Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Purgatory and Jingle Bells


The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:
1030 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.
1031 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:
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.
1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin." From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:
Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them. Source

Jingle Bells

An ancient bell found by archaeologists in the City of David, Jerusalem,
which is believed to have been sown onto the garment of a high priest
Exodus 28 tells us of priestly garments fringed with small golden bells, alternating with tassels. The purpose of the bells was to let God know that the priest was entering the Holy of Holies for the required yearly sacrifice on the Day of Atonement. The priest would also have a rope tied around his leg. If the priest were to cast eyes upon God, he would die. The rope could be used for others to drag the body of the priest out without entering the most sacred part of the temple.

Why would God kill someone after casting eyes upon Him? It is believed that once someone has seen the Glory of God, they can no longer bear to carry on their earthly life. It is not that God strikes down the man as a form of punishment. To the contrary, one would long to be no other place than with God once His greatness is fully revealed.

Powerful Longing for God

Imagine being stricken so deeply within your soul that you refuse to cling to your earthly existence for one more moment? Enter Pope Benedict XVI as he spoke about St. Catherine of Genoa at a general audience in January of 2011. Through the mystical experiences of St. Catherine, we find that the fires of purgatory are not the fires that consume earthly objects. No, the fires of purgation reside within our very souls. It is the painful longing to be with God once we've caught a glimpse of Him, only to be kept in a state of cleansing before we are able to join Him at last. Our Holy Father said,
"We too feel how distant we are, how full we are of so many things that we cannot see God. The soul is aware of the immense love and perfect justice of God and consequently suffers for having failed to respond in a correct and perfect way to this love; and love for God itself becomes a flame, love itself cleanses it from the residue of sin."
St. Catherine of Genoa
St. Catherine of Genoa
*Click HERE for a 2010 +Pondering+ on Purgatory by Churchmouse

(Need more about Purgatory? See HERE for Scripture references and Early Church Fathers teachings and HERE for a tract published by Catholic Answers.)

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