Purgatory

Lincoln’s Log 11-4-12
“The fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”
1 Cor. 3:13-15
November is the end of the liturgical year and this month our readings encourage us to reflect on the “last things.” One item of church teaching that often comes up this time of year is purgatory. Does the church still teach about purgatory? What is it? What does it look like? Isn’t it a silly superstition that we don’t believe anymore?
The church does still teach about purgatory. The best, short explanation of the teaching that I have found is in Youcat, the Youth Catechism.
“What is purgatory?

Purgatory, often imagined as a place, is actually a condition. Someone who dies in God’s grace (and therefore at peace with God and men) but who still needs purification before he can se God face to face is in purgatory.”
Pretty good. Youcat goes on to explain…
“When Peter had betrayed Jesus, the Lord turned around and looked at Peter: ‘And Peter went out and wept bitterly” – a feeling like being in purgatory. Just such a purgatory probably awaits most of us at the moment of our death: the Lord looks at us full of love – and we experience shame and painful remorse over our wicked or ‘merely’ unloving behavior. Only after this purifying pain will we be capable of meeting his loving gaze in untroubled heavenly joy.”
As always we begin and end with God’s love. Purgatory is one dimension of what it means to be a loved sinner, even after death. May we always turn toward the loving gaze of God and allow it to heal us, even if that healing comes through tears or fire.
Peace,
Lincoln A. Wood
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New Evangelization

Lincoln’s Log 10-28-12
For us religion is more a discipleship of a person than an adherence to a doctrine or obedience to a set of rules. The person of Jesus is deeply attractive: His message and His life, His passion, death and resurrection. Adherence to doctrine comes as fruit of discipleship of a master.”
Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay speaking on behalf of the Bishops from Asia at the 2012 Synod of Bishops

 I’ve been following the Synod in Rome on the New Evangelization and the Transmission of the Christian Faith. A Synod is a gathering of Bishops with the intention of reflecting together on a specific issue within the church or the world. This Synod has special significance because of its relationship to the Year of Faith celebrated this year on the 50th anniversary of Vatican II.

Several themes seem to be emerging. These include:
  1. Becoming a more humble church. The days of a Christian empire are no longer. The culture we live in is no longer one which lives out of, or even readily accepts, Christian principles. This requires humility. The church’s authority has been seriously questioned and in some cases discredited. Now we must rely on our true source of authority: the truth of the Gospel.
  2. The way we transmit the faith must be rooted in a deeply personal connection with Jesus. We must speak out of our relationship with Jesus and invite people into that relationship. As one of the Bishops from Asia said, “Adherence to doctrine comes as fruit of discipleship of a master.” Our faith always has its beginning and end in Jesus. This needs to be made more explicit and shape all of the church’s activities.
  3. The Church must maintain and increase its commitment to social justice. The credibility of being a disciple of Jesus comes from concrete acts of charity and justice. Following Jesus leads us to be people of compassion and action.

As we continue to walk through this year of faith may we be empowered by the Spirit to continue to proclaim the Gospel of the Lord in word and deed.

Peace,
Lincoln
P.S. I am indebted to Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP for his reporting of the synod at: Synod2012.org