So I knew coming into this post that I was going to be writing after a few others had their pick of All Saints and All Souls topics. But my blog is about becoming a Saint! And we can never learn too much about them, right?So, let us place ourselves in God’s presence, and the Saints who surround Him and sing His praises, as we reflect on….purgatory…
(I recommend the following link, “What the H*** is Purgatory?” from Busted Halo, to answer any basic questions, such as What is Purgatory? and Why Purgatory is not Limbo?…. If the discussion gets too heavy for you – just skip to the jokes at the end for now!)
One or my earliest memories of purgatory is trudging through Dante’s Comedy in high school. I found his description of Purgatory very interesting – basically everyone there was sorted into categories and had to do some kind of penance, related to their specific sins, in order to move up to Heaven.
Heaven is perfect. Why? Because God is there. Because the Holy of Holies is exposed. Think about how reverent we are during the exposition of the blessed sacrament, adoration and when receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist. Can you imagine how much more pure it will be to see God Face to Face? If Heaven is perfect, it cannot let imperfection come into it. So what happens to us, who may or may not die with our saintly slate in a squeaky clean state?
God, in His infinite mercy, knows His creation, Man, Us, very well, and gives us an opportunity to get to Heaven so long as we repent of our faults. However, we must be purified, cleansed, before we can enter into the perfection of Heaven (purgatory come from the Latin root purgare, which means “to make clean” or “to purify”). So God created Purgatory, a way for us to purify ourselves after death in preparation for being with Him in Heaven.
We have good reasons for expecting folks to come to Mass decently dressed – reasons that relate foremost to a reverence for God and the Holy Mass, but also for our own good, because we are all sinners and may be tempted or tempt others through unchaste dress. The process of her changing clothes was a purification (like purgatory…) which enabled her to properly prepare to enter into the sanctity of Mass.
To me purgatory isn’t failure. Getting into purgatory means we made the cut. Some of the Saints in Heaven have undergone purgatory and now pray for us when we ask! The existence of purgatory provides us Saint-aspirants with hope, that even if we have not reached our daily prayer goals or said all our “sorries” or completed our “Beatitude checklist”, God still loves us and allows us to be with Him, and furthermore, that we can still be cleansed and prepared for Heaven after death (without all the alluring distractions that life on Earth provides). Let us pray for all the souls in purgatory who are striving for the same goal as we are – to one day be in paradise, singing love songs to He who is Love Himself!
OK enough serious stuff. Here’s a joke from my bible study: A man is going on his way to heaven and on the way up through Purgatory he sees several people atoning for their sins and moving up, closer to God. As he approaches the top of Purgatory, he sees a man he knew who was a real sinner and only died recently. “How did you make it all the way up here already?” he asks. “ “Easy,” the man replies. “My wife quit her job after she got the life insurance money and has been going to daily Mass every day, and while she’s there she prays for my soul.”
My husband’s immediate response to this joke was. “Of course. That’s why I want to go first.” 🙂