A RC in one of my forums asked why Orthodox find Purgatory objectionable when we also pray for our departed:

One chief difference between the RC and Orthodox views on the Intermediate State is that we don’t go for the whole purgatorial fires thing.

In RC purgatory, forgiven sins are still being punished in some way, while in the Orthodox view forgiven sins are forgiven and the damage it caused is being healed in a place of refreshment. RC descriptions of purgatory, especially before Vatican 2 often presented it as horrible as hell but just with a time limit. We do not accept such a lurid vision of the Middle State.

The Orthodox view deceased Christians as residing in peace and happiness and our prayers are for them to have a greater experience of these.

Tertullian in the late second/ early third century often used the Latin term “refrigerium” as a request of God on behalf of departed Christians, a term which means ‘refreshment’ and came to embody the concept of heavenly happiness.

So the fact that the early Church prayed for the dead does not support the teaching of a punitive purgatory for the nature of the prayers themselves indicate the Church did not view the dead as residing in a place of suffering.

The RC concept of purgatory is like a jail where you are reformed punitively, Orthodox “purgatory” is more like a hospital where one is healed.

If you look at the prayers for the dead in Orthodox churches, they still follow this ancient pattern of prayer from the catacombs — “for a place of verdure, a place of refreshment (refrigerium), a place of repose….”



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