Before we discuss St. Therese of Lisieux’s teaching on Purgatory, I want to put that teaching into context. Her teaching is daring. Some of the nuns she lived with in the Carmelite monastery were scandalized by it, thinking it presumptuous. The last thing St. Therese (or I) would want is for people to interpret her teaching in such a way that they thought they could be spiritually lax and still go straight to Heaven.
So, As you read about her teaching, keep these things in mind:
- Therese is a doctor of the Church. The Church has only 35 doctors, four of them women. Now, being a doctor of the Church doesn’t mean she was infallible. But it does mean that the Church especially recommends her spirituality for Christians in any age. Therese is the Doctor of the Little Way of Spiritual Childhood, and her teaching on Purgatory was part of that Little Way.
- St. Therese was completely orthodox. This follows from #1. What she taught about Purgatory must never be taken to contradict official Church teaching on the subject.
- Presumption is a sin. And if we presume that God will forgive our mortal sins without true repentance and a visit to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, that presumption is a mortal sin.
Can we avoid Purgatory?
So, what did St. Therese say about Purgatory?
When she was assistant novice mistress, she began teaching the novices under her that they could avoid Purgatory. What was so daring about this? None of the novices was especially holy! All of them were average Catholic women, with natural weaknesses. They had very few meritorious acts to balance the weight of their sins. Some of them even had personality problems. Therese taught them they could go straight to Heaven when they died.
Simple. By trusting God for everything.
An antidote to Jansenism
Therese grew up in a France that was still greatly influenced by Jansenism. French Catholics believed God was exacting. If you wanted to be holy, you had to not only do your duty, but perform a host of good works to earn spiritual merit. If you stored up enough merits, you could avoid Purgatory.
When Therese was little, her sister Marie brought home from boarding school a string of sacrifice beads. Marie was to use the beads to count the day’s merits. Zelie Martin, Therese’s mother, gave one to Celine so she could count merits too. Then Therese, who was still a preschooler, wanted one as well.
As Therese grew older, she struggled with scruples. She knew she was not particularly strong. In fact, psychologically, she was very sensitive and immature following her mother’s death. How could she ever accumulate enough merit?
She pondered this question for a few years before the Lord showed her the answer through Sacred Scripture. The quick way to holiness, the easy way to go straight to Heaven, was to abandon oneself totally to God as a child entrusts himself fully to his father. The Little Way of Spiritual Childhood was born.
Therese stopped storing up merits for herself. She still performed little meritorious acts, but she offered them all for others. Her plan was to have no merits in her account on the Day of Judgment.
The power of empty hands
One day towards the end of Therese’s life, her sister Pauline (now Mother Agnes of Jesus) lamented having no good works to offer to God on Judgment Day. Therese considered herself “in the same circumstances.” It did not perturb her. Since she could give God nothing, he would supply everything.
“As far as little ones are concerned, they will be judged with great gentleness… ‘At the end, the Lord will rise up to save the gentle and the humble of the earth.’ It doesn’t say ‘to judge’; but ‘to save.'” (Last Conversations, 67)
When we stop counting our merits, we learn to rely totally on God. A baby can do nothing for himself. He depends on his parents for everything. This is Therese’s spiritual attitude. She gave away everything she could possibly have placed her confidence in, so that God would be her all in all. She was poor in spirit out of love for God. She knew that God would no more be harsh with her for having no spiritual possessions than a mother is harsh with her baby for needing to be fed and clothed.
Isn’t this presumption?
Sr. Febronie, the sub-prioress, was scandalized by what Therese told the novices. How could an average, ordinary Christian expect to go straight to Heaven? Therese told her,
“My sister, if you desire God’s justice, you will have God’s justice. The soul receives exactly what she looks for from God.” (NPPA of
Sr. Marie of the Angels, my translation)
After Sr. Febronie died in a flu epidemic, Therese dreamed the sister was suffering in Purgatory. She had indeed received the justice she had expected.
How can we avoid presumption and have true trust? By working tirelessly to conquer our sins and attachments.
Therese never let the novices be spiritually lax. But she knew that some habits of sin and weakness are so deeply ingrained that God Himself must free us from them. She experienced such a miracle herself. On Christmas Eve, shortly before her fourteenth birthday, God removed the psychological weakness that had held her bound for a decade.
Therese believed that God would perform similar miracles for those who completely trust Him. We do not have to despair when we seem to make no headway against sin, despite our efforts. We can trust that in God’s time–which may be our last moment of life on earth–He will relieve our burdens. What we cannot do for ourselves, He will delight to do for us.
But only if we trust Him.
Are you looking for a book to read with your book club or parish study group? Trusting God with St. Therese includes questions for reflection and practical suggestions at the end of each chapter. Buy five paperbacks directly from me and receive a sixth free, plus free shipping. I will even sign them for you. Email me at crossini4774 at comcast dot net if you are interested.
60 thoughts on “St. Therese’s daring teaching on Purgatory”
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This is wonderful. I am so glad I came across your blog. You do a wonderful job of sharing St Therese’s Little Way.
No such thing as Purgatory! FACT
Thanks for your OPINION, Dave. God bless.
Passages alluding to purgatory or need to pay a debt due to sin that the lord holds as our responsibility to participate in with of course salvation thereafter. This doesn’t diminish his saving act, it allows for sinners who don’t deserve salvation to still achieve it through his mercy:
“And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection. For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead, and because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. With godliness… Judas hoped that these men who died fighting for the cause of God and religion, might find mercy: either because they might be excused from mortal sin by ignorance; or might have repented of their sin, at least at their death. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.” – 2 Maccabees 12:43-46
“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abides which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” – 1 Corinthians 3:11-15
“I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite.” – Luke 12:59
“And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the [world] to come. Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by [his] fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the Day of Judgment.” – Matthew 12:32-36
@DaveJohnson And you know this how? 3 weeks after my Fathers death in 1999 at the age of 49, my sister had a dream of Dad. He met her at our old intermediate school cafeteria. She said they sat down at an old lunch table and Dad was very tired looking, he told her that he was saved, but it was only by the Mercy of God and the prayer that his children would say for him throughout their lives. He then said that were he was wasn’t a place of peace.. but after a long time being there.. he would be released and would be at peace. So… while you stumble around wanting to believe there is no purgatory, I know for a fact that there is a place known as Purgatory once we die.
Dave, you will believe when you get there.
Also – I have been thinking about how daring her beliefs were especially for who she was and her time. She had scruples and lived during the tail end of Jansenism. I too suffer from scruples at times so I can really appreciate how abandoned she was to the mercy and goodness of God. This teaching on purgatory is especially astonishing.
Yes, her teachings were polar opposite to what she had grown up with, what was accepted as the only right way by Catholics of her culture. But it was the only way she could become holy. She knew God would provide a way, if He gave her the desire. And she knew she could not keep focusing on merits because that only tempted her towards despair.
Amazing – I was and am struggling and a thought came to me during prayers as it often does – Now Thanks to St Tereasa – TRUST TRUST TRUST – Oh! boy I hope God grants me the strenght to follow it…………Complete Trust
God will grant you the grace, Thomas, no doubt about that. It’s His will for you. I like to ask Him for the grace “both to will and to work,” as St. Paul put it in Ephesians. I have to really will to trust and work hard, but the grace will be there. Of course, it’s one step at a time. Don’t be hard on yourself when you fail in trust. Remain peaceful, because that is trust too–trust that God can work even through your failures. Blessings on your journey!
“Don’t be hard on yourself when you fail in trust. Remain peaceful, because that is trust too–trust that God can work even through your failures.” That is so profound! I will have to meditate on that, let it sink in more. Thank you!
Thank you for this. My friend Jim is worried scared about purgatory. He has so-called terminal cancer. I say so-called because God will heal him in the name of Jesus, and he will be fully restored. I will print this article out for him to allay his fears.
God bless and peace be with you.
Peace to you and your friend too, Nick. I will pray for him.
My adult daughter is petrified of purgatory.
No matter what references, pamphlets or articles I give her, she is not relieved.
I will share this with her and pray that she sees the joy of purgatory.
BTW–what was the psychological impediment that Therese was relieved of after ten years?
After her mother died when Therese was only 4, Therese barely cried or showed any feelings of sadness. But modern psychologists believe she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. This caused her to be extremely sensitive when anything went wrong or when she made mistakes. She cried very easily, then, as she wrote, she “cried that I had cried.” This emotional fragility was probably what led to her illness when she was 10. Therese believed her illness was caused by the Devil. I suspect that the Devil made use of her already fragile state to bring her to near death. The illness did not have the cathartic effect we might have expected. She continued to be just as sensitive and her family began to spoil her. They were afraid that opposing her at all would bring a return of her illness. She did suffer a small setback when her sister Marie entered the Carmelite cloister, almost without warning. After her “Christmas conversion,” she never suffered from oversensitivity again. She regained the happy outlook she had had as a young child.
I pray that your daughter will be able to believe in God’s mercy. Avoiding Purgatory is totally within our control (I don’t mean outside of grace, of course). God does not want anyone to go there! If we let Him cleanse us of our sins and attachments while on earth, Purgatory is superfluous. Even your daughter’s fear of Purgatory can itself become a means for her to go straight to Heaven! She can offer that fear to God, saying, “Jesus, I trust in you,” even when she doesn’t feel like it. Every fear, doubt, frustration, or weakness can help us trust God more.
Thanks, Connie, for the clarification of St Therese.
I strongly believe this about trust in God but am at a loss as to convince her otherwise. Since St. Monica also had frustrations, I am certain she will have her ‘epiphany’ about purgatory. At least we can get her to confession occasionally.
I am C&P-ing this paragraph for her.
God bless you.
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There is a beautiful YouTube video that sums up St. Therese’s Little way very nicely…
Here is the link:
As a Catholic who has come to love and revere the Bible as God’s Holy Word to us and having experienced life through its pages, I am skeptical about those doctrines which God has not stated. If purgatory is such an important issue God would have much to say about it. On the contrary, Jesus talked about heaven and hell only with nothing in-between. I find it strange that people haven’t noticed this (in the 66 books) and continue to hold to extra-biblical doctrines as life saving remedies. Do not be deceived brethren, salvation is through Christ alone and is made plain through the pages of the Bible. We are warned in Galatians 1:8 by Paul saying; “that even if we or an angel from heaven were to bring you another Gospel than that which has already been preached, let him be accursed”. The good thief (as we call him) on the cross, being a hardened criminal was promised paradise (by Christ) that very day when he repented on the cross, without even the slightest mention of an interim stage called purgatory. I’m sure as a hardened criminal, he would have required many years in “purgatory” due to his lifestyle. Think about this please! This is not an attempt to clobber wrong doctrines, but in love to help people see the real truth; for all scripture is inspired by God….!
interesting …. yet after his death Jesus visited the holy souls who had been waiting for his Victory on the cross so that they could be redeemed/released and indeed they all ascended into Heaven….. the Good Thief had arrived late in the vineyard and not toiled as others when he found The Lord and The Lord found him….the thief was also privileged to share the crucifixion of the Son of God …. no ordinary sinner
The Catholic Bible contains 72 Books (or 73 if Isaiah’s Lamentations is taken separately), not 66. The Bible was canonized by the Catholic Church, approved by the Catholic Councils of Hippo in 393 A.D. and Carthage in 397 A.D.. Before that, there was no “official” canon of Scriptures. Luther, because of his anti-Catholic agenda, including his rejection of Purgatory, threw the “inconvenient” Books from the main canon and place them at the end of his Bible version as apocrypha, meaning not so worthy reading. Later, the “Apocrypha” was taken out all together by the American Protestants in the 19th century in order to save on paper and printing costs. Hence, today they have only 66 Books.
Now, in 2 Maccabees 12:38-46 (from the Catholic Bible) the inspired author is clearly speaking of praying for the dead.
Why would the Jews want to pray for their fallen soldiers when the souls in hell don’t need any prayers because they are dammed for ever and the souls in Heaven experience beatific vision therefore, require none? To pray for either of them is totally in-efficacious. Is there then a third stage?
I love Holy Scriptures and as a homeschooling mum I am teaching my 14-year old son High-School Theology, including Scriptures. As a matter of fact, we read Bible every day with the Church (that is Catholic Church) Fathers. We Catholics, the original Christians, rely not only on the Bible (a heresy of Sola Scriptura) but on the Traditions as presented and taught by Magisterium.
Allow me to direct you to some Catholic apologetic sites, that explain that Purgatory is in the Scriptures although not mentioned by name. Note: There is no word of either Trinity nor Incarnation in the Bible.
Ad Iesum per Mariam.
I replied before reading this, so we said some of the same things! I too LOVE the Bible. In fact, my contemplative way of homeschooling makes the Bible the center of our curriculum. But the Bible must be read with the mind of the Church. Thanks for the additional links.
Well, the Church has canonized 73 books, not 66–that’s the Protestant canon. The Catholic canon talks about praying for the dead in 2 Maccabees 12:39-45. You don’t pray for people who are in Heaven or Hell. There are several passages in St. Paul’s letters that may hint at purification after death. See Catholic Answers on this: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/purgatory. As far as the Good Thief is concerned, he demonstrates St. Therese’s point–that trust in God can take the place of meritorious acts. As far as “wrong doctrine” is concerned, if you are a Catholic, you should recognize that the Church is the only legitimate authority on spiritual matters. Jesus did not instruct His followers to write the NT, he instructed them to preach. That’s where Catholic doctrine comes from. The Scriptures are only one part of the Sacred Tradition that has been passed down from the Apostles to us. When we make the Bible our sole authority, we really make ourselves the sole authority, because we must then decide which of thousands of different interpretations of Scripture we agree with. There are thousands of Protestant denominations for just this reason. Which of them is right? Answer: none. Jesus made Peter, not the Bible, the rock on which the Church was built. In John’s Revelation, the Eternal City is built on the foundation of the apostles, and St. Paul says the Church is “the pillar and foundation of truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). Of course salvation is through Christ alone! The doctrine of Purgatory in no way contradicts this. It actually confirms it. Purgatory means that if we have weaknesses that we were unable to overcome in this life, God will do the work for us, so that we can have the completely clean souls that are necessary to see Him face to face. “Nothing unclean” can enter Heaven. Unfortunately, many of us leave this life still attached to some sin. We are meant to open our hearts fully to God in this life so that He can completely cleanse us before we die. But if we are oriented towards Him (i.e., in the state of grace), He gives us another, more painful way to be cleansed of our minor faults after this life.
… inspired writing Connie…. so many of us don’t know enough/anything about how to live our lives in faith and joy
with the Lord, rather than conviction that we’re inevitably doomed as the sinners that we inevitably are …. thank you St Therese, and Connie.
Okay, I know I just wrote a book about St. Therese, but I wrote it as her student, not her equal. I’m just translating what she said into terms we can understand in the 21st century. I’m still struggling to live it out myself.
Beautiful. I am slowly watching and reading “Consoling Heart of Jesus”. Fr. Gaitley is referring to the St. Therese’ “Little Way”. Your book would be an excellent finish to my in-home retreat. If I would order through you, how much would I need to expect including the shipping. I live in Australia, therefore shipping is not free. I would purchase all five books in two weeks or so. It will be a wonderful Christmas gift.
Anna, I will check on shipping prices to Australia and try to get back to you today. Thanks!
Dear Connie, I’m looking forward to receive the books. :=)
I’ve got a wonderful faithful friend, and she would love to read it! You’re are truly and instrument in Our Lord’s Holy Hands.
Ad Iesum per Mariam.
Anna, did you receive my emails about pricing, etc.? I just sold the last book I had on hand to someone else today, but I ordered more that should arrive at my home about September 9.
I’ve just sent an email. God bless.
Actually, the beads were to count sacrifices. You can read about it in “The Story of a Family,” the book about the Martin family (especially Blessed Louis and Zelie). In my opinion, this is actually a very good practice for small children, and was presented in the book as a very positive experience in their family.
Yes, the beads were to count sacrifices, which are the same thing as meritorious acts. I’m not seeing the difference there. As I say in my book, sacrifice beads can be helpful for children and beginners in the spiritual life. They help us to form habits of doing little works for God. I have not read “Story of a Family,” but I have read numerous books on St. Therese, including her Last Conversations and many of her letters. There was nothing wrong with Zelie giving Therese sacrifice beads when she was 4. But in the culture of the day, sacrifice beads were used by adults as well as children. According to Ida Friederike Gorres, author of The Hidden Face, this was a corruption of a practice started by the early Jesuits. Beads were used to keep track of one’s sins, so that you would remember them in your nightly examen. But the French Catholics of the late 19th century began instead to count their merits. They were very merit-focused. Over time, this sharp focus on merits, along with fire-and-brimstone sermons about the reality of Hell and God’s justice, brought on an attack of scruples in St. Therese that she called one of the most painful experiences of her life. She felt unworthy. She felt like she could never possibly earn enough merit to avoid Purgatory or to become a saint as she so desired. She was tempted to despair of Heaven. This is precisely why she started looking for another way to become a saint, and eventually found it in trusting God. It’s not a bad thing at all to try to do as many meritorious acts during the day as you can. Not bad, but for many of us, counting those works is dangerous. It teaches us to focus on our works, rather than on God’s mercy. After “discovering” the Little Way, Therese continued to do meritorious acts, but we don’t hear anything about her counting them. She was not concerned any more with their counterbalancing the number of her sins. She offered them for others, rather than for herself. She did them out of pure love for God and for souls, giving away absolutely everything–even her time in Heaven, for others’ benefit. We need to put these beads into the whole context of the Little Way. Many times I see the Little Way being interpreted as doing many little works for God. That is absolutely focusing in the wrong place! It’s a similar misinterpretation of Therese’s spirituality as the common misinterpretation of St. John of the Cross. Both misinterpretations focus on the work the soul has to do, when these two Carmelite Doctors of the Church were focused elsewhere. Love comes first! And St. Therese said, “It is trust, and nothing but trust, that must bring us to love.” The works we do flow out of our love. If we put love first, we won’t have to count our sacrifices, because they will become a way of life.
I recently went through Fr.Gaitley’s book 33 Days to Morning Glory, an excellent preparation for Marian Consecration. I find that being Mary’s property and giving her ALL of my merits and graces frees me from worrying about making myself “good” enough. She now is in charge of my sanctity. I still pray as much as I did before, with a greater intensity and more fervently, but it ALL goes to HER, to do with as she pleases. When I stand before the judgement seat of God, I will be empty handed. St. Therese would be 100% behind this Consecration. Truly it is all about love and trust.
Mary, I did that consecration years ago too. It is the same as St. Therese’s way. St. Therese was not so much innovative as that she re-discovered a truth that had largely been lost due to Jansenism.
Thank you for a very interesting discussion.
I defer to those who know better — but it seems to me that the parable of the prodigal son provides strong scriptural support for St. Therese’s teaching. The good son is like the disciple who leads a good life, accumulates merit, and is saved. The prodigal son is like the disciple who is saved based on grace. In point of fact, the two are not so different — the desire to live a meritorious life arises from devotion and grace and salvation in each case is really by grace alone. Good works are, perhaps, just an outward sign of a blessed life where grace is realized.
I do believe St. Therese speaks about this too. Yes, doing meritorious acts to go straight to Heaven is a legitimate, time-tested method. The only thing “wrong” with it is that most of us don’t have what it takes to do enough meritorious acts to counterbalance our sins. I would clarify a little of what you said, though. Both sons are saved by grace. Grace is the only way. God gives us the grace “both to will and to work” (Phil 2:13). For Catholics (I know you’re not–yet–one of us 😉 ), works are more than an outward sign; they are necessary for salvation. So that’s what worried St. Therese. The works do come through grace though. As we get closer to Christ, they are easier and easier to perform, because He transforms us. But we still have to make the choice to receive the grace He offers or to reject it. So works are a sign of living for God, but they are also a means of drawing ever closer to Him. What Therese clarified for us was that the most important work of all is surrendering our lives to God. Make no mistake, this is work! Meaning, it takes constant vigilance and self-denial. But it’s a self-denial that is always right at our fingertips. Anyone can practice it. And unlike focusing on other works, it brings us peace here and now. It lifts our burdens, rather than imposing new ones. I hope this makes sense.
I have been praying of late to the Lord to save me from Purgatory, I wont get into the sinner I’m here! This article is my answer. What is even more miraculous is that I went to St. Therese’s remains in Lisieux this April and since my return I have occasionally being asking her to save me from evil thoughts and how to avoid this…..I don’t doubt that she has interceded with the Lord to give me an answer. My God never fails to answer me.Never.
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Having read the APPROVED revelations of Jesus to Gabrielle Bossis in her diary, “He and I” which is such a reflection of the Spirit of St. Therese of Lisieux……I have NO DOUBT!
I am not familiar with the writings of Gabrielle Bossis myself, but I Googled it :). What I’m finding is that her book has the Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat. That’s not the same as her locutions being approved. It means her bishop gave permission for the book to be printed after his designee examined it for errors. The Imprimatur speaks to the written word, but not the locutions themselves. Do you have information that the locutions were investigated and found worthy of belief? I’d be interested in a link if you have one. At any rate, there could not be much harm in a book with the Imprimatur. Thanks!
Her book was read over Vatican Radio in the 1960’s on Sunday afternoons so I would imagine the locutions are considered genuine. Fr Leo Clifford speaks favorably of her and her locutions on his short spiritual segments “Reflections” on EWTN. Her cause towards beatification is currently in the process in France. I would think that since she was a lay person and had such an intimate relationship with Christ and that this book is so intimate, simple and (as Christ tells her)” these conversations are not meant for you alone but for every soul” to take advantage of the generosity of Jesus sharing his simple encouraging words to his people.
Gabrielle Bossis’ “He and I” most certainly is written for the laity seeking sanctity. She was wealthy, a traveler, and used her income to promote moralistic plays to spread the Gospel. In one entry in the Diary, Christ tells her that he chose her to dispel the erroneous notion that intimacy with Him can only come about in a Religious Cloister or by being a confessed religious. She purposely avoided the cloister and marriage and left us with a very simple, intimate, loving (from the heart) written work that (As Christ tells her) is meant for every person on the face of the earth. It has also been called the best psychology book ever written. She certainly is the St Teresa of the laity.
I think that St. Therese ‘s Little Way was doing everything out of love for Jesus, and when we fall or make mistakes and sin, we can be trusting in Him to know that He forgives us
and picks us up like a loving, forgiving father would. Trusting in God, even though your sins be as scarlet, means the person goes to Confession and asks pardon and forgiveness
for those sins, and starts anew. St. Therese had complete trust in God’s Mercy .
Hi, Ann. I can’t tell if you’re agreeing with my post or clarifying it–sometimes comments are really hard to interpret. I agree with what you wrote, but I would put it a little differently. She did everything out of love for Jesus–instead of as a means to gain merit for herself. She trusted Him not just for forgiveness, but to rid her of the weakness she still had (as He had miraculously removed her oversensitivity), to accomplish His will in her life despite obstacles (as He did when she had to wait to enter Carmel), never to give her more suffering than she could bear with His grace, to save the sinners she prayed for (as He had Pranzini), to apply His merits to her at the Last Judgment, since she had none of her own. As I quoted in another comment, she said, “It is trust, and nothing but trust, that must bring us to love.” I interpret this to mean that trust enabled her to let go of working for herself and begin to work only for love of God and others. It was her childlike trust that led her to intimacy with God.
Thanks for your wonderful post!! It is quite helpful.
You’re welcome, Valerie. God bless!
Well said, Connie!
Thanks for your posts!
Want to avoid Purgatory? Confess your sins with all your heart with a sincere intent to not sin the same sins over and over. Attend mass regularly, receive the Holy Eucharist and make a valid confession at least once a month….more often if necessary. This is how we remain ready…for we know not when the Master will return and find us unprepared. If we die in a state of grace, we will go directly to heaven. Otherwise if we have unconfessed / unrepented sin on our souls we do need to purge our souls before entering Heaven, where no sin is allowed to exist. We all sin. The goal is to repent of the sins we commit, make a valid attempt to change our lives so that they lessen each time we confess them. This is the path to holiness. It’s not all too complicated.
Thanks for your comment, Gerry. “If we die in a state of grace, we will go directly to heaven.” Actually, that’s not the teaching of the Church. If we die without being in the state of grace, we will go to Hell for all eternity, not to Purgatory. Only people who die in the state of grace will make it to Heaven at all. So who goes to Purgatory? “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (CCC 1030). So the question is really, How do we become perfectly purified? The common answer in Therese’s day was by performing many meritorious acts. Therese never denied that this “worked,” nor did the Church. But she proposed an alternative, which was total surrender to Christ. On the outside, both methods look similar, because people pursuing both will do as you suggest: receiving the sacraments often and being truly repentant. They will also both make sacrifices and perform many good works. One will offer these sacrifices in reparation for his own sins, the other on behalf of other people with no benefit to themselves. The first group has more control over their final destiny, but many people, including me, don’t find comfort in that, because we know how weak we are and how paltry our deeds. So instead we surrender and say, “O God, I will let you handle it. I will not keep track, I will not even worry about the balance. In fact, I will use my weaknesses to learn to trust you more.” It takes a high state of holiness to be completely purified of sins in this life, but God gives us a way to attain it. Perfect trust, no matter what stage of the spiritual life we are in now, suffices, so that even if i die much sooner than I expected, God will purify me without the need for Purgatory.
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thanks very much for educating me about God’s Loving Mercy of Purgatory w. St. Therese !!!!
You’re welcome, Sister! This is something I am still trying to put into practice even in the last few days–absolute trust that God is working His will in and through me even with all my weaknesses. And knowing I have nothing to offer Him, relying completely on His goodness.
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Through God’s Grace, and perhaps help from His servant Saints, I came upon St. Theresa’s words about holiness and purgatory. She makes sense to me and places depth into my understanding of several of the scriptures and sacred writings.
It is impossible for me to keep track of meritous works. Additionally, only the LORD knows for sure what is meritous and what isn’t. You keep track, God, because I can’t. Just…… guide us all , take charge of our lives and fill us with your grace. Please!
Amen! May he give us Himself and we will desire nothing else.
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