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Be Imitators of Christ… purgatory concludes

Posted by Anne Elizabeth on May 6, 2009

Thus far we have talked about: What Purgatory is – a state of purification before entrance into heaven; what it means to Be Purified – cleansed of all our sins, dressed in the ‘robe of righteousness’ for the wedding feast; and how Our Prayers are powerful! – so are the prayers for us from those in the state of purification. Today I will address how those of us on earth can also be in a state of purification by becoming Imitators of Christ and asking Him to purify us before we make our final journey towards heaven.

Oh Holy Souls in Purgatory, pray for us!

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If someone decides to ask for their purification time to be while they are on earth, does that mean they’ll contract cancer or some other horribly painful disease?

ANSWER: No…unless that is the only way to purify you from your sins.  But the soul who asks for purification on earth will be given the strength to endure because their desire for purification and holiness is so great.

There are those exceptional souls, who, desiring entrance to the heavenly home at the very hour of their death, have asked for the Mercy of God to be showered upon them while they are serving His people on earth in their various vocations.  For these blessed souls, their purification can come in many different formats.

Some may receive extra burdens in their lives; others receive and bear great crosses (trials) with patience and fortitude keeping their eyes on Christ.  Still others experience isolation and persecution in the name of Jesus Christ:

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you… they persecuted Me, they will persecute you;…” ~ Jn 15:18, 20b

Blessed are those saintly souls, for the merits and the graces they have received by their efforts will always be than they require for purification – thus enabling them to share the wealth with their fellow pilgrims:

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! ~ Mt 7:11

They suffer for Love, they endure for Love, in short they willing submit all things for the Love of Christ. That is all anyone needs to do to have their purification take place while on earth.

Simple, but NOT easy.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. ~ Mt 5: 43-48

Or in other words, be Imitators of Christ in every respect

Purification is a gift of God, a divine act of Mercy and Compassion.  Without it, we would be left in utter darkness, separated by our own choices and the sins that resulted, throwing away the gift of Salvation that the Son of God, Jesus, bled and died for. God’s Son did not die in vain.  Even if many turn away from the Truth during their lifetime, God is ready to forgive at the hour of death, should that soul cry out for Mercy.  He gives all a second chance, an opportunity to be purified so that we may come into His presence, FOREVER.

The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come. (CCC§1031)

Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. ~ Mt 12:31

The Commandments take on their full meaning within the covenant. According to Scripture, man’s moral life has all its meaning in and through the covenant. The first of the “ten words” recalls that God loved His people first:

Since there was a passing from the paradise of freedom to the slavery of this world, in punishment for sin, the first phrase of the Decalogue, the first word of God’s commandments, bears on freedom: “I am the LORD your God, who, brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (CCC§2061)

The last enemy to be destroyed is death. “For God has put all things in subjection under His feet.” But when it says, “All things are put in subjection under Him,” it is plain that He is expected who put all things under Him. ~1 Cor 15: 26-27

Come to the font of His Mercy and be transformed!  He is waiting just for YOU.  Come and receive your rest!  His yoke is easy, His burdens are light… He takes all things that bring us down upon Himself so that we may be lifted up into the LIGHT of His Glory!  COME!

Previous Posts:

Purgatory: Introduction
Continuing on Purgatory
Prayers and Purification

Suggested Further Reading:

The Hour of Temptation

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Prayers and Purification…

Posted by Anne Elizabeth on May 3, 2009

This next segment address our prayers for those who are in Purgatory, and their prayers for us.  As I have always said and written, PRAYER IS POWERFUL.  It does far more for the Kingdom of God than we can ever realize. Oh that wonderful day, we we stand before Jesus and the Father and are shown just what are prayers helped to do!

May the Divine Assistance always remain with us,
and may the Faithfully Departed, through
the Mercy of God,
Rest in Peace.

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Now, what about those souls who, have no idea that they can experience a cleansing suffering on earth, die, call out to God for mercy, and find themselves in the state of purification for entrance into heaven?

“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)

Can they be assisted or helped by us who still reside on earth?  The answer, YES!   The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that:

By virtue of the “communion of saints,” the Church commends the dead to God’s mercy and offers her prayers, especially the holy sacrifice of the Eucharist, on their behalf. (CCC§1055)

And:

Since Abraham, intercession – asking on behalf of another – has been characteristic of a heart attuned to God’s mercy. In the age of the Church, Christian intercession participates in Christ’s, as an expression of the communion of saints. In intercession, he who prays looks “not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others,” even to the point of praying for those who do him harm (CCC§2635)

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others…
~Phil 2:4

And he (St. Stephen) knelt down and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. ~Acts 7:60

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” ~Lk 23:34a

It is with our prayers and our sacrifices and especially with the Sacrifice of the Mass that assist those who have cried out at the hour of death and received God’s Mercy and are now undergoing purification:

By our actions, we can assist our deceased brothers and sisters in obtaining heaven, a practice that actually goes back to before the time of Christ:

This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: “Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.” From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:

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? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them (cf. Job 1:5). (CCC§1032)

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. ~ Job 23:10 (the book of Job is considered the oldest book in the bible)

Can those in the state of Purgatory pray for us?  Another resounding, YES!

“Communion with the dead. ‘In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the very earliest days of the Christian religion, has honored with great respect the memory of the dead; … Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us [more] effective”. (CCC§958)

Without having seen Him you love Him; though you do not now see Him you believe in Him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls. ~1 Peter 1: 8-9

And,

“In the one family of God. ‘For if we continue to love one a another and to join in praising the Most Holy Trinity – all of us who are sons of God and form one family in Christ – we will be faithful to the deepest vocation of the Church’ (cf. LG§51). (CCC§959)

That is to pray for one another – both enemies and friends (cf. Mt 5:44) – so that the Kingdom of God may be obtained for humanity; and since we are not separated from Christ either in life or in death:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8: 35, 38-39

Neither are we separated from our Brethren who died in the friendship of Christ:

“So it is that the union of the wayfarers with the brethren who sleep in the peace of Christ is in no way interrupted, but on the contrary, according to the constant faith of the Church, this union is reinforced by an exchange of spiritual goods.” (CCC§955)

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and up-builds itself in love. ~ Eph 4: 15-16

We pray for them and help hurry along their purification; they pray for us to help encourage us to seek holy purification while we are on earth and while we still have the time and opportunity to do so.

Since the faithful departed now being purified are also members of the same communion of saints, one way we can help them is to obtain indulgences for them, so that the temporal punishments due for their sins may be remitted. (CCC§1479)

When the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” ~ Mt 19:25-26

We have the fullness of the Mystical Body of Christ: The Church Triumphant – those who have achieved Heaven; the Church Militant – that’s us still on earth working out our salvation and assisting heaven with many of our fellow creatures; and those who have died but require final purification in the state of Purgatory:

The three states of the Church: “When the Lord comes in glory, and all His angels with Him, death will be no more and all things will be subject to Him. But at the present time some of His disciples are pilgrims on earth. Others have died and are being purified, while still others are in glory, contemplating in full light, God Himself Triune and One, exactly as He is.” (CCC§954)

All of us, however, in varying degrees and in different ways share in the same charity towards God and our neighbors, and we all sing the one hymn of glory to our God. All, indeed, who are of Christ and who have his Spirit form one Church and in Christ, cleave together.
(cf. LG§49)

Previous Posts:

Purgatory: An Introduction
Continuing on Purgatory

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