Kathleen asks: When Jesus ascended into heaven he gave the apostles the holy spirit so they could spread the gospel, a short time later at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit entered into those gathered together, which included the apostles. Does this contradict my earlier reference to the apostles receiving the Holy Spirit when Jesus ascended into heaven of the Mount of Olives?
Father Pete: Actually, before Jesus ascended he instructed the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Spirit arrived nine days after his ascension on the feast of Pentecost. The story of the Ascension is at the conclusion of the Gospel of Luke. The story of Pentecost is in the second chapter of The Acts of The Apostles.
Michele asks: Where does our understanding of purgatory come from? I haven’t seen it addressed in the gospels. If a soul remains in purgatory, they are separate from God, which would seem another form of hell. Lastly do all souls in purgatory eventually get to be in full union with God and the Holy Trinity?
Father Pete: After death we are judged. For those who are not perfectly purified but are not lost to damnation, the Church refers to a cleansing fire referred to as Purgatory. “…the work of each one will come to the light, for the Day will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each one’s work.” (1 Cor. 3:13).
This testing fire is a loving warmth of healing. It cleanses the soul. Therefore, it is not a separation from God like hell! The souls await union with God, the beatific vision of The Holy Trinity. They wait in hope. All the souls there are destined for Heaven. In mystery, there is some sense of waiting even after death. This is impossible for us to comprehend in this life. We aid the souls in Purgatory by our prayers especially offering a Mass for their salvation. This is the meaning of an indulgence, the grace of purification so that the living and the dead might be united to God.
Love, Fr. Pete