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Question from millie on 11/28/2012:

-Dear Father Echert, You recently answered a question on defending purgatory to a non-Catholic. They were using 2 Maccabees 12:39-46. The protestant bible does not have Maccabees because Martin Luther and others took it out. But my question is this. I read the chapter and verse mentioned, but I don't see how it explains purgatory. Help me please. Thank you. God bless you.

Answer by Fr. John Echert on 12/4/2012:

The text at issue reads:

39 And the day following Judas came with his company, to take away the bodies of them that were slain, and to bury them with their kinsmen, in the sepulchres of their fathers.

40 And they found under the coats of the slain, some of the donaries of the idols of Jamnia, *which the law forbiddeth to the Jews: so that all plainly saw, that for this cause they were slain.

41 Then they all blessed the just judgment of the Lord, who had discovered the things that were hidden.

42 And so betaking themselves to prayers, they besought him, that the sin which had been committed might be forgotten. But the most valiant Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves from sin, forasmuch as they saw before their eyes what had happened, because of the sins of those that were slain.

43 And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection.

44 (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead)

45 And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them.

46 It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.

What is described is the aftermath of a battle, in which the Jews had prevailed over their enemies. As the Jewish soldiers gathered up their dead, they noted that each of them had a "good luck" charm on them--an idol, of sorts. So the commander, Judas (not the traitor), commanded that prayers and an offering would be made on their behalf, so that this sin would not be held against them. This would have made no sense, if not for the fact that our prayers can assist those who have already died, for the forgiveness of pardonable sins. Following the lead of heretic Martin Luther, most Protestants reject prayers for the dead, as they reject Purgatory. Instead, they argue wrongly that God does not see sin or hold it against the sinner.

Thanks, Millie

Father Echert


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