THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY (2): ON GOD’S LOVE AND THE SOULS’ SUFFERINGS
To enter into heaven, to see God face to face, one must be totally purified from all remnants of sin. God, who is all Pure and Immaculate, deserves the best from each one of us (remember the Parable of the Marriage Feast and the man who had no wedding garment? see Mt 22: 1-14) such that “nothing unclean shall enter” the Kingdom of Heaven (See Rev 21:27).
The possibility after death of being cleansed from the impurities and imperfections acquired during one’s life in a state called PURGATORY appears as an EVIDENT MANIFESTATION OF GOD’S LOVE AND MERCY. God gives the soul another opportunity to prepare himself before entering into heaven.
I remember a Spanish author describing purgatory as God’s hospital where the sick are taken cared of till they get well. But I prefer to consider this purification by picturing a mother who lovingly gives her baby a good bath even if the child had to cry or doesn’t feel like having one and prefers to go on playing with his toys… Here in Spain, it is common to find couples take turns on giving their babies and small kids the afternoon bath ( yes, daddies bathe their babies as well 😀 ). Somehow, PURGATORY can be considered as a MANIFESTATION OF GOD’S PATERNAL AND MATERNAL LOVE wanting his children to be at their best: bathed, cleansed, powdered, healed, radiant and pure.
Now, let us consider purgatory from the suffering soul’s angle: ANY SANE PERSON WANTS TO BE “PRESENTABLE” BEFORE SOMEONE HE LOVES. The following is a graphic example I have told giggling adolescent girls and boys ages 14-18 yrs old to make them understand this point. I would ask them who their idols or crushes are…the replies were typical: actors, singers, boys or girls they met at a party…and so on. Then I would present the case:
Imagine a young lady, having an intense crush on someone who is eager to meet her and waiting for her enthusiastically. But the young lady just woke up from her afternoon “beauty sleep”, with rollers still on her hair…and pillow marks on her face… She, herself, will exclaim: “No! Not yet! I have to be presentable before my beloved!” Well, she spends the necessary time, perhaps with angst and panic, to make herself not only presentable but totally riveting to impress her crush.
Imagine this time, a young man who is trying to win a girl’s heart. He lost track of time and just finished, maybe, playing basketball in a hot and humid summer afternoon, still all sweat and haven’t taken his shower yet, nor brushed his teeth, nor put on his eye-catching attire with the corresponding manly cologne. He, himself, will exclaim: “No! Not yet! I have to be presentable before the girl I want to conquer!” He will employ the time -with the corresponding anxiety and speed- to ensure that he will be pleasing to the girl of his dreams when he meets her.
In the meantime, the young lady and the basketball player experience contrasting feelings: the intense desire to meet the person they love and the conviction that this has to wait: The longer the wait, the greater the torment.
These intense desires are likewise experienced by the Holy Souls in Purgatory in their LONG WAIT. Waiting for someone you love, wanting to be with her but due to diverse circumstances, is not yet possible causes moral suffering, stress and anguish whether here on earth or in purgatory (it could even lead to serious psychological illness as in the case of many unemployed people here in Spain in search of a decent job for years without success). Consider as well the sufferings of hundreds of thousands of soldiers’ wives and children or of the soldiers themselves who are on duty in a war-stricken land…or those of millions of overseas Filipino workers separated from their loved ones…
This LONG WAIT to see and be with God is one of the many sufferings of the Holy Souls in Purgatory and perhaps the most difficult to bear. IF WAITING HERE ON EARTH CAUSES US SOME ANGUISH DEPENDING ON THE OBJECT WE ARE YEARNING FOR, WHAT MORE IN PURGATORY, WHERE THE OBJECT DESIRED IS GOD HIMSELF? This, I think, is what makes the souls suffer most: their separation from God and the concomitant penetrating desire to see Him face to face. Aside from this, the Scriptures speak of a “cleansing fire” as well: whether this fire is taken in its physical or moral sense, it would surely be painful.
PURGATORY IS A NEW SIGN OF GOD’S LOVE AND MERCY. THE HOLY SOULS WILLINGLY AND JOYFULLY ACCEPT AND BEAR THEIR SUFFERINGS WITH HOPE AND FOR LOVE OF GOD.
Once again, let us be generous in providing some relief to our friends- the Holy Souls in Purgatory– of their sorrows especially during this month of November.
-Fr. Rolly Arjonillo, priest of Opus Dei, CATHOLICS STRIVING FOR HOLINESS. We are also in Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CatholicsstrivingforHoliness. Hope you like our page and invite your friends as well to do so in order to help more people.
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SCRIPTURAL BASIS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF PURGATORY:
“Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin (2 Mac 12:46)” (Note that the Book of Maccabees is not considered canonical by Protestants, hence it is not included in their Bible).
In his book, “Reasons to believe”, Scott Hahn states: “Jesus assumes the doctrine when He says: ‘whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come’ (Mt 12:32). There must be a state, then, in which people are forgiven ‘in the age to come.’ Tradition calls that state purgatory.
In another place, Jesus is speaking of God’s judgment. He says: ‘Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny’ (Mt 5:25-26).
Again, this implies a state in the afterlife in which people ‘pay’ their penitential debt to God—that is, they are purified. And Christian tradition calls that state purgatory.”
The Tradition of the Church, referring to some texts of the Scripture (e.g. 1 Cor 3:15; 1 Pt 1:7), speak of “cleansing fires” as well.
“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. (St. John Chrysostom, Homily in 1 Cor 41,5).”
Cfr. Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1032 and previous posts on Nov. 2 and Holy Souls in Purgatory (1)