Category Archives: Church Suffering

St. Faustina’s Vision of Purgatory, Part 2

In Paragraph 21 of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska’s diary: “Divine Mercy in My Soul,” the Saint writes of when she was visited by a suffering soul :

21 …My superiors [probably Mother Leonard and Mother
Jane] sent me to the novitiate in Cracow. An inconceivable joy reigned in my soul. When
we arrived at the novitiate, Sister [Henry] was dying. A few days later she came to me
[in spirit, after her death] and bid me to go to the Mother Directress of Novices [Sister
Margaret] and tell her to ask her confessor, Father Rospond, to offer one Mass for
her and three ejaculatory prayers. At first I agreed, but the next day I decided I would not
go to Mother Directress, because I was not sure whether this had happened in a dream or in
reality. And so I did not go.

The following night the same thing was repeated more clearly; I had no more doubt. Still,
in the morning I decided not to tell the Directress about it unless I saw her [Sister Henry]
during the day. At once I ran into her in the corridor. She reproached me for not having
gone immediately, and a great uneasiness filled my soul. So I went immediately to Mother
Directress and told her everything that had happened to me. Mother responded that she
would take care of the matter. At once peace reigned in my soul, and on the third day this
sister came to me and said, “May God repay you.”

This serves as a useful reminder to always pray for the faithful departed, regardless of your thoughts as to the reasons. Never “rationalize” away a reason to pray. Yes, they might be in Heaven already, or the inspiration may be a strange thought. Prays for the dead are always a great act of charity.

For more information on St. Faustina, click here:

The Divine Mercy Message from the Marians of the Immaculate Conception

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

St. Faustina’s Vision of Purgatory Part 1

In Paragraph 20 of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska’s diary: “Divine Mercy in My Soul,” the Saint writes of a vision of Purgatory that the Lord permitted her to see:

20…I saw my Guardian Angel, who ordered me to follow him. In a moment I
was in a misty place full of fire in which there was a great crowd of suffering souls. They
were praying fervently, but to no avail, for themselves; only we can come to their aid. The
flames which were burning them did not touch me at all. My Guardian Angel did not leave
me for an instant. I asked these souls what their greatest suffering was. They answered me
in one voice that their greatest torment was longing for God. I saw Our Lady visiting the
souls in Purgatory. The souls call her “The Star of the Sea.” She brings them refreshment. I
wanted to talk with them some more, but my Guardian Angel beckoned me to leave. We
went out of that prison of suffering.[I heard and interior voice] which said, My mercy does
not want this, but justice demands it. Since that time, I am in closer communion with
the suffering souls.

A “longing for God” was their greatest torment. They know Him, as they had already perceived Him when they endured their own individual Particular Judgment. And they can, according to some Catholic concepts of Purgatory, see a glimpse of Him off in their future. However, they are separated from Him by their sins, and the pain of that torments them. They long for Him, they desire Him, but cannot as yet be united to Him in the beautiful vision of Heaven. The pain burns.

Eventually the pain burns the stain of their sins away from their soul, and their longing for God purges them from any remaining attachment to their Earthly desires.

They will eventually be Home.

For more information on St. Faustina, click here:

The Divine Mercy Message from the Marians of the Immaculate Conception

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

CATHERINE OF GENOA AND THE EXPERIENCE OF PURGATORY

In Pope Benedict XVI’s General Audience today, the Holy Father reflected of St. Catherine of Genoa and her experience of Purgatory. The following is an excerpt from his address, I italicized a particularly relevant point:

VIS news – Holy See Press Office: CATHERINE OF GENOA AND THE EXPERIENCE OF PURGATORY: “…Benedict XVI then went on to refer to the works of the saint, recalling how, ‘in her mystical experiences, Catherine never received specific revelations on Purgatory or on the souls being purified there’. She did not see Purgatory ‘as a place of transit in the depths of the earth: it is not an exterior fire, but an interior fire’. She did not use the hereafter as a basis ‘to recount the torments of purgatory and then show the way to purification and conversion; rather, she began from the interior experience of man on his journey towards eternity’. Thus, for Catherine, ‘the soul is aware of God’s immense love and perfect justice; as a consequence, it suffers for not having responded to that love perfectly, and it is precisely the love of God Himself which purifies the soul from the ravages of sin’…

(Via VIS news – Holy See Press Office.)

Sin separates us from God, the pain of that separation is acutely evident to the soul after death. The soul’s desire for God and for perfect union with Him, combined with God’s love, is a purification, in which the stain of sins are purged from the soul.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

The pain of waiting for Heaven

Our true home is Heaven. Our life on Earth is an exile, the time we spend here prepares us for our arrival home. If we misuse this time to an extreme (consistently rejecting the will of God and working against Him) we will banish ourselves and be eternally damned. Damnation is the natural consequence of our poor moral choices on Earth.

However, even if we exercise right judgement, we may still be denied entry into the fullness of Heaven and perfect union with God for a time. This time is referred to as Purgatory. Those who die in a state of grace but yet still retain the stain of sin on their souls need to be purified. The unclean cannot enter into the vision of God in this state. See: Catechism of the Catholic Church – Purgatory

(Via Vatican.)

We can begin our purgatory here on Earth. A longing for our true home and the pain of separation from it is a purifying experience. This longing is a prayer.

The blog The New Theological Movement has a great post entitled “Prayer, purgatory on earth”. It explores the idea that through a prayerful longing for Heaven, we can offer up this suffering for the expiation of our sins and for the Church Suffering.

This prayerful longing for Heaven is a detachment from our exile, and therefore a little death. Gradually we are better prepared for our own death and no longer fear it.

Personally, I feel this longing. Daily I pray for this “going home,” and not in any worrying suicidal way, but just like anyone who wishes to be home, I would rather be there than here.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

Praying for the dead

Ar article in Spirit Daily reminds us that November is the month for praying for the deceased:

MONTH ARRIVES FOR US TO HELP THE SOULS WHO MAY BE IN PURGATORY OR ROAMING ‘IN BETWEEN’

The article also references to concept of “ghosts” or “spectres”, and states that the Church has no formal teaching on belief in such things, which is something that I need to look into to know for certain. If in fact the Church does not condemn belief in the existence of ghosts, then my opinion is that such entities are souls of the dead whose Purgatorial experience is such that they still remain in some fashion on Earth. But more on that in another post I’m drafting.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

Fifteen years ago today, my father died

NOTE: This is reposted from an earlier date:

On this date in 1995 my father died.

He and I weren’t very close, (“fathers and sons …”) generational and attitudinal differences separated us.

As a result, I didn’t really grieve over his death. I mean, I was saddened and did feel the loss, but I wasn’t ripped apart by his death like I was over my Mom’s 10 years later.

This relative lack of impact was aided by the fact that I was 2,500 miles away and hadn’t seen him in 4 years.

I went home for his funeral, and reconnected with the family, but when I returned home to California I continued life as usual. I had started drinking heavily to cope with life’s problems a year before (failed romance) and my drinking picked up a little more upon my return, so that may have softened the need to grieve in a sober manner.

The point of this is that although I wasn’t too close to Dad during his life, I am much closer to him now. That would seem strange to non-Catholics, but for believers with a knowledge of the Communion of Saints, that shouldn’t seem strange at all.

Death doesn’t end a life. Death is just a passage from this life to another. This life is temporary, everything “is”, and then passes away to dust and a dim memory. The life after is eternal. Whether that life is spent in Heaven or Hell depends on what you do in your Earthly life.

There is a connection between those of us still here on Earth and those deceased. It is called, as I referenced in a previous paragraph, the Communion of Saints . (Via New Advent.) This is comprised of the “Church Militant” (those still on Earth), the “Church Suffering” (those in Purgatory) and the “Church Triumphant” (those in Heaven). Only the souls that have damned themselves to Hell are excluded.

“Communion” implies a community, wherein the members still can relate to one another. This relation is conducted by the means of prayer. We pray to the Church Triumphant and the Church Suffering for their intercessory power with God. We can somehow sense their presence (although admittedly that “sensing” may be wishful thinking).

They are there to help, comfort and console us. We are separated from them by the chasm of death, but that chasm can be crossed eventually by our own deathly passage.

I said earlier in this post that I am much closer to Dad now than while he was alive. I have grown to be much like him, at least with regard to the practice of my Catholic Faith. (I still haven’t taken up woodworking as a hobby, nor returned to fishing as a pastime, but may in time. I do enjoy yardwork, like he did, and love baseball, too.) I understand him better as the years progress and as I grow older.

To anyone who has lost a parent (or anyone beloved) to death, fear not. They are not gone from you permanently. Consider them as just having moved far away, and the distance you need to travel to meet with them again will take the rest of your life.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

A symbol of Purgatory

A few days ago I began a vacation from my job. However, on my first “official” day of vacation, I was still required to attend a mandatory monthly meeting. No big deal, I have to get up early and tolerate a meeting before the joy of my vacation could begin. But my vacation would still begin. Then the thought hit me: “This would be like going through Purgatory before entering the fullness of Heaven.” When in Purgatory, the suffering soul knows it is saved, but cannot be fully united with God in Heaven. Too much of the self, and a clinging to worldly desires keep it from entering Heaven.

I tend to think quite often in symbolic or metaphoric terms. I like to connect concrete things to the spiritual. It helps me to better conceptualize the unseeable.

So, my vacation is like Heaven, and having to put up with a momentary passage through a meeting is like a Purgatory. I desire Heaven and don’t want to have to pass through Purgatory, but due to circumstances of my life, I have to be delayed before arriving at my ultimate goal.

“Vacation” is a nice metaphor for Heaven, particularly the idea of an Endless Vacation, (an “Endless Summer”) at an Infinity-starred resort paid for by the resort owner. The only actual cost to you is to get rid of unnecessary baggage. You can’t show up at this resort covered in stains and wearing shabby clothing, the stuff you bore from where you came. At this resort you have to wear the resplendent garb of the permanent guests. The old stuff, the garments of the old country, has to be tossed out and burnt.

Only then can you enter.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

Purgatory

What happens when you die?

A lot of hopeful people assume that you go straight to Heaven. Hell is a fantasy to scare people into being good, and that God would never send anyone to Hell (This is true, God would never send anyone to Hell. But people send themselves to Hell by the choices they’ve made in life that have as their consequence the ultimate rejection of God.)

But since not everyone goes to Hell, do the rest go straight to Heaven? What about people who by the choices they’ve made are destined for Heaven, but have not fully repented for the sins they committed before converting? What about people who make “deathbed conversions”, is it fair that they enter into Heaven with sins not fully remitted through Earthly penance? What about us alcoholics and addicts who think that “Well, I did my Step 4* and Step 5**, that’s enough.” Since according to Ephesians 5:5: “Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure or greedy person, that is, an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God,” (Via USCCB.) what about those who just fall short of perfection? Who dies perfect? We all die with stains on our soul and junk in our trunk. One small impurity and we’re banned from Heaven?

Well, there is hope for those of us that are not perfect. That hope is “Purgatory”

(Via New Advent.)

Purgatory is that place where we go where we are finally and completely purged of any attachment to selfish and sinful inclinations. I strongly recommend that you read that linked article from New Advent, it explains a lot and includes Scriptural passages supporting the idea, along with excellent human reasons for Purgatory’s existence, even if there was no Scriptural basis.

I envision Purgatory to be a place and a process. As a place, perhaps some domain outside of Heaven (“Heaven’s foyer”) in which we see the glory of God and the beauty of Heaven, but our sinful attachment to ourselves and to Earthly pleasure prevents us from entering. The pain we feel at this separation is our “purgation”. It is the process by which we are cleansed of all impurities so that we can finally enter into our true home.

This cleansing is a suffering, and if we accept and not reject the Earthly suffering that we experience, we can begin our purgatory now.

* and ** : Steps 4 and 5 for the unknowing are those of the 12 Steps of recovery programs in which the recovering addict does a “fearless and searching moral inventory” of their lives and then afterwards “admits to God, to ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"