The Profession of Faith
Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The
tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture,
speaks of a cleansing fire:
As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the
Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says
that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will
be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From
this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be
forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.
This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the
dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: “Therefore [Judas
Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be
delivered from their sin.”
From the beginning the Church has
honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage
for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified,
they may attain the beatific vision of God.
The Church also
commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance under-
taken on behalf of the dead:
Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were
purified by their father’s sacrifice, 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.
We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to
love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him,
against our neighbor or against ourselves: “He who does not love
remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and
you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”
Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet
the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his
To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting
God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever
by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from
communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.”
608 St. Gregory the Great,
4, 39: PL 77, 396; cf.
610 Cf. Council of Lyons II (1274): DS 856.
611 St. John Chrysostom,
Hom. in 1 Cor.
41, 5: PG 61, 361; cf.
613 613 Cf.