Category Archives: Eschatology

How do Catholics know they’re “saved”?

A very dear friend recently posed the following question to me:

“Matt, what do I have to do in order to be saved? What must I do to know that I will go to heaven when I die?”

Here is my response:

“Dear (friend), Catholics, in this life, never know if they will be found worthy. This is a decision only Jesus as God can make in our particular judgment immediately after death, and we cannot. It is presumptuous to think otherwise. We trust in the promises of our Lord.

Neither can we be sure of the damnation of any. Again, this is a judgment of the Lord, and not ours. For Catholics, sanctifying grace, the life of grace, must be present within the Catholic for the hope of salvation. The idea of universal salvation because the Lord is so merciful is a heresy, although not the worst. Mt 25:10.

The saints (both specific and general, the communion of saints, as mentioned in the Nicene and Apostle’s creeds) are believed to be in Heaven. We hold with strongest belief this is true, but this is also why two miracles are required for canonization. Phil 2:12.

Those outside the church have the possibility, not necessarily the likelihood, of salvation (CCC 846). Within the Church exists the fullness of the life of grace and the sacraments which impart grace.

These might help, too:

http://soul-candy.info/2018/06/protestant-catholic-different-definitions-of-grace/
http://soul-candy.info/2015/08/explicit-implicit-faith-who-can-be-saved/

Love,
Matthew

The Saints on Purgatory

“[Judas Maccabeus] took up a collection . . . to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead.”
– 2 Maccabees 12:43-44

“When loved ones die, many people experience, in addition to grief and loneliness, a concern over the state of those loved ones, particularly if those departed souls weren’t the saintliest people in their lifetime or if they died sudden, unprovided deaths. What has become of these souls? Those who are left behind wonder.

The Church has always taught the existence of Purgatory, a place or state of existence after death, where, if necessary, we’re cleansed of any remaining effects of our sins and made ready to enter into Heaven. Moreover, as Scripture attests, our prayers and sacrifices can be of immense spiritual help to the persons undergoing this purification process; we can pray for specific persons, such as deceased loved ones, or for the souls in Purgatory in general.

Because God loves us and wants us to be with Him in Heaven, there must be some opportunity for us to finish being healed, or purged of our sins, after death, should this be necessary.

This cleansing process is what we call Purgatory. The saints believed without reservation in this reality. They themselves, because of their immense love of God, were ready to enter Heaven immediately after death, but they were mindful of those who were not as fortunate; after all, this is one of the signs of true love: caring for those in need, whether that need be physical or spiritual.

St. Elizabeth of Portugal, who reigned as queen of that country at the beginning of the fourteenth century, had a much-loved daughter named Constance. The young princess died very suddenly after being married, causing Elizabeth and her husband, King Denis, much grief. Soon after this, a hermit came to the queen with a shocking story: while he was praying, Constance had appeared to him, beseeching him to take a message to her mother. She was suffering terribly in Purgatory and would remain there a very long time unless Mass was offered for her each day for a year.

The king responded, “I believe that it is wise to do that which has been pointed out to you in so extraordinary a manner. After all, to have Masses celebrated for our dear deceased relatives is nothing more than a paternal and Christian duty.” Elizabeth accepted this advice, and arranged for the Masses to be said by a holy priest. One year later her daughter appeared to her, clothed in a brilliant white robe, and said, “Today, dear mother, I am delivered from the pains of Purgatory and am about to enter Heaven.” St. Elizabeth gave thanks to God and expressed her gratitude by distributing alms to the poor.

A number of saints (plus other mystics and visionaries) have allegedly seen Purgatory (and also Heaven and Hell). St. Frances of Rome was granted such a vision; she said that it consists of three levels. The lowest level is like a vast burning sea, where the persons undergo various sufferings related to the sins they committed on earth. The middle level is less rigorous, but still unpleasant. The highest level of Purgatory is populated by those who are closest to being released. These persons suffer mainly the pain of loss: that of yearning for God and of not yet truly possessing Him.

There’s consolation in all three levels, but especially in the highest. The souls in Purgatory know that, sooner or later, they’ll be with God in Heaven and that all their present sufferings are valuable and redemptive. Other saints and visionaries confirm this description, adding that our prayers and sacrifices — because they’re freely given — are immensely helpful to those in Purgatory, for God greatly values each one of our freely offered sacrifices, no matter how small. Some mystics have supposedly learned that when we pray for specific persons who are in Purgatory, they see us at that instant and are strengthened by the knowledge that we’re remembering them.

Many of the saints are said to have had experiences that confirmed the Church’s teaching on Purgatory. For instance, St. Louis Bertrand, a seventeenth-century priest, offered Masses, prayers, and sacrifices for his deceased father until finally he was granted a vision of his entry into Heaven. This happened only after eight years of prayer on his part. In the twelfth century, the famous Irish bishop St. Malachy learned that his sister was destined to suffer a long time in Purgatory, for she had lived a very sinful life before repenting; his prayers eased her sufferings, but did not significantly lessen her time there. In the fifteenth century, the sister of St. Vincent Ferrer appeared to him as she was about to enter Heaven and revealed that had it not been for the many Masses he offered on her behalf, her time in Purgatory would have been much longer.

A story is told about St. Teresa of Avila in this regard. A priest she knew had just died, and God revealed to her that he would remain in Purgatory until a Mass was said for him in the chapel of a new Carmelite house that was to be built. Teresa hurried to the site and had the workmen begin raising the walls of the chapel immediately, but as this would still take too long, she obtained permission from the bishop for a temporary chapel to be erected. Once this was done, Mass was celebrated there, and while receiving communion, Teresa saw a vision of the priest thanking her most graciously before entering God’s kingdom.

Showing concern for the dead and the dying is a great sign of love. Bl. Raymond of Capua, the biographer of St. Catherine of Siena, wrote that she attended her father, Jacomo, during his final hours. Learning in a revelation that this holy man nonetheless would require some purification in Purgatory, Catherine begged God to let her suffer pains of expiation on his behalf so that he might enter Heaven immediately. God agreed; Jacomo, who had been suffering greatly, thereupon experienced a happy and peaceful death, while Catherine was seized with violent pains that remained with her for the rest of her life. Raymond witnessed her suffering, but he also took note of her incredible forbearance and patience, along with her great joy on her father’s behalf.

An incident from the life of the Italian priest Padre Pio indicates that souls in Purgatory may request our prayers. One day in the 1920s, he was praying in the choir loft when he heard a strange sound coming from the side altars of the chapel. Then there was a crash as a candelabra fell from the main altar. Padre Pio saw a figure he assumed to be a young friar. But the figure told him, “I am doing my Purgatory here. I was a student in this friary, so now I have to make amends for the errors I committed while I was here, for my lack of diligence in doing my duty in this church.” The figure said that he had been in Purgatory for sixty years, and after requesting Padre Pio’s prayers, he vanished. Many other souls in purgatory are said to have asked for his assistance, including four deceased friars sitting around the fireplace in a state of great suffering; Padre Pio spent the night in prayer, securing their release.

Other saints are said to have had similar experiences, including St. Odilo, the eleventh-century abbot who began the practice of offering Mass for all the souls in Purgatory on what is now known as All Souls Day, the day after the feast of All Saints.

Our prayers for those who suffer there can be spiritually valuable to them. Because the saints believed in both sin and redemption, mercy and justice, they also acknowledged the existence of Purgatory and did everything possible to relieve those undergoing purification there. As the saints were far more conversant with the ways of Divine Providence than any of us could honestly claim to be, we would do very well to follow their example.”

Love,
Matthew

Purgatory begins here & now

“…I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above Him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of His glory.”

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty. Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” – Is 6:1-7


-by Judy Landrieu Klein, 11/4/17

“God is a consuming Fire. He alone can refine us like gold, and separate us from the slag and dross of our selfish individualities to fuse us into this wholeness of perfect unity that will reflect His own Triune Life forever.” -Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

…(St John Paul II stated), “Those who, after death, exist in a state of purification, are already in the love of Christ Who removes from them the remnants of imperfection.” (General Audience, July 21, 1999)

Earlier, in Crossing the Threshold of Hope, John Paul II had written:

“The “living flame of love,” of which St. John (of the Cross) speaks, is above all, a purifying fire. The mystical nights described by this great doctor of the church on the basis of his own experience correspond, in a certain sense, to purgatory. God makes man pass through such an interior purgatory of his sensual and spiritual nature in order to bring him into union with Himself. Here we do not find ourselves before a mere tribunal. We present ourselves before the power of Love itself … It is Love that demands purification, before man can be made ready for that union with God which is his ultimate vocation and destiny.” Crossing the Threshold of Hope, 186-187

The Bible is replete with images that portray God’s love as fire, with a key theme being that the fire of God’s love burns that which it touches without destroying it (Exodus 3:2, Hebrews 12:28). Pope Benedict XVI explained this concept pointedly in the following words:

“Jesus sets fire to the earth. Whoever comes close to Jesus, accordingly, must be prepared to be burned …It burns, yet this is not a destructive fire but one that makes things bright and pure and free and grand. Being a Christian, then, is daring to entrust oneself to this burning fire.” (God and the World, 222)

It could thus be said that purgation is the experience wherein one is immersed in the fire of the love of God, with the effect being that whatever is not of God, i.e., everything within us that is incongruent with His love, is burned away. As Catholics, we may readily accept that such purgation will happen to us after death. But what we don’t often consider is that the same love we will encounter after death is meant to cleanse us even now, while we are still alive. In fact, the degree to which we allow the fire of God’s love to purify us in this life will determine how much purgation we will need in the next!

So bring on the fire, right?

Well, it’s not quite that simple. Because purification involves the pain of suffering and death, most of us try our darnedest to avoid it.

What within us, exactly, must be purified unto death as we draw near to Christ? While St. Paul called it “the flesh,” Trappist monk Thomas Merton named it the “false self,” which he said is the illusory persona projected by the human ego that “wants to exist outside the reach of God’s will and God’s love … the self that exists only in my own egocentric desires.” (New Seeds of Contemplation, 35)

This is the self that finds its identity in pleasure, popularity, power, posturing and pride instead of authentic love; the self constructed by the ego that gives us an identity of our own making instead of the identity that God invites us to discover only through love of him. This self must die that we might truly live; one must allow it to be stripped away in order to become real and true in loving God, self and others.

Purgatory now? Indeed, may it be so. Let us pray:

“Sanctify, O Lord, our souls, minds, and bodies. Touch our minds and search out our consciences. Cast out from us every evil thought, every base desire and memory, every unseemly word, all envy, pride and hypocrisy, every lie, every deceit, all greed, all wickedness, all wrath, all anger, all malice, all blasphemy, all sloth, every movement that is alien to Your holy will. Enable us to turn to you, O God, Who loves humankind, to call upon You with boldness, with a pure heart, a contrite soul, a face unashamed, and with lips that are sanctified. Amen.”
-from The Divine Liturgy of James the Holy Apostle and Brother of the Lord

Love, pray for me,
Matthew

Nov 2 – Novena for Holy Souls in Purgatory


-please click on the image for greater detail

-by St Alphonsus Liguori

On the First Day:

Jesus, my Savior I have so often deserved to be cast into hell how great would be my suffering if I were now cast away and obliged to think that I myself had caused my damnation. I thank Thee for the patience with which Thou hast endured me. My God, I love Thee above all things and I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee because Thou art infinite goodness. I will rather die than offend Thee again. Grant me the grace of perseverance. Have pity on me and at the same time on those Blessed Souls suffering in Purgatory. Mary, Mother of God, come to their assistance with thy powerful intercession.

Now pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and:

THE PRAYER TO OUR SUFFERING SAVIOR FOR THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY:
O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the immense pain which Thou didst suffer in breathing forth Thy Blessed Soul, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
(Recommend yourself to the Souls in Purgatory and mention your intentions here)
Blessed Souls, I have prayed for thee; I entreat thee, who are so dear to God, and who are secure of never losing Him, to pray for me a miserable sinner, who is in danger of being damned, and of losing God forever. Amen.

On the Second Day:

Woe to me, unhappy being, so many years have I already spent on earth and have earned naught but hell! I give Thee thanks, O Lord, for granting me time even now to atone for my sins. My good God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee. Send me Thy assistance, that I may apply the time yet remaining to me for Thy love and service; have compassion on me, and, at the same time, on the Holy Souls suffering in Purgatory. O Mary, Mother of God, come to their assistance with thy powerful intercession.

Now pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and:

THE PRAYER TO OUR SUFFERING SAVIOR FOR THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY:
O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the immense pain which Thou didst suffer in breathing forth Thy Blessed Soul, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
(Recommend yourself to the Souls in Purgatory and mention your intentions here)
Blessed Souls, I have prayed for thee; I entreat thee, who are so dear to God, and who are secure of never losing Him, to pray for me a miserable sinner, who is in danger of being damned, and of losing God forever. Amen.

On the Third Day:

My God! because Thou art infinite goodness, I love Thee above all things, and repent with my whole heart of my offenses against Thee. Grant me the grace of holy perseverance. Have compassion on me, and, at the same, on the Holy Souls suffering in Purgatory. And thou, Mary, Mother of God, come to their assistance with thy powerful intercession.

Now pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and:

THE PRAYER TO OUR SUFFERING SAVIOR FOR THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY:
O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the immense pain which Thou didst suffer in breathing forth Thy Blessed Soul, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
(Recommend yourself to the Souls in Purgatory and mention your intentions here)
Blessed Souls, I have prayed for thee; I entreat thee, who are so dear to God, and who are secure of never losing Him, to pray for me a miserable sinner, who is in danger of being damned, and of losing God forever. Amen.

On the Fourth Day:

My God! because Thou art infinite goodness, I am sorry with my whole heart for having offended Thee. I promise to die rather than ever offend Thee more. Give me holy perseverance; have pity on me, and have pity on those Holy Souls that burn in the cleansing fire and love Thee with all their hearts. O Mary, Mother of God, assist them by thy powerful prayers.

Now pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and:

THE PRAYER TO OUR SUFFERING SAVIOR FOR THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY:
O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the immense pain which Thou didst suffer in breathing forth Thy Blessed Soul, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
(Recommend yourself to the Souls in Purgatory and mention your intentions here)
Blessed Souls, I have prayed for thee; I entreat thee, who are so dear to God, and who are secure of never losing Him, to pray for me a miserable sinner, who is in danger of being damned, and of losing God forever. Amen.

On the Fifth Day:

Woe to me, unhappy being, if Thou, O Lord, hadst cast me into hell; for from that dungeon of eternal pain there is no deliverance. I love Thee above all things, O infinite God and I am sincerely sorry for having offended Thee again. Grant me the grace of holy perseverance. Have compassion on me, and, at the same time, on the Holy Souls suffering in Purgatory. O Mary, Mother of God, come to their assistance with thy powerful intercession.

Now pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and:

THE PRAYER TO OUR SUFFERING SAVIOR FOR THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY:
O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the immense pain which Thou didst suffer in breathing forth Thy Blessed Soul, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
(Recommend yourself to the Souls in Purgatory and mention your intentions here)
Blessed Souls, I have prayed for thee; I entreat thee, who are so dear to God, and who are secure of never losing Him, to pray for me a miserable sinner, who is in danger of being damned, and of losing God forever. Amen.

On the Sixth Day:

My Divine Redeemer, Thou didst die for me on the Cross, and hast so often united Thyself with me in Holy Communion, and I have repaid Thee only with ingratitude. Now, however, I love Thee above all things, O supreme God; and I am more grieved at my offenses against Thee than at any other evil. I will rather die than offend Thee again. Grant me the grace of holy perseverance. Have compassion on me, and, at the same time, on the Holy Souls suffering in Purgatory. Mary, Mother of God, come to their aid with thy powerful intercession.

Now pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and:

THE PRAYER TO OUR SUFFERING SAVIOR FOR THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY:
O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the immense pain which Thou didst suffer in breathing forth Thy Blessed Soul, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
(Recommend yourself to the Souls in Purgatory and mention your intentions here)
Blessed Souls, I have prayed for thee; I entreat thee, who are so dear to God, and who are secure of never losing Him, to pray for me a miserable sinner, who is in danger of being damned, and of losing God forever. Amen.

On the Seventh Day:

God, Father of Mercy, satisfy this their ardent desire! Send them Thy holy Angel to announce to them that Thou, their Father, are now reconciled with them through the suffering and death of Jesus, and that the moment of their deliverance has arrived.

Now pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and:

THE PRAYER TO OUR SUFFERING SAVIOR FOR THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY:
O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the immense pain which Thou didst suffer in breathing forth Thy Blessed Soul, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
(Recommend yourself to the Souls in Purgatory and mention your intentions here)
Blessed Souls, I have prayed for thee; I entreat thee, who are so dear to God, and who are secure of never losing Him, to pray for me a miserable sinner, who is in danger of being damned, and of losing God forever. Amen.

On the Eighth Day:

Oh my God! I also am one of these ungrateful beings, having received so much grace, and yet despised Thy love and deserved to be cast by Thee into hell. But Thy infinite goodness has spared me until now. Therefore, I now love Thee above all things, and I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee. I will rather die than ever offend Thee. Grant me the grace of holy perseverance. Have compassion on me and, at the same time, on the Holy Souls suffering in Purgatory. Mary, Mother of God, come to their aid with thy powerful intercession.

Now pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and:

THE PRAYER TO OUR SUFFERING SAVIOR FOR THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY:
O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the immense pain which Thou didst suffer in breathing forth Thy Blessed Soul, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
(Recommend yourself to the Souls in Purgatory and mention your intentions here)
Blessed Souls, I have prayed for thee; I entreat thee, who are so dear to God, and who are secure of never losing Him, to pray for me a miserable sinner, who is in danger of being damned, and of losing God forever. Amen.

On the Ninth Day:

My God! How was it possible that I, for so many years, have borne tranquilly the separation from Thee and Thy holy grace! O infinite Goodness, how long-suffering hast Thou shown Thyself to me! Henceforth, I shall love Thee above all things. I am deeply sorry for having offended Thee; I promise rather to die than to again offend Thee. Grant me the grace of holy perseverance, and do not permit that I should ever again fall into sin. Have compassion on the Holy Souls in Purgatory. I pray Thee, moderate their sufferings; shorten the time of their misery; call them soon unto Thee in heaven, that they may behold Thee face to face, and forever love Thee. Mary, Mother of Mercy, come to their aid with thy powerful intercession, and pray for us also who are still in danger of eternal damnation.

Now pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and:

THE PRAYER TO OUR SUFFERING SAVIOR FOR THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY:
O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the immense pain which Thou didst suffer in breathing forth Thy Blessed Soul, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
(Recommend yourself to the Souls in Purgatory and mention your intentions here)
Blessed Souls, I have prayed for thee; I entreat thee, who are so dear to God, and who are secure of never losing Him, to pray for me a miserable sinner, who is in danger of being damned, and of losing God forever. Amen.

Love,
Matthew

Nov 2 – Litany for Holy Souls in Purgatory


-by Wilhelm von Kaulbach (1805–1874), “The Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus”, painting, 1846, oil on canvas, Height: 585 cm (19.1 ft); Width: 705 cm (23.1 ft), Neue Pinakothek, Munich, Germany, please click on the image for greater detail.

O Jesus, Thou suffered and died that all mankind might be saved and brought to eternal happiness. Hear our pleas for further mercy on the souls of:

My dear parents and grandparents, my Jesus mercy!
My brothers and sisters and other near relatives, my Jesus mercy!
My godparents and sponsors of confirmation, my Jesus mercy!
My spiritual and temporal benefactors, my Jesus mercy!
My friends and neighbors, my Jesus mercy!
All for whom love or duty bids me pray, my Jesus mercy!

Those who have offended me, my Jesus mercy!
Those who have suffered disadvantage or harm through me, my Jesus mercy!

Those who are especially beloved by Thee, my Jesus mercy!
Those whose release is near at hand, my Jesus mercy!
Those who desire most to be united to Thee, my Jesus mercy!

Those who endure the greatest sufferings, my Jesus mercy!
Those whose release is most remote, my Jesus mercy!
Those who are least remembered, my Jesus mercy!

Those who are most deserving on account of their services to the Church, my Jesus mercy!
The rich, who now are the most destitute, my Jesus mercy!
The mighty, who now are powerless, my Jesus mercy!
The once spiritually blind, who now see their folly, my Jesus mercy!
The frivolous, who spent their time in idleness, my Jesus mercy!
The poor, who did not seek the treasures of heaven, my Jesus mercy!
The tepid, who devoted little time to prayer, my Jesus mercy!
The indolent, who neglected to perform good works, my Jesus mercy!
Those of little faith, who neglected the frequent reception of the Sacraments, my Jesus mercy!
The habitual sinners, who owe their salvation to a miracle of grace, my Jesus mercy!
Parents who failed to watch over their children, my Jesus mercy!
Superiors who were not solicitous for the salvation of those entrusted to them, my Jesus mercy!
Those who strove for worldly riches and pleasures, my Jesus mercy!
The worldly-minded, who failed to use their wealth and talents in the service of God, my Jesus mercy!
Those who witnessed the death of others, but would not think of their own, my Jesus mercy!
Those who did not provide for the life hereafter, my Jesus mercy!
Those whose sentence is severe because of the great things entrusted to them, my Jesus mercy!

The popes, kings and rulers, my Jesus mercy!
The bishops and their counselors, my Jesus mercy!
My teachers and spiritual advisors, my Jesus mercy!
The deceased priests of this diocese, my Jesus mercy!
The priests and religious of the Catholic Church, my Jesus mercy!

The defenders of the holy faith, my Jesus mercy!
Those who died on the battlefield, my Jesus mercy!
Those who fought for their country, my Jesus mercy!
Those who were buried in the sea, my Jesus mercy!
Those who died of apoplexy, my Jesus mercy!
Those who died of heart attacks, my Jesus mercy!
Those who suffered and died of cancer, my Jesus mercy!
Those who died suddenly in accidents, my Jesus mercy!
Those who died without the last rites of the Church, my Jesus mercy!
Those who shall die within the next twenty-four hours, my Jesus mercy!
My own poor soul when I shall have to appear before Thy judgment seat, my Jesus mercy!

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them: For evermore with Thy saints, because Thou art gracious.

May the prayer of Thy suppliant people, we beseech Thee, O Lord, benefit the souls of Thy departed servants and handmaids: that Thou mayest both deliver them from all their sins, and make them to be partakers of Thy redemption. Amen.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
And let the perpetual light shine upon them.
May their souls and the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Love,
Matthew

“Our souls demand Purgatory, don’t they?” -C.S. Lewis

“C.S. Lewis, the author of Mere Christianity and The Chronicles of Narnia, was not Catholic but he did believe in the existence of purgatory. He knew dying does not change our sinful hearts, so God must do something to us after death in order to make us fit to spend eternal life with him. Lewis said, “Our souls demand Purgatory, don’t they?”

1 John 5:17 says, “All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal.” The Church accordingly refers to mortal sins as our freely chosen, gravely evil acts that destroy God’s love in our hearts. These sins forfeit our hope of eternal life with God unless we ask God to forgive them through the sacrament of reconciliation (confession).

Unlike mortal sins, venial sins hurt the soul but do not kill God’s grace within it. These are sins that people commit in their day-to-day life that do not completely separate them from God but do hurt their relationship with him. Catholics don’t have to confess these sins to a priest (but they can if they wish), and the Eucharist also cleanses us of these sins. But what happens to people who don’t seek the sacraments and die in an unclean state of venial sin?

Since these people died in a state of grace and friendship with God, there is no possibility they will go to hell. But Revelation 21:27 says that nothing unclean will be in heaven. It logically follows, therefore, that these saved souls will be purged of their sins prior to spending eternity with God. According to the Catechism, “The Church gives the name purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned” (CCC 1031).

Purgatory is not an alternative to heaven and hell nor is it a “second chance” to choose God. All souls that go to purgatory belong to people who died in God’s friendship. Purgatory isn’t a place as much as it is a state of existence after death, where we will be purified from sin. C.S. Lewis understood that because God loves us so much he won’t let us stay attached to any kind of sin, including minor ones, for all eternity.

It is natural for humans to want to make up for the wrong they have done, but no amount of work on our part can make up for the wrong caused by our sins against an infinitely holy God. (Only Christ’s sacrifice can do that.) We can, however, make up for the temporal or earthly consequences of our sins.

Here’s a way to understand the difference.

If my five-year-old son recklessly breaks a neighbor’s window, I will pay for the window because he cannot. If my son is sorry for what he did then I will forgive him, but I will also ask him to perform extra chores to make up for his bad behavior. This satisfies his conscience’s desire to make amends and also helps him learn a valuable lesson.

We might think discipline is the opposite of love, but if you’ve ever been around a spoiled child you see that the lack of discipline can make a person angry, frustrated, selfish, and just plain miserable. Since God is our loving father, he also graciously corrects us, or as the Bible says, “The Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Heb. 12:6)

If Christ’s sacrifice is perfect and infinitely atones for sin, then why is purgatory even necessary? It’s necessary because Christ’s perfect sacrifice must be applied to each individual in different ways.

Those who reject Christ’s offer of salvation, for example, won’t have the saving effects of Christ’s sacrifice applied to them. Believers who are attached to sin in this life will have the effects of Christ’s sacrifice applied to them after death in purgatory.

Theologians like Pope Benedict XVI have even speculated that the cleansing fire of purgatory is none other than Christ Himself. He writes:

“Some recent theologians are of the opinion that the fire which both burns and saves is Christ Himself, the Judge and Savior. The encounter with Him is the decisive act of judgment. Before His gaze all falsehood melts away. This encounter with Him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us, allows us to become truly ourselves.”

Purgatory doesn’t take away from Christ’s work, but rather it is Christ’s work. It is not something the Church created in order to force people to work their way into heaven. Purgatory is instead something God created so that the grace His Son obtained for us on the cross could make us “holy and blameless and irreproachable before Him” (Col. 1:22-23), free from the pain and penalty of sin, and ready to enter into eternal glory with Christ our Lord.”

Love,
Matthew

The Heresy of Universalism: how serious?

heaven-hell-universalism-and-rob-bell-part-1-10-728

(Ed. a great obstacle to all in properly understanding, and therefore properly having an INFORMED opinion of Catholic teaching or doctrine, is understanding the degree to which any given teaching is authoritative, the highest being a Church council of bishops, issuing documents to clarify or define teaching, which must be approved by the Pope, or no dice; think Vatican II, and then re-read your history of Christianity, and for two thousand years this has been so, back to the question regarding circumcision of Gentiles and Peter and Paul’s disagreement.

Christ DID NOT promise there would never be disagreement, or scandal, or controversy. In fact, He told us there would be these things, but NOT to fear! Because of what He would promise and do for us. He endured these negatives while still here on earth. He did promise His peace, to be with the Church always, and to send the Paraclete to protect His Church He founded from error. He even gave to its leader the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. He gave its bishops the authority to loose and to bind, and that the gates of Hell would NEVER prevail against His Church!

Clerics and religious are human. They sin, just like the rest of us. They get it wrong and have bad days. Do the wrong thing for what they misunderstand or just get plain wrong, what they want to be right or justifiable reasons. They become afraid. They doubt, they grow tired and old. They question what they have devoted their lives towards, just like the rest of us.

But, thanks be to God, very, very literally, our faith is not about clerics or religious, or Church structures, or politics, or nastiness, or even sin. It is about the God-man, Who is perfect!!! Who is worthy of all praise and adoration. Who DID save us from the fires of Hell!!! Praise Him, Church!!! Praise Him!!! Turn away from sin. Turn to Jesus, and LIVE!!! He is all perfect, all calming, all soothing, all righteousness, all contenting. He IS God, ALL sufficing, loving, and supreme. Praise Him. Praise Him, Church. Rest in His peace, which He promised, and which He gives, which the world neither understands or could fantastically imagine providing, in truth and reality. Amen. Amen. Amen.

Please understand, I have not found the app which clearly and completely defines the authoritative degree of any given chapter number in the Catechism (CCC) in an attractive GUI & easy to understand definitions of each degree of authority, but there’s an idea app-innovators!!!! AND, there are opinions, and politics!!! Human fallen nature makes it SO EASY!! Not.) 🙁

George W. Truett Theological Seminary - Faculty Environmental Portraits - 10/21/2009
George W. Truett Theological Seminary – Faculty Environmental Portraits – 10/21/2009

-by Roger E. Olson

“I have called universalism “the most attractive heresy.” For a lover of God’s love, universal salvation might seem to be necessary. (I guarantee you that some neo-fundamentalist will take that sentence out of context and attribute it to me without acknowledging what follows.)

However, I’m not a universalist. On the other hand, I’d rather be a universalist than a true Calvinist (i.e., a five point Calvinist who believes in double predestination).

Someone once asked me whether I would still worship God if somehow I became convinced the Calvinist view of God is correct. I had to say no. Sheer power is not worthy of worship. Only power controlled by love is worthy of worship.

If somehow I became convinced that universalism is correct, would I still worship God. Yes, but….

I would have to wonder how a God of love can enjoy love from creatures that is not given freely. Of course, someone might argue that, in the end, every creature will freely offer love to God and be saved (e.g., Moltmann). I would just call that optimism. There’s no way to believe that true other than a leap of optimistic hope.

Everyone harbors some heresy in his or her heart and mind. The only question is–how serious are the heresies one holds? Of course, nobody thinks they harbor any heresies (in the sense of theologically incorrect beliefs).

I agree with Swiss theologian Emil Brunner (and others) that universalism is heresy. It is unbiblical and illogical. However, that does not mean a person who holds it is not a Christian. I have never met a Christian who was one hundred percent theologically correct. Scratch hard enough and you’ll always find some heresy beneath the surface (if not on the surface). That’s true for me as much as for anyone else. If I thought I held no heresies, I’d think I had already arrived at the fullness of truth–something even the apostle Paul did not claim.

I think universalism is a minor heresy SO LONG AS it does not interfere with evangelism. (See my earlier post here about why universalism should NOT interfere with evangelism.) I also evaluate the seriousness of universalism by its context–viz., why does the person affirm it? If universalism is evidence of a denial of God’s wrath and/or human sinfulness, then it is much more serious. Barth’s universalism (yes, I believe Karl Barth was a universalist and I’ll post a message here about why later) did not arise out of those denials which is why he didn’t like the appellation “universalist.” The term is usually associated with liberal theology. In that case, as part of an overall liberal/modernist theology, I consider it very serious indeed.

Strictly historically speaking, any universalism is heresy–according to all major branches of Christianity. The Catholic church allows hope for universal salvation but not confident affirmation of it. But, of course, as Luther demonstrated, all branches of Christianity can be wrong. That is why I reject paleo-orthodoxy and any appeal to absolute authority of tradition. Tradition gets a vote but never a veto. The Bible trumps tradition. (Ed. Mr. Olson is NOT rejecting Tradition here. He is insisting, as is correct, that you cannot have either/or, ever. You MUST have and/both. Which is correct, and required.)

When universalism is believed on biblical grounds (as in The Evangelical Universalist by Gregory McDonald–a pseudonym), it is much less serious than when it is believed as part of a liberal theology that denies the wrath of God and the sinfulness of all human beings (except Jesus Christ, of course).

(Sidebar regarding neo-fundamentalism: A neo-fundamentalism is someone who will take what I have written here and claim I have affirmed universalism or at least given aid and comfort to heretics. A neo-fundamentalist, like a straightforward fundamentalist, is a person who cannot distinguish between non-absolute condemnation of error and error itself. Count on it. Some probably Southern Baptist heresy-hunting neo-fundamentalist will pick up on this blog post and spread it around as “proof” that Roger Olson harbors sympathies with universalism. That is, however, evidence of either a weak mind or ill will.)

So, what is my final word on universalism? I don’t have a “final word” on it because “it” is not all that clear. What kind of universalism? Based on what? I consider all positive affirmations of universal salvation that include denial of everlasting hell heretical. But not all are equally bad or condemnable. Some are based on confusion. Some are based on liberal theology. Some (e.g., Karl Barth’s) are based on the logic of God’s love and electing grace (viz., “Jesus is victor!”). All are wrong, but not all are equally bad.

Let me be clear. (This is necessary because of the power of neo-fundamentalists within evangelicalism today!) I am not a universalist nor do I sympathize with universalism. I am simply trying to get people to consider the possibility that not all versions of universalism are on the same level of error. There is egregious error and there is simple error. One kind of universalism (based on denial of God’s wrath and human sinfulness) is egregious error. Another kind (based on confusion about God’s love requiring his overriding free will) is simple error. I hope I don’t hold any egregious errors, but I’m sure I hold some simple errors. I am open to having those pointed out to me.”

rob-hell-church-nerd humor

Love & His mercy,
Matthew

Thank God for Purgatory!

800px-Carracci-Purgatory

An Angel Frees the Souls of Purgatory, c. 1610, Lodovico Carracci (1555-1619), Bologna


-by Br Thomas Davenport, OP (Br Thomas earned a PhD in Physics from Stanford prior to joining the Order.)

“I knew it was going to be one of those conversations. Maybe it was the way he eagerly, yet nonchalantly, edged over to the conversation as I was explaining to some teenagers on the Metro what a Dominican was. Maybe it was the subtle sort of smile that implied recognition of, not an oddity or a friend, but a challenge. Maybe it was the business card he handed me that said in big bold letters: “YOU CAN BE 100% SURE OF HEAVEN.”

On second thought, yes, it was definitely the business card.

After a brief introduction and assurance that he had written a book on Catholicism, thus proving he knew what he was talking about, this new acquaintance of mine launched into an interrogative form of the big bold sentence on his business card. When I displayed some hesitance about whether I would go straight to heaven if I died tonight, he assured me that the dozen or so priests he interviewed for his book all answered the same way, with the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory as the culprit for such a pause.

I’d like to say that my Thomistic disputation training kicked in and that in the course of four or five stops I had managed to assuage all of his concerns about the Catholic understanding of death and judgment and anything else that came to mind… but I didn’t. We had a lively yet cordial conversation over a range of Christian topics, without either one of us giving much ground. I’d like to think that I may have given him some things to ponder on, or that I at least gave a charitable witness to those around us in the train, but all I do know is that I left the train thanking God for Purgatory.

There is a whole host of ways to argue for the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory, and plenty of misconceptions about it that often need to be corrected. As always, the discussion is rooted in Scripture with its allusions to “cleansing fire” (1 Cor 3:12-15 and 1 Pet 1:6-7), of forgiveness “in the age to come” (Mt 12:31-32), as well as references to praying for the deceased (2 Macc 12:46), which only seems sensible if our prayers can still improve their lot.

These themes are taken up by the Church Fathers and confirmed both by the Church’s official statements and by the lived experience of the faithful over the millennia.

While I brought as much of this as I could remember to bear in my subway conversation, I couldn’t help but think that his conception of purgatory – as an impediment – was wrongheaded, and I tried my best to convey that message.

It’s not that I’m looking forward to actually being in Purgatory, or that I’m trying to avoid the beatific vision for a while. Rather, I’m thankful that God has provided a way to help me finish the job I have consistently proved so incompetent at, namely, being perfect.

Purgatory is both an assurance that God desires that we attain to our true end, our true perfection, and a means by which to get there. Of course, if we can, by His grace and mercy, attain to that perfection in this present life, all the better, but it is encouraging to know that while God will neither lower His standards nor turn a blind eye for us to be with Him, He still gives us every opportunity to finish the job or, more accurately, allow Him to finish the job.

As usual these gut reactions and inchoate musings have been expressed so much more beautifully and coherently, in this case by C.S. Lewis in his Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer:

Our souls demand Purgatory, don’t they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, “It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy”?

Should we not reply, “With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, I’d rather be cleaned first.”

“It may hurt, you know.”

“Even so, sir.”

The idea that we could not stand to be before the face of God knowing that we were less than what He planned for us to be is what makes me so thankful for the doctrine of Purgatory. The added beauty of being able to unite ourselves to our deceased loved ones in prayer is a bonus almost as wonderful as the original gift itself.

I hope I was able to express some glimpse of that beauty to my companion on the train, although I’m not convinced that I did.

Nevertheless our conversation reaffirmed the very convictions he wanted me to question. While I plan to spend the rest of my life trying to cooperate with God’s grace in order to get to heaven as directly as I can, I will continue to thank God for Purgatory.”

Love,
Matthew