I was taught that when we die we go through a particular judgement right away. I was taught this is the Catholic teaching. But in the East there’s believed to be a time of 40 days when the person goes through different things before finally going to their destination. How are these two ideas relate for Eastern Catholics? thank you!
Perhaps it is a manner of speaking? There is no time in the afterlife…so there would be no days.
The Eastern Church has no teaching like Purgatory that exists in the Catholic Church so that other types of teaching have taken over what a soul goes through especially in the 40 days after death. The Catholic Church has the correct teaching on what happens to every soul at the moment of death. God only continues what is there at death. If you were in a state of Heaven at the moment of death than God continues this Heaven in you. If you were in a state of Purgatory at death than God continues this Purgatory until Heaven is achieved in you. If you were in a state of Hell before you die than hopefully the grace of God will get you out it before you die because if you do not get out of it than it will continue in you for eternity. You just continue your life after you die in the state you have acquired in life. There are circumstances however that would change this. If you make a good and truthful confession before you die like the thief on the cross than this Heaven will come to you. If someone makes prayers to do reparation for you than God will give this Heaven for you. The 40 days after death for the Easterner is the same for the Catholic. There are no different things for anyone who dies. We all go through this plain and simple in the same manner. If anything the soul goes through in the first 40 days after death if it still needs grace when the soul is still in the Purgatory state is the faithful witness of the Church to pray for the deceased soul. The Catholic Church has the right attitude and understanding to what happens to a soul after death. If there is a 40 day memorial service for any soul in the Eastern Orthodox or Eastern Catholic Church than all they are doing is asking God to grant His graces to that soul in order for that Heaven to be set in (if that particular soul is still in the Purgatory state). Whether the Eastern Orthodox (or Eastern Catholic) know it or not all their deceased souls are treated by God the same as those in the Catholic Church. That means the souls in need of graces are still in Purgatory. The Eastern Orthodox are actually assisting the Holy Souls of Purgatory even though the Eastern Orthodox do not call it Purgatory. Why? The Eastern Orthodox (as do the Eastern Catholic) pray constantly for the deceased souls. Perhaps someday with better understanding the Eastern Orthodox will come to accept the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory.
Eastern Catholics assent to the dogmas on purgatory:
- The souls of the just which, in the moment of death, are burdened with venial sins or temporal punishment due to sins, enter Purgatory. (De fide.)
- The living Faithful can come to the assistance of the Souls in Purgatory by their intercessions (suffrages). (De fide.)
Other common teachings:
- The Saints in Heaven also can come to the help of the Souls in Purgatory by their intercession. (Sent. communis.)
- Suffrages are of no profit to the damned in Hell as they do not belong to the Mystical Body of Christ. (Sent. communis.)
- The purifying fire will not continue after the General Judgment. (Sent. communis.)
- The Souls in Purgatory can intercede for other members of the Mystical Body. (Sent. probabilis.)