Purgatory as Surrender

Purgatory as Surrender

Once, when I was teaching moral theology, a student who wasn’t Catholic asked me about purgatory.  I explained that, in this life, we retain numerous attachments to earthy goods and concerns, selfish wants, resentments, prideful aspirations that have little to do with our relationship with God.  We dread the approach of death because there’s too much in this world we aren’t prepared to leave behind if that’s what going to heaven requires.  It’s not that

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HAPPINESS IS PROBABLY NOT WHAT YOU THINK: IT’S NOT ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS

HAPPINESS IS PROBABLY NOT WHAT YOU THINK: IT’S NOT ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS

It is safe to say that modern men and women are obsessed with happiness. Of course this is hardly a unique situation. Every generation and community is concerned with happiness in one way or another, although it is important to remember that not every culture has defined happiness in the same way; not ever culture defines happiness in terms of wealth and satisfaction. Indeed, the great philosopher Aristotle had much to say on the matter.

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Purgatory as Judgment

Purgatory as Judgment

We often imagine that purgatory is a sentence we serve before our admittance into heaven.  But what if purgatory doesn’t follow judgment?  What if purgatory is judgment, subjectively experienced by us? This is precisely the view articulated by St. Catherine of Genoa (d. 1510).  For her, purgatory isn’t an immersion in corporal fire but a metaphorical, spiritual fire.  Our inordinate attachments to lesser goods, or to false goods, which distract us from God are impurities

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EROS, WISDOM, AND POLITICS: PLATO’S CRITIQUE OF DEMOCRACY

EROS, WISDOM, AND POLITICS: PLATO’S CRITIQUE OF DEMOCRACY

Few beliefs are more deeply engrained in the modern mind than the primacy of democracy. Indeed despite the radical divisions and non-stop friction that characterizes modern America, almost everyone agrees on one thing: democracy is always the best form of government. Now to be sure, one can make a case for democratic government and there are important historical reasons for the American commitment to democracy — although it must be recognized that democracy now and

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Purgatory Beyond the Images of Flames and Punishment

Purgatory Beyond the Images of Flames and Punishment

In the third installment in our series on purgatory, we examined the opinion that purgatory involves actual corporeal fire.  We saw that this odd-seeming view has some basis in a sound understanding of the relationship between the soul and the body, and that it concerns an undo attachment to merely material goods.  We saw, too, that this view is related to other models of purgatory.  In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  Jacob Marley is sentenced

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Discovering Absolute Truth: Plato’s Enduring Legacy

Discovering Absolute Truth: Plato’s Enduring Legacy

When I introduce students to philosophy, I frequently insist that they read significant passages from Plato’s Republic. This is not because I am a Platonist. Indeed, in the end I am sympathetic to Aristotelian and Thomist criticisms of Platonism taken as a whole. Nevertheless, Plato teaches us many invaluable lessons that Christians and all of those interested in right reason would do well to heed. Chief among these lessons is the need for permanent and

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Is there Actual Fire in Purgatory?

Is there Actual Fire in Purgatory?

In Part 2 of my series on purgatory, I talked about St. Paul’s reference to the typology of fire in 1 Corinthians 3:10–15.  Over the centuries, many great theologians and doctors of the Church took this reference, and references to the fires of hell in the New Testament, in a literal, corporeal sense.  But how could that be?  How is it even possible for a soul to suffer from corporeal fire after it’s been separated

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Overcoming Manipulative Rhetoric with Ancient Wisdom

Overcoming Manipulative Rhetoric with Ancient Wisdom

HOW YOU CAN OVERCOME MANIPULATIVE RHETORIC WITH ANCIENT WISDOM? The manipulative use of emotional rhetoric and fallacious reasoning is nothing new. In fact, opposition to the abuse of reason goes back to the very origins of ancient philosophy. It is well known that Socrates is the father of ancient philosophy. What you may not know is that many of Socrates’ early opponents were masters of rhetoric called “sophists.” Literally “sophists” means “wise ones,” but the

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St. Paul Talks About Purgatory in the New Testament

St. Paul Talks About Purgatory in the New Testament

In his First Letter to the Corinthians (3:10–15), St. Paul says that a Christian life can have its foundation only in Jesus Christ, but that on that foundation, the life we go on to live may be more or less worthy, as it’s constructed of works that conform more or less perfectly to Christ, or not at all. Much of what we do is unworthy of our Christian vocation and so, won’t survive judgment. Employing

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What Do Catholics Have to Believe About Purgatory?

What Do Catholics Have to Believe About Purgatory?

The doctrine of purgatory is often seen as a Roman accretion that’s distorted Christianity’s thesis that salvation is a free gift of grace by introducing the Pelagian idea that we have to earn our salvation.  That’s because, when people think about purgatory, they typically think of something like a medieval prison or dungeon, only worse.  Not only are there damp, black, stone walls with rats who run away with the few crumbs of bread we’re

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