November 5, 2017
The Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Twenty Second Sunday after Pentecost
Due to early deadlines in November this article is written before our parish Gala and Welcome Mass for Deacon Ray. I will write on these events next week. Since November is the month of the Holy Souls, I write today of the most consoling doctrine of Purgatory.
All sins are not equal before God, nor dare anyone assert that the daily faults of human frailty will be punished with the same severity that is meted out to serious violations of God's law. On the other hand whosoever comes into God's presence must be perfectly pure for in the strictest sense, as His "eyes are too pure, to behold evil" (Habakkuk 1:13). For un-repented venial faults for the payment of temporal punishment due to sin at time of death, the Church as always taught the doctrine of purgatory. So deep was this belief ingrained in our common humanity that it was accepted by the Jews (see 2 Maccabees 12:43-46) and in at least a shadowy way by the pagans, long before the coming of Christianity.
Purgatory (Latin: "purgare", to make clean; to purify) in accordance with Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God's grace, are not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.
The faith of the Church concerning purgatory is clearly expressed in the Decree of Union drawn up by the Council of Florence (1431-1438), and in the decree of the Council of Trent (1545-1563) which defined: "Whereas the Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Spirit, has from the Sacred Scriptures and the ancient tradition of the Fathers taught in Councils and very recently in this Ecumenical synod that there is a purgatory, and that the souls therein are helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but principally by the acceptable Sacrifice of the Altar; the Holy Synod enjoins on the Bishops that they diligently endeavor to have the sound doctrine of the Fathers in Councils regarding purgatory everywhere taught and preached, held and believed by the faithful.
It is the traditional faith of Catholics that the souls in purgatory are not separated from the Church, and that the love which is the bond of union between the Church's members should embrace those who have departed this life in God's grace. Hence, since our prayers and our sacrifices can help those who are still waiting in purgatory, the saints have not hesitated to warn us that we have a real duty toward those who are still in purgatorial expiation.
St. Augustine describes two conditions of men; "some there are who have departed this life, not so bad as to be deemed unworthy of mercy, nor so good as to be entitled to immediate happiness" etc., and in the resurrection he says there will be some who "have gone through these pains, to which the spirits of the dead are liable" (City of God XXI.24). Thus at the close of the fourth century: not only were prayers for the dead found in all the Liturgies, but the Fathers asserted that such practice was from the Apostles themselves; those who were helped by the prayers of the faithful and by the celebration of the Holy Mysteries (Holy Mass) were in a place of purgation; from which when purified they "were admitted unto the Holy Mount of the Lord". Let us - the Church Militant - remember every day in some small way of prayer or sacrifice, the poor souls in Purgatory – the Church Suffering – all to attain to the glory of Heaven – The Church Triumphant – for as it is written in the Catechism of the Catholic Church at #962…"We believe in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church; and we believe that in this communion, the merciful love of God, and his saints is always [attentive] to our prayers." (Paul VI, CPG #30)
"Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace…Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen."
SAVE THE DATE: On Sunday, November 26th all our parish volunteers and founding members will be recognized and blessed at the 9.30 Mass with a reception to follow. Please be sure to attend that Mass and receive a blessing. It is the Sunday after Thanksgiving and the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King.
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda