By coincidence, regular Catholic basher, Diane Iglesias, just happens to have another "Catholic basher" letter in today's PDN, timed perfectly to bash the scripture upon which the Catholic Church bases its practice of praying for the dead on the very day when the Catholic Church specifically prays for the dead.
How about that?
That's even better timing than the PDN's coincidental timing of the printing of the David Mills letter bashing Joseph Lastimoza with the PDN's headline story bashing Joseph Lastimoza.
Every year at this time I anticipate the usual bashing of the Catholic practice of praying for the dead, and, once again, this year, thanks to Diane Iglesias and the keen editorial timing of the PDN, I was not disappointed. (In fact, I should have put money on it!)
However, as is my practice, I see opportunity in every attack on the Catholic Church, so allow me to manufacture my own coincidence and copy here my response to Ms. Iglesias on this very topic (praying for the dead/purgatory, printed in the PDN on Jun 5, 2014, in the hopes that we might all better appreciate why we do what we do on this day.
(P.S. While my submissions to the PDN don't seem to warrant the same keen sense of editorial timing, at least they get printed...at some point.)
If it isn't heaven and isn't hell, what is it?
Pacific Daily News - Hagatna, Guam
Subjects: Faith; Bible; Christians; Catholicism
Author: Rohr, Tim
Date: Jun 5, 2014
In response to “No purgatory; can't buy way into heaven”, Diana Iglesias, June 1, 2014, Pacific Daily News, please allow me to conduct a short Bible study on purgatory.
Open your Bible to Revelation 20:13-14. Since most non-Catholic Christians believe the King James Version is the most reliable translation, let’s use that one. The KJV says:
“ And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”
There are two “places” mentioned in this scripture: “death and hell” and “the lake of fire.” Let us identify both.
First: the “lake of fire”. What is this? The “lake of fire” is used four times in Revelation, and based on its usage, there can be no question that this is the “place” reserved for the final destruction of the wicked. (Whether the pain of that destruction is everlasting or temporary is a different discussion.)
Second: “death and hell”. What is this? We know that it is not the “Hell” as the word has come to be used today: the final destination of the damned. We know this because the above scripture tells us that this “hell” will be “cast into the lake of fire.” Hell can’t be cast into hell, so it must be something else. What is it?
Well if it can’t be the final destination of the saved and it can’t be the final destination of the damned, then it must be a third “place”.
The existence of a third place is not denied by Christians since in 1 Peter 3:19 we see Jesus preaching to the “spirits in prison”, a place otherwise termed “the Bosom of Abraham” because it was the waiting “place” for the righteous dead, which was not hell (as we use the word today) and was not heaven.
Most non-Catholic Christians believe that after Christ opened the gates of heaven, there was no more need for this third place. However, here we are, in the Book of Revelation, at the end of time, at the moment of the final judgement, and there is this third place called “death and hell” which is neither the “place” of the damned or the saved. And what’s more, there’s people in it.
So what are they doing there? If according to non-Catholic Christians one either goes to heaven or goes to hell upon death, then there should not be any souls in a middle place. Yet there are.
Our Catholic Church simply calls this place - a state, actually - “Purgatory”. We call it that because to be destined for the beatific vision and yet to be denied is a source of pain which serves as a purgation for those not yet fully purified (see Rev 21:27).
We are not asking the critics to agree with what we call it or what we believe is its purpose. But if the critic is going to use the Bible to disprove our belief, then the critic first needs to disprove: 1) the existence of a third place, 2) its existence at the end of time, and 3) the presence of souls therein - as found in that same Bible.
The real problem is that most non-Catholic Christians like Diana assume that Jesus left us a book. He did not. He left us a church and a teaching authority for that church. It was the church, the church that Jesus gave us and the teaching authority for that church which eventually gave us “the book.” The question is: which church is it?
More articles about Purgatory, Praying for the Dead, and other Catholic practices can be found at www.TheMassNeverEnds.com