Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Purgatory! Purgatory!

I've just been to morning Mass at Carmel – only the prayers of the faithful dared mention the word "Purgatory", the priest who preached certainly didn't, but with wearisome circumlocution at last brought himself to allude to the idea that souls may well not rush immediately into Heaven.

Apparently a congregation of weekday Mass goers (not to blow one's own trumpet, but presumably slightly more self-motivated, dare I say more committed, a band of Catholics than those who go on Sundays only), not to mention the cloistered nuns, would have been scandalized by a more full-blooded reference to Catholic doctrine.

Purgatory!  I want to walk round like a madman shouting it from the rooftops!


"There is a Purgatory" – as the Council of Trent defined.


Whose least pain is greater far than the greatest pain of earth, as St Augustine averred.  (I was just reading of Soviet death camps last night, as it happens, not that that is at all the right comparison to make; for what God permits in His love for our purification is utterly distinct from what the cruel demonic hatred of man devises.)


A most rational and consoling doctrine, as Dr Johnson observed.


Whither we all shall go at length, if we escape Hell, assuming we are not martyred and sent to Heaven express.


The fire of Divine love, as St Catherine of Genoa averred, makes waiting, yearning souls, detained till they be purified from all dross and stain, so burn and languish, that it is the very pain of Purgatory – intenser far than fire, but sweet. "Glad souls among sweet fires" as the hymnist sings.


"And prayers... and Masses on earth, shall aid thee at the throne of the Most Highest", as the Angel sings to the soul of Gerontius as he is consigned to the purification of Purgatory, in Newman's great poem.  Let us haste to offer our suffrages for the Holy Souls in Purgatory!


An honest glance over one's life reveals so many evils done, so many graces refused, by so hard a heart, still so hard, stubborn, well-nigh unregenerate, so bereft of charity, and so many sins expiated by no great penances at all... well may we hope for Purgatory, to cleanse and refine us in Love's fire.


Secular priest said...

awesome! such a scary word ...!

Anonymous said...

Take a squiz at our annual visit to the Nine Mile Cemetery, Josh:

Rather a rag-tag lot we looked, but the sentiments were right - and I think you will like the prayers we used.

- Martin OP