Monday, May 2, 2016

My Thoughts on Purgatory by Teresa Beem

In the New Covenant Commandments Christ said that we are to be perfect, even as the Father in Heaven is perfect. Be perfect that you may eternally exist in the very presence of perfection Himself.

Perfection..... how? How is it possible? Was Christ speaking in hyperbole? Or symbolism? Surely, He was speaking of an imputed perfection, right? Because most of us who have given our lives to Christ and walk with Him, see perfection recede farther and farther into the distance as Christ open's our eyes. 
Catholics have always taught that these are literal words. We can, and in fact, must be perfect like God Himself. And through His inexhaustible grace and mercy, our Creator gave us a place of perfecting for those with faith who have died. Catholics named it purgatory. The Jews called it Abraham's bosom, or paradise. Protestants do not have a name for the place but for the experience: sanctification. 

And out of immense love and in His infinite mercy, God gave us this place of perfecting, this state of being, this centrifugal force that separates us from our sin before we enter the presence of eternal love. 

I know of many Catholics who think of purgatory as a safety net. They will procrastinate their perfecting until the afterlife, because they believe somehow it will be easier. Like the Protestants, they believe that the moment after death God magically and painlessly waves His wand over us: voila! we go from Cinderella in the dirty torn dress to Cinderella ready for the ball. 

For over three millennia, the people of God have not believed this. It is indeed the supernatural physician who does this miracle in us, but we are not unaware of what is going on and our wills must submit to the change and cooperate in the process. Like all things in the human flesh, we must sacrifice to achieve our results. Perfection must become habituated in us. It is not an instantaneous big bang, but an evolution of supernatural grace. 

I am aware of St. Paul's prophecy that in the end, Christ will come and those are alive will have a change in the twinkling of an eye. However, most of us will have to let go of our flesh in death and experience the loss of time and space. Most of us will enter eternity without the miraculous instantaneous change.

And if you have chosen to enter an eternity with God, you must truly be sorry for your sins and fully understand that sin separates us with the Father. And until you face the sins you excused as little sins, unimportant, trivial and see how they hurt not only Christ, but those around you, you will not be able to stand in the presence of a Holy God. You indeed, will not want to see Him, until your heart and soul are purged and able to see the total destructive evil of every single sin. 

Not to suggest that in the slightest way that these sins are not already forgiven by God. Of course they are. Jesus paid for them at the Cross. But, even after sins are forgiven, when humans cling to them, they change the heart of the sinner. Cherished, habitual or addictive sins cloud our reasoning and impede our ability to love. Purgatory makes our minds sparkle with clarity and breaks our hardened heart and opens up the floodgate of His love in us.

If you do believe the Catholic teaching on purgatory, you should consider praying that you will get your purgatory completed here. And there are very good reasons for this. Because once you leave this world and enter purgatory, you can have no effect on the world or people in it. It will be only after you leave your final sanctification and enter into perfection, that you will be able to help those on earth, through your prayers.

Think of the wonderful things your prayers could do if you became righteous now. Think of the good you could do your children and grandchildren. Instead of a purgatory of deep horror and regret about your wasted life, instead of looking with pain at the pains of your children and those you came in contact with, your life could have been one of virtuous heroism. Your life might have been a magnifying glass of the Cross and brought His love so near that many lives were changed. 

While purgatory is a tremendous blessing for most, do not put off your purgatory till the last day, pray to experience it right now. For if you become holy in this life, you will experience a joy and peace that lasts from this day forward. You will be bringing the threshold of eternity near, very near. Heaven will begin now. 

And I think of our Blessed Lady, Mary, who never sinned. Every moment of sacrifice she experienced was not used to perfect herself but was given freely into the treasury of faith to be used by others. Your life can become one of filling the treasury of merits so that those you love can eat from the banquet of blessings your life provided for them. 

No one who is oriented towards heaven can skip the step of perfection, of sanctification. Do it now. Pray for that kind of radical holiness this moment, that your life may be joined to His Cross and His love and mercy will burn with such an intense brightness, that all will be touched. 

You were born for a purpose. And that purpose was to be a spiritual giant, an heir to the throne with your brother, Christ. Be ye perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect. 

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