considering that they could not better employ their piety and learning than in the defence of her, at whose hands they had received all their spiritual good, -Baptism, Christian doctrine, and the Scriptures themselves. Their reasons are so convincing that if they were properly balanced and weighed against those of the accusers their validity would at once be recognised. But unhappily, sentence has been given without the party being heard. Have we not reason, all we who are domestics and children of the Church, to make ourselves appellants, and to complain of the partiality of the judges, leaving on one side for the present their incompetence? We appeal then from the judges not instructed to themselves instructed, and from judgments given, the parties not heard, to judgments, parties heard. Let us beg all those who wish to judge of this difference to consider our allegations and proofs so much the more attentively as there is question not of the condemnation of the accused party who cannot be condemned by her inferiors, but of the condemnation or salvation of the judges.
OF THE NAME OF PURGATORY.
WE maintain, then, that we may pray for the faithful departed, and that the prayers and good works of the living greatly relieve them and are profitable to them -for this reason, that all those who die in the grace of God, and consequently in the number of the elect, do not go to Paradise at the very first moment, but many go to Purgatory, where they suffer a temporal punishment, from which our prayers and good works can help and serve to deliver them. There lies the point of our difference.
We agree that the blood of Our Redeemer is the true purgatory of souls; for in it are cleansed all the souls in the world; whence S. Paul speaks of it, in the 1st of Hebrews, as making purgation of sins. Tribuations also are a purgatory, by which our souls are rendered pure, as gold is refined in the furnace. The furnace trieth the potter's vessels, and the trial of affliction just men.(Ecclus. xxvii) Penance and contrition again form a certain purgatory, as David said of old in the 50th Psalm: Thou shalt wash me, 0 Lord, with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed. It is well known also that Baptism in which our sins are washed away can be again called a purgatory, as everything can be that serves to purge away our offences: but here we take Purgatory for a place in which after this life the souls which leave this world before they have been perfectly cleansed from the stains which they have contracted since nothing can enter Paradise which is not pure and undefiled-are detained in order to be washed and purified. And if one would know why this place is called simply Purgatory more than are the other means of purgation above-named, the answer will be, that it is because in that place nothing takes place but the purgation of the stains which remain at the time of departure out of this world, whereas in Baptism, Penance, tribulations, and the rest, not only is the soul purged from its imperfections, but it is further enriched with many graces and perfections ; whence the name of Purgatory has been limited to that place in the other world which, properly speaking, is for no purpose but the purification of souls. And agreeing as to the blood of Our Lord, we so fully acknowledge the virtue thereof, that we protest by all our prayers that the purgation of souls, whether in this world or in the other, is made solely by its application:-more jealous of the honour due to this precious medicine than those who so highly value it that they undervalue the using of it. Therefore by Purgatory we understand a place where souls for a time are purged of the spots and imperfections they carry with them from this mortal life.
OF THOSE WHO HAVE DENIED PURGATORY: AND OF THE MEANS OF PROVING IT.
IT is not an opinion adopted lightly-this article of Purgatory. The Church has long maintained this belief to all and against all, and it seems that the first who impugned it was Aerius, an Arian heretic, as S. Epiphanius testifies (Haer. 75), and S. Augustine (Haar. 53), and Socrates (ii. 35) -about twelve hundred years ago. Afterwards came certain persons who called themselves Apostolics, in the time of S. Bernard. Then the Petrobusians, about five hundred years back, who also denied this same article, as S. Bernard (sermons 65 and 66 on the Cant. of Cant. and ep. 241) and S. Peter of Cluny (epp. I, 2, and elsewhere) record. This same opinion of the Petrobusians was followed by the Vaudois, about the year 1170, as Guidon says in his Summa; and some Greeks were suspected on this matter, justifying themselves in the Council of Florence, and in their apology presented to the Council of Basle. In fine, Luther, Zwingle, Calvin, and those of their party, have altogether denied the truth of Purgatory: for although Luther, in disputatione Lipsica, says that he firmly believed, yea certainly knew, that there was a Purgatory, still he afterwards retracted this in the book, De Abroganda Missa Privata. And it is the custom of all the factions of our age to laugh at Purgatory, and despise prayers for the dead. But the Catholic Church has strongly opposed all these, each in its time, having in her hand the Holy Scripture, out of which our forefathers have drawn many good reasons.
For (I.) she has proved that alms, prayers, and other holy actions can help the departed: whence it follows that there is a Purgatory, for those in hell can have no help in their pains, and into Paradise, all good being there, we can convey none of ours for those who are therein; wherefore it is for those who are in a third place, which we call Purgatory. (2.) She has proved that in the other world some of the departed have been delivered from their punishments and sins; and since this cannot be done either in hell or in Paradise, it follows that there is a Purgatory. (3,) She has proved that many souls, before arriving in Paradise, passed through a place of punishment, which can only be Purgatory. (4 .) Proving that the souls below the earth gave honour and reverence to Our Lord, she at the same time proved Purgatory, since this cannot be understood of those poor wretches who are in hell. (5.) By many other passages, with a variety of consequences, but all very apposite. In these one ought so much the more to defer to our doctors, because the passages which they allege now have been brought forward for the same purpose by those great ancient fathers, without our having to make new interpretations in order to defend this holy article; which sufficiently shows how candidly we act in this matter: whereas our adversaries draw conclusions from the Holy Scripture which have never been thought of before, but are quite freshly started simply to oppose the Church.
So our reasons will be in this order, (1.) We will quote the passages of Holy Scripture, then (2.) Councils, (3.) ancient Fathers, (4.) all sorts of authors. Afterwards we will bring forward reasons, and at last we will take up the arguments of the opposite party and will show them not to be sound. Thus shall we conclude by the belief of the Catholic Church. It will remain for the reader to avoid looking at things through the medium of passion, to think attentively over the soundness of our proofs, and to throw himself at the feet of the divine goodness, crying out in all humility with David: Give me understanding and I will search thy law, and I will keep it with my whole heart.(Psalm cxviii. 34) And then I doubt not that such men will return into the bosom of their grandmother the Church Catholic.
OF SOME PASSAGES OF THE SCRIPTURE IN WHICH MENTION IS MADE OF A PURGATION AFTER THIS LIFE, AND OF A TIME AND A PLACE FOR IT.
THIS first argument is irrefragable. There is a time and a place of purgation for souls after this mortal life. Therefore there is a Purgatory; since hell cannot allow any purgation, and Paradise can receive nothing which needs purgation. Now that there is a time and place of purgation after this life, here is the proof.
(1.) In Psalm lxv. 12: We have passed through fire and water, and thou
hast brought us out into a refreshment.
This place is brought in proof of purgatory by Origen (Hom. 2 5 in Numeros), and by S. Ambrose (in Ps. xxxvi., and in sermon 3 on Ps. cxviii.), where he expounds the water of Baptism, and the fire of Purgatory.
[2.]In Isaias (iv. 4]: If the Lord shall wash away the filth of the
daughters of Sion, and shall wash away the blood of Jerusalem out of the midst
thereof by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning.
This purgation made in the spirit of judgment and of burning is understood of Purgatory by S. Augustine, in the 20th Book of the City of God, ch. 25. And in fact this interpretation is favoured by the words preceding, in which mention is made of the salvation of men, and also by the end of the chapter, where the repose of the blessed is spoken of; wherefore that which is said- the Lord shall wash away the filth- is to be understood of the purgation necessary for this salvation.And since it is said that this purgation is to be made in the spirit of heat and of burning, it cannot well be understood save of Purgatory and its fire.
(3). In Micheas, in the 7th chapter 8,9: Rejoice not, thou my enemy, over
me, because I am fallen: I shall arise, when I sit in darkness, the Lord is my
light. I will bear the wrath of the Lord. because I have sinned against him,
until he judge my cause and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth into
the light, I shall behold his justice.
This passage was already applied to the proof of Purgatory amongst Catholics from the time of S. Jerome, 1200 years ago, as the same S. Jerome witnesses by the last chapter of Isaias ; where he says that the when I shall sit in darkness . . . I will bear the wrath of the Lord . . . until He judge my cause- cannot be understood of any pain so properly as of that of Purgatory.
 In Zachary (ix. 11): Thou also by the blood thy testament hast sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water. The pit from which these prisoners are drawn is the Purgatory from which Our Lord delivered them in his descent into hell, and cannot be understood of Limbo, where the Fathers were before the resurrection of Our Lord in Abraham's bosom, because there was water of consolation there, as may be seen in Luke xvi. Whence S. Augustine, in the 90th Epistle, to Evodius, says that Our Lord visited those who were being tormented in hell, that is, in Purgatory, and that he delivered them from it; whence it follows that there is a place where the faithful are held prisoners and whence they can be delivered.
(5.) In Malachy (iii. 3): And he shall sit refining and cleansing the
silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and shall refine them as gold and
as, silver, &c.
This place is expounded of a purifying punishment by Origen (Hom. 6 on Exodus), S. Ambrose (on Ps. xxxvi.), St. Augustine (de civ. Dei xx. 2 5), and S. Jerome (on this place). We are quite aware that they understand it of a purgation which will be at the end of the world by the general fire and conflagration, in which will be purged away the remains of the sins of those who will be found alive; but we still are able to draw from this a good argument for our Purgatory. For if persons at that time have need of purgation before receiving the effects of the benediction of the supreme Judge, why shall not those also have need of it who die before that time, since some of these may be found at death to have remains of their imperfections. In truth if Paradise cannot receive any stains at that time, neither will it receive them any better at present. S. Irenaeus in this connection, in chapter 29 of Book V., says that because the militant Church is then to mount up to the heavenly palace of the Spouse, and will no longer have time for purgation, her faults and stains will there and then be purged away by this fire which will precede the judgment. (6.) I leave on one side the passage of Psalm xxxvii. -0 Lord. rebuke me not in throe indignation nor chastise me in thy wrath:-which S. Augustine interprets of hell and Purgatory in such sense that to be rebuked in indignation refers to the eternal pains, and to be chastised in wrath refers to Purgatory.
OF ANOTHER PASSAGE OUT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, TO THIS EFFECT.
IN the 1st Corinthians ( iii. 13, 14, 15): The day of the Lord shall
declare (every man's work), because it shall be revealed by fire, and the fire
shall try every man's work, of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he
hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work burn, he
shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire."
This passage has always been held as one of the important and difficult ones of the whole Scripture. Now in it, as is easily seen by one who considers the whole chapter, the Apostle uses two similitudes. The first is of an architect who with solid materials builds a valuable house on a rock: the second is of one who on the same foundation erects a house of boards, reeds, straw. Let us now imagine that a fire breaks out in both the houses. That which is of solid material will be out of danger, and the other will be burnt to ashes. And if the architect be in the first he will be whole and safe; if he be in the second, he must, if he would escape, rush through fire and flame, and shall be saved yet so that he will bear the marks of having been in fire: he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire. The foundation spoken of in this similitude is Our Lord, of whom S. Paul says: I have planted . . . and as a wise architect I have laid the foundation: . . . and then afterwards : For no one can lay another foundation but that which is laid; which is Christ Jesus. The architects are-the preachers and doctors of the Gospel, as may be known by considering attentively the words of this whole chapter. And as S. Ambrose interprets, and also Sedulius on this place, the day of the Lord which is spoken of means the day of -judgment, which in the Scripture is ordinarily called the day of the Lord, as in Joel ii : the day of the Lord ; in Sophonias i: the day of the Lord is near; and in the word that follows in our passage: the day of the Lord shall declare it; for it is on that day that all the actions of the world will be declared in fire. When the Apostle says it shall be revealed by fire; he sufficiently shows that it is the last day of judgment; [as] in the Second to the Thessalonians i.: when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with the a ngels of his power, in a flame of glory;and in Psalm xcvi.: fire shall qo before his face.
The fire by which the architect is saved-he himself shall be saved yet so as by fire-can only be understood of the fire of Purgatory.
For when the Apostle says he shall be saved, he excludes the fire of hell in which no one can be saved; and when he says he shall be saved by fire, and speaks only of him who has built on the foundation, wood, straw, stubble, he shows that he is not speaking of the fire which will precede the day of judgment, since by this will pass not only those who shall have built with these light materials, but also those who shall have built in gold, silver, &c. All this interpretation, besides that it agrees very well with the text, is also most authentic, as having been followed with common consent by the ancient Fathers. S. Cyprian (Bk. iv. ep. 2) seems to make allusion to this passage. S. Ambrose, on this place, S. Jerome on the 4th -of Amos, S. Augustine on Psalm xxxvi., S. Gregory (Dial. iv. 39), Rupert (in Gen. iii. 32), and the rest, are all express on the point; and of the Greeks, Origen in the 6th Homily on Exodus, Ecumenius on this passage (where he brings forward S. Basil), and Theodoret quoted by S. Thomas in the I st Opusculum contra errores Groec.
It may be said that in this interpretation there is an equivocation and impropriety, inasmuch as the fire spoken of is taken now for that of Purgatory, now for that which will precede the day of judgment. We answer that it is a graceful manner of speech, by the contrasting these two fires. For notice the meaning of the sentence : the day of the Lord shall have light from the fire which will go before it, and as this day shall be lighted up by the fire, so this same day by the judgment shall cast light on the merit and defect of each work; and as each work shall be brought clearly out, so the workers who will have worked with imperfection shall be saved by the fire of Purgatory. But besides this, if we should say that S. Paul uses the same word in different senses in the same passage it would be no new thing, for he employs words in this way in other places, but so properly that this serves as an ornament to his language: as in the 2d of Corinthians, 5th chapter Him who knew no sin for us he hath made sin :-where who sees not that sin in the first part is taken in its proper sense, for iniquity ; and the second time figuratively, for him who bears the penalty of sin ?
It may be said again that it is not said that he will be saved by fire,
but as by fire, and that therefore we cannot conclude there is a
Purgatorial fire. I answer that there is a true similitude in this passage. For
the Apostle means to say that he whose works are not absolutely solid will be
saved like the architect who escapes from the fire, but at the same time not
without passing through the fire; a fire of a different quality from that which
burns in this world. It is enough that from this passage we evidently conclude
that many who will gain possession of the kingdom of paradise will pass through
fire: now this will not be the fire of hell, nor the fire which will precede the
judgment; it will therefore be the fire of Purgatory. The passage is difficult
and troublesome, but well considered it gives us a manifest conclusion for our
contention; -so that we have here two places by which we can learn that after
this life there are a time and a place of purgation.
OF SOME OTHER PASSAGES BY WHICH PRAYER, ALMS, DEEDS AND HOLY ACTIONS FOR THE DEPARTED ARE AUTHORISED.
THE second argument which we draw from the Holy Word in favour of Purgatory is taken from the Second of the Machabees, chapter xii.; where the Scripture relates that Judas Machabaeus sent to Jerusalem twelve thousand drachms of silver for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, and afterwards it says: It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought tray for the dead that they may be loosed from sins. For thus do we argue. It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins; therefore after death there will be time and place for the remission of sins; but this place cannot be either hell or Paradise, therefore it is Purgatory. This argument is so correct that to answer it our adversaries deny the authority of the Book of Machabees, and hold it to be apocryphal, but in reality this is for lack of any other answer. For this book has been held as authentic and sacred by the third Council of Carthage , which was held about 1200 years ago, and at which S. Augustine assisted, as Prosper says (in Chron.); and by Innocent I. in the Epistle to Exuperius ; and by S. Augustine in the 18th Book of the City of God, c. 36,-whose words are these: "It is the Catholic Church which holds these books canonical, and not the Jews; " and by the same S. Augustine, in the book De Doctrina Christiana, chap. viii.; and by Damasus, in the decree on the canonical books which he made in a council of seventy bishops; and by many other Fathers whom it would be long to cite. So that to answer by denying the authority of the book, is to deny at the same time the authority of antiquity.
We know how many things are alleged in support of this negation, which things for the most part only show the difficulty there is in the Scriptures, not any falsehood in them. It only seems to me necessary to answer one or two objections that are made. They first say that the prayer was made to show the kind feeling those persons had towards the departed, not as if they thought the dead had need of prayer: but this the Scripture contradicts by those words: that they nzay be loosed from sins. Secondly, they object that it is a manifest error to pray for the resurrection of the dead before the judgment ; because this is to presuppose either that souls rise again and consequently die, or that bodies do not rise again unless by means of the prayers and good actions of the living, which would be against the article I believe in the resurrection of the dead: now that these errors are presupposed in this place of the Machabees appears by these words _For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead. The answer is that in this place they do not pray for the resurrection either of the soul or of the body, but only for the deliverance of souls. In this they presuppose the immortality of the soul. For if they had believed that the soul was dead with the body they would not have striven to further their release. And because among the Jews the belief in the immortality of the soul and the belief in the resurrection of bodies were so connected together that he who denied one denied the other; -to show that Judas Machabaeus believed the immortality of the soul, it is said that he believed the resurrection of bodies. And in the same way the Apostle proves the resurrection of bodies by the immortality of the soul, although it might be that the soul was immortal without the resurrection of bodies. The following occurs in the I st of Corinthians, chapter xv.: What doth it profit me if the dead rise not again ? Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die. Now it would not at all follow that we might thus let ourselves run riot, even if there was no resurrection: for the soul, which would remain in existence, would suffer the penalty due to sins, and would receive the guerdon of her virtues. S. Paul then in this place takes the resurrection of the dead as equivalent to the immortality of the soul. There is therefore no ground for refusing the testimony of the Machabees in proof of a just belief. But if, in the very last resort, we would take it as the testimony of a simple but great historian- which cannot be refused us- we must at least confess that the ancient synagogue believed in Purgatory, since all that army was so prompt to pray for the departed.
And truly we have marks of this devotion in other Scriptures which ought to make easier to us the reception of the passage which we have just adduced. In Tobias, chap. iv.: Lay out thy bread and thy wine on the burial of a just man; and do not eat or drink thereof with the wicked. Certainly this wine and bread was not placed on the tomb save for the poor, in order that the soul of the deceased might be helped thereby, as the interpreters say commonly on this passage. It will perhaps be said that this Book is apocryphal, but all antiquity has always held it in credit. And indeed the custom of putting meat for the poor on sepulchres is very ancient even in the Catholic Church. For S. Chrysostom, who lived more than twelve hundred years ago, in the 32d Homily on the Book of S. Matthew, speaks of it thus: "Why on your friends' death do you call together the poor? Why for them do you beseech the priests to pray?" And what are we to think of the fasts and austerities which the ancients practised after the death of their friends? The men of Jabes Galaad, after the death of Saul, fasted seven days over him. David and his men did the same, over the same Saul, and Jonathan, and those who followed him, as we see in this [last] chapter of 1st Kings, and in the 1st chapter of 2nd Kings. One cannot think that it was for any other purpose than to help the souls of the departed; -for to what else can one refer the fast of seven days? So David, who, in the 2nd Kings, chapter xii., fasted and prayed for his sick son, after his death ceased to fast, showing that when he fasted it was to obtain help for the sick child, which, when it died, dying young and innocent, had no need of help; wherefore David ceased fasting. Bede, more than 700 years ago, interprets thus the end of the 1st Book of Kings (in Sam. L. iv. a io.). So that in the ancient Church, the custom already was to help by prayer and holy deeds the souls of the departed:- which clearly implies a faith in Purgatory.
And of this custom S. Paul speaks quite clearly in the 1st of Corinthians chap xv., appealing to it as praiseworthy and right. What shall they do who are baptized for the dead if the dead rise not again at all? Why then are they baptized for them? This passage properly understood evidently shows that it was the custom of the primitive Church to watch, pray, fast, for the souls of the departed. For, firstly, in the Scriptures to be baptized is often taken for afflictions and penances ; as in S. Luke, chap xii., where Our Lord speaking of his Passion says: I have a baptism wherewith I am to be baptized and how am I straitened until it be accomplished!-and in S. Mark. chap x., he says : Can you drink of the chalice that I drink of; or be baptized with the baptism wherewith I am baptized? -in which places Our Lord calls pains and afflictions baptism. This then is the sense of that Scripture: if the dead rise not again, what is the use of mortifying and afflicting oneself, of praying and fasting for the dead? And indeed this sentence of S. Paul resembles that of Machabees quoted above: It is superfluous and vain to pray for the dead if the dead rise not again. They may twist and transform this text with as many interpretations as they like, and there will be none to properly fit into the Holy Letter except this.
But [secondly] it must not be said that the baptism of which S. Paul speaks is only a baptism of grief and tears, and not of fasts, prayers, and other works. For thus understood his conclusion would be very false. The conclusion he means to draw is that if the dead rise not again, and if the soul is mortal, in vain do we afflict ourselves for the dead. But, I pray you, should we not have more occasion to afflict ourselves by sadness for the death of friends if they rise no more - losing all hope of ever seeing them again - than if they do rise? He refers then to the voluntary afflictions which they undertook to impetrate the repose of the departed, which, questionless, would be undergone in vain if souls were mortal and the dead rose not again. Wherein we must keep in mind what was said above, that the article of the resurrection of the dead and that of the immortality of the soul were so joined together in the belief of the Jews that he who acknowledged the one acknowledged the other, and he who denied the one denied the other. It appears then by these words of S. Paul that prayer, fasting, and other holy afflictions were practised for the departed. Now it was not for those in Paradise, who had no need of it, nor for those in hell, who could get no benefit from it; it was, then, for those in Purgatory. Thus did S. Ephrem expound it twelve hundred years ago, and so did the Fathers who disputed against the Petrobusians.
The same can one deduce from the words of the Good Thief, in S. Luke, chap. xxiii. when, addressing Our Lord, he said: Remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. For why should he have recommended himself, he who was about to die, unless he had believed that souls after death could be succoured and helped? S. Augustine (Contra Jul., B. vi.) proves [from] this passage that sins are pardoned in the other world.
OF CERTAIN OTHER PLACES OF SCRIPTURE BY WHICH WE PROVE THAT SOME SINS CAN BE PARDONED IN THE OTHER WORLD.
IF there are some sins that can be pardoned in the other world it is neither in hell nor in heaven, therefore it is in Purgatory. Now, that there are sins which are pardoned in the other world we prove, firstly, by the passage of S. Matthew in chap. xii., where Our Lord says that there is a sin which cannot be forgiven either in this world or in the next: therefore there are sins which can be forgiven in the other world. For if there were no sins which could be forgiven in the other world, it was not now necessary to attribute this property of not being. able to be forgiven in the next world to one sort of sins, but it sufficed to say it could not be forgiven in this world. When Our Lord had said to Pilate : My kingdom is not of this world, in S. John, chap. xviii., Pilate drew this conclusion: Art thou a king, then? Which conclusion was approved by Our Lord, who assented thereto. So when he said that there is one sin which cannot be forgiven in the other world, it follows very properly that there are others which can. They try to say that these words, neither in this world nor in the world to come, only signify, for ever, or, never; as S. Mark says in chap. iii., shall never have forgiveness. That is quite true ; but our reason loses none of its force on that account. For either S. Matthew has properly expressed Our Lord's meaning or he has not: one would not dare to say he has not, and if he has, it still follows that there are sins which can be forgiven in the other world, since Our Lord has said that there is one which cannot be forgiven in the other world.
And please tell me - if S. Peter had said in S. John, chap. xiii.: Thou shalt never wash my feet either in this world or in the other, would he not have spoken [properly], since in the other world they might be washed ?-and indeed he does say: thou shalt not wash my feet for ever. We must not believe then that S. Matthew would have expressed the intention of Our Lord by these words neither in this world nor in the next , if in the next there cannot be remission. We should laugh at a man who said: I will not marry either in this world or in the next, as if he supposed that in the next one could marry. He then who says a sin cannot be forgiven either in this world or in the next, implies that there may be remission of some sins in this world and also in the other. I am well aware that our adversaries try by various interpretations to parry this blow, but it is so well struck that they cannot escape from it, unless by starting a new doctrine. And in good truth it is far better, with the ancient Fathers, to understand properly and with all possible reverence the words of Our Lord, than, in order to found a new doctrine, to make them confused and ill-chosen. S. Augustine (de Civ. Dei, lib. xxi., c. 24), S. Gregory (Hom. 7, de Dec., c. 39), Bede (in Marc. iii.), S. Bernard (Hom. 66 in Cant.), and those who have written against the Petrobusians, have used this passage in our sense, with such assurance that S. Bernard to declare this truth brings forward nothing more, so much account does he make of this.
In S. Matthew (v.), and in S. Luke (xii.): Make an agreement with thy
adversary quickly, while 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. Amen, I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from
thence till thou pay the last farthing.
Origen, S. Cyprian, S. Hilary, S. Ambrose, S. Jerome, and S. Augustine say that the way which is meant in the whilst thou art in the way is no other than the passage of the present life: the adversary will be our own conscience, which ever -fights against us and for us, that is, it ever resists our bad inclinations and our old Adam for our salvation, as S. Ambrose expounds, [and] Bede, S. Augustine, S. Gregory, and S. Bernard. Lastly. the judge is without doubt Our Lord in S. John (v.): The Father has given all judgment to the Son. The prison again, is hell or the place of punishment in the other world, in which, as in a large jail, there are many buildings; one for those who are damned, which is as it were for criminals, the other for those in Purgatory, which is as it were for debt. The farthing, of which it is said thou shalt not go out from thence till thou pay the last farthing, are little sins and infirmities, as the farthing is the smallest money one can owe.
Now let us consider a little where this repayment of which Our Lord speaks -
till thou pay the last farthing-is to be made. And (1.) we find from most
ancient Fathers that it is in Purgatory: Tertullian (Lib. de Anima c.
x.), Cyprian (Epist., lib. iv. 2), Origen (Horn. 3 5 on this place of Luke),
with Emissenus (Hom. 3 de Epiph.), S. Ambrose (in Luc. xii.), S. Jerome
(in Matt. v.), S. Bernard (serm. de obitu Huberti).
(2.) When it is said till thou pay the last farthing, is it not implied that one can pay it, and that one can so diminish the debt that there only remains at length its last farthing ? But just as when it is said in the Psalm (cix.): Sit at my right hand until I make thy enemies, &c., it properly follows that at length he will make his enemies his footstool; so when he says thou shah not go out till thou pay, he shows that at length he will pay or will be able to pay.
(3.) Who sees not that in S. Luke the comparison is drawn, not from a murderer or some criminal, who can have no hope of escape, but from a debtor who is thrown into prison till payment, and when this is made is at once let out? This then is the meaning of Our Lord, that whilst we are in this world we should try by penitence and its fruits to pay, according to the power which we have by the blood of the Redeemer, the penalty to which our sins have subjected us; since if we wait till death we shall not have such good terms in Purgatory, when we shall be treated with severity of justice.
All this seems to have been also said by Our Lord in the 5th of S. Matthew, where he says: He who is angry with his brother shall be guilty of the judgment; and he who shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be guilty of the council ; but he who shall say, thou fool, shall be guilty of hell fire: now it is only the third sort of offence which is punished with hell; therefore in the judgment of God after this life there are other pains which are not eternal or infernal, -these are the pains of Purgatory. One may say that the pains will be suffered in this world; but S. Augustine and the other Fathers understand them for the other world. And again may it not be that a man should die on the first or second offence which is spoken of here? And when will such a one pay the penalty due to his offence ? Or if you will have that he pays them not, what place will you give him for his retreat after this world? You will not assign him hell, unless you would add to the sentence of Our Lord, who does not assign hell as a penalty save to those who shall have committed the third offence. Lodge him in Paradise you must not, because the nature of that heavenly place rejects all sorts of imperfections. Allege not here the mercy of the Judge, because he declares in this place that he intends also to use justice. Do then as the ancient Fathers did, and say that there is a place where they will be purified, and then they will go to heaven above.
In S. Luke, in the 16th chapter, it is written Make unto yourselves friends of the mammon of iniquity, that when you shall fail they may receive you into eternal tabernacles. To fail, what is it but to die? -and the friends, who are they but the Saints ? The interpreters all understand it so; whence two things follow, -that the Saints can help men departed, and that the departed can be helped by the Saints. For in what other way can one understand these words: make to yourselves friends who may receive you? They cannot be understood of alms, for many times the alms is good and holy and yet acquires us not friends who can receive us into eternal tabernacles, as when it is given to bad people with a holy and right intention. Thus is this passage expounded by S. Ambrose, and by S. Augustine (de Civ. Dei xii. 27). But the parable Our Lord is using is too clear to allow us any doubt of this interpretation; for the similitude is taken from a steward who, being dismissed from his office and reduced to poverty, begged help from his friends, and Our Lord likens the dismissal unto death, and the help begged from friends unto the help one receives after death from those to whom one has given alms. This help cannot be received by those who are in Paradise or in hell, it is then by those who are in Purgatory.
OF SOME OTHER PLACES FROM WHICH BY VARIOUS CONSEQUENCES IS DEDUCED THE TRUTH OF PURGATORY.
S.PAUL to the Philippians (ii.) says these words: That in the name of Jesus every knee may bow, of things in heaven, of things on earth and of things under the earth (infernorum). In heaven we find the Saints on their knees, bending them at the name of the Redeemer. On earth we find many such in the militant Church, but in hell where shall we find any of them ? David despairs of finding any when he says: Who shall confess to thee in hell? (Ps.vi.)So Ezechias in Isaias (xxxviii.):For neither shall hell confess to thee. To which that also ought to be referred which David sings elsewhere (xlix. 16): But to the sinner God hath_ said: Why dost thou declare my justice and take my covenant in thy mouth? For if God will receive no praise from the obstinate sinner, how should he permit the wretched damned to this this holy office. S. Augustine makes great account of this place for this purpose in the 12th book on Genesis (xxxiii.). There is a similar passage in the Apocalypse (v.): Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof? And no man was able neither in heaven, nor in earth, nor under the earth. And further down in the same chapter: And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth …. I heard all saying: To him that sitteth upon the throne and to the Lamb, benediction and honour and glory and power for ever and ever. And the four living creatures said Amen. Does he not hereby uphold a Church, in which God is praised under the earth? And what else can it be but that of Purgatory?
OF THE COUNCILS WHICH HAVE RECEIVED PURGATORY AS AN ARTICLE OF FAITH.
AERIUS, as I have said above, was the first to teach against Catholics that the prayers they offered for the dead were superstitious. He still has followers in our age in this point. Our Lord in his gospel (Matt. xviii.) furnishes us our rule of action on such occasions. If thy brother shall o ffend thee . . . tell the Church. And if he will not hear the Church let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican. Let us hear then what the Church says on this matter, in Africa, at the 3d Council Of Carthage (c. 29), and at the 4th (c. 79); in Spain, at the Council of Braga (cc. 34, 39); in France, at the Council of Chalons (de cons. d. 2, Can. visum est), and at the 2nd Council of Orleans (c. 14); in Germany, at the Council of Worms (c. 20); in Italy, at the 6th Council under Symmachus; in Greece, as may be seen in their synods, collected by Martin of Braga (c. 69). And by all these Councils you will see that the Church approves of prayer for the departed, and consequently of Purgatory. Afterwards, what she had defined by parts she defined in her general body at the Council of Lateran under Innocent III. (c. 66), at the Council of Florence in which all nations assisted (Sess. ult.), and lastly at the Council of Trent (Sess. 25).
But what more holy answer from the Church would one have than that which is contained in all her Masses? Examine the Liturgies of S. James, S. Basil, S. Chrysostom, S. Ambrose, which all the Oriental Christians still use; you will there see the commemoration of the dead, almost as it is seen in ours. If Peter Martyr, one of the learned men belonging to the adverse party, confesses, on the 3d chapter of the 1st of Corinthians, that the whole Church has followed this opinion, I have no need to dwell on this proof. He says it has erred and failed,-ah ! who would believe that ! Who art thou that judgest the Church of God? If any one hear not the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican. The Church is the pillar and ground of truth, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. If the salt lose its savour wherewith shall it be salted; if the Church err by whom shall she be set right ? If the Church, the faithful guardian of truth, lose the truth, by whom shall the truth be found? If Christ cast off the Church, whom will he receive,-he who admits no one but through the Church? And if the Church can err, can you not also, 0 Peter Martyr, fall into error? -without doubt: I will then rather believe that you have erred than the Church.
OF THE TESTIMONY OF THE ANCIENT FATHERS TO THE TRUTH OF PURGATORY.
IT is a beautiful thing, and one full of all consolation, to see the perfect correspondence which the present Church has with the ancient, particularly in belief. Let us mention what makes to our purpose concerning Purgatory.All the ancient Fathers have believed in it, and have testified that it was of Apostolic faith. Here are the authors we have for it. Among the disciples of the Apostles, S. Clement and S. Denis. Afterwards, S. Athanasius, S. Basil, S. Gregory Nazianzen, Ephrem, Cyril, Epiphanius, Chrysostom, Gregory Nyssen, Tertullian, Cyprian, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Origen, Boethius, Hilary, that is, all antiquity as far back as 1200 years ago, which was the time before which these Fathers lived. It would have been easy for me to bring forward their testimonies, which are accurately collected in the books of our Catholics; -of Canisius, in his Catechism, of Sanders On the Visible Monarchy, of Genebrard in his Chronology, of Bellarmine in his Controversy on Purgatory, of Stapleton in his Promptuary. But particularly let those who would see at length and faithfully quoted the passages of the ancient Fathers, take up the work of Canisius, revised by Buzaeus.
Certainly, however, Calvin spares us this trouble, in Book iii. of his Institutions (c. 5, ~I0), where he thus speaks: "More than 1300 years ago it was received that prayers should be offered for the dead;" and afterwards he adds: "But all, I confess, were dragged into error." We need not then seek out the names and the localities of the ancient Fathers to prove Purgatory, since in reckoning their value Calvin puts them at zero. What likelihood that one single Calvin should be infallible and that all antiquity should have gone wrong! It is said that the ancient Fathers have believed in Purgatory to accommodate themselves to the vulgar. A fine excuse! was it not for the Fathers to correct the people's error if they saw them erring, not to keep it up and give in to it? This excuse then is but to accuse the Ancients. But how shall we say the Fathers have not honestly believed in Purgatory, since Aerius, as I have said before, was held to be a heretic because he denied it? It is a shame to see the audacity with which Calvin treats S. Augustine, because he prayed and got prayers for his mother S. Monica; and the only pretext he brings forward is that S. Augustine, in Book 21 of the de Civitate seems to doubt about the fire of Purgatory. But this is nothing to the purpose; for it is true that S. Augustine says one may doubt of the fire and of the nature thereof, but not of Purgatory. Now whether the purgation is made by fire or otherwise, whether or no the fire have the same qualities as that of hell, still there ceases not to be a purgation and a Purgatory. He puts not then Purgatory in question but the quality of it; as will never be denied by those who will look how he speaks of it in chapters 16 and 24 of the same Book of the de Civitate, and in the work De Curd Pro Mortins Agenda, and a thousand other places. See then how we are in the track of the holy and ancient Fathers, as to this article of Purgatory.
OF TWO PRINCIPAL REASONS, AND OF THE TESTIMONY OF OUTSIDERS IN FAVOUR OF PURGATORY.
HERE are two invincible proofs of Purgatory. The first:- there are sins which are light in comparison with others, and which do not make man guilty of hell. If then a man die in them, what will become of him? Paradise receives nothing defiled (Apoc. xxi): hell is too extreme a penalty, it is not deserved by his sin: it must then be owned that he will stay in a Purgatory, where he will be duly purified, and afterwards go to heaven. Now that there are sins which do not make man deserving of hell, Our Saviour says in Matthew (v.): Whosoever is angry with his brother shall be guilty of the judgment ; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be guilty of the council ; and whosoever shall say, thou fool, shall be guilty of hell fire (gehennce ignis). What, I pray you, is it to be guilty of the gehenna of fire but to be guilty of hell? Now this penalty is deserved by those only who call their brother, thou fool. Those who get angry, and those who express their anger in words not injurious and defamatory, are not in the same rank; but one deserves judgment, that is, that his anger should be brought under judgment, like the idle word (Matt. xii.) of which Our Lord says man shall render an account in the day of judgment,- account must be rendered of it: the second deserves the council, that is, deserves to be deliberated about whether he shall be condemned or not (for Our Lord accommodates himself to men's way of speaking) the third alone is the one who, without question, infallibly shall be condemned. Therefore the first and second kinds of sin do not make man deserving of eternal death, but of a temporal correction; and therefore if a man die with these, by accident or otherwise, he must undergo the judgment of a temporal punishment, and when his soul is purged thereby he will go to heaven, to be with the blessed. Of these sins the Wise Man speaks (Prov xxiv.): The just shall fall seven times a day: for the just cannot sin, so long as he is just, with a sin which deserves damnation: it means then that he falls into sins to which damnation is not due, which Catholics call venial, and these can be purged away in the other world in Purgatory.
The second reason is, that after the pardon of sin there remains part of the penalty due to it. As for example, in the 2nd of Kings, chap. xii., the sin is forgiven to David, the Prophet saying to him: The Lord hath also taken away thy sin: not thou shalt not die. Nevertheless, because thou hast given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme for this thing, thy child shall die the death.