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.
Lincoln A. Wood