St. Therese's daring teaching on Purgatory

Statue of St. Therese at Holy Hill in Wisconsin (photo from Wikimedia Commons, altered by Connie Rossini).

Before we discuss St. Therese of Lisieux’s teaching on Purgatory, I want to put that teaching into context. Her teaching is daring. Some of the nuns she lived with in the Carmelite monastery were scandalized by it, thinking it presumptuous. The last thing St. Therese (or I) would want is for people to interpret her teaching in such a way that they thought they could be spiritually lax and still go straight to Heaven.

So, As you read about her teaching, keep these things in mind:
  1. Therese is a doctor of the Church. The Church has only 35 doctors, four of them women. Now, being a doctor of the Church doesn’t mean she was infallible. But it does mean that the Church especially recommends her spirituality for Christians in any age. Therese is the Doctor of the Little Way of Spiritual Childhood, and her teaching on Purgatory was part of that Little Way.
  2. St. Therese was completely orthodox. This follows from #1. What she taught about Purgatory must never be taken to contradict official Church teaching on the subject.
  3. Presumption is a sin. And if we presume that God will forgive our mortal sins without true repentance and a visit to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, that presumption is a mortal sin.
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