The Holy Souls in Purgatory
"Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment
and of the ill-treated as of yourselves,
for you also are in the body."
Heb. 13: 3
Purgatory Apologetics
Page Index


Other Links:

4The Biblical Reality of Purgatory
4Purgatory: Service Shop For Heaven
4Purgatory Apologetics & Links
4Catholic Encyclopedia - Purgatory

The idea of a Purgatory is not exclusive to the Catholic Church. The concept of purgatory or a place for the dead (other than heaven or hell) has long been a part of ancient Jewish beliefs - long before christianity made it's appearance.  It is mentioned by various names such as 'The Nether world, Limbo, 'Paradise' or Greek 'Hades' or in Hebrew 'Sheol' found in both the Old and the New Testaments which all translate to 'the abode of the dead.' But there is a definite distinction made between purgatory and hell.

What's the Catholic Church's View?

The existence of Purgatory or a 'purifying process' after death is a Catholic Dogma of the Faith which means every Catholic must believe in order to remain a Catholic. The Church does not insist that it is a place, but may be a process only.  It is not a destination ~ but a sort of passage through which all who must experience it, will eventually be purified enough to see God face to face.

It's understood that the souls undergoing this purification may benefit from the prayers of the living, but that the opportunity of grace to pray for their own relief has passed.

Just as a prisoner who awaits his trial - may be released from jail by a friend who pays the cost of his bail.  So we may help to gain the release of a holy soul from the prison of his suffering.  It's considered a great act of spiritual mercy by the Church to pray for the dead.

Catechism courtesy of  Leaflets of Faith:

1030 - All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. 

1031 - The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.

The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence (1439) and Trent (1563). The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:

"But if someone's work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire."  (I Cor 3:15)

"That the trial of your faith (much more precious than gold which is tried by the fire) may be found unto praise and glory and honor at the appearing of Jesus Christ:"  (1 Peter 1:7)

Understanding Bible Terms
Limbo, Paradise(garden), Bosom of Abraham
(place of rest for the good who have died - no suffering)

(Luke 16:19)
When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.  The rich man also died and was buried, and from the nether world, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.

(Luke 23:43) (Rev 20:13)
"In theological usage the name is applied to (a) the temporary place or state of  the souls of the just who, although purified from sin, were excluded from the beatific vision until Christ's triumphant ascension into Heaven (the "limbus patrum"); or (b) to the permanent place or state of those unbaptized children and others who, dying without grievous personal sin, are excluded from the beatific vision on account of original sin alone (the "limbus infantium" or "puerorum").

The Nether World, Purgatory/Prison, Death, Hades &
Sheol (abodes of the dead)
(Temporary prison of punishment)

(Psalms 16:9,10) 
"Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices, 
my body, too, abides in confidence; 
Because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world, 
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption."

(Psalm 30:3)
"O LORD, you brought me up from the nether world;
you preserved me from among those going down into the pit."


(Matthew 4:8-10)
'Ascending on high, he led captivity captive; he gave gifts to men.'
Now that he ascended, what is it,
but because he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
He descended is the same also that ascended above all the heavens,
that he might fill all things." 

It's impossible to determine with any certainty, but unofficially, these various names used in the bible might indeed indicate one 'place' for lack of a better word - but containing several levels.  The top levels being closest to Heaven and the lower levels being closest to Hell with greater suffering.  As one is purified or 'refined as gold', he moves up through the levels until he is finally pure enough to enter into the joy of Heaven. There have been many revelations by various saints throughout the history of the Church - especially of those with greater devotion to the Holy Souls - which may help to fill in the gaps of our limited understanding.
(Rev. 1:17,18)  (Rev. 20:13-14)  (Numbers 16, 33) (Luke 23:43) (Dt. 32:22)
(Matthew 5:25)  (Luke 12:57-59) (1 Cor 3:12-15) (2 Maccabees 12:39-46)
(Matthew 4:8-10)  ** see other biblical verses listed here**

Hell, Fiery Gehenna(Mat. 18:9), The Fiery Furnace, Place of Torment, The Pool of Fire & Sulfur, The Eternal Fire(Mat. 18:8), The place of hypocrites & liars, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth(Mat. 8:11-12)(Mat. 24:51)(Mat. 25:30), The Pit, The Unquenchable Fire, The Consuming Worm
(Prepared for the devil and his angels)

(Psalm 112:10)
'The wicked man shall see it and be vexed; he shall gnash his teeth and pine away;
the desire of the wicked shall perish.'

(Matthew 8:12)
"...where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth."

(Rev. 21:8)
"But as for cowards, the unfaithful, the depraved, murderers,
the unchaste, sorcerers, idol-worshipers, and deceivers of every sort,
their lot is in the burning pool of fire and sulfur, which is the second death."

(Rev. 14:11)
The smoke of the fire that torments them
will rise forever and ever, and there will be no relief day or night
for those who worship the beast or its image
or accept the mark of its name."

In regard to the fallen angels:

(2 Peter 2:4)

"For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but condemned them to the chains of Tartarus and handed them over to be kept for judgement;..."

(Jude 6)

"The angels too, who did not keep to their own domain but deserted their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains, in gloom, for the judgement of the great day."


Biblical References Practical Arguments
"Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him.  Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison.  Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny."

Matthew 5:25  &  Luke 12:57-59

"If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or straw, the work of each will come to light, for the Day will disclose it.  It will be revealed with fire, and the fire [itself] will test the quality of each one's work.  If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage.  But if someone's work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire."

1 Cor 3:12-15

'On the following day, since the task had now become urgent, Judas and his men went to gather up the bodies of the slain and bury them with their kinsmen in their ancestral tombs.  But under the tunic of each of the dead they found amulets sacred to the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear.  So it was clear to all that this was why these men had been slain.  They all therefore praised the ways of the Lord, the just judge who brings to light the things that are hidden.  Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out.  The noble Judas warned the soldiers to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those who had fallen.  'He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiation sacrifice.  In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection of the dead in view;  for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death.  But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought.  Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin.'

2 Maccabees 12:39-46

Wherefore he saith:

'Ascending on high, he led captivity captive; he gave gifts to men.' Now that he ascended, what is it, but because he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?  He descended is the same also that ascended above all the heavens, that he might fill all things."

Matthew 4:8-10

"For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God.  Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit. In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water.  This prefigured baptism, which saves you now.  It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him."

1 Peter, 3:18-22

"And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers until he paid all the debt.  So also shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from your hearts."

Matthew 18:34-35

"But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment."

Matthew 12:36

"Have pity on me, have pity on me, at least you my friends, because the hand of the Lord hath touched me."

Job 19:21

* Couldn't this verse also be the plea from a poor soul in purgatory?

"That servant who knew his master's will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master's will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly.  Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more."

 Luke 12:47-48

"All have gone astray; all alike are worthless;
There is not one who does good, [there is not] even one."

Romans 3:12

"Otherwise what shall they do that are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not again at all? Why are they then baptized for them?"

1 Corinthians 15:29

* (Douay Rheims) Some think the apostle here alludes to a ceremony then in use; but others, more probably, to the prayers and penitential labours performed by the primitive Christians for the souls of the faithful departed.

"The sea gave up its dead; then Death and Hades gave up their dead.  All the dead were judged according to their deeds.  Then Death and Hades were thrown into the pool of fire.  (This pool of fire is the second death.)  Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the pool of fire."

Rev. 20:13

* How could Death and Hades be Hell - if they were thrown into Hell?

"Then I said, 'Woe is me, I am doomed!  For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!'  Then one of the seraphim flew to me, holding an ember which he had taken with tongs from the altar.  He touched my mouth with it. 'See,' he said, 'now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged."

Isaiah 6:5-7

"That the trial of your faith (much more precious than gold which is tried by the fire) may be found unto praise and glory and honour at the appearing of Jesus Christ:"

1 Peter 1:7

"And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come."

Matthew 12:32

'According to St. Isidore of Seveille (Deord. creatur., c. xiv, n. 6) these words prove that in the next life. "some sins will be forgiven and purged away by a certain purifying fire."

In the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus we see that the 'nether world' is a place of torment for the dead:

(Luke 16:19)
"...The rich man also died and was buried, and from the nether world, where he was in torment..."

BUT in this following verse from Psalms we see that it is possible to LEAVE THE NETHER WORLD.  It also distinguishes the nether world from THE PIT (otherwise known as Hell).  Hell is a one-way trip.  No one can ever leave Hell.  But the nether world is a place of torment also - the main difference being - one CAN leave from there!

(Psalm 30:3) 
  "O LORD, you brought me up from the nether world; you preserved me from among those going down into the pit." 

Scripture tells us that nothing unclean can ever enter into Heaven where God The Father dwells.

In order to abide with God in Heaven - we must be like him - sinless, and pure and obedient.  Didn't Jesus say we must be perfect like Our Heavenly Father is perfect? We must attain to the Holiness of God!

How many Mother Teresa's do we know - who was world reknown and universally revered and loved by all who knew her?  But always Mother Teresa's heart was with the poor and unloved in whom she saw and served God.  How many John Paul II's do we know - a mystic, moral leader and prophet of hope for our time?  How many truly holy people die and go straight to heaven? How many 'living saints' are we familiar with here on earth?

So what's to become of the average christian who dies (who has not rejected God) who loved God in this world, but still has guilt from an unconfessed, or unatoned for sin? He's not bad enough to go to Hell, but yet not good enough to enter Heaven? The answer: Atonement after death. Purification from the stain of sin until the sin has been erased.  Purgatory is very logical, as well as biblically validated.

But even the existence of this purgation after death ~ is born from the depths of the great mercy of God! 



By accepting Jesus as our Savior we can be saved from hell,
BUT are we ready for heaven - this very moment - to behold God Face to face?  Unless you can walk on water, the answer should be apparent.
You aren't a saint, ready for heaven until you've run the good race, endured suffering patiently, loved God your enemies and your neighbor, forgiven all who hurt you, and carried your cross to Calvary.

A good death is a sign of that sanctity.
To die a holy death, we must first live a holy life.

...and go to confession!

(Matthew 3:1)
And in those days cometh John the Baptist preaching in the desert of Judea. And saying:  'Do penance: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'
For this is he that was spoken of by Isaias the prophet, saying: "A voice of one crying in the desert,
'Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.'"

(Psalm 31:5)
I have acknowledged my sin to thee, and my injustice I have not concealed. I said I will confess against myself my injustice to the Lord: and thou hast forgiven the wickedness of my sin.

(Psalm 19:12)
Though your servant is careful of them, very diligent in keeping them, Yet who can detect failings? Cleanse me from my unknown faults!

(Psalm 31:1,2)
Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

Holy father Pope John Paul II:

"Forgiveness and reconcilliation are central to our relationship with God."

Christ paid the price of our for our sins by enduring unspeakable suffering and even physical death in the prime of his youth.  The precious blood he spilled cleanses us from our sins (when we are truly repentant and confess our sins).  By his perfect sacrifice to the Father - we can once again enjoy union with God.  BUT where in the bible did God ever promise us we will go straight to heaven when we (christians) die?

Not even Enoch, Elijah, Noah, Abraham, Moses or David etc. could enter into Heaven when they died!  They 'rested' with their ancestors.  Or in the case of Enoch - God simply 'took him'.  And Elijah was taken up in a flaming chariot - but to where? Ah!  And the so-called 'Good Thief' who died with Christ, was promised 'this day you will be with me [Jesus] in 'Paradise' -  The word 'Heaven' (where God the Father dwells) not mentioned.  Small technicality ...or is there another reason?

The reason they couldn't go to Heaven was because Jesus Christ had to go there first.  Jesus was the First Fruits of the Resurrection.  Jesus was the only one who could open the gates to Heaven (which had been previously sealed shut because of Adam & Eve's disobedience in the Garden).  No one could enter Heaven previous to Christ because he had to first repair for the damage that had been done when man lost his friendship with God in the Garden.

So where did all these great prophets of God go?


Not Heaven. Not Hell. 

Ah! So there MUST be something else!


PRESSING THE 'SAVE' BUTTON that all there is to it?

When we accept Jesus as Our Lord, and have been baptized into the faith, we are now obligated to live that faith as the citizens of heaven we are called to be. No free rides. We're to pick up our cross and follow Christ - in his example and in his many teachings.   To simply claim you're 'saved' because you acknowledge Jesus Christ as your savior - is sufficient - is only a very small part of much larger picture.  You have just made the Bible, the Church, the Apostles, and all Christ taught ...irrelevant!

Not everyone who is called by Christ is 'saved'. After all, wasn't Judas also called by Christ?

(Mark 14:21)
...but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.  It would be better for that man if he had never been born."

Many are called - but few are chosen. (Mat. 22:14)

And not everyone who says to Jesus. "Lord, Lord." will be saved - either.

If all you had to do was to claim Christ as your savior - why did Jesus bother with all the rest? You know, being born a man, living among sinners, preaching for 3 years, healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons, making trouble for the Sanhedrin, feeding the hungry, calling twelve apostles to follow him, telling us parables, correcting, admonishing, or encouraging us, teaching us the importance of prayer and sacrifice... when all he REALLY had to do was tell us to claim him as our savior??  What a enormous waste of time!  (He should have just skipped to the good part! Right?)

If you are 'saved' then why bother to love your enemies?  If you are 'saved' then why bother not to steal, or covet, or sleep around, or cheat on your spouse - or even kill?  You are 'saved' brother - you've got a free ticket into Heaven! ...or so you think!

Welcome to the sin of Presumption.

Why did St. Paul tell us that we must 'work out our salvation with fear and trembling' (Philippians 2:12) if all we had to do was claim Christ as our savior?

The Whole Reason for Prayer
And The Church

(2 Thessalonians 1:11)

To this end, we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose and every effort of faith, that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, in accord with the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ.

We must be made worthy of our calling through prayer.

We must be ever watchful of our conscience and motives in all things - denying our fleshly desires which works ever against us - beating them into submission to the Holy Spirit.  Only God's will is important.  If we do not pray,  if we do not read the bible, if we do not strive to grow in holiness and live in imitation of Christ with him at the center - we cannot hope to know God's will for us.  If we do not know God's will for us - how can we be made worthy of our calling?  If we do not strive to live in God's will - but choose our own will instead - how can we hope to please God and be with him in heaven?  Jesus himself prayed to God and prayed for his apostles and followers that they be made worthy of their calling.  Jesus showed us how to pray - emphasizing the importance of prayer.

Questions posed by his holiness Pope John Paul II to all laity:

("HOUR OF THE LAITY HAS STRUCK," JOHN PAUL II - Urging Catholics to Embrace Documents of Vatican II - VATICAN CITY, NOV. 26, 2000 (

"What have I done with my baptism and confirmation?
Is Christ really at the center of my life?
Do I have time for prayer in my life?
Do I live my life as a vocation and mission?"

" ...Be holy men and women! Do not forget that the fruits of the apostolate depend on the depth of the spiritual life, on the intensity of prayer, of continual formation and sincere adhesion to the directives of the Church." 

"The vocation and mission of the faithful can only be understood in light of a renewed awareness of the Church as sacrament or sign and instrument of intimate union with God, of the unity of the whole of mankind, and of the personal duty to adhere more closely to her."

We aren't saved by the Word
...but by 'The Word Incarnate'

(The following taken from the Holy Father's Address of March 17, 2001, as he met the participants in a workshop on "Novo millennio ineunte")

"No, we shall not be saved by a formula, but by a Person, and the assurance which he gives us: I am with you!" (Apos. Let. Novo millennio ineunte, n. 29). For the world, for all our brothers and sisters, we Christians must open the way that leads to Christ. "Your face, O Lord, do I seek" (Ps 27 [26]:8). This aspiration was often on the lips of Bl. Josemaría, a man who thirsted for God and was therefore a great apostle. He wrote: "In intentions, may Jesus be our end; in affections, our love; in speech, our theme; in actions, our model" (The Way, 271). 

Christ established his Church as an undefeatable and living sign among us.  Under her wings (the Sacraments) and guidence from error, (Doctrines, sacred traditions and teachings based on scripture) we are shown our way to God in this life.  Jesus has not left us orphans.  Jesus has not left us alone to grope around in the dark.  Before he ascended into heaven, Jesus richly endowed his Church with every means of grace and salvation and truth - entrusted to his witnesses, his twelve apostles - with Peter as her foundation of rock.  Jesus assured us the gates of Hell will not prevail against her.  So in Christ's Church we take refuge and find hope.

So if You think you're 'Saved'...

(1 Cor. 10:12)
"Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure
should take care not to fall." 

God has given us moral assurance of eternal life, and God is faithful to His promises.

(1 John 5:13, 14)
"These things I write to you, that you may know that you have eternal life, you who believe in the name of the Son of God. And this is the confidence which we have towards him: That, whatsoever we shall ask according to his will, he heareth us."

But in the same paragraph, John also speaks of mortal sin :

(1 John 5:16)
"If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life.  This is only for those whose sin is not deadly.  There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray.  All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly."

and in the Psalms we read this prayer by the psalmist:

(Psalm 19:14)
"From wanton sin especially, restrain your servant; let it not rule over me. Then shall I be blameless and innocent of serious sin."

The point is that we CAN freely choose to turn away from God.  Free will is God's unique gift to us as humans.

The Catholic Church makes a distinction between sin, and mortal sin.  Mortal sin is the 'Deadly sin' to which St. John refers.

Can a 'saved' christian loose his salvation?  If a 'saved' christian commits a mortal sin,  the answer most undeniably is 'yes.'

(Jeremiah 7:13)
"And now, because you have committed all these misdeeds, says the LORD, because you did not listen, though I spoke to you untiringly; because you did not answer, though I called you, I will do to this house named after me, in which you trust, and to this place which I gave to you and your father, just as I did to Shiloh.  I will cast you away from me, as I cast away all your brethren, all the offspring of Ephraim."

The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11)

In the story of the Prodigal Son, the son leaves his father's house to squander away his inheritance - was considered dead as long as he was away from his father.  Only by the son's voluntary and repentant return, could the father restore the son's rightful place beside him in his house.

(Luke 15:31)
"He said to him, 'My son, [the faithful brother] you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.  But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.' "

But what if the son chose not to return? Do you think he would still have a part in his father's inheritance? Unless it was the custom of the times to deed property to dead men, the answer is 'no'.

Even though God is faithful to his promises - it's our free will which decides if we'll take God up on His generous offer or not.  Just as God made the offer to the Israelites in the dessert through Moses, God holds out the same offer to us. 

'...Choose life and live...'

Sin is our enemy.  Sin is a choice.  Sin is death. Through love of sin we die to the love of God.  God will not deed his wealth to dead men.  God is not the God of the dead - but of the living. (Mat. 22:32)

Further scripture studies:

The Rich Young Man ( Matthew 19:16)
"Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?"

The Parable of the Two Sons (Matthew 21:28)
"Which of the two did his father's will?"

The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14)
'And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth."

The Simile of Salt (Luke 15: 34)
"Salt is good, but if salt itself loses its taste, with what can its flavor be restored? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.  Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear."

The Narrow Door of Salvation ( Luke 13:22)
'LORD, open the door for us.' He will say to you in reply, 'I do not know where you are from.' And you will say, 'We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.'  Then he will say to you, 'I do not know where [you] are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!' 

(Rev. 20:13)
All the dead were judged according to their deeds.

The truth is, perfection is demanded of all christians.

Catholicism is not only concerned with being good - but being perfect!
And only The Church of Christ...the Catholic Church...contains the keys to perfection!

(Matthew 19:21)
"If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me."

Mr. Smith was good but not good enough to go straight to heaven.  He was bad, but not bad enough (without having rejected God) to land him into Hell.  Logically, (as well as scriptural) in light of the Great Mercy God has for sinners - Purgatory or a process of purification after one dies - makes perfect sense!  Otherwise, who would be able to enter Heaven?  The answer is that without 'purgatory' or purification from sin after death ... shockingly few!

All have gone astray; all alike are worthless;
 There is not one who does good,
[there is not] even one.
(Romans 3:12)

There are in fact many more verses that allude to the purifying fires of Purgatory and its existence ~ even a logical need for its existence ~ consistent with the great Mercy of God for poor sinners.

 Is Purgatory Unavoidable?
Absolutely!  But tragically, most people don't care enough about the state of their souls to avoid going there.

No one here on earth knows exactly how long or by what means our souls may be purified when we die.  It may be an instant, or a very long extension of time (what we here on earth understand as 'time').  All we know is that it involves some form of suffering.

This purifying suffering is meant to be just that.  It is not the suffering of despair, like that of hell - but of hope.  Just as we feel relief after a good cry. It may be a mental suffering caused by the flames of our great love and desire to be with God - who is All Good, Pure and Holy, but being keenly aware of our sins, know we cannot be in His Presence with even the tiniest speck of sin on our souls.  So purgatorial suffering may take the form of the pain caused by a keen sense of longing to be with God.

There is a point here to be made.  Once you understand this concept:

YOU ALONE are held responsible for your own sins. The next logical thought might be - is there any way for any of us to avoid Purgatory?  Should we just accept the idea that purgatory is unavoidable?  Do you think God wants us to go there?  I'll go one step further and say it's a sin to merely aim for purgatory!

Just think, if you give in to the idea that purgatory is just par for the course, and everyone has to go there, where's the motivation to become the saints we are all called to be? By aiming for Purgatory - you might miss Heaven!

You've just given in to the old devil's trick of making you believe you could never be that holy!  This error in thinking denies the saving power of God's unfathomable Divine Mercy and Grace.  And just see how many have fallen for this lie!  Remember Jesus came to save sinners - not the righteous. God chooses the weak and humble and rejected to further His kingdom.

God gives us many tools and aids to make us holy - especially found within the pius traditions and Sacraments of the Holy Catholic Church.

The greatest source of holiness we possess here on earth ~ the power of the Holy Mass.  The great power of the sacraments where 'rivers of grace' flow. Frequent use of the Sacrament of Confession and Holy Communion, our Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders, Marriage, and finally The Anointing of the Sick (Last Rites, or 'Extreme Unction' as it used to be called).  The daily Rosary, wearing the Brown Scapular of Mt. Carmel.  Becoming a secular member or tertiary of of any of the established religious orders, congregations and societies is a powerful way to receive many special graces as you strive harder to live more fully the christian life of service, meditation and prayer.  The major religious orders include;

 Augustinian, Benedictine, Carmelite, Dominican, Franciscan, & Trappist

All these great sacraments, devotions, prayers, sacramentals, religious orders have been handed down to us throughout the 2000 years since Christianity began.  All kinds of good works done in love especially towards the poor - make up for a multitude of sins.

(Romans 8:2)
We know that all things work for good
for those who love God,
who are called according to His purpose.

It's when we ignore these great and singular sources of blessings, mercies and graces that God makes readily available to us,  then we may very well indeed fall short of the holiness we are all called to.

It's by our deeds that we'll be judged.

(Rev. 22:12)
"Behold, I am coming soon.  I bring with me the recompense I will give to each according to his deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."

Rev. 20:13
All the dead were judged according to their deeds. 


The Necessity & Benefits of Suffering
. "I saw the river over which every soul must pass to reach the kingdom of Heaven.
And the name of that river was suffering... 
And I saw the boat which carries souls across the river,
and the name of that boat was love." (St. John of the Cross)

(1 Peter 4:13)
"But if you partake of the sufferings of Christ,
rejoice that when his glory shall be revealed,
you may also be glad with exceeding joy."

(Matthew 5:4)
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

(Romans 8:18)
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy
to be compared with the glory to come,
that shall be revealed in us."

(Jeremiah 31:16)
"Thus says the Lord:
Cease your cries of mourning, Wipe the tears from your eyes.
The sorrow you have shown shall have its reward, says the Lord.."

We must understand that atonement we make for our sins during this life goes a lot further than atonement made for our sins in the next life. This leads one to the understanding of the need for suffering in this world.

Never waste suffering!
Acceptance of suffering - even the littlest frustration - is the stuff of holiness.

“Accept and bear with submission all the sufferings
the Lord will send you.”   (Our Lady of Fatima)

"...Of everything you possibly can, offer a sacrifice, to atone for the sins that offend Him and to implore the conversion of sinners. In this way you will obtain peace for your country.  I am the Guardian Angel of Portugal.  Above all, accept and humbly endure the sufferings the Lord sends you."
(The Angel of Portugal to the three shepherd children of Fatima)

Remember, nothing is 'little' in God's eyes.  God does not require that we all live lives of heroic penances, and great mortifications, Even St. Terese - a Doctor of the Church - knew that she was incapable of doing such great things - only a lot of little things.  St. Terese speaks to us of her "little way." 

"Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love." She took every chance to sacrifice, no matter how small it would seem. She smiled at the sisters she didn't like. She ate everything she was given without complaining -- so that she was often given the worst leftovers. One time she was accused of breaking a vase when she was not at fault. Instead of arguing she sank to her knees and begged forgiveness. These little sacrifices cost her more than bigger ones, for these went unrecognized by others. No one told her how wonderful she was for these little secret humiliations and good deeds.

God requires us to simply offer up our contrite hearts, our daily duties to the best of our abilities - and the little sacrifices and sufferings we must all make and endure and should perform in love.  Living humbly and enduring with trust whatever God sees fit to send us - is critically important.

(Psalm 91:2)
"Say to the LORD, 'My refuge and my fortress, my God,
in whom I trust,' "

Hidden within the dawn of each new day, God has provided each one of us with the means of our salvation and sanctification.  Each and every day we experience some form of suffering great and small.  It's a matter of how well we trust Our Eternal Father and accept His will for us - making every disappointment a chance for blessings ...that makes all the difference.

And if we really want to grow in holiness - we must unite our little sufferings of each day with the infinitely meritorious sufferings of Christ!  Then our sufferings take on an infinitely greater merit!
That's why it's so very important to offer the Morning Prayer to God every day.

We can then turn an otherwise negative experience into a blessing and opportunity for great spiritual growth by using our sufferings great and small to offer atonement for our sins and those of others.  That little headache, that annoying person who cut us off in traffic,  the office gossip who likes nothing better than to talk about us behind our backs.  Our daily grind, our challenging parents or children, that pain in our back, that stiffness in our shoulder, the chronic or terminal illness, the bad news we've just received. That husband or wife who just walked out on you ...can all be offered to God in atonement for your sins - and others.

But probably the most difficult test of trust comes with the onset of death.  When all prayers and tears have been exhausted and and the doctors and nurses shake their heads - and death is imminent - we must accept it.  When God calls you - the best thing you could possibly do is follow the example of our dear Blessed Mother and say, "Behold your servant Lord, may be it done unto me according to your will."  God will not leave this precious act of trust unrewarded! 

Our Lady of The Most Holy Rosary asked the little shepherd children of Fatima to sacrifice themselves for sinners and to say many times, especially when making a sacrifice:

“O my Jesus, I offer this for the love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for all the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. “

Let us atone for our sins with acts of love pleasing to God. Time and time again, the bible tells us what is most pleasing to God's our LOVE & TRUST.

(Proverbs 3:5,6)
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence
rely not; in all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make
straight your paths."

It's an unconditional love that God gives to his creatures - and it's our unconditional love that He seeks from his creatures.

Our hearts that belong to Him - he desires to have!  Imagine -  The God of the Whole Universe and of everything created - the King of Glory and Majesty - desires nothing more than to have YOU with him!

Let us place our complete trust in this Great God of Love!  He wants only what's best for us.  And HE is that which is best for us.

(Jeremiah 29:11-12)
"For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD,
plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me,
and I will hear you."

(1 Corinthians 2:9)
"What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard,
and what has not entered the human heart,
what God has prepared for those who love him,"

Examples of Our Need to Make Atonement
Even Though Christ Redeemed us by his Blood.
Let's look at  just a few biblical examples of our need to make atonement and take direct responsibility for our own sins in this life ~ or in else in the next.  We decide.

The Good Thief

Two criminals were crucified with Christ; one on either side of him.  Both men had sinned.  Both men were paying the required retribution for their crimes by way of the current punishment of the day which happened to be crucifixion.  One man was bitter, and said to Jesus that if he were truly the Son of God, then why didn't he save himself and them - not knowing Jesus or his purpose here on earth.  The other man was repentant and rebuked the other for speaking so to Jesus, and openly recognized the fact that Jesus was innocent - and they were not.  That they were simply paying the price their crimes justly demanded - thereby admitting to his guilt.  Then he asked Jesus while believing who he was, to remember him when Jesus entered into his kingdom.  At this, what did Jesus say?

(Luke 23:40)
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation?  And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal."  Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

He replied to him,
"Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

We must make note of the fact that the good thief participated in a very intimate way, the sufferings of Christ.  He looked on Christ with compassion knowing Jesus was innocent.  He believed in Jesus.  He beheld and experienced Christ's agony -  and through his own suffering was bonded to him in a very powerful way by the sharing of his suffering.

In short, the 'good thief' (for lack of a better description) was saved by his faith
...and sanctified by his participation in the sufferings of Christ.


Peter's Denial Foretold

At the Last Supper, Jesus said to Peter:

(Luke 22:31)
"Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers."

(Matthew 26:33)
Peter said to him in reply, "though all may have their faith in you shaken, mine will never be."  Jesus said to him, "Amen, I say to you, this very night before the cock crows, you will deny me three times."


Peter Denies Christ Three Times

(Matthew 26:73-75)
A little later the bystanders came over and said to Peter, "Surely you too are one of them; even your speech gives you away."  At that he began to curse and to swear, "I do not know the man."  And immediately a cock crowed.

Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken: "Before the cock crows you will deny me three times." He went out and began to weep bitterly.

Peter's Three Acts of Love

(John 21:15-17)
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs."  He then said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, " Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep."  He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." [Jesus] said to him, "Feed my sheep."

In this story of Jesus and Peter, we can see that Peter had sinned by publicly denying Jesus three times.  But Peter had true remorse for his sins once he realized what he had done.  Peter's remorse did not lead him to despair and suicide as in the case of Judas.  But a true remorse born of the fact that he abandoned his beloved in a moment of fear and weakness, and that he would not do so again.  The real difference being, Peter trusted in God's Mercy and asked God for forgiveness.  Through this genuine remorse and sorrow for his sins, Jesus could then forgive Peter and strengthen him by his saving grace.

But we see that after Jesus died, rose from the dead and appeared to his apostles one morning, he did a strange thing.  He asked Peter the same three times if he loved him - giving Peter the opportunity of making amends or atonement for the injury he had done Jesus when he had publicly denied him.  Peter, this big macho fisherman, was obliged to declare three times in front of witnesses that he loved Jesus.  Peter was hurt that Jesus made him repeat the same thing over three times.  So Peter hence endured a little suffering - even a little humiliation. Through this his small sacrifice, he atoned for his transgression, and was even given charge of Christ's flock.

In these scenes, we can also see, what is meant by 'atonement.'  Jesus accepted Peter's three acts of love in atonement for his three acts of denial.

God is Love.  So we might gather from this story that acts of love are an especially pleasing and powerful means of atonement for our sins.

Please read on.


The Pardon of the Sinful Woman

(Luke 7:37-50)
Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon [the Pharisee], "Do you see this woman?  When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair.

You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.  You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment.  So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love.  But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little."

He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven,"  The others at table said to themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"  But he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

The woman in this story was a public sinner and was well aware that everyone in that place knew of her and her sins.  By approaching Jesus in this way, she had to forget any shred of pride or fear she might have had to even show her face in public, so to speak, and courageously approach Jesus.  The woman covered his feet with tears and expensive oil - which she probably could not afford to do.  And dried his feet with the wealth of her hair.

Her famous act of love for Jesus was done with great trust, humility, and all she had to give of her possessions and of herself.


The Sin of Moses and Aaron

God commanded Moses and Aaron to take the staff in the presence of the people order the rock to yield its waters.  But Moses said after assembling the people in front of the rock,

(Numbers 20:7-12)
"Listen to me, you rebels!  Are we to bring water for you out of this rock?"  Then raising his hand, Moses struck the rock twice with his staff, and water gushed out in abundance for the community and their livestock to drink.  But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you were not faithful to me in showing forth my sanctity before the Israelites, you shall not lead this community into the land I will give them."

Not entering the Promised Land was the penance God gave to Moses and Aaron for their sin.  They atoned for their sin in which God forgave them, when the penance was fulfilled.  Better and more blessed that they atoned for their sin in this life - then in the next!


David's Census and the Plague

David was enticed by the devil into taking a census of Israel.  This displeased God greatly so he gave David the choice of three punishments to atone for his crime.  And David's choice was indeed visited upon him and his people in which thousands of his people died.  David was then ordered by God to build an alter to the Lord.

(2 Samuel 24)
...he answered him by sending down fire from heaven upon the altar of holocausts.  Then the Lord gave orders to the angel [the destroying angel] to return his sword to its sheath.

In this case, the punishment & atonement for the sins of the leader was paid for by his people.  The wrath of God abated only after a tragic loss of life of the people of Israel.  But who's to say if king David hadn't chosen a different punishment, or offered to do penance himself, he might have spared his people this great suffering and loss of life?  One might attempt to keep this story in perspective, by heeding the words of the old proverb on the importance of good leaders and the justification of God's justice:

"The good morals and salvation of the people depend on good pastors.  If there is a good priest in charge of the parish, you will soon see devotion flourishing, people frequenting the Sacraments, and honoring the practice of mental prayer.

Hence the proverb:
'Like pastor, like parish': Qualis pastor, talis parochia.
According to this word of Ecclesiasticus (x:2) Those who dwell in the state, take after their ruler.' Qualis est rector civitatis tales et in habitantes in ea."

~ St. Alphonsus

This story should serve as a warning to all leaders of peoples and the far-reaching consequences of their actions and sins.

There are many, many references for the need of atonement in both the Old and New Testaments.  Too many in fact to list here. The point is, even though we are saved through faith in Jesus Christ and through baptism order to be a saint, we need to be 'sanctified' or 'purified' from every stain and attachment we have to sin.  It's completely our decision whether we are 'saintified' in this life - or the next.

Our Obligation Towards the Holy Souls
 . It is within our power to help release the souls from their prison of suffering by our prayers and sacrifices.   We are obliged by charity and mercy to do so. 

"...Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames."
(Luke 16:19)

It's quite possible that each and every one of us know at least someone suffering there.  Our own relatives, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, grandparents and friends who languish in unspeakable suffering in the terrible fires of Purgatory for who knows how long?  How can we neglect them? But we do.  It's like the saying goes: 'Out of sight, out of mind.'  We may very well find ourselves there someday. Think on how good we must be to see God; we must be pure in love and without any blemish of sin.

"A pure soul is synonymous
with a heart full of love of God."
~ Blessed Padre Pio

The poor souls are unable to pray for themselves.  The opportunities they had in this life to avoid punishment by making atonement - have passed once they have left this life.  But we can pray for them, and they in turn are able to pray and intercede for us.  Their intercession is powerful because they are so near to the Heart of our Savior who longs impatiently to have them with Him in Heaven.

But ironically enough, the Holy Souls presence in Purgatory - provides us with a means of avoiding this terrible place!  Who suffers more than the holy souls?  As we have learned throughout the centuries, the torments of the soul can be far greater than any physical suffering we could endure without dying.  By obtaining the release or relief of even one soul from his suffering in Purgatory we are performing a great act of spiritual mercy.  It's merit shall not go unrewarded - either by God or by the powerful intercession of this new and grateful saint in Heaven!  It can only be to our great benefit to work towards the release of as many souls as possible - for it is written:

"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy."
(Matthew 5:7)

Revelations of the Saints on Purgatory
St. Jean Vianney, The Cure' of Ars (1786-1859)

"We must say many prayers for the souls of the Faithful Departed, for one must be so pure to enter Heaven!"

Our Lord to Sr. Mary Martha Chambon:

"When you offer My Holy Wounds for sinners, you must not forget to do so for the souls in Purgatory, as there are but few who think of their relief...."


Our Lord to Sr. Mary Martha Chambon:

"The Holy Wounds are the treasure of treasures for the souls in Purgatory"


St. John Chrysostom referring to Jesus present in the Holy Eucharist:

"Not in vain do we at the holy mysteries make mention of the departed, and draw near on their behalf, beseeching the Lamb who is lying on the altar, who took away the sin of the world."


St. Augustine of Hippo:

"Though this fire is destined to cleanse and purify the soul, still it is more acute than anything we could possibly endure on Earth."


St. Cyril of Alexandria:

"It would be preferable to suffer all the possible torments of Earth until the Judgment Day than to pass one day in Purgatory."


Pope Benedict XV:

"The Holy Mass would be of greater profit if people had it offered in their lifetimes, rather than having it celebrated for the relief of their souls after death."

St. Catherine of Genoa wrote:

 "God inspires the soul in Purgatory with so ardent a movement of devoted love that it would be sufficient to annihilate her were she not immortal.  Illumined and inflamed by this pure charity, the more she loves God, the more she detests the least stain that displeases him, the least hindrance that prevents her union with him."

Our Lord to St. Gertrude the Great:

"My love urges Me to release the poor souls. If a beneficent king leaves his guilty friend in prison for justice's sake, he awaits with longing for one of his nobles to plead for the prisoner and to offer something for his release.  Then the king joyfully, sets him free.  Similarly, I accept with highest pleasure what is offered to Me for the poor souls, for I long inexpressibly to have near Me those for whom I paid so great a price.

By the prayers of thy loving soul, I am induced to free a prisoner from purgatory as often as thou dost move thy tongue to utter a word of prayer!"


Efficacious Means of Releasing
the Holy Souls
. Food for Thought

We live in such a 'Hallmark' society.  For example, we see at funerals the beautiful flower arrangements people present to the funeral parlor and church for display around the coffin of the beloved departed.  After the body has been interred, the flowers are usually just tossed on top of the dirt to cover the grave.  'Yes, yes - so what's your point'  you say?  The point, is
to think about the high cost and politics of simply burying a body - when the soul of that person may go completely unattended to!  For one simple standing bouquet of flowers you might pay hundreds of dollars.  But how many Masses could have been bought for that price?  Offertory Masses in honor of the departed usually only cost about $8 -10 and are immensely beneficial to the soul. 

A Small Aside:
Now, it must be made clear, that Offertory Masses are not charged to anyone who cannot afford them.  It is customary to make some small offering of a minimal amount, but if one cannot afford it, the Church will not insist on an offering.  This is not buying souls out of purgatory.  It is not the money offering which released them, but the infinitely meritorious sacrifice of Lamb which can free a soul from his prison of suffering.  The Celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass is the highest and most powerful form of prayer on earth.  But of course any prayer or sacrifice done in love will always have its merits and rewards.

I'm attempting to keep things in prospective for you.  What use to your beloved departed is flowers on their grave?  When their tortured souls are crying out to you for more Masses said for their relief!  I say Masses, because it's the most powerful resource we possess here on earth to pay the ransom for souls!  Next would be The Rosary, The Stations of the Cross, The Holy Face, The Holy Wounds and Passion of Christ, fasting, suffrages, and various other indulgenced prayers, devotions, corporal and spiritual acts of mercy to benefit the departed.

The next time you attend a funeral, maybe think about buying a smaller bouquet of flowers and a large bunch of Offertory Masses said for the departed's soul.  Catholic Churches usually supply beautiful Mass cards (or Spiritual Bouquets as they are sometimes called) that you can then present to the departed's family.  It is not obligatory for you to actually attend those Masses, but of course would be of greater benefit for both you and the departed if you did.

Your Family

Once a year, I make it a point to offer a Mass for each of my family members - both living and deceased.  I try to choose feast days for their Masses and then call the rectory to find if the dates are available.  Once the dates are secured, I mail in the list and a check - done.  What could be easier? For Christmas this year, instead of sending a card - why not send a Spiritual Bouquet?  Be different!

Only in the next life can we know the effects of our little sacrifices made with love in this life.

Powerful Means of Releasing Souls:

1) Offer up the Sacrifice of the  Holy Mass  for souls

2) Offer up the Daily Rosary that Our Lady of Fatima  asked of us.

3) The Way of the Cross ~ It was revealed to a chosen soul that when one offers up the stations of the cross for the holy souls in Purgatory he obtains the release of 10,000 souls!

4) The Holy Wounds of Christ

5) The Holy Face prayers and devotions of reparation

6) Praying many short indulgenced prayers:

'Jesus, Mary, I love You, save souls.'
(Each time this simple aspiration is said, a soul is released from Purgatory.)

"Eternal Rest, grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them, may they rest in peace. Amen."

"May the Divine assistance remain always with us, and may the souls of the faithful departed through the Mercy of God; rest in peace. Amen."

7) Offer up our daily actions, sacrifices and fasts united to Jesus' life and suffering here on earth.

8) Offer up our daily sufferings and pains to relieve theirs.

9) Spread devotion to the Holy Souls

10) Give Alms on behalf of the Holy Souls

11) Offer The Heroic Act in favor of the Holy Souls

12) Join the Association of the Holy Souls:

The Assoc. of the Holy Souls
Dominican Nuns of the
Perpetual Rosary,
 Monastery Pius XII
Rua do Rosa'rio, 1
Fatima, Portugal

(Please Print when you write them)

Chaplet of The Sacred Wounds

Sister Mary Martha Chambon, a humble lay Sister of the Visitation Order of Chambery, France, who died in the odor of sanctity, March 21st, 1907, received these two invocations from Our Lord Himself, as she affirmed, and with them a double MISSION to adore and invoke the Sacred Wounds unceasingly and to revive this devotion in the hearts of creatures.

Using your Rosary Beads say the following:
On the large beads:

'Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Wounds of Our Lord Jesus Christ - to heal the wounds of our souls.'
(300 days indulgence each time)

On the small beads:

'My Jesus, pardon and mercy - Through the merits of Thy Holy Wounds.'
(300 days indulgence each time)

Our Lord Said:

'The soul who during life has honored and studied the Wounds of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and has offered them to the Eternal Father for the souls in Purgatory, will be accompanied at the moment of death by the Holy Virgin and the angels; and Our Lord on the Cross all brilliant in glory will receive her and crown her.'

St. Gertrude's Prayer for the Holy Souls

Our Lord told St. Gertrude the Great that the following prayer would release 1000 souls from Purgatory each time it is said:

'Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in Purgatory.  Amen.'

I like to add to this prayer:  '....and the conversion of sinners.' Amen

The Rosary
3 of the 15 Promises made to Blessed Alanus
in favor of those devoted To Our Lady's Rosary:

"I will deliver very promptly from purgatory the souls devoted to my Rosary."

"Those who shall recite my Rosary piously, considering its mysteries, will not die a bad death." 

"I have obtained from my Son that all the members of The Rosary Confraternity
shall have for their intercessors in life and death the saints of heaven."


A good source on Purgatory; how we can help the Holy Souls
and avoid going there ourselves is:

"Read Me or Rue It" by Fr. Paul O' Sullivan, O.P. (E.D.M.),
Printed by TAN Publishers.
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