Wednesday, November 02, 2016

The Holy Souls

I like this image of the souls in purgatory ...
Only once, as they pass from this life, do they see the cause of the Purgatory they endure; never again do they see it for in another sight of it there would be self. Being then in charity from which they cannot now depart by any actual fault, they can no longer will nor desire save with the pure will of pure charity. Being in that fire of Purgatory, they are within the divine ordinance, which is pure charity, and in nothing can they depart thence for they are deprived of the power to sin as of the power to merit." - St. Catherine of Genoa, "Treatise On Purgatory"

Being in that fire of Purgatory, they are within the divine ordinance, which is pure charity ...

I have a hard time thinking of purgatory as a place of punishment.  I think of it as a place of purification and reparation - atonement, suffering, making satisfaction for sin - yes.  But it seems to me the knowledge of God's merciful love would bring joy to the soul, and sustain the soul, and it's love would increase, moment to moment.

I loved today's meditation in Magnificat from St. Claude La Colombiere:

"As to purgatory, when I thought I would be wronging God's mercy to have the least fear of hell, since I deserved it more than all the demons, I had no fear of purgatory at all.  I could well wish not to have deserved it, since it cannot be done without displeasing God.  But since it is a reality, I was elated at the thought of going there to satisfy his justice in the most rigorous manner imaginable, and that to the day of judgment ..." - St. Claude

There is more, but I can't take the time to write the entire thing.  It makes me love St. Claude all the more ... what a wonderful priest and spiritual guide!

I don't really like so much the images of purgatory of souls in torment, to the point of chaos - that depiction would be hell, I think.  I like to think of the love of God purifying the soul ... maybe similar to St. Therese in her trial of faith, wherein she speaks of a joy that is not felt, in the depths of great suffering.  Except St. Catherine tells us that the souls in their greatest pain, cannot think of themselves.

To love God's Holy Will ...

I like purgatory.  I don't think it should be used to scare people or threaten them, nor do I think it should be taken lightly. I realize that in art, one strives to show the torments suffered, but I like the top image the very best - because it shows the love and devotion which sustains the Holy Souls.

We pray for them ...

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.

1032 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. - CCC


  1. Therese had quite a few things to say about Purgatory! No time to post them now (must return to work) so will try to do that later.

  2. I went to the evening Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe parish tonight. It was packed with so many folks. Father's homily wad so uplifting and joyfilled. The music ministry wad beautiful and all I could do was be grateful for the blessed opportunity to be there to pray for and remember my loved ones, friends, patients, all the faithful departed.

    May all who have died in the hope of the Resurrection rest in peace. Amen

  3. I like that top picture too.

  4. Terry and fellow readers:

    Dante offers the most beautiful and hope-filled imagery of purgatory in his Divine Comedy. Indeed - after the grim and unlit descent through The Inferno, when all is weight and darkness and cold, Vergil guides Dante out of the abyss, and as The Purgatorio begins, they see ahead the first hint of light ahead of them, leading them out of Hell. At the sight the Canto sings the beautiful Italien verse - painting in words what Dante beheld in his mind's eye: "Dolce color d'oriental zaffiro!" What did they behold? "The sweet hue of the sapphire of the eastern sky!"

    The dawn of hope - and then the surprising song of the souls sailing to the island of Purgatory - skimming over the water in their boat driven by the wings of the Angel ferrying them to the shore of Purgatory. They chant in uplifted voice Psalm 114 - the song of Israel on her day of liberation - "When out of Egypt Israel came." Dante is shocked, and asks Vergil "what is the cause of their hopeful song?" Vergil answers: "They are happy - because at the end of their journey they shall see the face of God."

    This is the great theme of the Purgatorio - the assurance of the beatific vision. And as the souls climb the mountain of Purgatory, Dante does not make them weary of the journey, but rather, as they ascend, the weight is sin is lifted, until the ecstasy at the summit - where he beholds souls ascending into the sky. "What is this?" Dante asks? His answer: When the last weight of sin is cast off, the soul need no longer strive toward God - it simply ascends to Him - which is the destiny of the soul as created - to ascend to Our Heavenly Father.

    The realm of hopeful.


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