Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All Souls Day: Thoughts About Purgatory, Part Two

A Soul Being Taken To Heaven By The Holy Angels
The Consequences And Repercussions Of Our Human Actions
During This Life Must Be Taken Seriously
  • A person's status in Purgatory is a direct result of how one has lived.
  • Purgatory deals with the aftermath of one's life.
  • Purgatory does not create a new possibility or a second chance to rectify what did or did not happen in one's life.
  • Rather, Purgatory is a state in which our relationship with God is purified -- in the sense of spiritual maturation and intensification in communion with God and in the contemplation of God.
  • Purgatory is an intensification of our communion with God, until the communion is so perfect, we are fully in the vision of God. The Lord relentlessly desires to fulfill each individual in God's Life and Love. That fulfillment only comes in Heaven.
  • Purgatory is a healing and restoration, a preparation that solidifies us for that fulfillment.
  • Instead of referring to the many misleading popular descriptions which depict Purgatory as a semi-Hell, but the flames are turned down to low, we might try to reflect on Purgatory in the following way.
We human beings are created to be communal beings, we are all INTER-dependent, not alone and in-dependent. My actions and their repercussions affect me and others.

There are times when I can undo what my selfish and sinful actions have brought about in God's creation. But the REPERCUSSIONS must be dealt with, too. Dealing with them is part of my coming into full and perfect communion with God after death.

Purgatory is a privileged state in which I can be brought to the fullest communion possible with God -- a communion I failed to fully enter during earthly life.

About Pain And Suffering During The State Of Purgatory
The greatest "suffering" or "pain" of Purgatory is being so close to God yet separated from full communion with God; the pain is a pain of desire, of yearning, arising from my realization, more than ever before, how much God loves me and how much I yearn to love Him in return.

Yet, there is peace in Purgatory -- because I am certain of salvation and complete fulfillment in God's Love. Saint Catherine of Genoa, a great mystic, wrote that the "pain" of Purgatory is merely God's Love penetrating the person's soul to the degree the person had not allowed God to do so in earthly life. That penetration continues until the soul is "aflame" with the Life and Love of God.

And just as I had been an inter-dependent being in earthly life, linked to other people by Baptism's gift of God's Life and Love flowing through me and them, that stream of Life and Love permits that inter-dependence EVEN AFTER DEATH.

Therefore, prayers, personal sacrifices, personal penances, and Masses offered on behalf of the dead are effective, because of our mutual inter-connected-ness in Christ. By praying for the dead, we can help the dead -- because they cannot help themselves as they did while in earthly life.

Our prayers and good works here and now have beneficial repercussions for us, the living, not only in reminding us of the consequences of our personal choices and actions, but also in strengthening and intensifying the bonds of God's Life and Love given by the Holy Spirit Who links us all, living and deceased, in Christ. Our prayers and good works here and now have beneficial repercussions into the afterlife for those being healed and perfected in their communion of love with God.

Ultimately, it is God, the Source of Life, Who liberates the dead of the consequences they have created for others and themselves. That liberation is accomplished through an intensification and strengthening of communion in the stream of Love and Life flowing from God, through Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I'll close these thoughts with a quote from a fine book, Light Beyond Death, written by Father Luis M. Bermejo, SJ

(Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1986; originally published by Anand Press, Gujarat, Gamdi-Anand, India), pp.66-67. Fr. Bermejo quotes first from Ladislaus Boros, The Mystery Of Death (New York, 1965, p.134) and second from Yves Congar, "Le purgatoire" in Le Mystere De La Mort Et Sa Celebration (Paris, 1956; p.311)):
“The Purifying Maturation”
"...[The] reality of Purgatory, if well understood and stripped of all the utterly false, almost ridiculous forms in which it has been presented in the past, does make sense. Not only is Purgatory a purifying process, [the popular image of] Purgatory itself stands in need of 'purification.' Certain popular, medieval ways of presenting the doctrine are absolutely unworthy of God and totally deprived of any foundation, either scriptural or theological. A restrained use of images may prove moderately useful, but when unbridled imagination 'turns Purgatory into a gigantic torture chamber, a cosmic concentration camp in which hapless creatures are punished to an accompaniment of shrieks and groans, then we must affirm that it has overstepped the mark of what can be considered as legitimate and has fallen into grotesque ingenuineness at the very least.' The effort to capture the reality of Purgatory into a frozen image is therefore perfectly futile. As regards Purgatory, 'Christian iconography should be banned almost in its entirety.' ...[All] these popular images... do a positive disservice to Catholic doctrine and spirituality. …The reader may have the impression that the afterlife ... is a pretty individualistic affair, for in spite of the fact that we are all members of the same Christian family and even of the same human family, each and every one will confront God at death alone and will be judged by God in perfect isolation from the rest of the family. This may be true of certain aspects connected with death but it certainly does not hold true of that concrete facet of the afterlife we call Purgatory. For it is the whole Church that is marching forward in its pilgrim state towards the final goal of beatifying union with God and it is the entire Church that, through her prayer, assists the dying member in her/his final encounter with God. Probably no other aspect of the afterlife brings out more forcefully this mutual interlocking and reciprocal assistance all the members of the Church bring to each other than the doctrine of Purgatory. No Christian is condemned to take the final plunge alone, all are rather supported at that supreme moment by the intercessory prayer of the Church. Viewed in this light, Purgatory is not at all an isolated occurrence belonging exclusively to one person whose life has just faded away; it is rather a deeply communal experience, an ecclesial event that affects the entire body of the faithful.”

Men of The Catholic Jedi Academy are also Men Of Saint Joseph!

Men of The Catholic Jedi Academy are also Men Of Saint Joseph!
Take a moment and visit the MOSJ website.