Category Archives: Purgatory

Purgatory consoles


-by Karlo Broussard

“Some Protestants criticize the doctrine of purgatory by saying it’s “bad news” in contrast to the “good news” of salvation revealed in the Bible.

But that’s not so at all. The Catholic doctrine of purgatory is indeed good news.

The joyful truth is that purgatory provides consolation for believers. It does so in a variety of ways.

1. Purgatory consoles believers concerning loved ones who die without the perfect holiness required for heaven.
Purgatory gives us the assurance that even though our loved ones die without the perfect holiness required for heaven, we know they’re not forever excluded from there. The late Marian scholar Fr. Martin Jugie puts it beautifully:

They who mournfully follow the coffin, are consoled with thoughts of the mercy of God; of the expiation of venial sin and the cleansing of the wounds, left by mortal sin, after death; of extenuating circumstances which may have rendered certain sins venial for the dear deceased one. The anguished heart, torn with dread about the fate of the loved one, clings to this last hope, and there finds solace and some peace.

That’s good news!

2. Purgatory consoles believers in knowing that the relationship with our loved ones can continue after death even though they have not yet attained the beatific vision in heaven.
The doctrine of purgatory provides consolation for a believer because it offers hope that our loved ones who die with imperfection aren’t forever excluded from heaven. But a believer might still be disheartened by the thought that if his loved one isn’t in heaven yet, then he can’t have a relationship with that person in the present moment. He would have to wait.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, the doctrine of purgatory entails that we can assist our loved ones in purgatory by offering the Mass, prayers, indulgences, almsgiving, and other works of love for them. This is based on the Christian belief in the communion of saints, which includes the souls in purgatory.

The holy souls are still members of the mystical body of Christ. Death did not separate them from us. As St. Paul writes, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall . . . [the] sword? . . . I am sure that neither death . . . nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:35, 38-39).

From this it follows that we are not separated from our loved ones in purgatory. We are still united to them by grace. Consequently, our relationship with them can continue. We don’t have to wait until they get to heaven. That provides a believer great consolation. That’s definitely not bad news.

Some Protestants say we’re blurring the real distinction between the visible (Christians on earth) and invisible (Christians in purgatory) dimensions of the one body of Christ. Just because there’s one body, so it’s argued, it doesn’t follow that our relationship with each dimension is the same.

It’s true that our relationship with our loved ones in purgatory is not the same as our relationship with them here on earth. But the relationship we have with them by grace is the same. In fact, it’s even better because they’re confirmed in grace without the possibility of falling from it. From this it follows that the relationship with them is secure, on condition that we stay in grace.

This relationship we have with them by grace is what allows us to continue expressing love toward them, even though it’s not the same kind of expressions of love as when they were on earth. We can’t hear or see them when we talk to them. We can’t give them a hug. But we can pray for them and will what’s good for them—namely, the removal of any impediments to entrance into heaven.

The relationship might not be the same. But it is a relationship nevertheless!

3. Purgatory consoles believers in knowing that the souls in purgatory can pray for us.
We have good reasons to think the souls in purgatory pray for us. The Catechism teaches, “Our prayer for them [souls in purgatory] is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective” (958).

One rationale for this is that the souls in purgatory are perfected in charity. Since charity involves not only love of God, but also love of neighbor, and love of neighbor is expressed in intercessory prayer, it seems reasonable to conclude that the souls in purgatory would express their love by interceding for us.

That our loved ones in purgatory are praying for us is a consoling thought. Their prayer for us, and our private request for their prayers, is one way by which we keep a relationship with them.

It’s good news to know we have friends who can’t waver in charity and are constantly praying for us. For St. James says, “The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects” (James 5:16).

4. Purgatory consoles believers in knowing that our prayers console our loved ones in purgatory.
The consolation that we can provide the holy souls in purgatory in turn brings us consolation. St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that love is “to wish good to someone,” “just as he wills good to himself.”

It follows from this definition of love that the good the souls in purgatory experience by having their impediments to heaven removed is experienced as our own good. That means that their consolation is our consolation; their source of joy is our source of joy. As the late Frank Sheed writes, “there is a special joy for the Catholic in praying for his dead, if only the feeling that there is still something he can do for people he loved upon earth.”

Love,
Matthew

Offer it up


-please click on the image for greater detail

Morning Offering

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day
for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world,
for the salvation of souls, the reparation of sins, the reunion of all Christians,
and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father this month.

Amen.


-by Br Finbar Kantor, OP

“Offer it up” is a phrase well-known to Catholics both young and old. It is a phrase that we often use to satirize stern teaching-sisters and good Catholic mothers alike. But, despite its worn familiarity, it is a phrase that has not yet lost its use! In Spe salvi Pope Benedict XVI said that “offering it up” is a way that “even the small inconveniences of daily life could acquire meaning and contribute to the economy of good and of human love” (Spe salvi, 40). Furthermore, he suggested that “maybe we should consider whether it might be judicious to revive this practice.” Especially during this month dedicated to the remembrance of the deceased, we can make an effort to offer up our suffering on behalf of those souls in Purgatory.

The reality of human suffering in a world ruled by “a God gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love and fidelity” (Exod 34:6) is a profound mystery. St. Thomas Aquinas writes that God’s allowance of suffering is part of God’s infinite goodness so that out of that suffering he can produce immense good (ST I, q. 2, a. 3). From blind beggars and sick servants to the crucifixion of Christ, the Gospel is filled with examples of Jesus transforming sickness and suffering into prosperity and joy. This transformation is also possible in our lives. When we realize that God permitting our suffering is a part of his goodness, we are able to sanctify it by “offering it up” to God.

When faced with suffering, we can do one of two things. We can reject that our pain has any meaning or purpose, or we can offer up our daily struggles. By offering it up, we accept our suffering and acknowledge that God can bring good out of it. Our suffering can open the door to our sanctification. When we offer up these moments, we hand them over to God, and he transforms them into acts of love. “Offering it up” can be as simple as praying:

Dear Lord, I offer you my suffering today

For the conversion of sinners,

For the forgiveness of sins, and

For the salvation of souls. Amen.

All suffering, from mild discomfort to profound miseries, can be offered to God. By accepting our suffering, we take up our crosses, where “Christ’s sufferings overflow to us” (2 Cor 1:5). By handing over our suffering to Christ, we join ourselves to the suffering he endured for us, “sharing of His sufferings by being conformed to His death” (Phil 3:10). It is by joining ourselves to Christ’s suffering that we can make expiation for our own sins and more perfectly conform ourselves to God’s will.

In addition to being sanctified ourselves, we can offer our suffering for the sanctification of others—especially for those in Purgatory. The souls in Purgatory cannot help themselves; they rely on our prayers for relief. (ST II-II, q. 83, a. 11) We can and should always pray for them. By turning to prayer during moments of suffering, joining ourselves to Christ’s cross, and offering our sufferings for the souls in Purgatory, we can say with St. Paul, “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church” (Col 1:24).”

Love,
Matthew

Explaining Purgatory



Saint Lawrence Liberates Souls from Purgatory, Lorenzo di Niccolò, ca. 1412, Tempera and tooled gold on poplar panel, 13 5/16 x 26 5/8 in. (33.8 x 67.6 cm)Frame: 16 x 26 5/8 in. (40.6 x 67.6 cm), Brooklyn Museum, please click on the image for greater detail

-lighter tone


-by Karlo Broussard

“When it comes to the most misunderstood doctrines of the Catholic Church, purgatory probably ranks at the top. Often, these misunderstandings are manifested in what everyday folks say about purgatory.

Let’s consider some of these catchphrases here.

“If I don’t get a chance to turn my life around for the Lord here on earth, I’ll just do it when I’m in purgatory.”

This saying exposes perhaps the greatest myth about purgatory: that it’s a second chance for salvation. At least for the Catholic Church, purgatory is only for those who, in the words of the Catechism (CCC), “die in God’s grace and friendship” (1030). The Catechism goes on to affirm that such people are “assured of their eternal salvation.”

The Bible supports this view of purgatory. Consider, for example, Hebrews 9:27: “It is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment.” Jesus’s parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 confirms the idea that the judgment immediately following death (the particular judgment—CCC 1022) secures one’s eternal destiny.

We’re told that Lazarus died and then “was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom” (v.22). After the rich man’s death, he found himself “in Hades, being in torment” (v.23). That their destinies were secure is indicated what Abraham tells the rich man, “Between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us’” (v.26).

Since the Bible reveals that a soul’s ultimate destiny is secure immediately after death, whether heaven or hell, it follows that the ultimate destiny of every soul in purgatory is secure. And since the Catholic Church teaches that the destiny of every soul in purgatory is heaven (they died in God’s grace and friendship), it follows that every soul in purgatory is secure with respect to his salvation. Purgatory, therefore, is not a place for second chances.

“There’s no point praying for souls in purgatory because they’re all going to heaven anyway.”

Although it’s true that the souls in purgatory will eventually enter heaven, that doesn’t mean there’s no point in praying for them. There are several reasons why we should pray for the faithful departed.

First, it expresses love for them. St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that love is “to wish good to someone” (Summa Theologiae I-II:26:4). The possession of God in the beatific vision, which is temporally delayed for the holy souls, is the greatest good for the souls in purgatory (it’s the greatest good for us all). As such, anything we do to help them achieve that good, like praying for them, is an expression of our love.

This expression of love for the holy souls in turn brings us consolation, which makes for a second reason to pray for them.

Aquinas teaches that love is not only “to wish good to someone,” but also to wish it “just as he wills good to himself” (ST I-II:28:1). It follows from this definition of love that the good the souls in purgatory experience by having their impediments to heaven removed is experienced as our own good. That means that their consolation is our consolation; their source of joy is our source of joy. As the late Frank Sheed writes, “there is a special joy for the Catholic in praying for his dead, if only the feeling that there is still something he can do for people he loved upon earth.”

A third reason to pray for the holy souls is that our prayer for them makes their prayer for us more effective. The Catechism teaches, “Our prayer for them [souls in purgatory] is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective” (958).

The rationale here is that the holier a person is (the less sin or remnants of sin a person has), the more effective his prayers are. St. James writes, “The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects” (James 5:16). Since the souls in purgatory are made holier (more righteous) as we pray for them, it follows that as we pray for them, their prayers for us become more effective.

“We’re not good enough for heaven, so we should content ourselves to hope for purgatory.”

This statement assumes that no one can bypass purgatory. But that’s not true, according to Catholic teaching. In paragraph 1472, the Catechism teaches, “A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain.”

The rationale behind this is that when a soul turns to God in conversion, the detestation of sin and love of God can create a sorrow for sin so intense that it suffices as the pain due the soul for the pleasure taken in the sin, thus discharging any remaining debt of temporal punishment. Also, love for God could be so intense that it suffices to purify the soul of any unhealthy attachments to created goods and remit any guilt of venial sin.

Being content to hope for purgatory is not a proper Catholic perspective. Purgatory is not our final destination; heaven is. As such, Christians should strive to attain that degree of holiness such that upon death, we can immediately enter heaven. Like St. Paul, we should desire to be “away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8).

True Christian hope doesn’t entail a desire to be delayed in attaining our ultimate goal. It entails the desire to attain it without delay. So every Christian should desire to bypass purgatory. It’s that desire that inspires us to order our lives more and more toward union with God in heaven. This is the way of holiness. Sirach 7:36 says, “In all you do, remember the end of your life, and then you will never sin.”

“Purgatory’s not that bad.”

It’s true that it might not be that bad for all. It’s also true that purgatory consists of great joys—joys that far exceed what we can experience in this life. The Italian mystic St. Catherine of Genoa writes, “I believe no happiness can be found worthy to be compared with that of a soul in purgatory except that of the saints in paradise.”

However, the purgatorial visions of a fourteenth-century saint, St. Bridget of Sweden (as well as others), suggest that purgatory can be an intense experience of suffering, at least for some. These visions are recorded in Book 6 of her revelations.

Bridget records how she was transported to purgatory. There she saw a highborn woman who had lived a life of luxury and vanities of the world.

“Happily,” she told Bridget, “before death I confessed my sins in such dispositions as to escape hell, but now I suffer here to expiate the worldly life that my mother did not prevent me from leading.”

The soul continued with a sigh, “Alas! This head, which loved to be adorned, and which sought to draw the attention of others, is now devoured with flames within and without, and these flames are so violent that every moment it seems to me that I must die.”

The soul went on:

These shoulders, these arms, which I loved to see admired, are cruelly bound in chains of red-hot iron. These feet, formerly trained for the dance, are now surrounded with vipers that tear them with their fangs and soil them with their filthy slime; all these members which I have adorned with jewels, flowers, and divers other ornaments, are now a prey to the most horrible torture.

All the same, the soul rejoiced in God’s mercy for not damning her.

Such torments for worldly vanities ought to give us reason to re-think our attachments to worldly goods, especially physical beauty.

It also gives us reason to take purgatory seriously—not as a place to give seeking salvation another go, or the only place we can expect to get to, or a place where our departed loved ones don’t need us anymore . . . but a realm of purification, given to us by a merciful God who exhausts every avenue to see us happy with him in heaven.”

Love, pray for the holy souls in Purgatory,
Matthew

Praying for holy souls in Purgatory


-Mary, Mother of Poor Souls in Purgatory

“Why should we pray for the souls in purgatory if we know they’ll go to heaven?

This question was posed at a recent Theology on Tap event. We know that God holds His children dear to Him, and that if people choose Him, they will eventually enter into heaven. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (CCC 1030).

Purgatory is not a punishment but a response to what we need after death. In heaven, we will experience the fullness of God’s glory and majesty, but if we remain imperfect when we die, we cannot yet experience that glory. Purgatory is the process by which souls are prepared to receive the full gift of life with God in heaven. However, as I heard pointed out at Theology on Tap, if these souls are being prepared for heaven, why bother praying for them?

It is important to instead ask ourselves another question: “If we don’t pray for them, who will?” The souls in purgatory cannot pray for themselves. They rely completely on the sacrifices and prayers of others. Yet, even though they desperately need us, we tend to forget about them. Occasionally, when praying the Rosary, we may toss in the intention, “For the souls in purgatory,” but other than that rare occasion, when do offer prayers for them? God uses our prayers and sacrifices to purify these souls, so we need to step up and remember them daily.

We need to remember that the souls in purgatory are not some distant group, unrelated to ourselves. Instead, the souls being purified in purgatory are connected to us. We are all part of the Body of Christ, and we are all members of the Communion of Saints. The souls in purgatory are our brothers and sisters in Christ; they are our deceased relatives, friends, classmates, and neighbors, as well as those we have never met. Since they can no longer act on earth and have not yet entered the Beatific Vision, they are dependent on us to pray for them. They are helpless without our prayers. Baptized in Christ, we are a family of love—so we should pray for the souls of the deceased often.

On All Souls’ Day in 2014, Pope Francis said the following in his Angelus address: “Church tradition has always urged prayer for the dead, in particular by offering the celebration of the Eucharist for them: it is the best spiritual help we can give to their souls, particularly to the most abandoned ones. The foundation of prayers in suffrage of souls is in the communion of the Mystical Body.”

There are so many ways to pray for the souls in purgatory. We can add them to our list of prayer intentions for our daily prayers, we can have Masses said, and we can offer sacrifices for them. We can pray the Prayer of St. Gertrude or the Requiem Aeternam. We can visit cemeteries from November 1–8 and gain partial or plenary indulgences for the souls in purgatory. These souls need our prayers; will we help them?

As St. John Chrysostom once said in a homily, “Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.”

Love, all you holy souls in Purgatory,
Matthew

Holy kleptomaniacs, thieves of Purgatory

Madrid, Spain – Eucharist and the souls in purgatory. Painting in Iglesia catedral de las fuerzas armada de Espana


-by Br Raphael Arteago, OP

“Every November, Holy Mother Church urges her members to become devout kleptomaniacs. Holy kleptomania may seem like an odd virtue to promote, but I would like to suggest that applying this concept with regards to the holy souls in purgatory can be a fruitful way to grow in friendship with our departed brothers and sisters.

Souls in purgatory are in such a state that they can, in a sense, be stolen for heaven. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, “death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting divine grace manifested in Christ.” What is more, souls who die in “God’s grace and friendship,” yet are still “imperfectly purified,” can be forgiven in “an age to come” (CCC 1030–1031), namely in a state of purification before entering the blessedness of heaven (Matt 12:31).

It is by the recommendation of Holy Scripture that the Church prays for these souls. Judas Maccabeus “made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin” (2 Macc 12:46), and the author of Revelation notes that “nothing unclean shall enter” the Kingdom of Heaven “but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev 21:27). Yet it is not only Scripture that extends this solemn responsibility to the Church, since the early fathers of the Church do so as well. Speaking about the dead, Saint John Chrysostom says, “let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation?” God uses our prayers and sacrifices offered in union with Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross to bring about some of the deepest designs of his heart, namely the salvation of souls and the renewal of his creation in Christ, the Eternal Word of the Father.

The great saints of the Church have heeded this call in a variety of ways, yet one example in the life of Saint Juan Macias highlights the sacred responsibility that the living members of the Church have in praying for the dead. Saint Juan Macias, a cooperator brother of the Order of Preachers who lived in Lima, Peru, during the sixteenth century, loved the rosary and had a special devotion of praying for the Holy Souls in purgatory. Such was his love for the rosary and the Holy Souls that he was described as the “thief of purgatory.”

Saint Juan Macias, in his response to the dual commandment of charity to love God and neighbor above all else, became a holy kleptomaniac for souls, as he zealously stole them from the purifying fires of purgatory and delivered them unto the blessed light of heaven. The charity which God inflamed in the heart of St. Juan Macias was one that recognized the profound importance of prayer within the providence of God.

Becoming a holy kleptomaniac, like St. Juan Macias, stretches the heart in mercy to those Holy Souls who long to behold their beloved Creator and Redeemer. It is a sacred and heroic task fueled by God’s grace that when done with devotion and love merits stolen treasures worth far more than any thief deserves.”

Pray for me when I am in Purgatory, I beg you.

Love,
Matthew

Between heaven & earth

“Some Protestants pose a general scriptural objection to Catholic teaching on purgatory: that the doctrine of purgatory contradicts the Bible’s teaching on the immediacy of heaven after death. There are three passages that Protestants commonly appeal to:

  • Luke 23:43—Jesus promises the good thief on the cross to be with him in Paradise on that day.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:6-8—“While we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord . . . we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”
  • Philippians 1:23—“I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.”

Protestants who make this argument see each passage teaching that a believer enters heaven immediately after death. This doesn’t leave any room for an intermediate state like purgatory.

What can we say in response?

Let’s first take Luke 23:43, the passage about the good thief on the cross. After the good thief asks Jesus to remember him when he enters into his kingdom, Jesus says in response, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Protestants who appeal to this passage argue that if heaven is given to the good thief on that day, then there’s no need for any sort of final purification.

The first thing we can say in response is that the challenge assumes that “paradise” is heaven. But that is not necessarily true. “Paradise” (Greek, paradeisos) could be referring to the “dwelling place of the righteous dead in a state of blessedness,” which at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion wasn’t heaven because Jesus had not yet ascended (CCC 661, 1023). And this probably is how the good thief would have understood it, given that he wasn’t aware of any revelation concerning the Christian concept of the beatific vision.

Such a place was instead the “prison” to which Jesus went after his death in order to preach to the spirits held there (1 Pet. 3:19; cf. CCC 633). So on that day, Jesus may have been promising to be with the good thief in the abode of the dead, not heaven. In that case, this verse does not rule out the good thief ’s (or anyone else’s) need for final purification before entrance into heaven.

Even if we say for argument’s sake that Jesus was talking about heaven when he spoke of “paradise,” and the good thief was going to receive heaven on that day without a final purification, it wouldn’t disprove the existence of purgatory. The Church teaches that it’s possible someone can have such a fervent degree of charity at death that it’s sufficient to remit all guilt of venial sin and satisfy the temporal punishment due for his sin and thus bypass purgatory (CCC 1022, 1472). The good thief may have been one of those people.

Moreover, the good thief was suffering on a cross for his crime. He was being justly punished for his crime and voluntarily embracing it as such: “We are receiving the due reward of our deeds” (v.41). The good thief’s suffering, therefore, could have been sufficient to free him from the temporal punishment due for his sins. And since Jesus’ promise to be with him in “paradise” implies that his sins were forgiven, it’s possible the good thief didn’t have to experience any postmortem purification.

This challenge assumes, grammatically, that “today” refers to the time when the good thief will be with Jesus in paradise. This is due to the punctuation in the English translation: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” But there are no punctuation marks in the original Greek. So the passage could be read as, “Truly, I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise.” On this reading, “today” refers not to when the good thief will be with Jesus in paradise, but to when Jesus tells the good thief that he will be with him in paradise.

Let’s now consider the objection from 2 Corinthians 5:6-8. Paul writes, “While we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord . . . we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”

Some Protestants argue that since the Bible says that for a Christian to be “away from the body” is to be “at home with the Lord,” there can’t be any intermediate state in the afterlife. Yet they fail to note that Paul doesn’t say “to be away from the body is to be at home with the Lord.” Paul simply says, “While we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord” and that “we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”

Protestants may reply that although Paul doesn’t exactly say what the challenge claims, that’s what he means. Are they right? Does the logic follow? Does the statement, “We would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” mean the same as, “To be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord”?

Suppose I’m at work and I’m wishing I could instead be away from work and at home. Can we conclude from this that if I’m away from work, I must be at home? Doesn’t seem like it. I could be away from work eating lunch at McDonald’s. I could be away from work on my way home but sitting in traffic. So it’s fallacious to conclude from this verse that once away from the body, a Christian must immediately be present with the Lord.

The third passage that some Protestants use to support the immediacy of heaven after death is Philippians 1:23. Paul writes, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.”

In response, it’s important that we first establish the context for what Paul is saying. He is expressing a conflict, for he writes, “I am hard pressed between the two” (v.23). What are the two things that he’s in conflict about?

He’s torn between living and serving Christ on earth and being with him in heaven. In verses 22-23, he writes, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two.”

Then in verses 24-25, he writes, “But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all.”

All Paul is saying, then, is that his desire to serve Christ on earth conflicts with his desire to be with him in heaven. Paul doesn’t say this union takes place immediately after death, nor does the context suggest that he intends to say this in some implicit way.

Our Protestant friend might object, “You’re just begging the question. Paul is saying that this union takes place immediately after death because he says, ‘I desire to depart and be united with Christ.’”

But the unity that the two concepts have (departure from this life and union with Christ) doesn’t mean they must be simultaneously concurrent in time.

Similar to what we saw above, there is a conceptual unity between “being away from work” and “being at home with my family.” But that doesn’t entail that both concepts are united in time, since I have to drive home, and on the way I may be impeded by errands, traffic, or a flat tire. So just because Paul desires to depart and be with Christ, that doesn’t mean departing this life must immediately be followed with being with Christ in heaven.

Trent Horn makes a great comparison to illustrate this point. Consider 2 Corinthians 5:2, where Paul writes concerning our glorified bodies, “Here indeed we groan, and long to put on our heavenly dwelling.”

If we were to follow the logic of the immediacy objection, we’d have to say that because Paul desires to die and have his glorified body, after death he immediately gets his glorified body. But we know from 1 Corinthians 15:52 that we will not get our glorified bodies until the future at the end of time, for Paul speaks of the “last trumpet” in verse 52.

So the fact that Paul desires to have his glorified body after death doesn’t mean that he will get it immediately after death. Similarly, just because Paul desires to depart and be united with Christ, it doesn’t follow that his union with Christ will be immediate.

Therefore, the appeal to passages where Paul expresses his desire to depart from the body and be present with Christ fails to undermine the Catholic belief in purgatory.”

Love,
Matthew

Prayers for Priests in Purgatory

“All who die in God’s grace, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven (CCC 1030).”

“Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, pray for the souls of priests and religious brothers and sisters.”

“Eternal Father, we offer you the most Precious Blood of Jesus, for the souls of priests who in purgatory suffer the most and are the most abandoned.”

“Oh Lord Jesus Christ, Eternal Priest, Who during Your earthly life generously cared for every poor person who was afflicted and abandoned, I beg You, look with favor on the souls of priests in purgatory who suffer most atrociously and who are abandoned and forgotten by everyone. Look at how these Holy Souls, tormented by the voracity of the flames and with an agonizing voice plead for pity and help.

Oh most merciful heart of Jesus, Who in the Garden of Olives, in the midst of bitter solitude, victim of most cruel spiritual torments and bloody agony, begged: “Father, if it is possible take this chalice away from Me! Yet let not Mine, but Your will be done.” By this, Your submission and painful passion and agony, I beg you to have pity on the Holy Souls for whom I am praying to You and to relieve their suffering and to console them in the midst of their abandonment, as Your Celestial Father consoled You by sending you an angel. Amen.

Our Lady of Suffrage, Mother of Mercy, we favorably invoke you for our own sake and for the sake of the souls in purgatory. I would like to escape from that tremendous prison, by living a just life, avoiding sin, and doing everything with the fervor of a holy soul. But what can I do, without the help of heaven?

Dear Mother, cast your glance upon me and obtain for me the grace that the last day of my mortal life may be the first day that I will begin to enjoy the glories of heaven. Hope and Mother of the afflicted, run to the aid of those in purgatory. Be merciful towards my relatives, my friends, my benefactors, the souls who love Jesus and who love you and toward the abandoned souls.

Oh Mary, by the Cross on which Jesus died, by the Most Precious Blood with which He redeemed us, by the chalice which every day is offered up to the Eternal Father during the Mass, obtain grace and liberation for all of the souls in purgatory. Listen to the sighs of your sons & daughters in purgatory and opening the doors of this painful prison, let them all ascend into Heaven with you today. Amen.

– Our Lady of Suffrage, pray for us and the souls in purgatory. Eternal Rest grant unto them, oh Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them. Amen.”

“I will first, dearest daughter, speak to thee of the dignity of priests, having placed them where they are through My goodness, over and above the general love which I have had to My creatures, creating you in My image and likeness and re-creating you all to the life of grace in the Blood of My Only-begotten Son, whence you have arrived at such excellence, through the union which I made of My Deity with human nature; so that in this you have greater dignity and excellence than the angels, for I took your human nature and not that of the angels. Wherefore, as I have said to you, I, God, have become man, and man has become God by the union of My Divine Nature with your human nature. This greatness is given in general to all rational creatures, but, among these I have especially chosen My ministers for the sake of your salvation, so that, through them, the Blood of the humble and immaculate Lamb, My Only-begotten Son, may be administered to you.”
—St. Catherine Of Siena

Love & prayers for our professed and ordained, certainly God will grant the grace you seek to do His will on earth,
Matthew

Nov 2 – All Souls, Church Suffering, Church Penitent, Church Expectant


-painting in Mexico City Cathedral of the holy souls being purified of every attachment to sin in the fire of Purgatory.  Please click on the image for greater detail.

Church Suffering, Penitent, Expecting

“Jesus, remember me when you come into Your Kingdom!” -Lk 23:42

“Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of Himself. As gold in the furnace, He proved them, and as sacrificial offerings, He took them to Himself.” -Wisdom 3:5-6

“On this day is observed the commemoration of the faithful departed, in which our common and pious Mother the Church, immediately after having endeavored to celebrate by worthy praise all her children who already rejoice in heaven, strives to aid by her powerful intercession with Christ, her Lord and Spouse, all those who still groan in purgatory, so that they may join as soon as possible the inhabitants of the heavenly city.” —Roman Martyrology

“…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, allowing us to become truly ourselves. All that we build during our lives can prove to be mere straw … and it collapses. Yet in the pain of this encounter, when the impurity and sickness of our lives become evident to us, there lies salvation. His gaze, the touch of His heart heals us through an undeniably painful transformation ‘as through fire.’ But it is a blessed pain, in which the holy power of His love sears through us like a flame, enabling us to become totally ourselves and thus totally of God.”
-Pope Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, Encyclical Letter, November 30, 2007, par. 47; http://www.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20071130_spe-salvi.html


-by Br Charles Marie Rooney, OP

“It is no accident that each year, All Souls Day follows on the coattails of All Saints Day. In fact, if we look closely, we behold in their sequence a revelation of the Mystical Body of Christ and the place of our life and death within it.

Yesterday, we acclaimed the deceased who persevered in grace and now sing divine praises in a heavenly key. We especially heralded the hidden heroes—the innumerable “little” or “medium” saints known only to their family members, parishioners, religious brothers, etc.—and likewise the “big” saints whose time of earthly veneration has alas receded. (After all, there are too many “big” saints for even a calendar year to hold.) And so we beseech their aid—the aid of all of them, the whole “Church Triumphant”—that we, too, might join their ranks in glory and song.

Today, by contrast, it is our aid that is beseeched, and so we pray. We pray for those deceased who have need of prayer but cannot pray for themselves—whose wills, fixed by the separation of body and soul at death, entered eternal life rightly ordered toward God but not without earthly attachments, spiritual barnacles still unscraped by the agent of grace. Thus they endure purgation, for which they are named the “Church Suffering.”

We, the “Church Militant,” bear a unique charge in their regard. Since God has a penchant for deploying instruments, He deigns to use us, the woefully imperfect, to be the means of perfecting post mortem those judged worthy of eternal perfection. Indeed, He asks us to be the means for all of them, i.e. not solely those deceased loved ones whose anniversaries we already celebrate and whose names remain in our daily intentions.

Thus appears the nexus of life, death, and salvation. Death, it is said, is the great equalizer, the one fate all men must face, and in its face, our “condition is most shrouded in doubt” (GS 18). About the details of death and life hereafter, we have the certainty of faith but not the clarity of vision. We do not yet see with our eyes nor fully understand with our minds the realities that we know by grace. And so at death—whether our own or that of a loved one—the truth claims we’ve made all our lives long about God and the meaning of reality rush to the fore with a towering urgency, demanding that we live them to the end in their fullness.

On this side of our personal eschaton, there is need for a genuine ars moriendi—an art of dying, through which we ourselves are sealed by the grace of final perseverance. For those already on the other side, there is need for constant prayer on their behalf: our loved ones and all the suffering are best served not by sentimental memorialization but by the holy and pious works of [making] atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin (2 Macc 12:45).

Like complements, All Saints Day and All Souls Day, along with the entirety of November—the month of the Holy Souls—spur this confrontation with death, for which we must always keep watch and be ready (Matt 24:42, 44). Indeed, the Christian stands uniquely prepared for death because he has in a real way already died in Christ. Saint Paul is crystal clear: You were buried with [Christ] in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses … nailing [them] to the cross (Col 2:12–14).

Steeped in sanctifying grace, we actually possess heaven now, and yet we await the full reception of our inheritance in glory (see Gal 4:1–7, Rom 6:5–11, Rom 8, Eph 1:3–14, 2 Tim 2:11). Moreover, this same sanctifying grace, flowing from the headship of Christ, unites the Church—Militant, Suffering, and Triumphant—into one Mystical Body spanning space and time, heaven and earth. Life on earth is thereby rendered an arduous pilgrimage in grace, through which our fleshly bodies—good but afflicted with concupiscence—are animated by our resurrected souls—redeemed but in constant need of divine aid—unto their separation at death, after which they await reunion in bodily resurrection at the end of time. En route, we draw into the Way as many as we can, and we intercede for those who trod before us in grace but still await entry among the Triumphant.

This interplay between November 1 and November 2, between All Saints Day and All Souls Day, sums up the dynamics of salvation. Only in virtue of the astounding love of God can we the Church Militant stand confident before death—before our own and those of all the Church Suffering—and rejoice with the Church Triumphant: O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through Our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:55, 57).”

Love, Joy & Hope that is Him,
Matthew

Sufferings of Purgatory lead to Joy!!!

[Ed. our sufferings in this life are part of our purgation.  What is not finished here, is resolved in the next.  There is a guilt & a temporal punishment incurred through sin.  Absolution absolves us from the guilt of our offense against God.  Yet, there is still the temporal penalty to pay in penance, in this life or the next.  Nothing unholy may enter before His presence.  His unspeakable divinity consuming obliterates it.  Our purgation in this life also adds to the Treasury of Merit to benefit the whole Church.]

“Among those throughout the history of the Church who have written and spoken about purgatory, many have emphasized the sorrows or pains.

They have done so rightly, since the sufferings of purgatory are real.

However, I think it’s safe to say some have over-emphasized the pains of purgatory, such that many have lost sight of its joys. It’s important that we find a happy medium.

St. Francis de Sales taught, “If purgatory is a species of hell as regards suffering, it is a species of paradise as regards charity. The charity which quickens those holy souls is stronger than death, more powerful than hell.”

His mention of charity being a species of heaven is noteworthy. As for his view that purgatory is a “species of hell,” we will see later that the Magisterium today does not articulate the sufferings of purgatory in this way. In fact, the Catechism teaches that the “final purification of the elect” in purgatory is “entirely different from the punishment of the damned”.

The Italian mystic St. Catherine of Genoa writes, “I believe no happiness can be found worthy to be compared with that of a soul in purgatory except that of the saints in paradise.”

Let’s now turn to that sweet joy of purgatory and see what might give a suffering soul reason to say with Paul, “I rejoice in my sufferings” (Col. 1:24).

A Keen Awareness of God’s Love for Us

The first thing we can say is that in purgatory, we become ever more aware of God’s love for us. Just as a thing is blocked from the forever shining rays of the sun due to it being covered, and the more the cover is removed, the more a thing is exposed to the sun’s rays, so too the souls in purgatory are more and more exposed to the divine love as impediments to entrance into heaven are removed through purification.

Catherine of Genoa explains it this way: “Day by day this happiness grows as God flows into these souls, more and more as the hindrance to his entrance is consumed.” With this influx of God’s presence within the soul, there comes a growing awareness of God’s love for the soul.

A Keen Appreciation for God’s “Order of Justice”

Another cause for great joy is the keen awareness and appreciation of God’s “order of justice”(God’s plan for human behavior as it relates to us as human beings and as it relates to him as our ultimate end). On this side of the veil, we don’t perceive just how wise and good God’s order of justice is, so we might perceive punishment for disrupting that order as unfair or unjust.

But in purgatory, we will have already received our judgment according to what we did in the body, whether good or evil (cf. 2 Cor. 5:10). From that judgment, we will see the perfect justice in the debt of temporal punishment due for our sins.

St. Catherine explains, “So intimate with God are the souls in purgatory and so changed to his will, that in all things they are content with his most holy ordinance.”There is no room for resentment of God’s order of justice in a soul that is confirmed in God’s love.

Moreover, the holy souls realize that their purgatorial pains are a manifestation of God’s order of justice. And since they love God, they desire the glory of that order to be upheld and manifest. This is why they willingly submit to such purgatorial pains for the discharge of the debt of temporal punishment.

An Intense Love for God and Neighbor

A third cause for joy is the intense love the suffering souls have for God and neighbor. Joy and love go hand in hand. For example, right after listing love as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22, St. Paul lists “joy” and “peace.”

The Catechism lists joy as a fruit of charity itself (1829).

Joy is often defined as “the pleasure taken in a good possessed.”God is the ultimate good. Whoever loves God possesses him in some measure. The souls in purgatory are confirmed in their love for God. Therefore, they possess God in some measure, even though they won’t fully possess him until they enter the beatific vision. This possession of their ultimate good, God, although imperfect, is a source of joy.

Assurance of Receiving the Final Reward of Heaven

In this life, there exists the possibility to turn away from God as our life’s goal and thus lose our inheritance of heaven. St. Paul thought it was possible for him to become “disqualified” from receiving the crown of eternal life, causing him to “pummel” his body and “subdue it” (1 Cor. 9:27).

This is why he reminds the Romans, “Continue in [God’s] kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off” (Rom. 11:22). And the Corinthians, “Let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). And the Philippians, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).

Such worries are no longer present in purgatory. All the souls there are confirmed in charity and are assured of receiving their final reward in the beatific vision.

This perhaps is the greatest of joys for the souls in purgatory, what Fr. Jugie calls the “gift of gifts.”There is tremendous peace and joy in knowing that you no longer have to fight to overcome sin and worry about losing the ultimate good that we long to fully possess: God.

To use another metaphor, a soul in purgatory stands in the vestibule of the house of the Lord, the heavenly temple, saying with the Psalmist, “I rejoiced in the things that were said to me: we shall enter into the house of the Lord” (Ps. 121:1). This assurance gives new meaning to Paul’s words, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say it—Rejoice, for the Lord is nigh” (Phil. 4:4-5). The full measure of the Lord’s presence is truly near for the holy souls in purgatory, and that is indeed a source of joy.”

ALL is JOY, whatever it is that leads to Him!!!
Love & Joy,
Matthew

The Joyful Truth of Purgatory Mt 5:48

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
-Mt 5:48

“A Joyful Truth

Purgatory Provides Consolation for Believers

Some Protestants criticize the doctrine of purgatory by saying it’s “bad news” in contrast to the “good news” of salvation revealed in the Bible. But nothing could be farther from the truth. The Catholic doctrine of purgatory is indeed good news.

Purgatory consoles believers who struggle with sin.

We’re all too familiar with our own weaknesses. Who in the world goes throughout the day without turning to a creaturely good in some inordinate way?

Perhaps it’s binging of Netflix, mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, texting when someone is trying to have a conversation with you, using clock hours on the job to browse the internet for non-work-related stuff, a snappy comment to your co-worker, friend, or spouse, a brief indulgence of an uncharitable thought, a failure to promptly meet the needs of your spouse or friend when able. The list goes on and on.

It would be pretty darn hard to go through a day without falling short of Christian perfection in some way, at least for us ordinary folks. Such a task would be heroic. Heroes are rare!

Now think about the fact that death can surprise us at any moment. Jesus says, “The Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matt. 24:44). Elsewhere, he says, “Remember then what you received and heard; keep that, and repent. If you will not awake, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you” (Rev. 3:3).

If death can come upon us so quickly, and we’re as spiritually ill adjusted as we are, it would seem there’s no hope for us entering into the glory of heaven. We might not die with our wills turned fully away from God as our life’s goal, but the guilt of venial sin and the effects of sin would impede us from entering such glory. Despair of final salvation would be inevitable—that is, if purgatory weren’t real.

Purgatory remedies that despair and infuses joy within the soul. It allows believers who love Jesus but continue to struggle with sin in their lives to know that their shortcomings against Christian perfection are not enough to guarantee keeping them from the glory of heaven. What’s so bad about that?

Consolation for us and our loved ones…

Purgatory consoles believers in knowing how much God loves them.
Purgatory also consoles us in that it manifests God’s love for us.

God loves us so much that he does everything he can to make it possible for us to be united with him, including providing us a postmortem opportunity to be freed from venial sin and any remnants of sin that impede us from entrance into heaven.

Isn’t God’s love for us part of the Gospel’s “good news”? Sure, it is!

Purgatory is a doctrine that manifests such love to us. Therefore, purgatory is good news.

Those who have gone before us in Faith…

Purgatory consoles believers concerning loved ones who die without the perfect holiness required for heaven.
Everything we said above with regard to our weaknesses and struggles with sin also applies to those we love. So purgatory consoles us not just with regard to our own entrance into heaven, but also with regard to our loved ones.

Purgatory gives us the assurance that even though our loved ones die without the perfect holiness required for heaven, we know they’re not forever excluded from there.

The late Marian scholar Fr. Martin Jugie puts it beautifully:

“They who mournfully follow the coffin, are consoled with thoughts of the mercy of God; of the expiation of venial sin and the cleansing of the wounds, left by mortal sin, after death; of extenuating circumstances which may have rendered certain sins venial for the dear deceased one. The anguished heart, torn with dread about the fate of the loved one, clings to this last hope, and there finds solace and some peace.”

That’s good news!”

Love, pray for me,
Matthew