Wednesday, November 2, 2011
SUFFERING SOULS IN PURGATORY, INDULGENCES
When I was a child, I could not figure out how purgatory would be a good thing. After all the Baltimore Catechism used images of people who were naked and burning in flames. I thought to myself, "this isn't much different than hell!" I had burned myself a couple of times playing with matches, so I knew how much fire hurt! I couldn't imagine it all over my naked body!
But the image was meant to convey purification, like gold purified in fire. It is metaphor or symbol of what happens after death and during our personal judgment.
I suspect when I go to meet my maker, that His light of love will illuminate my sinful self and I will see for the first time just what a miserable sinner I have been, just how selfish I have been and just how faithless and loveless I've been. Of course I pray that the light of love will also show forth my good qualities which I will leave to others to list since I don't want conceitedness to be illuminated also at judgement day.
I suspect too that the moment of purifying judgement will seem like an eternity especially as the dark elements are burned away. Maybe fire is a good metaphor for purgatory.
Since there is supposedly no time in the after life, we don't know how long this will take, I suspect the more darkness that needs purification the more of the "is" that purgatory is, will be needed.
A plenary indulgence may be gained for the faithful departed by visiting a cemetery today or going to Mass. You will also need to go to confession within seven days, receive Holy Communion worthily, recite one Our Father and the Creed and pray one additional Our Father and one Hail Mary for the intentions of the Holy father, Pope Benedict. Doing this is an example of faith and good works in action.
Here is a summary of what the Baltimore Catechism has to say about these things:
I. Venial sin is a less serious offense against the law of God, which does not deprive the soul of sanctifying grace and can be pardoned even without the sacrament of Confession or Penance. It can be venial in two ways:
a. When the evil done is not seriously wrong
b. When the evil done is seriously wrong, but the sinner sincerely believes it is only slightly wrong or does not give full consent to it.
II. Venial Sin harms us by making us less fervent in the service of God, by weakening our power to resist mortal sin and by making us deserving of God’s punishment in this life or in purgatory (this type of punishment is an act of love to purify us either way).
III. The communion of saints: the faithful on earth, the blessed in heaven and the souls in purgatory with Christ as our Head.
IV. Through the communion of saints, the blessed in heaven can help the souls in purgatory and the faithful on earth by praying for them.
V. The faithful on earth through the communion of saints should honor the blessed in heaven and pray to them because they are worthy of honor and as friends of God will help the faithful on earth.
VI. The faithful on earth through the communion of saints can relieve the sufferings of the souls in purgatory by prayer, fasting, and other good works, by indulgences and by having Masses offered for them.
VII. At the end of our life, we will have our particular judgment by God and there will be either rewards or punishments: heaven, purgatory or hell.
VIII. Those punished for a time in purgatory that die in the state of grace but are guilty of venial sin, or have not fully satisfied for the temporal punishment due their sins.
a. Purgatory is like God’s hospital for souls, where the souls there are purified by God’s burning love. They do not yet love God perfectly nor are they perfect
b. Souls in purgatory are totally dependent upon God and the prayers of the faithful on earth and the blessed in heaven. They cannot help themselves
IX. Those who go to hell are those who know God, yet choose deliberately to live their lives as though God does not exist or that they do not need to love God or obey him. They choose their own way independent of God and do so consciously, knowing better and with full consent of the will.
X. Indulgences: These are gifts granted by the Church for the remission of the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven. After sin has been healed or forgiven by the medicine of Confession, the wounds left by sin must be healed by further medication—penance either here on earth or in purgatory. Sometimes medicine or surgery can be bitter or painful, just like penance or purgatory, but necessary for complete healing or forgiveness. Indulgence remits punishment or removes the need for the bitter medicine or surgery of more penance in purgatory and substitutes an easier but more effective one to assist and even complete the healing process.
XI. There are two types of indulgences:
a. Plenary: remits all the temporal punishment due to our sins.
b. Partial: remits a part of the temporal punishment due to our sins
XII. To gain an indulgence, we must be in a state of grace, have at least a general intention of gaining the indulgence and perform the works required by the Church. Normally it means going to Confession, receiving Holy Communion worthily and doing various types of prayers and praying for the intentions of the pope. We must be free of all sin to gain an indulgence
XIII. We can gain indulgences either for ourselves or the holy souls in purgatory, but we cannot gain them for the faithful living on earth