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By Supertradmum

NO, there is no misspelling in the title of this post. Satispassion is a teaching of the Catholic Church regarding purgatory. The Church has a definite teaching on purgatory, in response to the Albigensians, Hussites, Lutherans, Calvinists and followers of Zwingli, who all denied the existence of this place of purgation.

In the long history of the Church, the definition became more clear after the heretics forced the Church to clarify her position, which she did over and over and over.

Purgatory is logical, as after death, a human can merit nothing. Therefore, if someone dies with imperfections of venial sins, or the predominant fault not destroyed, or if reparation for serious sins have not been accomplished, purgatory is a necessity, as only the perfect see God.

Two aspects of purgatory have been forgotten by modern Catholics. The first is the idea of satisfaction and the second is the idea of satis passion.

The Council of Trent is clear about purgatory: If anyone says that a man who has repented and received the grace of justification is forgiven and released from obligation to eternal punishment, is such fashion that he no longer has any obligation to temporal punishment, whether in this world or in purgatory, before he can be given entrance into heaven: let him be anathema.”

Strong words and pertaining both to satisfaction and satispassion. Garrigou-Lagrange has helped reveal these mysteries to modern readers, who have lost the sense of both.

Now, St. Paul writes:

1 Corinthians 3:10-15 Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)

10 According to the commission of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble— 13 each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day[a] will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

Garrigou-Lagrange notes that Origen, Basil, Cyril of Jerusalem, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine, Gregory the Great, and Thomas Aquinas comment on this passage as the fire of purification. And, in the catacombs, we see the inscriptions of those praying for the dead buried there. However, I am not writing this piece to prove purgatory, as that is a given, but to explain both satisfaction and satispassion. Christ did satisfaction for the punishment of sin and restored harmony between God and man through the Passion. This satisfaction brings us new life and the ability to get to heaven, which was closed by Original Sin. Christ’s satisfaction for sin is remembered daily in the Mass. So, one may ask, why do I in purgatory have to make satisfaction for my sins if Christ has done this? This question is the basis for the Protestant denial of purgatory. We Catholics believe that Christ merited us condign merit on the Cross—a merit which Christ gives to us and which we did not earn. Satisfaction for the Sin of Adam and all sins was merited by Christ. However, although the sins we commit are forgiven by the substitution of Christ on the Cross for us to gain salvation, we must still pay back to God satisfaction for the sins we have committed. This is an aspect of justice, which is seen in our judicial systems. People must pay for crimes, for sins, either with money or jail time. The same is true for our personal sins. In addition, we have evil inclinations and dispositions which need to be purged in suffering. Satisfaction and purging are graces of purgatory, although one may merit satisfaction and be purified while on earth. One may ask God for purgatory while alive.

Sins merit suffering, states Garrigou-Lagrange and all the great theologians and philosophers of the Church. A person must accept the penalties for sin.

While we are living, we can gain merit by making satisfaction for sins through good works, charity, mortifications, prayer. However, those who do not do this, must suffer in purgatory and willing such souls accept satispassion. Satispassion is the willing acceptance of suffering for one’s sins in purgatory, and it is as Garrigou-Largange states, “an act of adoration.” The soul willingly accepts the suffering owing to sin with joy and understanding.

Here is longish passage on this from Life Everlasting, by Garrigou-Lagrange:

The satisfactory merits of Christ are certainly sufficient to redeem all men, and yet they must be applied to each individual in order to be efficacious. [395] They are applied to us in baptism, and then, after our fall, by the sacrament of penance, of which satisfaction is a part. Just as the first cause does not render useless second causes but gives to them the dignity of causality, so the merits of Christ do not render our merits useless, but arouse our own wills to make us work with Him, through Him, and in Him for the salvation of souls, and in particular for our own soul. Thus St. Paul says: “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ in my flesh, for His body, which is the church.”

To deny the necessity of satisfaction in this world and of satispassion in purgatory amounts to denying the value of a life of reparation. Such denial involves the Lutheran negation of the necessity of good works, as if faith without works could suffice for justification and salvation.

The souls in purgatory are in love with God and His justice and mercy. They suffer in joy, something which we can learn on earth. They love their suffering, the satispassion burning away all sin and evil dispositions, as well as making reparation for serious sins not expiated. The souls are at peace, and wonder of wonders, experience, perhaps for the first time in their lives, true freedom over self and a mastery of self. Garrigou-Lagrange also notes that the souls in purgatory are freed from the “remains of sin,” a phrase I heard in Confession years ago, which means the effects of sin on the soul and sometimes called the “matter of sin.” Souls in purgatory can also grow in virtue. Reparation or satisfaction, therefore, may be called “subjective redemption.”

There is no merit, however, gained in purgatory, as the time of merit has ended with death. Therefore, all the good responses in works and prayer we missed in our lives through negligence cannot be made up. One of the sadness of purgatory could be the awareness of the high place in heaven we would have had if we had not passed up graces in our lives.

Satisfaction and satispassion having been made, the soul is now freed and joins God in the Beatific Vision. All has been worthwhile. The suffering is now ended. The soul finds her goal-union with God.

JMJ, pray for us!

God is good,


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