Thursday, December 08, 2005
at Mark Shea's blog on purgatory has inspired a bit of discussion
, with commenters comparing the place of purgation to a hospital and mudfloor, among other things.
[Commenter A:] But I thought that another useful analogy could be that of a hospital, where the soul is cured of its brokenness and its remaining diseases before entering into the glory of Heaven.
[Tom:] Sure. Cured with fire.
Commenter B:] The mud-room of heaven.
[Tom:] Except it's on fire.
I just love Tom when he gets like this. But he's right - as good as the hospital imagery is (and I really do
like the original analogy which Shea posted), the tradition has always favored for the 'fire' analogy, perhaps because it bests captures the reality that purgatory is for purgation, i.e. for the paying of the debt of temporal punishment for sins (see Tom's followup
Tradition favored this image, of course, because St. Paul used it
, but also because in the ancient world the image of fire came to mind a lot more readily than hospitals and mudfloors. Augustine loved the fire analogy, although he occasionally seemed to think that the analogy with natural fire was more than an analogy. Origen generally stuck to the biblical imagery of a purifying fire, but occasionally he let himself get away with more exalted language, about purgatory being sort of an 'academy for souls', where the penetrating mysteries underlying spiritual reality are opened up before inquiring souls. A nice balance, that, but it kind of gets away from the whole 'remission of debt' idea. That and it's Gnostic.
# posted by Jamie : 1:39 PM