Wow... sorry I came so late back to this thread. It's 14:36 in Italy and I've been at university, so finally I can tell again and again what I believe and confess. I'll be as sinthetic as possible... and also try to be clear.
1) I do believe that some "purification after death" occurs. Many Church fathers did, yet many others didn't. Believing in purgatory is thus unnecessary for salvation, once you still pray for the dead...
2) I believe that God allows suffering to correct us. In this life of course, but not in the life to come. I believe that in the afterlife the only chastisement is the eternal chastisement of Hell. I prefer to consider purification after death as a process of growth. Since no scriptural or patristic text prooves that the large majority of the Church fathers associated purgatory with a punishment to satisfy God's justice, then I think I'm not bound to believe it.
3) Dear Mickey, I'm more Orthodox then you can think. I always hated being RC at least since 15-16. Anyway I take no offence for what you said: I understand that I should be calmer, and still hope God help me changing my life. I'll do my best to reach the same calm and wisdom of the holy saints of Orthodoxy, although I'm inclined to lose control. Btw, I'll pray that this Lent might be another occasion for spiritual growth for both of us. We fought with zeal because we both believe the same thing, i.e. that the word punishment is somehow inadequate to reflect the essence of purification after death. I personally prefer "penance", "correction" and "theosis".
4) Quote from stanley123:
Wait a minute. You say that there is no such thing as mortal sin or venial sin. But in the next breath you say that every illness injures our soul in a stronger or lesser way?
I say there are many levels, not just two. Not only in purgatory, but even in Hell. The rigid scholastic definition of "mortal sins" and "venial sins" seems to put sometimes a wall between them as if venial sins were so little that we should be justified to do them. "God will still forgive and purge us, after all". No, all sins separate us from God, and even a venial sin, when persistent and unconfessed, could lead us to Hell. I don't see that large difference... Only blasphemy against the Holy Spirit brings us directly to Hell. All other sins could or could not lead us to Hell. That's up to God's decision, anyway. I just find "unbearable" all that categorizing process typical of legalistic Western society, where I've unfortunately born.
In Christ, Alex
PS: Pray for me, a sinner