‘This faith hath always not only faithful people had; but also, as we say, very miscreants and idolaters have ever had a certain opinion and persuasion of the same – whether that of the first light and revelation given of such things to our former fathers… there hath always remained a glimmering that hath gone forth from man to man, from one generation to another, and so continued and kept among all people… or else that nature and reason have taught men everywhere to perceive it. For surely that they have such belief… not only by such as have been travelled in many countries among sundry sects, but also by the old and ancient writers that have been among them, we may well and evidently perceive. And in good faith, if never had there been revelation given thereof, nor other light than reason: yet, presupposed the immortality of man’s soul, which no reasonable man distrusted; and thereto agreed the righteousness of God, and his goodness, which scant the devil himself denieth… purgatory must needs appear. For since that God, of his righteousness, will not leave sin unpunished; nor his goodness will perpetually punish the fault after the man’s conversion: it followeth that the punishment shall be temporal. And, now, since the man often dieth before such punishment had… either at God’s hand, by some affliction sent him, or at his own, by due penance done – which the most part of people wantonly doth forsloth – a very child, almost, may see the consequent: that the punishment at the death remaining due and undone… is to be endured and sustained after. Which… since his majesty is so excellent whom we have offended… cannot of right and justice be but heavy and sore’.
from ‘The Supplication of Souls’, 1529, by St Thomas More, 1478-1535
Fr Lee Kenyon