The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1030-1031) teaches:
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.The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire.This is a dogma of the Church and the teaching of Christ. There are some who deny this teaching, but this is usually because of a lack of faith and a loss of the sense of sin, but what is easily forgotten are our brothers and sisters, real living persons in purgatory, neglected by our foolish doubt and inattentiveness.
St Gregory the Great says:
“As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.”
Do you know anyone without completely perfect patience, unwavering kindness, and pure-hearted sincerity? If you are like me you might be able to count such souls on one hand or maybe not at all. Purgatory is a merciful gift of God for those of us who are not yet perfected in charity when we die.
Yet these holy souls are greatly aided by the Church militant offering the Lord on their behalf works of charity, prayers, alms, and most especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. A very good thing in the month of November would be if each Catholic would offer masses for all of their faithful departed relatives, and even for those souls for whom no one prays.
One All Souls Day I was walking in a cemetery praying the Rosary for the holy souls when I asked them sincerely to reveal to me our final end and the purification that awaits those not yet perfected. As I prayed I felt two very powerful inspirations that have changed my life forever:
1. Do not underestimate the effects of sin, even of minor faults, or venial sins, for many souls stay in a luke-warm state because they do not develop sufficient hatred for sins, no matter how small we may think they are.
2. Rely on the strength of charity to acquire the patience necessary to accept each moment as a gift of God to be filled always with the majesty of his Presence, the holiness of his Will, and the power of his divine Love.
|This is the cemetery in Subiaco, Italy, in which I walked|
and asked for inspiration.