Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Austin Farrer on 'purgatory'

".....But looking to myself, and the hopes a Christian dares to entertain, I find conscience and moral reason join forces with Catholic teaching, and forbid me to to claim exemption from the burning of that flame. If Dives needed to be stripped, and to suffer the truth of his condition, do not we also?
Perhaps before we suffer it, we may be assured of mercy; perhaps the sight of mercy will make the torment, when we see what a God we have, and how we have served him; what wounds we have inflicted on the souls of our fellows by our egotism and neglect.
Purgatory was rejected by our Reformers, as undermining the sufficiency of Christ's atonement; for it was taken to be the serving of a sentence by which the guilt of Christians was in some way worked off.
Such an objection has no force against the teaching, that we have a pain to pass through, in being reconciled to truth and love. And we may as well call this pain purgatorial, having no other name to call it. It seems strange, indeed, that so practical and pressing a truth as that of purgatory should be dismissed, while so remote and impractical a doctrine as the absolute everlastingness of hell should be insisted on. Nor is it that ultimate fire is scriptural, while remedial fire is not. Remedial fire was taught plainly enough by St Paul to his Corinthians...."    Austin Farrer: Saving Belief (1964)
November trees in the Vicarage garden

1 comment:

  1. Dear Fr Michael
    Farrer at his best, as poet-theologian and as philosopher-theologian - and so typical of him to issue the sharp reminder that the Catholic doctrine of purgatory is practical and biblical, whilst those of its detractors are neither one nor the other. Fr Peter Jones


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