Living in the Two Hearts

My Spiritual Insights and Musings

Purgatory, an Introduction…

Posted by Anne Elizabeth on April 29, 2009

As I indicated in a previous post, the next few posts will focus on purification from the perspective of Purgatory.  Rest assured, I’ve spoken already on the topic of purification when one prays the Rosary, so this is just an expansion of words already relayed.

My primary sources are: The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition, ©2000; The Holy Bible, Catholic Version, RSV (unless otherwise noted); and stories related in different situations between the years 2000 – 2005 – exact names and resources are unknown at this present time.

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To begin: a definition

Purgatory:

A state of final purification after death and before entrance into heaven for those who died in God’s friendship, but were only imperfectly purified; a final cleansing of human imperfection before one is able to enter the joy of heaven. ~ CCC Glossary

This purification happens mostly at the moment of passing from this life into the next and only if the deceased accept the Mercy of God and embrace His love – which can and does frequently happen.  But there is another purification that we can go through while we are on this earth.  It is commonly referred to as Purgatory on Earth, by those of us who have asked for it.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states,

…every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the “temporal punishment” of sin. (CCC§1472)

The understanding is, of course, that we desire to be with our God as soon as possible. The only way that will be possible is to not just free ourselves from sin, but also to have ourselves purified from the consequences of that sin. This is why the Solemnity of Divine Mercy Sunday is so important.  By “passing through the gate of [His] Mercy”, we are obtaining from Him the total forgiveness of our sins and from the punishment that accompanies those sins. The Catechism continues,

To understand this doctrine and practice of the Church, it is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence. Grave sin (cf CCC§1854-55, 62-63; 1458) deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the “eternal punishment” of sin… These two punishments (Venial and Grave) must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin. 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.” (CCC§1472)

We sin because of our fallen state – this is known as the Original Sin when the first creatures disobeyed the Creator.  We can’t help but sin, it is embedded in our very nature, but we can choose not to follow through with sin:

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. ~ 1Peter 6-7

In other words, we can turn to Christ at every temptation and have Him take on our burdens.  What did Jesus say to us?

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” ~ Mt 11: 28-30

At the hour of death, burdens are very heavy.  The dying person knows that they are leaving this world and entering another – even if they did not previously believe in a heaven or hell – just ask anyone who has had a near death experience.  They will tell you that they understood all things that had happened in their life – both the good and the bad – and they knew they where about to answer for them.Many also have related that they felt they weren’t ready yet.  If only they had some more time, they would make many changes and improve their lives.

Those who believe in God and in His Church – Sacraments and Traditions alike – also know that it is their souls that are not ready, not just their emotional self – at least I’d hope so…

I once heard the following on a Christian radio station, and even though the pastor relating the allegory was not Catholic, his understanding for the need for purification before entering heaven was right on!

Click here.

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