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Thursday, 9 April 2015

Protestant Errors on Purgatory and the Last Judgment-an aside

The Protestant Error

The doctrine of purgatory was denied by the Albigenses, the Hussites, and the Protestants. [339] Luther began, in 1517, by denying the value of indulgences, saying that they had no value before God for the remission of the punishment due to our sins. [340] Then he went on 
to maintain that purgatory cannot be proved by Holy Scripture; that the souls in purgatory are not sure of their salvation; that we cannot prove the impossibility of merit in purgatory; that the souls in purgatory may sin by attempting to escape the sufferings they are undergoing.

Later on, Luther reached the doctrinal root of all his negations, namely, justification by faith alone. Then he affirmed the uselessness of good works and hence the uselessness of purgatory. Supported by popular favor, he became more and more audacious. In 1524 he published his book on the abrogation of Mass. In this work he says that the denial of purgatory is not an error.

Finally, in 1530, he denied absolutely any necessity of satisfaction for our sins. To uphold this, he said, would be an injury to Christ, who has satisfied superabundantly for all sin. For the same reason he denied that the Mass is a true sacrifice, particularly a propitiatory sacrifice. We have here the radical denial of a life of reparation, as if the sufferings of the saints for the expiation of sin would be an injury to the Redeemer.

Now the first and universal cause does not exclude second causes, but grants them the dignity of causality, somewhat like a sculptor who should make statues which live. Thus the satisfactory merits of Christ do not exclude our own, but rather create them. Christ causes us to work with Him and in Him. St. Paul said: "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so you shall fulfill the law of Christ." [341] Again: "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for His body, which is the Church." Certainly nothing was lacking to the sufferings of Christ in themselves, but they lacked fulfillment in our own flesh.

Calvin [342] and Zwingli [343] followed Luther in denying indulgences, in denying the sacrifice of the Mass, and purgatory.

Protestants of the present day have separated from their masters on this subject. Many of them admit an intermediate state between hell and heaven. They will not call it purgatory, but do say that the souls there can still merit and satisfy. Some hold that the sufferings of hell are not eternal. Now this temporary hell does not at all resemble the purgatory taught by the Catholic Church, according to which all souls in purgatory are in the state of grace and can no longer sin.

This is but one more example of the variations and contradictions to be found among Protestant Churches.

The chief Catholic theologians who wrote against this Protestant error are Cajetan, Sylvester Ferrariensis, St. John Fisher, John Eck, and St. Robert Bellarmine. St. John Fisher speaks thus to the Lutherans: "In suppressing the sacrifice of the Mass you have excluded the sun which illumines and warms each day of our life, and makes its influence felt even in purgatory."

The Church condemned this Protestant error. The Council of Trent declares: "If anyone says that the man who has repented and received the grace of justification is forgiven and released from obligation to eternal punishment, in such fashion that he no longer has any obligation to temporal punishment, whether in this world or in purgatory, before he can be given entrance into heaven: let him be anathema." [344] 

In the fourteenth chapter, which corresponds to this cannon, the Council affirms the necessity of satisfaction for sins committed after baptism: satisfaction in the form of fasting, of almsgiving, of prayer, and of other exercises of the spiritual life. These satisfactions are not meant for the eternal punishment, which was remitted by the sacrament of penance or by the desire of the sacrament, but for the remission of temporal punishment, which is not always remitted entirely, as it is in baptism. [345] The Council quotes these words of Scripture: "Be mindful therefore from whence thou art fallen, and do penance and do the first works." [346] "For the sorrow that is according to God worketh penance." [347] "Do penance." [348] "Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of penance." [349] And if this reparation, this satisfaction, has not been paid in this world, the soul will have to undergo the satisfactorial punishment of purgatory.

And I add this on choosing to take one's purgatory on earth, rather than after the particular judgment.

Blessed are those who take their purgatory on earth, by generous acceptance of daily trials. The multiple sacrifices of daily life purify and perfect their love, and by this love they will be judged.

Love itself has many degrees. St. Peter seemed to make an act of perfect love when he protested to Jesus his readiness to die. But mingled with his act was presumption. To purify him from this presumption, Providence permitted the threefold denial, whence he came forth more humble, less trustful in himself, more trustful in God, until pure love led him to martyrdom and answered his prayer to be crucified head downward.

How do we attain pure love? Saudreau answers: "Love is not an effect of headwork, not a pushing forward of will to give to it greater force. It is the result of accepting generously all sacrifices, in accepting with a loving heart all trials." [130] 
The Lord augments the infused virtue of charity, the accepting soul prepares itself for the particular judgment, where it will find in Jesus rather a friend than a judge.

While the particular judgment, then, settles for each soul its place in eternity, the general judgment still remains necessary. Man is not a mere individual person, but also a member of human society, on which he has had an influence, good or bad, of longer or shorter duration. 

And although most Protestants believe in the Last Judgment, some have a wrong idea about it because some of their heroes are actually great evil men.

Here is G-L again:

The Fathers, both Latin and Greek, not only teach this dogma explicitly, but most vividly describe the last judgment. Let it suffice to cite St. Augustine: "No one denies, or puts in doubt, that Jesus Christ, as the Scriptures have announced, will pronounce the last judgment." [157] 


Reasons for the Last Judgment

St. Thomas [167] explains these reasons. First, dead men live in the memory of men on earth and are often judged contrary to truth. Spirits, strong and false, like Spinoza, Kant, and Hegel, are judged as if they were great philosophers. False prophets and heresiarchs, such as Luther and Calvin, are considered by many to be masters of religious thought, whereas great saints and doctors are profoundly ignored.

Judgment Day will show how much value is to be assigned to certain histories of philosophies, to many studies on the origins of Christianity, written in a spirit absolutely rationalistic. It will show how their perpetual variations and contradictions come from their fundamental error, the negation of the supernatural. It will manifest all lying propaganda. It will unmask hypocrites who enslaved religion instead of serving religion. Universal history will no longer be seen as a mere horizontal line of time, passing from the past to the future, but as a vertical line which attaches each event to the unique moment of an immovable eternity. The secrets of the hearts will be revealed. [168] The Pharisees, Caiphas, Pilate, will be judged definitively. Truth will conquer all these lies. It is clear that, if God exists, truth must be the absolutely last word.

Further, the dead have had imitators, in good or in evil. Evil is easier to imitate. Truth and justice must be vindicated. "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after justice, for they shall have their fill."

Lastly, the effects of men's actions last long after their death. Arius and other heresiarchs troubled souls for some centuries, whereas, on the contrary, the teaching of the apostles will exercise its influence to the end of the world. Only a final and infallible judgment of God is here sufficient, and this cannot take place until the end of time.

And against Calvin and the other prosperity Gospel preachers...

Blessed those who, like Bernadette of Lourdes, hear this word: "I promise you happiness, not in this life, but in the next." This was a special revelation. She was predestined, but she would have great crosses on earth. All genuine Christian lives are marked with the cross. Crosses well borne are a sign of predestination, says St. Thomas. A rain of afflictions is better than a rain of diamonds. This truth we shall see clearly after death. [173] Providence will then appear absolutely irreproachable in all its way