on Death and Purgatory

As the reader will note I lost my father-in-law on last Tuesday. It was not a great shock, he had been in and out of hispital for a long time. There comes a time I thing when God says you have lived the alloted time I gave you, so now you must leave.

This article is not about my father-in-law directly, but his death gave me a topic for for my Confirmation class to ponder. Currently, much of the CCD classes are instructed by books recommended from the diocese. In my parish I teach the final two classroom years of CCD to the Confirmation students, one year I have a prepared curriculim and the second I take completely from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as was done to me in school by Sisters and Priests.

Sunday, the day after I attended the funeral service I returned to my class. What I said I hope enlightened them but what was said to me opened my eyes as well to the mind set which pervades todays MTV youth. That is what is OK for me is OK for me and what is OK for you is OK for you. In other words, truth is what is say it is. What a pernicious view of life.

I explained that my father-in-law was not a Catholic. No one in the family was Catholic. In fact it came as a shock when his only daughter married a Catholic and then converted to Catholicism. He never questioned it, and he never questioned me about my Faith. So it should come as no suprise when I say we doubly mourn, one for his death and two for his soul. When a person dies who is not in the faith we can not ben sure of their final destination. We can only pray that God will in His mercy, show mercy.

I spoke to my class and doing so, I realized that the concept (which is common even by adults who should know better)is when you die you go to Heaven if you have been good. Oh, yes there is that purgatory thing, but, well we all go to Heaven. Unfortunately God is the judge, and just being good may not be just being good to God.

One girl, whose father (and a very good and loving father)is a Baptist asked what if the person doesn't believe in purgatory? I realized where the question came from. I had to respond truthfully that just because a person doesnt believe in purgatory doesn't mean they won't go. Purgatory exists. It has been a teaching since the beginning of the church. The pity is that there are so many non-Catholics who may be in purgatory because those on earth don't believe so therefore aren't praying for their souls.

There are many in our Faith who also don't believe in Purgatory and therefore don't pray for their loved ones. How often do we as the Church militant forget those who have gone before us and don't offer up Masses for their soul? How many times do we go to a Mass for the dead and the Priest is in White? Why is that? Out of sight is out of mind. We must always keep in mind those who are of our faith and those who are not in our faith. We must never give up in our attempts to show that person our Love of Christ which should fill our soul to the point of bursting. We must never retreat from trying to bring that person to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. We must never give up our prayer life, or our prayers for those in Purgatory.

Prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

O Lord, who art ever merciful and bounteous with Thy gifts, look down upon the suffering souls in purgatory. Remember not their offenses and negligences, but be mindful of Thy loving mercy, which is from all eternity. Cleanse them of their sins and fulfill their ardent desires that they may be made worthy to behold Thee face to face in Thy glory. May they soon be united with Thee and hear those blessed words which will call them to their heavenly home: "Come, blessed of My Father, take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Amen.

Sacred Heart of Jesus pray for us.
de Brantigny


Anonymous said...

It is pity, my friend, that even so many Catholics make little of the reality which is Purgatory.

Late in life (well, I'm 44, but I really don't believe I am to be long in this world), it has been revealed to me as to what my primary apostolate is to be: to aid the Holy Souls, so abused, neglected and forgotten.

I have made the "heroic act of charity" (giving ALL of the indulgences acquired to the Poor Souls), knowing full well that what I might lose in 'savings', as it were, will surely be recompensed by charitable associations when I am myself in need.
I am poor, and these are the only things I can give to others - so I want to give them all away!

I am mindful daily of those souls who have no one to pray for them - either those Catholics who simply are not prayed for in these dark days; or that very, VERY small group of souls who have been saved by a miracle of grace by means of 'baptism of desire' (a truly EXTRAORDINARY means of salvation, not given out pell mell as the neo-Cath apologists with Protestant DNA like Jimmy Akin and his set would have us think), so I shall keep your father-in-law in mind.

St. Thomas says that the spiritual works of mercy are superior to the corporal, and that of these, prayers and sacrifices for the repose of the departed (which are so UTTERLY helpless) are the greatest.

Besides, it's a win/win situation, as even if the one you pray for is lost, in the Divine economy, your prayers and sacrifices will be supplied to another in like need, and whom one will meet in Heaven some day with joy and the exchange of "an holy kiss" in peace and gratitude.

May God bless and keep you and yours,


de Brantigny said...

Edward, Thank you. I shall take your letter to my class on Sunday.

If you are poor it is only in transitory things, and those things are worthless anyway.


Lily said...

This is an issue near and dear to my heart as my mother passed away in 2005, when I was teaching confirmation classes as well. My family (all cradle Catholics) believe my mother is in Heaven. Yet, my mother denied the validity of entire Sacraments. This is not to say she didn't remedy this situation, but I am not aware if she did. Regardless, she suffered a great deal, physically, for over a year prior to her death. This, in my extended family's estimation, qualifies her to go straight to heaven. I'm astounded by the presumption, and saw it in her funeral Mass, forwarded by the priest (who was wearing white). I was asked to choose the readings by my father, but then, because I chose readings about purgatory and the need to pray for the dead, was over ruled. Like you, I used the experiences to instruct my class, and I pray I did some good.

It saddens me greatly to witness the presumption so prevalent in the Catholics of today, I would pray that your work in the classroom makes a difference to those families. May God bless you and your work, and may God have mercy on the soul of your FIL. I will pray for him.

de Brantigny said...

This is a sad year for us, my father is also sick and has been in hospital for 3 months, sufffering from inoperable brain cancer. I went to Chicago to see him and my first mission was to insure that he received Anointing of the Sick and Viaticum. He has received communion every Sunday since.

In reality I think he is prepared, and my proof was the reception of the Sacrements and Viaticum, these two acts made my heart rejoice.

It is inmportant for us to remember that death comes to us all.

We should, continually forgive those who offend us. Ask forgiveness from those who we have offended. Ask forgiveness from God regularly at Confession. Frequent reception of the Eucharist, and spiritual and corporal acts of mercy.

Thanks for your letter.