h1

The Maccabee – The Holy Spirit, Purgatory and the Holy Ghost

September 23, 2011

‘Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, ‘and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?’

– Jeremiah 23:29

The doctrine of Purgatory, still an essential aspect of Roman Catholic Christianity as well as Orthodox Judaism, continues to be one of the most common sense Judeo-Christian traditions ever known. For almost two thousand years, the Catholic Church has believed that, just as Hell is meant for the very wicked and evil, Heaven is for the Saints and Martyrs of the world, individuals so righteous and perfect they most certainly merit immediate admittance into Paradise. Likewise, the Church has also taught that, because the vast majority of people are a complex mixture of goodness and evil, most Christian (and Jewish) believers will be going to Purgatory when they die, to a dark ghost world traditionally located below the earth, before they are allowed to move onward to the Kingdom of Heaven. This teaching is in accordance with what the Bible states about the LORD God. It reads as follows:

Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keeps covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments unto a thousand generations.

– Deuteronomy 7:9

The best way to understand Purgatory is to use the analogy of a tree. For just as a tree has numerous branches, some of which reach high up in the sky (Heaven), it also has roots that reach deep down into the earth (Purgatory). Science has shown that both roots and branches are necessary for the life of the tree. The branches (Heaven) are necessary to absorb the life-giving light of the sun, just as the roots (Purgatory) are essential for the collection of water. Without the branches (Heaven) the tree would be unable to sustain itself and grow, while without roots (Purgatory), the wind would be able to blow the tree over, causing it to perish.

The souls of the deceased may be likened to drops of water who fall down like rain (death) which are first taken up by the roots (Purgatory) and then finally make their way upwards to the branches (Heaven) which hang high above the earth. A tree (Afterlife) requires both roots (Purgatory) and branches (Heaven) in order to thrive and prosper.

Considering the fairly recent loss of Christian faith among the intellectual elites of both Europe and North America, it should be obvious that the tree of traditional Christianity has become somewhat sickly and may, in fact, be in real danger of perhaps dying. Indeed, the direst threat to the Christian religion happens to be coming, not from Jews or Muslims, but from sceptics, scoffers, and other apostates who are increasing in numbers and show an ever-increasing hostility to all things religious, especially Christianity. Many of them come from Protestant ancestry whose forefathers rejected Purgatory centuries ago. Is there a connection between the Protestant denial of Purgatory and the growing threats to Christian faith throughout the world? Yes there is, as two different sources clearly indicate:

The transformative event…which made it possible to repudiate tradition…in early-modern English and European culture-an event successfully obliterated from modern memory by early, deliberate acts of forgetting and by the decision of Renaissance politicians and gentry to rewrite history-was the abolition of Purgatory.

– Hamlet and the Ghost of Purgatory: Forgetting the Dead, by Anthony Low, Culture Wars Magazine

Modernism seem[s] inversely parasitic on religion, and Christians object to it because it seems to deny the continuing vitality of their religion. Christianity still thrives, but at the margins, where it has been put by political leaders and cultural arbiters….In this essay I shall argue that crucial, irreversible steps in that direction were taken by the Chantries Act and Royal Injunctions of 1547 and by the Church of England’s declaration, in the Edwardian Prayerbook of 1549, that Purgatory did not exist and consequently that Christians should not mourn or pray for their dead.

– Hamlet and the Ghost of Purgatory: Forgetting the Dead, by Anthony Low, Culture Wars Magazine

Tragically, many forms of Protestant Christianity continues to deny the existence of Purgatory. This is in total disregard for the ancient evidence that the religious doctrine of Purgatory was existent before the advent of Christianity and has its roots in pre-Christian Judaism,  Purgatory was not the invention of the Catholic Church, but was merely the continuation of pre-existing Jewish theology. Early Protestants denied this calling it a fiction created by the Catholic Church, a mere ‘Romish Doctrine’. One source notes the following:

The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.

– The Book of Common Prayer, Article 22, Church of England

One should also remember that, at first, Martin Luther freely accepted the doctrine of Purgatory only to change his mind later on, mainly due to political reasons. In addition, the great Christian thinker C.S. Lewis is on record stating that he too believed in Purgatory, even though he was an English Protestant by birth and upbringing. Thus, it seems quite a shame that the vast majority of Protestant Christians have remained in denial in Purgatory for nearly the past 500 years. In truth, it was not meant to be this way as one source noters aptly:

Theo Brown suggests that when the Anglican Church promulgated its repudiation of “The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory” in the first Book of Common Prayer (1549), the bishops did not intend to dispose of Purgatory altogether, but only to correct well-known abuses.

– Hamlet and the Ghost of Purgatory: Forgetting the Dead, by Anthony Low, Culture Wars Magazine

Given the current violence, immorality, and aitheism of today’s society, it seems more than obvious that the Holy Spirit of the modern era is not good at all, but evil, and may well be a vampire, a demon, or some other form of evil spirit in disguise. For the this reason, it is time for the world, and for the English language, to return to the tradition of referring to the Holy Spirit as the Holy Ghost, which emphasize its links to the age-old realm of Purgatory.

After the English Reformers dispensed with Purgatory, however, it was no longer clear to anyone where ghosts came from. Educated people were inclined to doubt their existence, or to think that they were demons in disguise. There was, nevertheless, a great popular outburst of superstitious ghost lore among the common people beginning at mid-century. Theo Brown amply documents this outbreak and associates it with the sudden abolition of Purgatory.

– Hamlet and the Ghost of Purgatory: Forgetting the Dead, by Anthony Low, Culture Wars Magazine

Protestant Today —> Protestant Tomorrow

Heaven or Hell —> Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell

The Holy Spirit —> The Holy Ghost

Throughout the world, belief in ghosts, namely the immaterial spirits of the dead, has been been a standard aspect of numerous different cultures, including those who were not distinctly Judeo-Christian. For the Catholic Church, both before and after the Protestant Reformation, the constant occurence of ghost sightings by the common people signified a sure sign in the continued existence of Purgatory. Put simply, ghosts were believed to come from Purgatory, the Underworld of Christianity. Two different sources state the following:

Before the Reformation, it was common belief among everyone from theologians to peasants that if ghosts appeared to the living they came from Purgatory, not from Heaven or Hell.

– Hamlet and the Ghost of Purgatory: Forgetting the Dead, by Anthony Low, Culture Wars Magazine

Purgatory would become the prison in which ghosts were normally incarcerated, though they might be allowed to escape now and then to briefly haunt those of the living whose zeal in their behalf was insufficient.

– Birth of Purgatory, by Jacques Le Goff

It is to be hoped that the continued Protestant denial in Purgatory will soon come to an end. This act could well cause a resurgence in the Christian faith throughout the world, as more agnostics and other waverers finally accept the common sense Christian doctrine of Purgatory, which means salvation for the many, rather than the few. It’s time for Protestantism to admit they made a grave mistake and are now back to share in the eternity which is the Catholic Christian faith.

The abrupt and, to a large degree, forcible dismantling of Purgatory at mid-century, together with its deep psychic resonances among the common people, its elaborate cultural associations, and its extensive institutional supports, had drastic consequences for society and for the individuals who formed and were formed by society. Before the Reformation, few countries had a deeper investment (financial, cultural, and spiritual) in Purgatory and in commemoration of the dead than England. After the Reformation, few countries turned their backs more abruptly on Purgatory and, with it, on their own dead.

– Hamlet and the Ghost of Purgatory: Forgetting the Dead, by Anthony Low, Culture Wars Magazine

May the LORD God bless you in the name of St. Judas Maccabaeus.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: