What happens when someone dies.
Catholic teaching regarding prayers for the dead is bound up inseparably with the doctrine of purgatory and the more general doctrine of the communion of the saints, which is an article of the Apostle’s Creed. The definition of the Council of Trent (Sess. XXV), “that purgatory exists, and that the souls detained therein are helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but especially by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar”, is merely a restatement in brief of the traditional teaching which had already been embodied in more than one authoritative formula — as in the creed prescribed for converted Waldenses by Innocent III in 1210 (Denzinger, Enchiridion, n. 3 73) and more fully in the profession of faith accepted for the Greeks by Michael Palaeologus at the Second Ecumenical Council of Florence in 1439: ” likewise, that if the truly penitent die in the love of God, before they have made satisfaction by worthy fruits of penance for their sins of commission and omission, their souls are purified by purgatorial pains after death; and that for relief from these pains they are benefitted by the suffrages of the faithful in this life, that is, by Masses, prayers, and almsgiving, and by the other offices of piety usually performed by the faithful for one another according to the practice of the Church” (ibid., n. 588).
Prayers for the Dead – Catholic Encyclopedia
So, the basic assumption of Catholic doctrine appears to be that almost no one has “attained perfect holiness at death”, so almost everyone who dies who would be in Heaven doesn’t go there, but instead goes to ‘purgatory’.
Jesus said if we believe in Him, then we are assured of eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. John 3:16 (NIV) Paul wrote: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (NIV) Jesus doesn’t mention a half-way house between Earth and Heaven. Neither do any of the NT writers.
In her book Heaven is so Real, Choo Thomas writes of Jesus taking her on a guided tour of Heaven, including a valley of death full of sinful Christians wandering around dejected in ‘gray-colored robes’. Choo asks Jesus “What is going to happen to them?” Jesus tells Choo “Most of them will go to the lake of fire after the judgment.”
Heaven is so Real – Choo Thomas
The Catholic ‘purgatory’ is a half way house from where Christians eventually get to go to Heaven. It seems almost all Christians go there. The half way house of Choo Thomas is where ‘bad’ Christians go before they go to Hell. Some form of delaying the inevitable. But some seem to get to Heaven.
I can’t believe either. When my mother died I know she went to Heaven. Why and how could I possibly believe anything else. She deeply loved God, shown by her willingness to help anyone, and voluntary work at the local parish and schools despite her health problems. She went to Mass almost everyday of her life. To assume that because she was a sinner and required some form of purification in ‘purgatory’ makes no sense. She went to Confession often, said sorry for her sins and repented. Jesus paid for her sins. I don’t pray to Jesus for my mother. I know she is in Heaven. She is not in some mythical place called ‘purgatory’.
I don’t pretend to understand everything. But I believe that everyone’s future is decided the moment they die. Heaven or Hell. There is no half way house.
A friend of mine keeps trying to lend me the Choo Thomas book. Sorry, but I’d rather read the Bible.