Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Sunday 07 March |
Saint of the Day: Sts Perpetua and Felicity
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

Lent: A time for the truth about Purgatory

HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY

Public Domain

Fr Robert McTeigue, SJ - published on 03/14/18

Since I do deserve it, I am glad to go there to satisfy his justice ...

What is one of the most famous exchanges in Hollywood history?

“You want answers?”

“I want the truth!”

“YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”

This exchange in the movie  can prompt a reflection on the often-neglected doctrine of Purgatory. At our particular judgment, whether we want it or not, we will receive the truth—and, unless we die as saints ready for Heaven, we can’t handle the truth.

If we die in a state of unrepented mortal sin, that is, if we die while at enmity with God, then at our particular judgment, God will acknowledge our choice against him, and the choice we made for eternal separation from God will begin. The infinitely holy God is just, and cannot dishonor himself or our freedom by tolerating the presence of sin before him. The only way to “see the face of God and live” is to have died in a state of grace, purified by the saving work of Christ. The infinitely holy God is also merciful, and knows well our weaknesses. Those who die not at enmity with God may still be attached to what is unworthy of us and him, and may have died with venial sins for which we had neither regret nor repentance. We’re not ready to see God face to face; we “can’t handle the truth” (yet) of who God is and who we are before God. So, the merciful God offers us an opportunity for purification (Purgatory) so that we may finally enter Heaven.

We can find a formal account of Purgatory HERE. Put more simply: Purgatory is our chance to see with perfect clarity our choices against God, our disordered affections and attachments to what is unworthy of us, and to see clearly that love and glory which God has always offered us. Seeing what poor stewards we’ve been of our graces, seeing with perfect clarity the horrible effects of our sins—even venial sins—leads to an anguish of regret and scouring contrition that both scholars and mystics alike have described as a purifying fire. With the perfect clarity of Purgatory, we’ll see what we could have become with God’s grace, and what we actually did with our lives.


HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY ROSARY

Read more:
Pray for the Holy Souls in purgatory using this fascinating rosary

Who could endure that such clarity? That’s why we refer to souls in Purgatory as “the Church Suffering.” It must be a matchless anguish to see Heaven delayed (but not denied!) because of venial sins. I myself shudder at the thought. Yet I’m consoled by the great Jesuit saint, Claude de la Colombiere:

“As for Purgatory, I do not fear it. I am sorry to have deserved it because it has only been by offending God; but since I do deserve it, I am glad to go there to satisfy his justice as rigorously as possible even to the day of judgment. I know the torments are great, but know that they honor God and that in Purgatory I shall be sure of never opposing God’s will and of never complaining of his justice but of loving it and waiting patiently until it is entirely satisfied. God sought me out when I fled from him; he will not abandon me now that I seek him, or at least do not flee from him anymore.”

Such are the words of a man knowing himself to be a loved sinner!




Read more:
Benedict XVI’s teaching on purgatory

In my last column, I described meditation on Hell as an essential Lenten practice. Likewise, a meditation on the truly terrible mercy of Purgatory is essential. Such a meditation can free us from the illusion that we can safely play with sin, or prudently delay confession, conversion and penance. J.R.R. Tolkien wrote a charming yet sobering short story on Purgatory called “Leaf by Niggle,” which begins:

“There was once a little man called Niggle, who had a long journey to make. He did not want to go, indeed the whole idea was distasteful to him; but he could not get out of it. He knew he would have to start some time, but he did not hurry with his preparations.”

We too have a journey to make, from life to death, from time to eternity. Lent is a way to prepare for that journey. For the journey to end well, we must live well here and now. And we must be unencumbered of whatever holds us back, slows us down, or lures us off the path.

We are approaching Holy Week. As time passes we move closer to Easter, closer to death, closer to our own particular judgment. Let’s resolve to take time to examine our lives in light of these facts. And let’s resolve to pray for the consolation of the Holy Souls undergoing their purification in Purgatory.

When I write next, I’ll discuss preparations for Holy Week. Until then, let’s keep each other in prayer.


PADRE PIO

Read more:
When Padre Pio was visited by a soul from purgatory


SOULS IN PURGATORY

Read more:
Why John Paul and Benedict say “Start your purgatory today”

~

Listen to a radio interview with Fr. McTeigue about this theme here.

Tags:
Purgatory
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
GUARDIAN ANGEL
Philip Kosloski
10 Mysterious things to know about guardian angels
2
tabernacle
Philip Kosloski
5 Important things to notice in a Catholic church
3
POPE AUDIENCE
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Do you know the 3 words that describe God’s style? Pope Fra...
4
Ziggurat of Ur
John Burger
Pope’s trip to Iraq is like a pilgrimage to a Holy Land
5
SAINT JOSEPH AND CHILD JESUS
Philip Kosloski
10 Things you should know about St. Joseph
6
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Pope calls us to Abraham’s hope: Full text of address in Ur
7
VaticanNews.va
Pope in Iraq: Schedule and key events
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.