Of few, on the other hand, will they at least who love them admit the despairing thought that they are beyond the pale of grace and mercy, and condemned to eternal separation from God and from all who hope to be with God.
On this ground alone it has been truly said that purgatory is a postulate of the Christian reason; and, granting the existence of the purgatorial state, it is equally a postulate of the Christian reason in the communion of saints, or, in other words, be helped by the prayers of their brethren on earth and in heaven.
The inspired author expressly approves Judas's action in this particular case, and recommends in general terms the practice of prayers for the dead.
There is no contradiction in the particular case between the conviction that a sin had been committed, calling down the penalty of death, and the hope that the sinners had nevertheless died in godliness an opportunity for penance had intervened.
But even for those who deny the inspired authority of this book, unequivocal evidence is here furnished of the faith and practice of the Jewish Church in the second century B. that is to say, of the orthodox Church, for the sect of the Sadducees denied the resurrection (and, by implication at least, the general doctrine of immortality), and it would seem from the argument of which the author introduces in his narrative that he had Sadducean adversaries in mind.
The act of Judas and his men in praying for their deceased comrades is represented as if it were a matter of course; nor is there anything to suggest that the procuring of sacrifices for the dead was a novel or exceptional thing; from which it is fair to conclude that the practice both private and liturgical goes back beyond the time of Judas, but how far we cannot say.
two] 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 in godliness, had great grace laid up for them.
It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins." For Catholics who accept this book as canonical, this passage leaves nothing to be desired.
For our own consolation as well as for theirs we want to believe in this living intercourse of charity with our dead.When Christ promises forgiveness for all sins that a man may commit except the sin against the Holy Ghost, which "shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world nor in the world to come" (Matthew -32), is the concluding phrase nothing more than a periphrastic equivalent for "never"?Or, if Christ meant to emphasize the distinction of worlds, is "the world to come" to be understood, not of the life after death, but of the Messianic age on earth as imagined and expected by the Jews?Coming to the proof of this doctrine, we find, in the first place, that it is an integral part of the great general truth which we name the communion of saints.This truth is the counterpart in the supernatural order of the natural law of human solidarity.