“And I Say To You, You Will Not Get Out Until You Have Paid The Last Penny” (Matt. 5:26)
Fr. Paul McDonald -
THE LORD JESUS teaches us through His Church, that death marks the end
of the earthly pilgrimage of man. Death marks the end of this life as
the time when we can accept divine grace which is given to us in Christ.
Death brings the end of the time of grace and mercy which God offers to
us, so that we can realize the purpose of our existence. It is God’s
plan that this life is when we decide our ultimate destiny. When “the
unique course of our earthly life” has ended, we will not return to
other earthly lives. “Man dies only once”. There is no “reincarnation” after this life.
After this life human beings will themselves be either among those who have responded to the love and mercy of God, or among those who have refused to accept grace right up to the end.
Among the friends of God who enter the next life, there are some who loved the Lord with all their hearts during this life, and there are some who truly loved Him, but imperfectly, with a divided heart; they need healing and purification before entering Paradise, and they have a preparation to make. Divine Mercy created Purgatory to accomplish this purification. “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1030).
But this is a family affair. We can help our sisters and brothers who find themselves amongst the poor souls. We can do so by our prayers, our sacrifices and our participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.
Now here I have to admit something. I am afraid that one day a parishioner will visit me from the “other side”, saying, “Why didn’t you warn me? Why did you never teach or mention that the sufferings of the next life are severe, if we have treated God as optional or of secondary importance?” But I am not really expecting an extraordinary visit like that. What is for sure is that one day the Lord will Himself ask me such things. “Why, my son, did you not tell the whole truth to my People?” To avoid having to endure such scrutiny, I will try to repair what I have omitted…
I am not speaking for the moment of the mysterious suffering of the “fires of Purgatory” that Pope Paul VI speaks of in his Credo. I will go to the essential. This is about the sadness and the thirst of these souls, deprived for a time of seeing God face to face. He is the Supreme Good and the source of all that is good, the source of infinite and eternal joy, for which our souls were created, like our eyes are for the light.
The doctors are in agreement to say that in general the sufferings of the next life are very rigorous. The Doctor of the Church, St. Robert Bellarmine says that we must hold as certain that there is no comparison between the sufferings of this life and those of Purgatory. St. Augustine says so rather clearly in his commentary on Psalm 31: Lord, do not punish me in your anger, and do not reject me along with those to whom you will say: Go into the eternal fire; but do not punish in your anger: rather so purify me in this life, so that I don’t need to be purified in the next life. That ordeal will be terrible, that torment will be more unbearable than all one can suffer of what is sorrowful in this world.
That’s what St. Augustine says, and what St. Gregory, the Venerable Bede, St. Anselm and St. Bernard say after him. St. Thomas Aquinas goes even further and he holds that the least pain of Purgatory is greater than any pain of earth, no matter what they may be.
The author of the Imitation expresses this teaching by a practical and gripping sentence: “There, he says, one hour in torment will be more terrible than a hundred years here of the most rigorous penance.”
Let us practice charity towards the souls of the faithful departed so that we receive mercy in this life and in the next.
Originally posted at: The Remnant Newspaper
|from Courageous Priest|