I thought of writing this blog post: “Heaven, Hell or Purgatory,” after an encounter with a young lady at the mall who talked to me about God’s love, and faith in God’s saving power.
I was walking fast by myself inside the mall when this lady suddenly walked beside me. I was taken aback by her sudden appearance to my right, but nevertheless, I managed to nod at her with a questioning smile.
Do You Believe Jesus Loves You?
“Do you believe that Jesus loves you?” She quickly said, perhaps sensing the bewilderment in my face.
“Yes! I do,” I replied, with a sigh.
The lady was not apt to something, after all.
She was a woman of God.
“Do you think if you leave this earth today you would go to heaven?” She asked again.
“Hmm . . . “ I hesitated to answer her second question.
I didn’t want to sound righteous, nor appear proud, that I would readily admit I’m going straight to heaven after my life on earth.
“Yes, I believe Jesus will take me with Him there,” was what I could think of saying in answer to her question.
“Salvation is a gift from God,” the lady continued, “It is not something you work for.
“Since it is a gift, you will receive eternal life and therefore go to heaven when you die.”
The lady, then, slowed down in her walk until we both stopped and stood in the middle of passers by. She said some more stuff about the goodness of God, and then we said goodbyes.
Quite frankly, I’ve already heard, over and over again about salvation being a gift from God.
Which is true, of course!
But it took someone, like the lady in the mall, to tell me so for the idea to really sink in on my mind and for me to really give it a serious thought.
True, salvation is a gift. We cannot work our own way to salvation. Only God can give us salvation.
And God has already given us that salvation through Jesus Christ whom He sent to earth in human form like us in order to take upon Himself all the sins of the entire mankind, and suffer and die for those sins in payment of them on our behalf.
But how about Purgatory?
We, Catholics, believe there is a place called Purgatory, a place where people who have unrepented sins go to when they die.
This is a place where still impure souls go for final cleansing, or purification, before they can enter into eternal life in Heaven.
We, Catholics, further believe that we need to pray for these souls in Purgatory, for our prayers will help shorten their stay in Purgatory, helping them in completing their destination to the next life, which is to heaven.
The question is: How do we reconcile the Catholic belief of the existence of Purgatory, and the non-Catholics claim that we are saved and when we die we will go straight to heaven?
“Do you think if you leave this earth today you would go to heaven?”
The question that the lady at the mall posed before me was not a question, actually.
It was a statement. She was telling me – indirectly – that when death comes heaven is the place to go.
A Seriously Dangerous Proposition
As I pondered the non-catholic’s belief about salvation, that we are already saved, and will go to heaven after death, one thought came to my mind: This is a seriously dangerous proposition!
Assuring people of salvation – without personal responsibility -attached to it may mislead many people and endangers many souls of landing in purgatory, or hell, when life on earth ends.
Surely, no one can enter heaven impure.
As Pope John Paul II said: “The truth remains that man has to be “sound and flawless before God the Father” when, after death, he appears before Him to render an account of His life. Only holy souls have direct access to the blissful abode where nothing unclean shall enter. Therefore, “every trace of attachment to evil must be eliminated, every imperfection of the soul corrected. The place for this correction of the soul’s imperfection is Purgatory.”
Is Hell real?
Hell is real.
Why do I say so?
Because Jesus said so. Several times.In our Holy Bible.
In Matthew 10:28, for instance, He admonished us, thus:
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” -Matthew 10:28
Explaining the Parable of the Weeds to His disciples in Matthew 13:37-42, Jesus made mention of a place of blazing furnace where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth:
“. . . He who sows the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world, and the good seed means the sons of the kingdom; the weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with the fire, so will it be at the close of age. The son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.”
In Mark 9:43, Jesus said:
“If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.”
And, finally, in Revelation 21:8 the Word of God said:
“. . . the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
Do we need any more better proof of the existence of Hell than the word of God?
The book, “Hungry Souls: Supernatural Visits, Messages, and Warnings from Purgatory,” written by Gerard J. M. Van Den Aardweg, tells of first-hand meeting experiences with souls sent to Purgatory and souls sent to Hell following their earthly death.
It showed plenty of first hand testimonies about souls in Purgatory who contacted the living asking for prayers, or Holy Mass, to aid them in getting released from Purgatory.
One of the first-hand accounts cited in the book was that of Saint Faustina Kowalska who was visited three times by a recently-deceased sister in her monastery.
In her diary she wrote, “A Sister (Henry) was dying. A few days later she came to me and bid me to go to Mother Directress of Novices . . . and tell her to ask her confessor. . . to offer one Mass for her and three ejaculatory prayers. At first I agreed, but the next day I decided I would not go to Mother Directress, because I was not sure whether this had happened in dream or in reality. And so I did not go.
The following night the same thing was repeated more clearly; I had no more doubt. Still, in the morning I decided not to tell the Directress about it unless I saw her (Sis Henry) during the day. At once I ran into her in the corridor. She reproached me for not having gone immediately, and a great uneasiness filled my soul. So I went immediately to Mother Directress and told her everything that had happened to me. Mother responded that she would take care of the matter. On the third day this sister came to me and said, “May God repay you.”
Another first hand account was that of St. Padre Pio’s encounter with souls in Purgatory, right in his monastery.
One winter evening after a heavy snowfall, Padre Pio was sitting by the fireplace in the guest room absorbed in prayer when suddenly he noticed an old man bundled in an old-fashioned cloak sitting beside him.
Padre Pio later relates: ‘I could not imagine how he could have entered the friary at this time of night since all the doors are locked. I asked him: ‘Who are you? What do you want?’
The old man said, “Padre Pio, I am Pietro Di Mauro, son of Nicola . . . I died in this friary on the 18th of September 1908 in cell number 4 when it was still a poorhouse. One night while in bed I fell asleep with a lighted cigar, which ignited the mattress and I died, suffocated and burned. I am still in Purgatory. I need a holy Mass in order to be freed. God permitted that I come and ask you for help.”
After listening to him Padre Pio told him,”Rest assured that tomorrow I will celebrate Mass for your liberation.”
Padre Pio then accompanied the man to the door and sent him away, but he got more puzzled for the door was closed wondering how could this man enter the friary when the door was tightly bolted from the inside.
A few days later, Padre Pio told the story to Capuchin Padre Paolino and the two decided to go to the town hall to look at the vital statistics for the year I908. They found that on September 18 of 1908 one Pietro Di Mauro had in fact died of burns and asphyxiation in Room Number 4 at the friary, then used as a home for the homeless.
On another account, Padre Pio also told of an encounter with another soul from Purgatory.
“One evening, when I was absorbed in prayer in the choir of the little church I was shaken and disturbed by the sound of footsteps, and candles and flower vases being moved on the main altar. Thinking that someone must be there, I called out, “Who is it?”
No one answered. Returning to prayer, I was again disturbed by the same noises. In fact, this time I had the impression that one of the candles, which was in front of the statue of Our Lady of Grace, had fallen. Wanting to see what was happening on the altar, I stood up, went close to the grate and saw, in the shadow of the light of the Tabernacle lamp, a young confrere doing some cleaning. I yelled out, “What are you doing in the dark?” The little friar answered, “I am cleaning.”
“You clean in the dark?” I asked. “Who are you?”
The little friar said, ‘I am a Capuchin novice, who spends his time of Purgatory here. I am in need of prayers.’ and then he disappeared.”
Padre Pio said that he immediately began praying for him as requested.
Later in life, Padre Pio said that there are as many souls of the dead coming up this road [to the monastery] as that of the souls of the living.”
Undoubtedly, many souls from Purgatory visited Padre Pio seeking his prayers, sacrifices and sufferings to obtain their release from purgatory.
Message from Souls in Purgatory to the Living:
"You in the world have no inkling of what we have to suffer! Being abandoned and forgotten by those who have been nearest to us in the world: that is most bitter. Sometimes they stand at the tombs of our bodies and don't pray for us at all. They act as if we don't exist any more. God's justice commands us to be silent. But we stand at the door of their houses, of our former dwellings, and wait. We stand there and wait. Days, years. We wait for them to give us a small sign of their love by prayer and sacrifice. But we stay there in vain. We cry in vain for love. For help! Tell them...Love should not die at death. We are still alive and we are hungry for love! For your love!"
Doctrine of the Devil
There are many more recorded messages to the living from souls in purgatory, and there are many, many more accounts of souls from purgatory visiting the living to ask for prayers so that they will be released from purgatory.
I can say therefore that it is most dangerous to convince anyone that we are saved and will go to heaven when the end comes. This doctrine will lose people’s sin consciousness and, therefore, lose any motivation to prepare their souls for the next life.
As a noted Catholic priest said, “The idea that all men are saved is a doctrine of the devil.”
Yes, indeed! For who wants to bring God’s children to hell but only the devil.