Saturday, 1 November 2014

Thoughts on Purgatory and Perfection

Matthew 5:48 DR 

"Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect." 

Christ, Who is the Son of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity speaks only the truth, as He Is Truth.He asks us to be perfect, another word for holy. Only those who are perfect will see God. Simply, if we do not submit to purgation while living, in order to become as perfect as God has called us to be, then we must be purified after death.

Purgatory is a gift, but it is a secondary gift, not a primary one. The primary gifts are those graces God bestows on us, usually through the sacramental life of the Church, in order to become perfect now, while on earth, for our own good and the good of the entire Church. One reason the Church is so weak is that too many Catholics are not pursuing perfection, not wanting to be holy. Frequent confession, frequent reception of Holy Communion, going to Adoration, daily prayer and the meditation of Scripture, are all things we can do to cooperate with grace in order to become perfect.
This is not impossible. God does not call us to do the impossible. He has already opened the floodgates of grace so that we can become holy while on earth.This process of becoming holy brings suffering and death to the self. There is no other way. 

I have been reading the three books by the Pope Emeritus, in the trilogy of  Jesus of Nazareth. A short quotation from one can help us understand purgatory better.

"Purity of heart is what enables us to see." 

When we sin, we are not seeing God's reality clearly. We are blinded by our own desires, and our ears listen to the siren songs of the world. Too often, we depart from simplicity of heart by coveting things, people, knowledge. Purity of heart cannot be obtained without great suffering simply because we are rarely formed in the virtues at an early age and, therefore, learn bad habits which keep us from thinking clearly and seeing clearly the working of God in our lives. In other words, our muddied hearts react in ways which are imperfect. 

Garrigou-Lagrange in his masterpiece, The Three Ages of the Interior Life, reminds us of this:

Christ tells us: "Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God." He does not say that those are blessed who have received a powerful intellect, who have the leisure and means to cultivate it; but rather, blessed are the clean of heart, even though they may be naturally less endowed than many others. If they are clean of heart, they shall see God. A truly clean heart is like the limpid waters of a lake in which the azure of the sky is reflected, or like a spiritual mirror in which the image of God is reproduced.
That the heart may be pure, a generous mortification is prescribed: "If thy right eye scandalize thee, pluck it out. . . . If thy fight hand scandalize thee, cut it off." (17) We must particularly watch over purity of intention: for example, not giving alms through ostentation, not praying to draw upon ourselves the esteem of men, but seeking only the approbation of "the Father who seeth in secret." Then will be realized the words of the Master: "If thy eye be single, thy whole body shall be lightsome." (18)
Even here on earth, the Christian will, in a sense, see God in his neighbor, even in souls that at first seem opposed to God. The Christian will see God in holy Scripture, in the life of the Church, in the circumstances of his own life, and even in trials, in which he will find lessons on the ways of Providence as a practical application of the Gospel. Under the inspiration of the gift of understanding, this is the true contemplation which prepares us for that by which, properly speaking, we shall see God face to face, His goodness, and His infinite beauty. Then all our desires will be gratified, and we shall be inebriated with a torrent of spiritual delights.
This contemplation of God ought, even here on earth, to be fruitful. It gives peace, a radiating peace, as the seventh beatitude says: "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." According to St. Augustine and St. Thomas, this beatitude corresponds to the gift of wisdom, which makes us taste the mysteries of salvation and see, so to speak, all things in God. The inspirations of the Holy Ghost, to which this gift renders us docile, gradually manifest to us the wonderful order of the providential plan even in those things, and at times especially in those things, which at first disconcerted us, in the painful and unforeseen events permitted by God for a higher good. One could not thus perceive the designs of Providence, which directs our lives, without experiencing peace, which is the tranquillity of order.

My, the need for purification is now established and the fact that mortification and suffering are necessary is seen. If one does not pursue mortification and suffering now in order to free one's self from egosim and sin, one will experience this after death in order to be made ready for union with God

Only the perfect see God. Purgatory is the time for purification which did not happen on earth. It is also punishment for sin, which is another type of purgation, but not the same as being made ready for Love. That punishment is reparation, which one can also do while alive.

Sin is the negation of truth, the blinding of the senses and spirit and the resultant making of erroneous decisions. Sin must be "paid for" in the justice and mercy which belong to God Alone. One must do reparation for offending Innocence, Purity, Love.

But, the purgation of purgatory is also the destruction of those predominant faults which cause one to sin over and over and over. These tendencies to sin are imperfections which must be purged before one enters into the Beatific Vision, which is Heaven.

The feast day of All Souls gives us all a chance to remember those, the Church Suffering, who are in the state of purgation. One cannot imagine the pain of seeing God in the particular judgment, then losing His Presence because one is not yet perfect enough to receive His love.

As long as the heart is clogged with self, one is imperfect and God cannot come and be the Bridegroom in one's life. That calling is the daily calling to become holy. 

Pray for those who died in the state of imperfection. They will remember your prayers and pray for you as well after they are in heaven. Such is our faith and our hope. They no longer can merit anything, for themselves or for us. But, when they finally are made perfect and see God, they will not forget those who prayed for them in agony.

Remember, only the perfect see God. 

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