Monday, August 29, 2011

Second guessing your life.

Sometimes I think I know what purgatory will be like.
Oh - if souls only understood the extent to which Christ means these words from today's Gospel, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny his very self, take up his cross, and follow me..."*
Deny the self in one way, the very self pops up in another more sneaky way to claim his rights. At times it has been like a knock down drag out fight.  There is only one self with many appetites - sometimes it seems like a self-eating bacteria.
"What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?  Or what can man give in exchange for his life?" - Matthew 16: 21-27
I hung my head.
Note:  I posted this yesterday but removed it because I thought some people would think it was a 'poor me' post or something like that.  It's not meant that way at all.  Whatever.  I decided to post it for today since I've got nothing else.

*Paraphrase of John of the Cross
Art: Andrew Wyeth


  1. Brethren, be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion prowls about, seeking whom he may devour:

    Rorate Caeli blog has posted a Compline that is one of my favorites:

    Too bad these prayers have been trash canned in the Modern Church.

    At Traditional Chapels, Compline is publicly recited at eight p.m.

    There are six more Compline prayers, one for each day of the week, praying for different things.

    Find shelter in these prayers.


  2. Terry, one story that has always bugged me is the one from Fatima where the children ask about a 20-year-old girl they knew, and the Blessed Mother told them that she would be in Purgatory until the end of time. How can that be, if there are prayers and Masses offered for her, and presumably at least partial indulgences won for her.

    On a more difficult note - if a girl who lived in a little town in Portugal in the early 20thc century will be spending "until the end of time" in Purgatory - what could she have possibly done that I haven't done over and over and over again in my life? How could she have been any worse than me? I would presume that she was at least more pious than me, more devoted than me (I can hardly pay attention at Mass).

    Do you think people spend much much much more time in Purgatory than they did on earth? Some saints indicate eons - thousands, millions of years.

    And do you think it's all suffering, pure misery, like a suburb of Hell? Fr. Groeschel seems to see it as a very hopeful place that has its own pains for sure, but he doesn't like the "suburb of Hell" view.

    Do you think it's like all those medieval paintings where God just torments people for eons?

    Are those of us who are not consecrated religious, those of us not shut off from the world - are we just going to burn much longer because we're too attached to everything? I have the impression that married people especially are seen as "too attached", since the Saints of the past indicate that the only reason they'd continue to make love is because they're "too attached", too concupiscent. That view seems insulting and unappreciative, but it's pretty prevalent in the past.

    St. Bridget of Sweden even met a man in one of her visions who was in Purgatory and not Hell because "he never had sex with his wife when she was pregnant."

    I guess we're all in deep trouble. :(

  3. And sorry everyone for once again airing my obsessions and fears.

  4. By the way, great song. Have you heard the Johnny Cash version?

  5. 'There is only one self with many appetites - sometimes it seems like a self-eating bacteria.'

    For me,that's not a poor me post.. It's just the absolute truth of it and the best explanation I've heard. +

    Word verification: sycapho

  6. Mercury, you read my mind.

  7. Dear Mercury,

    How much does that guilt trip cost, and where can tickets for it be purchased?

    When I was a kid in the early 1950's we used to hear some people complain that the church was one of guilt, one of hopelessness, one of punishment.

    As a little boy I used to look around for this bogeyman everybody said God was.

    I never found him.

    I only found my Savior in the Blessed Sacrament.

    Here is a blog with an article on Purgatory that might help answer some of your questions:

    Purgatory is right after Proofs of the existence of God article.

    I hope you find it edifying.

    A man had a dozen rose buds.

    He was trying as hard as he could to open them that their beauty might be seen.

    He didn't have much luck.

    He fell asleep trying, and in the morning, he awoke to find they had blossomed.

    So it is with our souls, Mercury.

    If you try to enter Heaven on your own, you never will.

    If you ask God to do it for you, and seek the assistance of His Mommy, your soul will blossom into a beautiful rose in the garden of Heaven.

    Trust in the Lord in all things.

    Keep reading this blog, it is very edifying.

    And every now and again Mr. Nelson breaks out the crayons and draws us a picture.


  8. I like the Cash version too.

    That purgatory thing - I believe in it and I don't think it's a walk in the park.

    I don't know what it means when the duration is measured by years - except that it is definitely not eternal like hell - it will end at some point.

    I came across some of Luther's errors about the subject which many modern Catholics seem to have accepted as true. So who knows anymore? I used to think I knew about purgatory - but I don't know anything any more. Like I said - I believe it exists however.

  9. Of course I believe in it, and I know it's no walk in the park.

    However, I just wonder - if we're not all holy Carthusians by the end of this life - does that mean suffering for eons and eons before getting to heaven?

    If we own property at death, if we are married and not continent - will we be punished for a long time?

    It especially seems like the saints thought married folk were gonna have to "burn it off".

  10. Mercury, I like Fr. Groeschel's writing a lot. I especially liked his book "Arise From Darkness" where he talked about Purgatory. He makes the point that it is a merciful, rather than a vengeful, doctrine. Even some Protestants acknowledge along with Samuel Johnson that "...the generality of mankind are neither so obstinately wicked as to deserve everlasting punishment, nor so good as to merit being admitted into the society of blessed spirits; and therefore that God is graciously pleased to allow a middle state, where they may be purified by certain degrees of suffering."
    I have heard it said that visions and private revelations are filtered through the experiences and beliefs of the people receiving them; that quite unconsciously they can misunderstand things. I am confident that we can trust the souls of our beloved dead; and when it comes time, our own souls, to the mercy of Jesus Christ who redeemed us on the cross. It all boils down to trust, that we believe in a God who is not a torturer.
    It is hard for me to see how God would punish us for fulfilling our state in life. For married people that means not witholding love from our spouses.

  11. Melody, that was nice - I like Fr. Groeschel too. Your last sentence is undoubtedly true. It's just that all the Church Fathers seem to have thought that spouses should WANT to give it up and never want it or seek it themselves, only doing it because their spouse wants it (which, if they were holier, they wouldn't, or so it goes). Seems like a cruel joke.

    Pablo - some of the stuff on there was helpful and edifying. Who wrote all of that? You?

  12. A Padre once asked me if I loved my wife.

    “When?” was my reply.

    He was taken aback by my response.

    I told him anybody that loves their spouse always is in need of treatment.

    We marry promising to love, honor, and obey.

    Doesn’t always happen.

    I knew a couple that fought like two cats in a bag.

    They had a dozen kids, and those little punks were a handful.

    Their house was always noisy, and the dinner table was every man for himself.

    They went to Mass, and always prayed before meals.

    When the wife died, the husband gave her a Christian burial.

    The Padre that said the Mass was sad to see her go; she was like his second mother.

    When he died, his kids buried him.

    There were so many children and grandchildren and great grand kids at the Funeral, some of us had to stand in the back of a pretty big Church.

    Being Catholic doesn’t so much depend on you loving each other all the time (even pagans love each other), loving God always is the most important thing.

    It bears much fruit.

    (Mercury--- it was written by the Holy Ghost).


  13. I agree with Melody. Thanks Melody.

  14. Pablo
    Sometimes, the sheer fact that the husband or wife does not walk out the door in search of "happiness" is love in and of itself. My sister-in-law lives out West and we don't see her all that often, but every time we do, she says the same thing to me. "I can't believe you're still married to my brother." And I laugh and say "neither can I." I thought enough of him at some point in time to not only marry him but carry his children. I made a vow before God to stick with him, for better or for worse, and I thank God and the Holy Spirit for the fortitude to remember that every time he does something to humiliate, anger or frustrate me. Believe me, when I joke that this man is my martyrdom, I'm only half-kidding. It occurs to me that the Lord assigned me to be the person who prevents this man from going to Hell, even it means a stint in Purgatory for me. To quote a certain actor in a certain comedy set in the Southwest, "it ain't Ozzie and Harriet". But it's what I have to work with. It's my vocation. (At least he goes to Mass and prays before meals, too) Sorry if this is too personal)

  15. "... It occurs to me that the Lord assigned me to be the person who prevents this man from going to Hell..."

    You are absolutely right.

    Don't leave one set of troubles behind for another set of brand new troubles.

    My mommy used to shout at us kids "You're gonna get along with each other if I have to kill you guys!"

    Somehow that made sense.

    As for you and your husband, may God bless you and give you abundant graces in your marriage, Madam.

    Here is a prayer for you;


  16. Anonymous7:06 PM

    I'm not so sure, Melody K. and Terry. Our Blessed Lady and St Joseph lived chastely. There is also the story of the holy Queen Saint Radegundes who lived a sequestered life in the castle of prayer and extreme penance. Her husband, Clotaire, King of Soissons, kicked her out saying, "I want a wife, not a nun!" She became a deaconess and built a monastery. her husband realized he had been very evil and repented and begged her to return to court. The Queen implored the intercession of St Germanus that she would be able to remain where she was and she was granted it. Perhaps marriage is better lived chastely, as brother and sister.

  17. Anonymous - thank you for confirming my fears.

    Like I said, Church history is very hostile to married spouses having regular relations. I can't get over the idea that sex was always seen as an impediment to holiness.

    I don't want to believe it, but it does seem the idea that spouses should just be normal and natural and love one another is a development and is alien to the historic Church.

  18. "one story that has always bugged me is the one from Fatima where the children ask about a 20-year-old girl they knew, and the Blessed Mother told them that she would be in Purgatory until the end of time. How can that be, if there are prayers and Masses offered for her, and presumably at least partial indulgences won for her.

    I seem to remember reading a book on the history of Fatima and an in-depth investigation was done about the circumstances surrounding that girl. Suffice it to say, the author's investigation did find who the girl was. Apparently, she died under very unseemly circumstances involving an "irreparable" matter regarding sins against chastity (the author seemed to have delicately hinted a botched abortion).

  19. Pablo, thank you, you are a gentleman and a true warrior for Christ.

  20. Anonymous7:54 PM

    Little Way, it sounds like your husband and mine are twins, LOL! I agree with your attitude, and thanks so much for posting what I needed to read. Let's pray for each other, that we perservere in our vocations and marriages, no matter what!

    God bless,

  21. Anonymous #16, I think we could all agree that Our Lady and St. Joseph were a special circumstance.
    It sounds to me as if St. Radegundes didn't want to be married in the first place; in that day and age marriages (especially of royals) were frequently arranged without regard to the wishes of the people involved. I don't doubt that people can live saintly lives through the grace of God in circumstances that are not ideal. However I still believe that marriage is a holy estate, created by God; and that most of us who are married are supposed to find holiness by living out that calling in the usual ways.

  22. Anonymous8:41 PM

    i'm not an educated man but seems to me the church wants folks who get married to do so for the purposes of procreation. now mary and joseph had special reasons for livin that way and maybe one or two other ones had a special callin to it but seems us regular folks is supposed to marry and have kids. i'm most likely wrong. wouldn't be the first time.


  23. Mercury--

    Blessed Zélie and Louis Martin--parents of St Therese "Little Flower" had many children. Saint Gianna Beretta Molla was pregnant with her fourth child when she developed medical problems.

    Three examples of modern day saints--married and with children.


  24. Melody - Anonymous is being VERY disingenuous, go and look for Radagund on Wikipedia. She seems to have already been living a life of at least privately consecrated chastity when she was taken as the spoils of war and "married" by a semi-pagan Frankish king who already had several wives and concubines. Correct me if I am wrong, but I see several grounds there that would indicate that it's unlikely the marriage was even valid.

    If it were really as Anonymous describes it, she would've been guilty of grave sin against her husband and her marriage. A spouse cannot unilaterally decide to live a life of continence like that - everyone is familiar with that passage in Corinthians that forbids exactly such a situation.

    Ed - I agree, man, but there is a tradition of continence within marriage as a higher spiritual path. This is highly exceptional and not even on the radar for mist married people. The reason is because it cannot be done out of contempt for sexuality or contempt for the spouse - it must be a renunciation of something perceived as good an a gift. On top of that, it's very hard for most people to do that, and it would actually prove harmful to most marriages. Spouses owe each other their bodies not just for procreation, but also because human beings are designed to express love that way - and it's a safeguard of chastity, channeling the sex drive into productive self-giving love.

    I hope that's a fairly accurate representation of Church teaching. The trouble is that tradition didn't always see it that way, and several Church Fathers saw nothing good in sex besides the fact of procreation, assigning sin to it if I was done for ANY other reason. Some saints even went so far as to see grave guilt in it - it seems that it was impossible for them to understand it as a God-given means for spouses to love one another. Others saw sin in the details, the when and how of it, details which are mind-bogglingly rigorous, and if they were true would mean that you might as well not even do it because you're probably sinning anyway. But the Church teaches none of that. Stick with what she teaches and ignore the rest, ignore what they said in the past - otherwise you'll end up a bitter a d angry scrupe like me.

  25. I'm not married and never have been - but it was always my understanding that for a marriage to be valid it had to be consummated - or at least the intention to do so had to be there. If I were a husband I would take it very literally to love my wife as my own body - or whatever the scripture says - in other words, I would be a fundamentalist in the nuptual bed.

  26. "a fundamentalist in the nuptial bed" - God love you, Mr. Nelson :)

  27. "If I were a husband I would take it very literally to love my wife as my own body - or whatever the scripture says - "

    Wonderful, may all husbands be graced wih this approach please God. Sensible, sane and Godly. Imagine the children of such a man!!!

    We can be spiritual parents too, ofcourse.......

  28. Thank you Chloesmom, yes, let's keep each other in prayer.

  29. "...Like I said, Church history is very hostile to married spouses having regular relations..."

    Last Sunday was against fornicating, another Sunday was the Padre telling the Faithful to 'get with it' as Baptisms were down, and another Sunday the Padre was chastising a family for not having their kids baptized, with an even bigger scolding (from the pulpit) of the Faithful that did not help the family get their kids baptized.

    "You all are as guilty because you sit there like bumps on a log not lifting a finger to help."

    "After Mass, I want everyone to help that family baptize their children, no excuses."

    Every Sunday there are multitudes of families at Church with six or eight little ones.

    And the Padre walks around at coffee after Mass with a smile on his face from ear to ear.

    Since my kids are grown, I just hang around after Mass being obnoxious, slurping coffee and fighting the kids over the best doughnuts.

    Holy Mother Church loves her little children.


  30. Pablo, you're a good man. God bless you. You really get on my nerves sometimes, but you're a good fellow :).

    Pray for me, my friend.


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