God is My Search Engine, not Google: Purgatory

Recently the topic of purgatory has been coming up (repeatedly) amongst priests and other Catholics within our little community and connected to it. For example, a Jesus to Mankind prayer group member attended a talk by a priest at an RCIA program and she was surprised at his lack of knowledge of the biblical basis. This prompted her to find biblical references for him, of which there are many, along with the evidence of early Church tradition. I have read and are familiar with most of these.

Then, because November is the month of the Holy Souls where we pray for the souls of those who have died, a priest gave a very good sermon and a later a separate catechesis  on the same purgatory. The catechesis talk was very informative and interesting and inspired us all to pray anew for the ‘holy souls’- so named because they love and believe in God and Christ His Son, even if imperfectly, and are therefore saved, but leave this life without having atoned for their many sins and negligences. Nothing unholy can stand before God and so they must be purified.

It seems God wanted to add to the biblical passages that I know and that the Church officially recognizes, as referring to purgatory.

 When I got home to rest and read a bit, after the catechesis, I opened my bible immediately on a passage which seems to describe purgatory and hell very, very well! God’s teaching is always so swift and to the point; it seems that he doesn’t want me to miss anything. I am always learning in His presence through His Word. 🙂
Although this passage is literally a description of a mental suffering on earth given to the wicked,  it seems to symbolically describe, allude or even pre-empt. the sufferings of both the damned and those undergoing their final purification.
Over them alone there spread a heavy darkness, image of the dark that would receive them.”
Then the writer describes those who suffer -but less. They are those who ask for forgiveness of all past ills, beg for mercy and are grateful not to suffer as much as those others. These are those destined for a lesser dark, by inference.
By contrast, God’s true children are given light and also chosen to give light to others.
Overall, there are some VERY powerful images which can be used to describe hell and purgatory– which the writer of Wisdom Ch 17, has made clear symbolises and preempts the two different types of sufferings in the afterlife. From all we have read of purgatory, and hell, from all we know from the saints and church teaching as well, these descriptions fit perfectly.
Wisdom 17: 1-20:
1 Yes, your judgements are great and impenetrable, which is why uninstructed souls have gone astray.

2 While the wicked supposed they had a holy nation in their power, they themselves lay prisoners of the dark, in the fetters of long night, confined under their own roofs, banished from eternal providence.

3 While they thought to remain unnoticed with their secret sins, curtained by dark forgetfulness, they were scattered in fearful dismay, terrified by apparitions.

4 The hiding place sheltering them could not ward off their fear; terrifying noises echoed round them; and gloomy, grim-faced spectres haunted them.

5 No fire had power enough to give them light, nor could the brightly blazing stars illuminate that dreadful night.

6 The only light for them was a great, spontaneous blaze -- a fearful sight to see! And in their terror, once that sight had vanished, they thought what they had seen more terrible than ever.

7 Their magical illusions were powerless now, and their claims to intelligence were ignominiously confounded;

8 for those who promised to drive out fears and disorders from sick souls were now themselves sick with ludicrous fright.

9 Even when there was nothing frightful to scare them, the vermin creeping past and the hissing of reptiles filled them with panic;
10 they died convulsed with fright, refusing even to look at empty air, which cannot be eluded anyhow!

11 Wickedness is confessedly very cowardly, and it condemns itself; under pressure from conscience it always assumes the worst.

12 Fear, indeed, is nothing other than the failure of the help offered by reason;

13 the less you rely within yourself on this, the more alarming it is not to know the cause of your suffering.

14 And they, all locked in the same sleep, while that darkness lasted -- which was in fact quite powerless and had issued from the depths of equally powerless Hades-

15 were now chased by monstrous spectres, now paralysed by the fainting of their souls; for a sudden, unexpected terror had attacked them.

16 And thus, whoever it might be that fell there stayed clamped to the spot in this prison without bars.

17 Whether he was ploughman or shepherd, or somebody at work in the desert, he was still overtaken and suffered the inevitable fate, for all had been bound by the one same chain of darkness.

18 The soughing of the wind, the tuneful noise of birds in the spreading branches, the measured beat of water in its powerful course, the headlong din of rocks cascading down,

19 the unseen course of bounding animals, the roaring of the most savage of wild beasts, the echo rebounding from the clefts in the mountains, all held them paralysed with fear.

20 For the whole world shone with the light of day and, unhindered, went about its work;

21 over them alone there spread a heavy darkness, image of the dark that would receive them. But heavier than the darkness was the burden they were to themselves.

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the Mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

God bless+Donna Liane

 

 

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DonnaLiane

Catholic mother of seven children. Crusade prayer warrior in Jesus' Final Mission to save souls.