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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Stubborn as a Lutheran

Hello Sister! I love your blog! I am a cradle Catholic, life long friends with a cradle Lutheran. She is very devout in her faith. Lately she has been bugging me about Purgatory - specifically, that it doesn't exist. Her reasoning? Jesus said on the cross to the man crucified next to him (the good one) "TODAY you will be with me in Paradise". Not tomorrow, nor the next day, or after you get out of purgatory; TODAY. Implying that there was no passing go, no stopping for gas, just zooming right into Heaven without a pesky stop in Purgatory. How can I respond to her? I can't use "it's a sacred mystery" because she's Lutheran and won't buy it.

Not everyone goes to Purgatory!  Some people go straight to Heaven. Martyrs, for example, go straight to Heaven. Children under the age of seven go straight to Heaven. Very holy people go straight to Heaven. And anyone Jesus says is going straight to Heaven, goes straight to Heaven. So if Jesus said this guy will go to Heaven that day, that's that. It doesn't mean Purgatory doesn't exist.

Ironically, before Jesus died on the cross, no one went to Heaven, let alone Purgatory. Everyone went to the Limbo of the Fathers, because the gates of Heaven were not open. 

There's nothing mysterious about it.

I wouldn't hold my breath with your Lutheran friend arguing over Purgatory, however. The belief that Purgatory does not exist is at the very heart of the Lutheran faith. There would have been no reason for Martin Luther (who was a Catholic priest) to break with the Church. Luther was rightfully angry that the Church was selling indulgences and said so. He actually wasn't trying to leave the Church or found a new religion. 

The Church got mad back and booted him out. THEN he started the Lutheran sect. Too bad, because right after that, the Church reformed in a little thing called the Reformation.  

As far a Purgatory is concerned, Luther threw the baby out with the bathwater. Selling indulgences was wrong, but that doesn't mean Purgatory does not exist.

The argument about Purgatory  goes like this:
1. Where in the Bible is Purgatory mentioned?
Answer: It's not mentioned. Not by name. There is this passage from Maccabees, however, that mentions praying for the dead. That begs the question, if there is only Heaven and Hell, why should we pray for the dead? Everyone is already where they are going, permanently. So if the Bible asks us to pray for the dead, where are these people? There must be some place where the dead need our prayers. We gave that place a name.

2. Maccabees is not in my Bible! 
Response: No, it's not in your Bible because Martin Luther took it upon himself to remove it. Apparently, he knew better than 1500 years of doctrine and dogma, which books should be included in the Bible, a matter that was settle in the 4th century. Your Bible has had some pretty major overhauls, as a matter of fact. Words have been changed to support Luther's arguments.  For example, what did the angels say to the shepherds on the night that Christ was born?  Luther changed it to read "Glory to God in the Highest, Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men".  What it actually says was "Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth Peace to Men of Good Will." Quite a difference.
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So which church would we like to follow, the one founded by Jesus when He was alive on Earth, or the one based on the the one founded by Jesus was alive on earth with changes made by Martin Luther, ex-priest?  It seems a simple choice to me. But then....I'm me.

Which reminds me! Here's an item we have that will remind you try not to end up in Purgatory.


Maureen said...

The nuns at my school, fifty years ago, used to say that Martin Luther went to his grave believing that he was a better Catholic than the Pope.

Anonymous said...

I thought Jesus went to Heaven on the 3rd day, so why did he say "today"?

Unknown said...

When Luther translated the Bible into German he left the apocrypha in the Old Testament. I've read around a bit, and apparently this change was mostly pushed by publishers, not theologians.

Unknown said...

They mostly had two feet.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Sister. My prayer for myself is just that I will get out of Purgatory before Martin Luther does. Selfish, I know, but I will be there a long time ...
and I'm so glad to have that option, instead of ... you know, the other one.