Friday, January 25, 2008

Bonaventure on Satisfaction and Guilt in Purgatory

A prominent clerical member of the Catholic blogophere asked me a question today about a passage in St Bonaventure's Breviloquium in which he mentions making satisfaction in Purgatory. Since my answer involved doing a bit of research I thought I should make the fruits of it available for all to see who care.

Most of the time when you want St B to clarify or expand on something you need to go to his Sentences Commentary. I've just done so, and here's what I find: In IV Sent. Dist. XV. Pars II. Art. I Q.I St Bonaventure asks what satisfaction is. After a discussion of various definitions he says the following:

ad satisfactionem completam duo requiruntur, scilicet emenda praesens pro culpa praeterita et propositum firmum invitando futuram; et ista duo tangit in hac notificatione. Quantum ad emendam pro culpa perpetrata dicit: peccatorum causas excidere. Non enim potest pro culpa melius emenda fieri quam ea a se cum dolore et poena praecidendo removere, qua cum amore sequendo peccavit. Quantum ad firmum propositum de futuro dicit: et suggestionibus aditum non indulgere.

My hasty translation:

"For complete satisfaction two things are required, namely to correct (or repair) one's present state on account of past guilt, and to summon up a firm intention for the future. The first means to root out the causes of sin. For one can repair one's past guilts in no better way than by removing them with sorrow and punishment, by cutting out those things which, by following them with [inordinate] love, caused one to sin. The second means not to indulge in suggestions which arise [to repeat the sin]."

In purgatory, of course, one is punished with both sorrow and pain for past guilt. The second condition may not be as relevant since the will is fixed after death, i.e. I don't think Bonaventure would admit that a soul in purgatory would be capable of further sin, so the intention to avoid sin may or may not be superfluous.

Also, perhaps, of interest on the matter: IV Sent. Dist. XXI. Pars. I. Art. II. Q. I: Whether in purgatory after this life there is accomplished some purgation from some sin or only from punishment. That is, are sins actually remitted in purgatory or is it only that we make satisfaction for already-forgiven sins there? In the article St Bonaventure admits that it's a very common opinion that sins are not forgiven after death, "that sins are remitted only according to their status or [unfulfilled] punishment and are purified (*purgantur*) only according to the dross [that is, the nasty effects left behind in the soul by sin] or aftereffects (*sequela*)." According to St B many theologians of his day thought this; but he says, "But although this opinion is very reasonable (*multum rationi consona*), nevertheless the authorities of the Saints seem to expressly contradict it." Especially, St Gregory the Great in his "Dialogue" says that some sins are forgiven after this life, and St Isidore explicitly says that some sins committed after baptism are forgiven through purgatorial fire. Bonaventure also cites Matthew 12:32. St B concludes from their words that in purgatory some sins are remitted, not merely according to punishment, but also according to guilt.

So, he says, although some people think otherwise, this is the opinion of Peter Lombard and of "multitudinous" authoritative Saints. "It should be said therefore that some sins, namely venial ones, can be and are remitted not only in this life (*in hoc saeculo*), but also in purgatory, when someone passes over with venial sins [unconfessed or unrepented], when the final grace given at death had not deleted them, and therefore he needs help." For instance, if someone dies without receiving the sacraments just before death and has not made a perfect act of contrition for the venial sins since his last confession, he can die with venial sins on his conscience and these still need to be forgiven. Since the soul is dead and the time of merit has passed, he cannot ask for further grace and therefore needs external help. Since there are no sacraments after death, the purgatorial fire can act in their place to not only remove the dross and aftereffects of various sins from the soul, but also to remove the guilt of unrepented venial ones. "And this is possible because, as it was shown in the preceding problem, for the removal of venial sins it suffices that free choice conform itself with grace, nor is it necessary that it help it [i.e. no actual effort of the will or positive contrition is required, but only not to provide an obstacle]." If you die with unrepented mortal sins, though, it's too late.

Sorry for no Latin passages on that last question, but I need to get back to work.

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