Saturday, January 18, 2014

From the Rev. Ronald Check: Catechesis on Purgatory

“How do you know that Masses will take souls out of Purgatory?”

The Council of Trent, which quotes the teaching of the early Church Fathers and all of the ancient liturgies, both Eastern and Western, says that “the Mass is a propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead, and that the souls in Purgatory are helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but chiefly by the acceptable Sacrifice of the Altar.” (cf. Sess. XXV; Sess. VI, Can. 30; Sess. XII, Ch. 2, Can. 3)  Tertullian writes in the beginning of the third century: “We make on one day every year oblations for the dead, as for their birthdays.”   In another place, he writes: “The faithful widow prays for the soul of her husband, and begs for him in the interim refreshment, and in the first resurrection companionship, and offers on the anniversary day of his death.” Saint Augustine writes, quoting his Mother Saint Monica, “Lay this body anywhere; let not the care of it in any way disturb you; this only I ask of you, that you should remember me at the altar of the Lord, wherever you may be.”  The current Catechism of the Catholic Church says, that Purgatory is “a state of final purification after death and before entrance into heaven for those who died in God’s friendship, but were only imperfectly purified; a final cleansing of human imperfection before one is able to enter the joy of heaven.”  Even the Eastern Churches, while note calling it “Purgatory” admit of the need for and the possibility of a state of progressive purification that takes place after death in order to prepare the soul to enter into the presence of God.  The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the greatest act of glory to God, the greatest merits for our redemption and salvation were obtained on Calvary, no greater means exists.  Our Lord has performed the greatest act of Love and the Mercy that he obtained for us on Calvary is dispensed to us through the Holy Mass.   Let us pray to God not only for ourselves, that we may share in these graces, but that these graces may be applied to souls of all the faithful departed for their purification.  May the Holy mass inspire within all of us a greater love of God and hence also a deeper friendship.

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