St. Ambrose on the Baptism of Fire

St. Ambrose of Milan ca. 338-397

Before the resurrected lies a fire, which all of them must cross. This is the baptism of fire foretold by John the Baptist, in the Holy Ghost and the fire; it is the burning sword of the cherub who guards the gate of heaven, before which everyone must pass: all shall be subjected to examination by fire; for all who want to return to heaven must be tried by fire. (Jacques Le Goff, “The Birth of Purgatory” pg. 59)

Comments

  1. I thought the Orthodox didn’t believe in purgatory or purgatorial fire?

  2. Greetings Alex,

    If you look closer you will see that this fire is post-resurrectional and all must enter it. St. Ambrose’s fire refreshes the holy, cleanses the impure and torments the reprobate. The saints and the reprobate do not enter Purgatory at all in Roman Catholic teaching, especially after the resurrection. Additionally, all in Purgatory are guaranteed to be saved eventually, this is also not the case with St. Ambrose’s concept. (See the link to the post “On Divine Fire” below)

    Lastly, the Orthodox do not reject fiery imagery in the intermediate state and eschaton. They rejected the sensible fire, juridical framework and scholastic precision of the Roman Catholic teaching. Here are some links…

    http://classicalchristianity.com/2011/10/23/on-purgatory-2/
    http://classicalchristianity.com/2011/03/12/fire/
    http://classicalchristianity.com/2012/01/24/on-the-fire-of-the-judgment/
    http://classicalchristianity.com/2013/08/20/on-purgatory-and-the-afterlife/

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  3. Oh, I see that now. Thanks!

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