Strange Things Have Been Known To Happen on the Night of Christmas

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Jesuit Father Segundo Llorente (1906-1989) was an outstanding missionary to the faithful of Alaska. A brilliant and humble priest, Father Llorente spent himself in the service of the indigenous of Alaska for decades.

Years ago, in a meditation entitled “Strange Things Happen on the Night of Christmas,” this Spanish religious offered his thoughts on the adoration due the Most Holy Eucharist. This powerful essay, which was published in the February 1998 newsletter of the Catholic Society of Evangelists, seems more pertinent now than when it first was penned.

A priest told me what happened to him once in his first parish. After the Midnight Mass on Christmas Day he personally locked the church. With the keys in his pocket he went to his room and had a good sleep. At 7:30 in the morning he got up and went back to the church intending to have one hour of prayer all to himself. He opened the side door leading to the sacristy, turned on a light and then turned on the lights for the church. As he opened the sacristy door and walked into the church, he literally froze. Strange people clad in the poorest of clothes occupied most of the pews and all were in total silence. No one so much as wiggled and nobody cared to look at him. A small group was standing by the Nativity Scene contemplating the manger in total silence.

The priest recovered quickly and in a loud voice asked them how they got in. Nobody answered. He walked closer to them and asked again. “Who let you in?” A woman answered totally unconcerned: “Strange things happen on the night of Christmas.” And back to total silence The priest went to check the main door and found it locked just as he had left it. He was now determined to get the facts and turned his face to the pews; but they were empty. The people had vanished.

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The Last Things – A Traditional Catholic Study

 fourlastthings

 

I          PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS — DEATH —PSYCHOLOGY OF THE DISEMBODIED SOUL —DURATION OF THE NEXT LIFE


II        DEATH AND THE PARTICULAR JUDGMENT

III       HELL—DOCTRINAL TRUTHS—TWOFOLD PAIN OF HELL—MITIGATION OF THE PAINS OF HELL—THE FIRE OF HELL

IV       HELL — THEOLOGICAL SPECULATIONS — PAIN OF LOSS, PAIN OF SENSE—ACTION OF FIRE OF HELL

V        HELL—APOLOGETIC FALSE AND TRUE—OB­JECTIONS ANSWERED

VI       PURGATORY ERRORS—CATHOLIC DOGMA— PAINS AND JOYS OF PURGATORY

VII     HEAVEN—HAPPINESS OF HEAVEN—ESSENTIAL AND ACCIDENTAL GLORY OF THE BLESSED

VIII   THE RESURRECTION AND THE GENERAL JUDGMENT—QUALITIES OF RISEN BODIES

IX       LIMBO—SUFFERINGS OF LIMBO—WHO GO TO LIMBO

APPENDIX—MIRACULOUS RESURRECTIONS OF THE DEAD      

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Love does not let a little thing like death stand in its way.

allsaintsimages

We pray for our beloved in Purgatory so that they may enjoy the Beatific Vision and for our loved ones in Heaven in memoriam and so that they may intercede for us, just as those we love in Purgatory and Heaven pray for us.  Thus the bonds of love expressed in prayer keep us linked to those we cannot see, except in priceless memories, and who we long to be reunited with after our days in this Vale of Tears are done.

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Following Pope Francis’ advice, I drove my “humble car” to Mass, yesterday.

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Driving a “humble” car has its’ drawbacks

by Doug Lawrence

It’s a 1997 mini van with slightly more than 200,000 miles on the speedo and it stalled about eight blocks from church, right in the middle of the street. I checked all the usual stuff under the hood, to no avail. Now I was not only one big “sweat ball” – but also a “grease monkey” – and I would probably be late for Mass – if I got there, at all.

Looking up, I could barely make out the distant steeple of the church. Invoking the Holy Name of Jesus, I began to coast downhill – backwards – attempting to find a good place to pull over.

Things in the mirror are indeed closer than they appear.  I missed the first turn by “t-h-a-t   m-u-c-h”!

Now I was stuck against the curb and the entire street was blocked. A “Good Samaritan” helped me push it out and straighten things up. (It’s nice to be able to occasionally live the Gospel!)

Coasting downhill and backwards for another block or so, I managed to successfully turn on to a cross-street. Then I coasted downhill – going forward this time – until I could safely pull over and park.

I gave all the things under the hood another once-over;  lightly rapping on the battery terminals with the end of a flashlight,  jiggling all the fuses, wires and relays, making sure I had gas. Then I tried once again to start. No joy!

Already late for Mass – I was sure Jesus would understand, since I was just following Pope Francis’ suggestion – and I was indeed feeling “humbler” by the minute!

Then there was the small matter of the pulled ligament in my foot – which was already hurting from pushing the car. A brisk (now ten block) walk would be fun, and I could “offer it up” for the poor souls in Purgatory. Even “humbler” still!

Firing up my cell phone (a cheap, “humble” non-smart phone) I called my son, asking him to drive over after Mass – bringing along a spare battery, a good flashlight and all appropriate tools – including my most “humble” sledge hammer.

I walked in just as the Gospel was being proclaimed. A quick stop at the bathroom got rid of most of the grease, but I was still a big “sweat ball” and there was nothing much I could do about that. Sorry, Jesus!

I stood in the back until I cooled off and dried out a bit. Only then did I take a seat. Now I know why they call them “pews”.

I’m proud to say that, thanks to Pope Francis, I feel I’m getting really good at being “humble”.  I’m just not yet sure how this makes evangelizing any easier, or more effective.

Maybe we can compare notes some time.

Old Fashioned, Authoritative Catholic Teaching About Purgatory

purgatory

The Sources of Catholic Dogma, Henry Denzinger, (13th Edition) 2004.

(XIVa) The souls of those who die in the state of grace, but with venial faults or temporal penalties not yet satisfied are detained in Purgatory, concerning the existence of which it is certain from scripture; which does not consist in only the fears of one about to die; but in satisfactory penalties which the souls suffer while they are tormented by fire, secure nevertheless, concerning their state of salvation, but are outside the state of merit, they do not sin by seeking rest or by abhorring the penalties; they are helped by the prayers, satisfactory acts, and almsgiving of the living, by indulgences, especially by the sacrifice of the Mass.

References – Denzinger numbers:

(456) Council of Lyons I, 1245, (Reaffirmed the name Purgatory, the nature of the punishment, and that suffrage by the living may be beneficially applied to the souls there.)

(570s) Re: Purgatory – “Tortured by fire for a time” Pope Clement VI, Letter, Sept. 20, 1351.

Re: Purgatorial fire

At the Council of Florence, Bessarion argued against the existence of real purgatorial fire, and the Greeks were assured that the Roman Church had never issued any dogmatic decree on this subject. In the West the belief in the existence of real fire is common. Augustine (Enarration on Psalm 37, no. 3) speaks of the pain which purgatorial fire causes as more severe than anything a man can suffer in this life, “gravior erit ignis

quam quidquid potest homo pati in hac vita” (P.L., col. 397). Gregory the Great speaks of those who after this life “will expiate their faults by purgatorial flames,” and he adds “that the pain be more intolerable than any one can suffer in this life” (Ps. 3 poenit., n. 1). Following in the footsteps of Gregory, St. Thomas teaches (IV, dist. xxi, q. i, a.1) that besides the separation of the soul from the sight of God, there is the other punishment

from fire. “Una poena damni, in quantum scilicet retardantur a divina visione; alia sensus secundum quod ab igne punientur”, and St. Bonaventure not only agrees with St. Thomas but adds (IV, dist. xx, p.1, a.1, q. ii) that this punishment by fire is more severe than any punishment which comes to men in this life; “Gravior est omni temporali poena. quam modo sustinet anima carni conjuncta”. How this fire affects the souls of the departed the Doctors do not know, and in such matters it is well to heed the warning of the Council of Trent when it commands the bishops “to exclude from their preaching difficult and subtle questions which tend not to edification’, and from the discussion of which there is no increase either in piety or devotion” (Sess. XXV, “De Purgatorio”).

(693) Council of Florence, 1438, (The truly penitent who have departed in the love of God, before they have made satisfaction are cleansed after death in purgatorial punishment, etc., etc.)

(778) Lateran Council V, 1512 – Refuting the errors of Martin Luther: Souls in Purgatory are indeed assured of salvation, and are indeed beyond the state of meriting and/or increasing in charity. Here is no sin in their abhorring punishment or seeking rest.

Adendum Re: Merit

In the Bull “Exurge Domine” Leo X condemns the proposition (n. 38) “Nec probatum est ullis aut rationibus aut scripturis ipsas esse extra statum merendi aut augendae caritatis” (There is no proof from reason or Scripture that they [the souls in purgatory] cannot merit or increase in charity). For them “the night has come in which no man can labour”, and Christian tradition has always considered that only in this life can man work unto the profit of his own soul. The Doctors of the Middle Ages while agreeing that this life is the time for merit and increase of grace, still some with St. Thomas seemed to question whether or not there might be some non-essential reward which the souls in purgatory might merit (IV, dist. xxi, q. i, a. 3). Bellarmine believes that in this matter St. Thomas changed his opinion and refers to a statement of St. Thomas (“De Malo”, q. vii, a. 11). Whatever may be the mind of the Angelic Doctor, theologians agree that no merit is possible in purgatory, and if objection be urged that the souls there merit by their prayers, Bellarmine says that such prayers avail with God because of merit already acquired “Solum impetrant ex meritis praeteritis quomodo nunc sancti orando) pro nobis impetrant licet non merendo” (They avail only in virtue of past merits as those who are now saints intercede for us not by merit but by prayer). (loc. cit. II, cap. iii).

(840) Council of Trent, 1545, Canon 30 (Temporal punishment for sin may remain, even after justification by grace.) See also the Decree Concerning Purgatory, Session XXV, December 3, and 4, 1563.

(983) Decree Concerning Purgatory

Since the Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Ghost, has, following the sacred writings and the ancient tradition of the Fathers, taught in sacred councils and very recently in this ecumenical council that there is a purgatory,[1] and that the souls there detained are aided by the suffrages of the faithful and chiefly by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar, the holy council commands the bishops that they strive diligently to the end that the sound doctrine of purgatory, transmitted by the Fathers and sacred councils,[2] be believed and maintained by the faithful of Christ, and be everywhere taught and preached. The more difficult and subtle questions, however, and those that do not make for edification and from which there is for the most part no increase in piety, are to be excluded from popular instructions to uneducated people.[3] Likewise, things that are uncertain or that have the appearance of falsehood they shall not permit to be made known publicly and discussed.

But those things that tend to a certain kind of curiosity or superstition, or that savor of filthy lucre, they shall prohibit as scandals and stumbling-blocks to the faithful. The bishops shall see to it that the suffrages of the living, that is, the sacrifice of the mass,[4] prayers, alms and other works of piety which they have been accustomed to perform for the faithful departed, be piously and devoutly discharged in accordance with the laws of the Church, and that whatever is due on their behalf from testamentary bequests or other ways, be discharged by the priests and ministers of the Church and others who are bound to render this service not in a perfunctory manner, but diligently and accurately.

(998) Council of Trent – Reaffirms the existence of Purgatory and that souls detained there are aided by the prayers of the faithful. The use of indulgences is affirmed and especially salutary.

(2147a) Pope Pius X, Letter: “Ex Quo” December 26, 1910 – No doubt that the sacred dogmas on Purgatory and the Blessed Virgin Mary were acknowledged by the holy men of earlier years.

See also, Denzinger 427, 464, 530, 535, 723a, 729, 780, 998, 1542

Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Ludwig Ott, 4th Edition, May 1960

Supporting texts: 314, 321, 443, 482-85

From the Roman Catechism, published following the Council of Trent

the fire of purgatory, in which the souls of just men are cleansed by a temporary punishment, in order to be admitted into their eternal country, into which nothing defiled entereth (cf. Rev. 21:27). The truth of this doctrine, founded, as holy Councils declare, on Scripture, and confirmed by Apostolic tradition, demands exposition from the pastor, all the more diligent and frequent, because we live in times when men endure not sound doctrine. Prayers for the dead, that they may be liberated from the fire of purgatoryare derived from Apostolic teaching. We also beg of God … that we be not sentenced to endure the fire of purgatory, from which we piously and devoutly implore that others may be liberated.

Catechism of Council of Trent, The Lord’s Prayer, Seventh Petition

“We also beg of God that we be not cut off by a sudden death; that we provoke not His anger against us; that we be not condemned to suffer the punishments reserved for the wicked; that we be not sentenced to endure the fire of purgatory, from which we piously and devoutly implore that others may be liberated.”

Encyclical of Pope Benedict XIV in Preparation for the Holy Year, 1749

“The faithful must be fully aware that sin and its eternal punishment are remitted by the Sacrament of Penance if one makes proper use of it; however the entire temporal punishment is very seldom taken away. This must be removed either by satisfactory works in this life or by the fire of Purgatory after death.”

Encyclical On Proclaiming a Universal Jubilee by Pope Leo XII, 1824

“You must also discuss carefully how much efficacy there is in indulgences; how great is the fruit of remission, not only of the canonical but also of the temporal punishment due for sins; and finally, how much aid from the treasure of merits from Christ and the saints may be applied to those who died truly penitent before they had made adequate satisfaction for their sins. Their souls must be purified in the fires of purgatory so that entry into the eternal fatherland may open to them.”

Baltimore Catechism No. 3

LESSON 37 – ON THE LAST JUDGMENT & RESURRECTION, HELL

PURGATORY & HEAVEN

Q. 1381. What is Purgatory?

A. Purgatory is the state in which those suffer for a time who die guilty of venial sins, or without having satisfied for the punishment due to their sins.

Q. 1382. Why is this state called Purgatory?

A. This state is called Purgatory because in it the souls are purged or purified from all their stains; and it is not, therefore, a permanent or lasting state for the soul.

Q. 1383. Are the souls in Purgatory sure of their salvation?

A. The souls in Purgatory are sure of their salvation, and they will enter heaven as soon as they are completely purified and made worthy to enjoy that presence of God which is called the Beatific Vision.

Q. 1384. Do we know what souls are in Purgatory, and how long they have to remain there?

A. We do not know what souls are in Purgatory nor how long they have to remain there; hence we continue to pray for all persons who have died apparently in the true faith and free from mortal sin. They are called the faithful departed.

Q. 1385. Can the faithful on earth help the souls in Purgatory?

A. The faithful on earth can help the souls in Purgatory by their prayers, fasts, alms, deeds; by indulgences, and by having Masses said for them.

Q. 1386. Since God loves the souls in Purgatory, why does He punish them?

A. Though God loves the souls in Purgatory, He punishes them because His holiness requires that nothing defiled may enter heaven and His justice requires that everyone be punished or rewarded according to what he deserves.

Most recently, the Second Vatican Council in its Constitution on the Church renewed the teaching of previous councils on eschatology, including the doctrine of purgatory. “This sacred Council,” it declared, “accepts with great devotion this venerable faith of our ancestors regarding this vital fellowship with our brethren who are in heavenly glory or who, having died, are still being purified….At the same time, in conformity with our own pastoral interests, we urge all concerned, if any abuses, excesses or defects have crept in here or there, to do what is in their power to remove or correct them, and to restore all things to a fuller praise of Christ and of God” (Chapter VII, No. 51).

Pope Paul VI – From the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Paul VI INDULGENTIARUM DOCTRINA whereby the revision of Sacred Indulgences is promulgated. January 1, 1967:

“It is a divinely revealed truth that sins bring punishments inflicted by God’s sanctity and justice. These must be expiated either on this earth through the sorrows, miseries and calamities of this life and above all through death, or else in the life beyond through fire and torments or “purifying” punishments.

Therefore it has always been the conviction of the faithful that the paths of evil are fraught with many stumbling blocks and bring adversities, bitterness and harm to those who follow them.”

Current Edition: The Catechism of the Catholic Church

III. THE FINAL PURIFICATION, OR PURGATORY

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.606 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:607

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.608

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.”609 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.610 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.611

1472 To understand this doctrine and practice of the Church, it is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence. Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the “eternal punishment” of sin. On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the “temporal punishment” of sin. These two punishments must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin. A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain.[83]

1473 The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the “old man” and to put on the “new man.”[84]

1475 In the communion of saints, “a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things.”[86] In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others. Thus recourse to the communion of saints lets the contrite sinner be more promptly and efficaciously purified of the punishments for sin.

Editor’s note: It will be interesting to see what Pope Francis has to say about all this.

Many who thought Purgatory didn’t exist now know better.

Carnival CEO Gerry Cahill apologized at a news conference and later on the public address system as people were disembarking.

“I appreciate the patience of our guests and their ability to cope with the situation. And I’d like to reiterate the apology I made earlier. I know the conditions on board were very poor,” he said. “We pride ourselves on providing our guests with a great vacation experience, and clearly we failed in this particular case.”

Passenger Ferguson said crew members tried to make the situation bearable.

“They did their best to keep our spirits up,” she said.

Joseph and Cecilia Alvarez of San Antonio said some passengers passed the time by forming a Bible study group.

“It was awesome,” he said. “It lifted up our souls and gave us hope that we would get back.”

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Don’t forget to pray for the holy souls in Purgatory

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It’s OK. I’m back.

by Doug Lawrence

I took a week off to move, and it took the better part of that week to get my Internet service back up and running.

Something about software issues … and components that didn’t work well together.

It will be at least a few days before regular postings are resumed.

There’s simply too much moving yet to be done, and too many details that still require attention!

Look for “Moving As A Type of Purgatory … The Biblical Basis for Suffering On-The-Go” coming up soon.

Little understood fact: Even after sins are forgiven, a debt is still owed and a price must still be paid.

Of course … Jesus Christ personally paid the price that we never could … but Jesus also deliberately left some things up to us, that are within our power (and responsibility) as Christians.

For example: You carelessly wreck your neighbors car. There’s no police. No other property damage. No loss of life. No court case. No insurance.

You apologize to your neighbor for the wreck, and he forgives you.

But somebody still has to pay for a new car!

What is fair and just? Who pays? Who is actually responsible for the damage? Who has the ability to pay? How should any respective payments be apportioned?

What is the morally correct way to handle something like this, in order for justice to be served, and for the rights of all parties to be respected and preserved?

Would it be morally just for the person who wrecked the car to get away without making a good faith effort at paying at least some small amount of reparations?

And then there’s the very important, related concept of learning to avoid car wrecks, in the future!

All this leads us to the biblical and very Catholic concept of Purgatory, which is closely linked to the concept of paying a form of temporal punishment for our sins, even though they have been forgiven, and even though Jesus has already picked up the lion’s share of the “bill”.

A Short Catechesis On Purgatory

Purgatory IS Biblical. Also included is what some of the great minds of the Catholic world had to say about it, and when. Purgatory is not new. It goes back to the very beginning of the Judeo-Christian Faith Tradition.

This citation shows that EVEN after sins are forgiven, a price must be paid:

2Sam 12:13-18 – David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child that is born to you shall die.” 15 Then Nathan went to his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became sick. 16 David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in and lay all night upon the ground. 17 And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground; but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. 18 On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead; for they said, “Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us; how then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.”

There are 5 principles for the belief in Purgatory:

1 – As seen from the above verses, there is punishment for sin even after forgiveness.

2- Nothing unclean can enter Heaven:

Matt 5:48- You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Hebrews 12:22-23 – But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.

3 – There is a way that one is made perfect:

1Cor 3:15 – each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

Sounds like Purgatory to me!

4 – There is a place other the Heaven and Hell:

Matt 12:32 – And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

In hell there is no further forgiveness. In Heaven there is no need for it. So what is this third place where a sin cannot be forgiven?

5 – Some passages make no sense in a Heaven/Hell only theology:

Matt 18:32-35 – Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; 33 and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Debt to be paid? When? Where?

Is there a penalty even after forgiveness? – See the above passages about David.

Some more citations:

2Macc 12:44-46 – For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. 45 But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in Godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.

Mt 5:26 – truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny

1Cor 15:29- Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?

Paul never condemned Baptism for the dead.

1Pet 3:18-20; 4:6 – Jesus preached to spirits in prison 18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water.

Where is this prison?

1Pet 4:6 – For this is why the gospel was preached even to the dead, that though judged in the flesh like men, they might live in the spirit like God.

2Tim 1:16-18 – Paul prays for dead friend Onesiphorus 16 May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me; he was not ashamed of my chains, 17 but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me eagerly and found me– 18 may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day, & you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.

Why would Paul pay for a dead person if his fate was supposedly already decided?

Rev 21:27 – But nothing unclean shall enter it (Heaven), nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Now, for what some of the greatest minds in Christian history:

Tertullian

“We offer sacrifices for the dead on their birthday anniversaries [the date of death—birth into eternal life]” (The Crown 3:3 [A.D. 211]).

“A woman, after the death of her husband . . . prays for his soul and asks that he may, while waiting, find rest; and that he may share in the first resurrection. And each year, on the anniversary of his death, she offers the sacrifice” (Monogamy 10:1–2 [A.D. 216]).

John Chrysostom

“Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice [Job 1:5], 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” (Homilies on First Corinthians 41:5 [A.D. 392]).

“But by the prayers of the holy Church, and by the salvific sacrifice, and by the alms which are given for their spirits, there is no doubt that the dead are aided, that the Lord might deal more mercifully with them than their sins would deserve. The whole Church observes this practice which was handed down by the Fathers: that it prays for those who have died in the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, when they are commemorated in their own place in the sacrifice itself; and the sacrifice is offered also in memory of them, on their behalf. If, then, works of mercy are celebrated for the sake of those who are being remembered, who would hesitate to recommend them, on whose behalf prayers to God are not offered in vain? It is not at all to be doubted that such prayers are of profit to the dead; but for such of them as lived before their death in a way that makes it possible for these things to be useful to them after death” (ibid., 172:2). [AD 392]

Augustine

“Temporal punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by some after death, by some both here and hereafter, but all of them before that last and strictest judgment. But not all who suffer temporal punishments after death will come to eternal punishments, which are to follow after that judgment” (The City of God 21:13 [A.D. 419]).

“That there should be some fire even after this life is not incredible, and it can be inquired into and either be discovered or left hidden whether some of the faithful may be saved, some slowly & some more quickly in the greater/lesser degree in which they loved the good things that perish, through a certain purgatorial fire” (Handbook on Faith, Hope, & Charity 18:69 [A.D. 421]).

“But by the prayers of the holy Church, and by the salvific sacrifice, and by the alms which are given for their spirits, there is no doubt that the dead are aided, that the Lord might deal more mercifully with them than their sins would deserve. The whole Church observes this practice which was handed down by the Fathers: that it prays for those who have died in the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, when they are commemorated in their own place in the sacrifice itself; and the sacrifice is offered also in memory of them, on their behalf. If, then, works of mercy are celebrated for the sake of those who are being remembered, who would hesitate to recommend them, on whose behalf prayers to God are not offered in vain? It is not at all to be doubted that such prayers are of profit to the dead; but for such of them as lived before their death in a way that makes it possible for these things to be useful to them after death” (ibid., 172:2). AD 419

Written and Submitted by AndyP/Doria2

This Week’s Ask Alice: Praying for the Dead, More About the Sacrament of Reconciliation, What Constitutes A Shrine.

Send A Question To Alice

She’ll answer as many questions as possible,
right here, every Thursday.

Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

Joan Writes: Where are references to praying for the dead in the Bible? And how can I refute my son when he says prayers for the dead are ridiculous because they are already dead and you can’t help them after they are dead.

Alice Answers: Aren’t children experts at challenging our patience and faith? With three kids of my own and 28 years of catechizing other people’s children, your son’s question is a common one.

The earliest Bible reference that states the doctrine of praying for the dead is found in the Old Testament. When the Israelite leader, Judas Maccabeus, and his army gathered up bodies of the slain for burial they found amulets to the idol, Jamnia, under the tunics of the deceased. Since Jews were forbidden, by law, from wearing pagan charms, Judas and his men prayed for the dead that their sinful deed might be forgiven.

“He then took up a collection among his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. In doing this hea acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection of the dead in view; for if her were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been foolish and useless to pray for them in death. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward which awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin.” (2 Maccabees 12:43-46)

I hope this helps you explain to your son, the ministry of praying for the dead.

In Christ’s Love,

Alice

Here’s a couple of pages of related scripture references

A recent article on Purgatory and praying for the dead

****

Mike Asks: Why do I have to confess my sins to a priest? The shortest, sweetest answer possible is preferred.

Alice Answers: We must confess our sins to a priest because Jesus Himself instituted the Sacrament of Penance when He gave His apostles the power to forgive sins. “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. If you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20: 22-23)

The sacrament of Penance is necessary for salvation since it provides forgiveness from all the sins we have commited since Baptism. It sometimes is called “laborious baptism.” The sacrament of Penance reconciles us with God and the Church, which by our sins, we have wounded.

Baptism and Penance are sacraments of exorcism. Penance is more powerful than the rite of exorcism. Penitents obtain pardon for their sins. The rite of exorcism is a sacramental, calling on the name of God to restrain the activity of the devil.

May God bless you abundantly for bringing Christ’s love to our incarcerated brothers and sisters!

In Christ’s Love,

Alice

Some “deep” background and additional scripture references

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Daria Asks: Do you know what is involved in something being made a “shrine”?

Alice Answers: A shrine is a sacred place where pilgrims come to pray and worship. As Catholics, we are invited to become part of the great pilgrimage that Christ and His Church have made and continue to make throughout history. A shrine is the goal of that pilgrimage, the goal of the pilgrim’s journey.

A precedent for shrine building can be found in Genesis (35:1) “God said to Jacob, ‘Go up now to Bethel. Settle there and build an altar there to the God who appeared to you while you were fleeing from your brother Esau.’ ”

A Catholic church becomes a shrine under the guidance of the local ordinary (bishop). A national shrine must receive approval from the whole episcopal conference. An international shrine must be designated by Papal (Holy See) approval. Catholic shrines include historical sites associated with Jesus, the Virgin Mary, a particular saint, or a sacred charism, such as the Divine Mercy Shrine in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. A shrine can contain relics related to Christ or a saint and be the site of visions, miracles, or miraculous statues.

A shrine is not a parish. It must be a self-sustaining, free-standing church. The rector is the administrator of a shrine. It is open to the public. The ministry of a shrine is to inspie both locals and travelers to become pilgrims for a day or even an hour. Mass, reconciliation, and special devotions are held at a shrine.

In Christ’s Love,

Alice

The doctrine of purgatory was held by pre-Christian Jews, post-Christian Jews, Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox. It was not denied until the Protestant Reformation, and thus only Protestants deny it today.

Once we understand what purgatory is, then we can understand the comfort the knowledge of its existence brings. For purgatory is the ultimate “Bride’s Room”. It is the place set aside for me to prepare to meet my Bridegroom. My whole entire life I have prepared my mind and spirit for this day, why wouldn’t I want everything to be perfect? I can’t imagine standing before betrothed in the church and exchanging vows un-showered and in my t-shirt and jeans. Why would I think I could stand before the ultimate Bridegroom and not be cleansed and donned in my best. What a comfort to know that before I go to the wedding banquet of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9), I will undergo the eternal “What Not To Wear”, and I will be purified. I will stand before the beatific vision of God and eternally bask in the ever-flowing well-spring of happiness, peace, and mutual communion. Now that’s something worth cleaning up for!

Read more

John Tetzel: Unscrupulous 16th century monk who lied about indulgences, to make money.

… Pope Leo X needed funds to build St. Peter’s Basilica. Fortunately for him, the Church had as a major source of income at its disposal: the sale of indulgences. So, in 1517, Leo announced the availability of new indulgences. Those who purchase them, he announced, will not only help protect the precious relics of St. Paul and St. Peter from the ravages of rain and hail, but would receive valuable religious merit.

This merit, which could be distributed at the Pope’s discretion from the treasury of merit of the saints, would alleviate the (temporal) penalty attached to (already forgiven) sin(s) in this life and the next.

A Dominican monk named John Tetzel was assigned to the sale of indulgences in Saxony. A talented and unscrupulous salesman, Tetzel was willing to make any claim that improved sales. He thus (falsely) promised not only a reduction in punishment for sin, but complete forgiveness of all sin and a return to the state of perfection enjoyed just after baptism.

He (falsely) added that if one would generously purchase indulgences to speed the release of a deceased loved one from Purgatory, no actual repentance on the part of the giver was even necessary. Marketing genius that he was, Tetzel employed a memorable jingle to make his offer clear and simple:

“As soon as the coin in the coffer rings,
a soul from Purgatory springs.”

Link

More about Purgatory and Indulgences

The Four Last Things


Read all about it

More reasons it’s time to “junk” the NAB Bible translation

We have discussed before some concerns about the New American Bible (NAB) and how it vaguely translates the Greek word  πορνείᾳ (porneia)  which specifically refers to sexual immorality, but which the NAB translates only as “immorality.” Of course immorality could mean just about anything. You can read more of this rather serious problem here: NAB and Porneia

In this post I’d like to explore another problem with the NAB that was also called to my attention by one of you. There are problematic footnotes which do not always reflect Catholic teaching. One I’d like to look at is a flawed footnote on 1 Corinthians 3:15. The issue concerns how this text has been understood to refer to purgatory. The footnote in the current NAB denies that it is a reference to purgatory. Let’s look at the text and then the footnote.

Read more

The Power of Holy Water, From the Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila

Holy water: Numbers 5:17,8:7, Ezekiel 47:12

The Power of Holy Water,
From the Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila,
Chapter 31, 1562 A.D…

“From long experience I have learned that there is nothing like holy water to put devils to flight and prevent them from coming back again. They also flee from the Cross, but return; so holy water must have great virtue. For my own part, whenever I take it, my soul feels a particular and most notable consolation. In fact, it is quite usual for me to be conscious of a refreshment which I cannot possibly describe, resembling an inward joy which comforts my whole soul. This is not fancy, or something which has happened to me only once. It has happened again and again and I have observed it most attentively. It is let us say, as if someone very hot and thirsty were to drink from a jug of cold water: he would feel the refreshment throughout his body. I often reflect on the great importance of everything ordained by the Church and it makes me very happy to find that those words of the Church are so powerful that they impart their power to the water and make it so very different from water which has not been blessed.”

Holy water is mentioned in the Bible in Numbers 5:17.

“One night, too, about this time, I thought the devils were stifling me; and when the nuns had sprinkled a great deal of holy water about I saw a huge crowd of them running away as quickly as though they were about to fling themselves down a steep place.”

“I will only describe something that happened to me one night of All Souls. I was in an oratory: I had said one nocturn and was repeating some very devotional prayers which follow it — they are extremely devotional: we have them in our office-book — when actually the devil himself alighted on the book, to prevent me from finishing the prayer. I made the sign of the Cross and he went away. I then began again and he came back. I think I began that prayer three times and not until I had sprinkled some holy water on him could I finish it. At the same moment I saw several souls coming out of purgatory: their time there must have been nearly up and I thought that perhaps the devil was trying to impede their deliverance.”

Exodus 40:12-16, Leviticus 14:49-53,15:7-11,16:23-24, Numbers 5:16-17,8:7,19:17-19, 2Kings 2:20-22 (salt is added to holy water), Psalms 51:2,7

Read and/or download the book for free

More about holy water

Submitted by Bob Stanley

Bible “Ante-Types”: The Desert Wanderings of Exodus as a “type” of Purgatory

Sometimes, God’s elect have bad habits,
and are otherwise “not yet ready for prime time (“Heaven”)

The Old Testament of the Bible is replete with persons, places, and events which serve to prefigure things that would become realities in New Testament times. These are typically known as biblical “ante-types”.

“Bible only” Christians generally fail to appreciate the fact that the God who saves, nonetheless does not always instantaneously conduct his people into the “Promised Land” … which is a metaphor for Heaven. Sometimes, an intermediate course of purification and sanctification … often including a modicum of suffering … is required.

In the case of God’s Chosen People, the Israelites of the Exodus, that “intermediate course” took the form of  a 40-year long desert trek.

Only then would the Israelites be ready to enter the Promised Land.  And even after all that, only two of the original group, estimated to originally number some 2,000,000 souls, made it in alive!

All the rest were required not only to wander, and to experience a life of considerable suffering, but also to die.

Catholics have always understood, that even in these New Testament times of grace, only perfectly holy souls are permitted to enter Heaven, and that many of the faithful departed, while not “bad” enough to warrant Hell, certainly don’t meet God’s high standards for admittance to Heaven.

For those souls, an “intermediate stay” in Purgatory is required. Once their prescribed course of purification and sanctification, along with a modicum of suffering, has been completed, Heaven is always, absolutely guaranteed.

You can find an extensive list of scripture passages dealing with Purgatory here.

This is a clear case of God treating all of his people pretty much equally … but in different ways … at different times.

No real mystery here … the Bible says it’s so … and it’s only fair!

Indulgences

A number of popular devotions have indulgences attached to them. Indeed, the fact that a particular devotion has an indulgence attached to it is an indication that this devotional practice has proven itself within the Church to be helpful in bringing people closer to God. Because of the close association between popular devotions and indulgences, a clear understanding of the Church’s teaching on indulgences is necessary to appreciate the role of popular devotional practices in the life of the Church.

i. What are indulgences?

An indulgence does not confer grace. An indulgence is not a remission of the guilt due to sin. The guilt due to sin is ordinarily taken away by the Sacraments of Baptism and Penance (confession), in which we receive forgiveness for sins through Jesus Christ. Although guilt is taken away, and with it the eternal penalty that is due to sin—namely, damnation, the eternal loss of the presence of God—there remain consequences for sins that those who have committed them must bear. There is what is traditionally called the temporal punishment for sin.

By its very nature, every sin inevitably causes suffering for the one who has committed it. Every sinful act creates a disorder within the soul of the human person; it distorts our desires and affections, leaving us with “an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory.”57 Furthermore, sin disrupts one’s relationships with God, with the Church, with other people, and with the world as a whole. The communion intended by God is damaged or lost. Those who have received forgiveness for their sins still have an obligation to undergo a difficult and painful process (the temporal penalty for sin) to be purified of the consequences of their sins and to restore the disrupted relationships. “While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace.”58 The necessary and painful process that brings restoration and purification can take place either in this life or in Purgatory, as whatever part of the process remains unfinished at death must be completed in Purgatory.59

Through an indulgence, God grants the prayer of the Church that the temporal penalty for sin due to someone be reduced (or possibly eliminated). By God’s grace, participation in a prayer or action that has an indulgence attached to it brings about the necessary restoration and reparation without the suffering that would normally accompany it. The granting of an indulgence by the Church is “the expression of the Church”s full confidence of being heard by the Father when—in view of Christ’s merits and, by his gift, those of Our Lady and the saints—she asks him to mitigate or cancel the painful aspect of punishment by fostering its medicinal aspect through other channels of grace.”60

ii. How can indulgences remove some or all of the temporal punishment for sin?

It is because of the Communion of Saints that some or all of the temporal punishment for sin is removed. Although we always have to face the consequences of our sins in the form of the temporal punishment for sin—that is, the painful process of restoration and reparation—as members of the Body of Christ we are never simply on our own. We are linked with Christ and with the martyrs and saints and can benefit from their holiness in such a way as to be freed from at least a portion of the temporal punishment for sin. “In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others.”61

As a result of the communion that exists between Christ and all the members of the Church, the Church has a treasury of spiritual goods that is inexhaustible. The source of these spiritual goods is Christ. Pope Paul VI taught that this treasury of the Church

is not to be likened to a centuries-old accumulation of material wealth. It means rather the limitless and inexhaustible value that the expiations and merits offered by Christ have in the eyes of God for the liberation of all humanity from sin and for the creation of communion with the Father. The treasury of the Church is Christ the Redeemer himself: in him the atonement and merit of his redemption exist and are at work.62

Since the martyrs and saints have accomplished all that they have in union with Christ, this treasury also includes the value of all their prayers and good works. “As they followed Christ through the power of his grace, they became holy and they have accomplished a work pleasing to the Father. As a result, in working out their own salvation they have also contributed to the salvation of their co-members in Christ’s Mystical Body.”63

Through her union with Christ, the Church has the authority to dispense this treasury. When the Church does this, in order to spur people to acts of piety and charity, the Church requires those who seek an indulgence to perform some good work or act of devotion.64 Furthermore, for reception of a plenary indulgence, which grants the remission of all temporal punishment due to sin, in addition to this good work or act of devotion, the Church specifies four conditions: (1) sacramental confession, (2) reception of Holy Communion, (3) prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father, and (4) complete detachment from all sin, even venial sin.65 It must not be thought, however, that such acts of ours are somehow of themselves sufficient to earn the remission of the temporal punishment for sins. Our efforts, themselves the work of God’s grace, express our openness to receive God’s mercy. In the work of our salvation, it is always God’s grace that is primary, with a power that far exceeds all our efforts.

iii. How can we help the deceased through indulgences?

Just as it is because of the Communion of Saints within the Body of Christ that the Church can grant an indulgence to someone, it is likewise because of the Communion of Saints that one person can obtain an indulgence for someone who has died in order to reduce his or her temporal punishment in Purgatory. We the living are not separated from the faithful departed by death and can still do things for their benefit. As Pope John Paul II has pointed out, “the truth about the communion of saints which unites believers to Christ and to one another, reveals how much each of us can help others—living or dead—to become ever more intimately united with the Father in heaven.”66 At the same time, all of us in the Communion of Saints need to recognize that whatever help we can give each other ultimately comes not from ourselves but from Christ. “For when the faithful gain indulgences they realize that by their own powers they cannot atone for the evil that they have afflicted upon themselves and the entire community by sinning; they therefore are moved to a healthy humility.”67

Official Catholic Church Manual of Indulgences (PDF)

Gain the release of holy souls from Purgatory: Have Masses perpetually offered for them.

The Purgatory Project exists to aid the souls in Purgatory. Anyone can register the names of people who have died. Registering them will help them. It is not hard to help these souls. It costs no money, and it is a very good and important thing to do.

The goal is to get all registered souls released from Purgatory and admitted to Heaven as expeditiously as possible. The souls who are not released immediately will still be helped because they will be elevated to a greater degree of purification and will have to endure less suffering.

The main benefit the souls will receive is the priceless value of hundreds of Masses being said each year for “All Souls Registered In the Purgatory Project”.  The Masses are currently being offered by the Capuchin Franciscans.

You are invited to join in with fasting, adoration, indulgences and Mass intentions to the extent that you are able, but you don’t have to. Masses and prayers that are no longer needed by one soul will automatically and supernaturally be applied to others still in need.

Go to the site and register as many souls as you like, as often as you like. There is no limit. Enter multiple names separated by a comma.

Like this: John Doe, Jane Doe, Joe Doakes, Jane Doakes, etc…

You can also copy and paste a list directly from your favorite text editor/word processor.

After successful registration, you will see a printable confirmation for all the souls you’ve added to the registry. Keep it. Pray over it. Use it should you need to check or verify your on-line listings.

Please tell your friends about this!

Visit the site
Learn more about Purgatory

The Secret of the Poor Souls in Purgatory


Maria Simma claimed to possess a remarkable charism … the ability to communicate with the poor souls in Purgatory.

Today, very little is taught in regular catechism classes about Purgatory, about the suffering that the Poor Souls experience in order to be completely purified to be able to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Yet Purgatory does exist, and the sufferings that the Poor Souls experience there are very real.

Since 1940 (she was then aged 25), a privileged soul, named Maria Simma, has had regular visits from the souls in Purgatory to explain their sufferings and to ask for prayers and Masses to be released from Purgatory. Her local Bishop and parish priest told her she could make known these visitations as long as there were no theological errors.

One day, Sister Emmanuel Maillard, a French nun known for her apostolate in favor of the Apparitions of Our Lady in Medjugorje, came across Maria Simma’s book, called The Souls in Purgatory told Me… and read it with great interest: “This book struck me so much because it related very recent testimonies, and also explained very well the Church’s doctrine on the subject… Straight away, I wrote to the editor who told me that Maria Simma is still alive. Quickly, I contacted her, and she agreed to meet me to answer my questions, which were many!”

This interview took place in 1997 at Maria’s house in Sonntag, a very lovely village in the Vorarlberg Mountains in Austria. The following are excerpts from this interview of Sister Emmanuel of Medjugorje with Maria Simma, taken from a booklet entitled: The Amazing Secret of the Souls in Purgatory, published by Queenship Publishing Co.

See the interview

 

The Fifteen Promises Of Our Lady

2hearts

+The Fifteen Promises Of Our Lady+

(Promises transmitted to Saint Dominic and to Blessed Alan)
Imprimatur Patrick J. Hayes D.D. Archbishop of New York

1 Those that faithfully serve me through praying the Holy Rosary will receive special graces.

2 I promise special protection and the most remarkable thanks, to all those that pray the Holy Rosary.

3 The Rosary will be the most powerful defense against the forces of the evil spirit. Vice will be destroyed; sin will be diminished; and all heresy will be defeated.

4 Through the prayer of the Holy Rosary, the virtues will blossom, and the good acts. The souls will obtain plenty of mercies. The hearts will keep apart from the wordly affairs and its vanities; and souls will be elevated to wish the eternal goods. Let´s hope that the souls will make the purpose of becoming closer to God through this way.

5 The soul that recommends to me through the prayer of the Holy Rosary, will never perish.

6 The soul that prays the Rosary with devotion trying hard to meditate the Holy Mysteries, will not be defeated by bad fortune. In His Holy judgement, God will not punish him. He will not suffer unexpected death. And if he is just, he will remain in the grace of God; and he will be worthy of eternal life.

7 The soul that keeps a true Devotion to the Rosary, won´t die without the Sacraments of the Church.

8 Those who pray the Holy Rosary faithfully, will have in life and death, the Light of God; and the plenitude of His grace. At the time of death, they will participate of the merits of the Holy in Paradise.

9 I will relieve from Purgatory all those who have had the habit of praying the Holy Rosary.

10 All those who remain as faithful sons of the Holy Rosary, will deserve a high grade of glory in Heaven.

11 You will obtain all you ask me through the praying of the Holy Rosary.

12 All those who propagate the Holy Rosary will receive my help in their needs.

13 For all the devotees of the Holy Rosary, I have obtained from my Holy Son, the intercession of all the celestial Court, through their lives and at the time of death.

14 All those who pray the Rosary are my children,and brothers of my unique son, Jesus Christ.

15 The devotion to the Holy Rosary is a sign of predestination.

http://www.ecatholic2000.com/index2.html

submitted by Don H.