FRIDAY HOMILY: All Souls Day - Joining Them on the Journey
co-workers; you are God's field, God's building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, the work of each will come to light, for the Day will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire [itself] will test the quality of each one's work." (I Cor. 3:9-13)
In a homily based on this Scripture, St. John Chrysostom wrote, "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."
In his book on "Eschatology," Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) further clarifies the church's teaching in this area: "Purgatory is not, as Tertullian thought, some kind of supra-worldly concentration camp where one is forced to undergo punishments in a more or less arbitrary fashion.Rather it is the inwardly necessary process of transformation in which a person becomes capable of Christ, capable of God [i.e., capable of full unity with Christ and God] and thus capable of unity with the whole communion of saints.
"Simply to look at people with any degree of realism at all is to grasp the necessity of such a process. It does not replace grace by works, but allows the former to achieve its full victory precisely as grace. What actually saves is the full assent of faith. But in most of us, that basic option is buried under a great deal of wood, hay and straw. Only with difficulty can it peer out from behind the latticework of an egoism we are powerless to pull down with our own hands."
"Man is the recipient of the divine mercy, yet this does not exonerate him from the need to be transformed. Encounter with the Lord (is) this transformation. It is the fire that burns away our dross and re-forms us to be vessels of eternal joy."
Catholic lay apologist James Akin calls purgatory the "boot camp of heaven." I like that analogy. No matter what your physical condition prior to entering the military, boot camp is to bring everyone to the same level of physical and mental fitness for service. The same can be said for heaven. To enter into the beatific vision, the immediate and intimate knowledge of God which the angelic spirits and the souls of the just enjoy in Heaven, one must be prepared.
There are a few things we ought to remember on this Feast of All Souls.
Jesus Christ Fully Completed Our Redemption on the Cross
Purgatory has nothing to do with our redemption. It is a finished work that needs nothing else from us to be accomplished. St. John, in his first epistle, says it this way, "In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation [Ed. - atonement, satisfaction] for our sins." (I Jn. 4:10, NAB)
In verses 10 and 11 of the next chapter, the apostle goes on to say, "And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life."
Purgatory, then, is about our purification and preparation. Most Christians would accept the fact that all of us can sin due to our corrupted nature - what we would call venial sins - up to the moment of our death. So what we are dealing with is the application of His redemption to our fallenness.
We would also agree that we will not be sinning in heaven. Therefore, there is some purification that must take place, where grace is not only applied to our sin but the stain of sin and the corruption. The refiner's loving fire to make us fit for heaven. This is purgatory.
Purgatory Does Not Actually Involve an Amount of Time
Time is a construct that exists on this side of death. When we enter eternity, measurable time - as we know it - stops. When we talk about time with respect to the purification of the faithful departed in purgatory, it actually refers to the desire we have to ease of the pain of purification.
Many people still talk about "days" when it comes to purgatory, a concept which was originally a part of explaining the effects of indulgences (If you are unsure what these are, this is something we'll need to discuss at another time). This is why that measure is no longer used.
Some would argue that purification would be instantaneous, which is again a measurement of time. We really can't speak of this process in terms of an interval; it is a personal involvement, ...
- - -
Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: All Souls' Day, All Saints, Faithful Departed, Beatific Vision, purgatory, Fr. Randy Sly
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Year of Faith News
- FRIDAY HOMILY: Is It Lawful or Just a Lower Standard?
- THURSDAY HOMILY: Becoming Salty Christians in a World Without Flavor, Rotting from Within
- True and False Spirituality: Beware the Friends of Job or How to Deal With Fair-weather Friends
- WEDNESDAY HOMILY: Finding God Where You Would Rather Not Look
- TUESDAY HOMILY: Holy and Unholy Ambition
- SUNDAY HOMILY: The Happy Priest - Come Holy Spirit
- MONDAY HOMILY: I Do Believe, Help My Unbelief!
- We Need a New Pentecost: Come Holy Spirit, Come With Your Fire!
- Peter and John, Two Pillars and Two Paths
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?