Our Deceased Loved Ones
Time and again, we cry, we weep, we agonize. Another loved one has gone on to the other side. The pain of loss; we will never see them again while we walk this earth. We miss them. We hug them from afar. We embrace them in our hearts and minds. We talk to them. We tell them that we love them, and ask them to pray for us, as we pray for them. We ask the Lord to forgive them their temporal punishment and take them to be with Him, Mother Mary, and all the saints forever.
This is the beauty of All Souls Day. There, we pray for our lost loved ones, for all the souls that left this world but whose love of God was imperfect, or the effects of whose sins live on in consequences they may or may not be aware of.
This leads us to the great question of Purgatory and the Protestant/Catholic debate thereupon. Why do Catholics believe in Purgatory? Why do we pray for the dead? Let us probe in a deeper way what we all know these many years that we have followed Jesus in the Church He founded, the Church founded on Peter and the other Apostles, and their Successors, the Bishops.
The Beauty of Inner Renewal vs Mere Imputation
The real issue has to do with whether God sees our TRUE selves when He looks at us, or whether He CONSIDERS us to have the perfection of Jesus. For many Protestants, the notion of "imputation" is the essential way to look at things. In this view, when a person is "trusting in Jesus to cover his sinfulness", God will not see the person's inner being when He looks at that person. Rather, God shall only see a seamless white garment of the immeasurable righteousness of Jesus laid upon the person's soul, which may or may not be filled with love. In fact, it could be a stench-filled tomb, but fear not. God will only see wondrous white beauty.
The Realistic State of Our Soul
This is insanity for a Catholic. It is not rational. God knows the truth. In fact, He IS the truth. If one is in a dark addiction and has hatred and wrath in his soul, God cannot pretend that that person is totally selfless and pure like Jesus. No way! God sees the inner heart. This is why Catholic conception of justification is not nominal but realistic. It places the judgments of God based on reality, the way things really are in the person's heart, and not some legal fiction of a mere imputation.
This, then, is being RATIONAL, using REASON. Hence, from Aquinas to Benedict XVI, the Church hails faith AND reason, not either/or. We do not need to be afraid of reason, for reason leads us to truth just as much as Scripture and faith, provided that reason is not corrupted by Original Sin, from which the Church is saved by the ever-guiding Holy Spirit when She attempts to use it to further aid in drawing forth the deeper implication of the FAITH left us by the Apostles.
Protestantism has gotten into errors like the above precisely because, many times, she views Reason as an enemy of faith. And so it was that the deists and rationalists of the so-called Enlightenment had wondrous fun and entertainment as they brutally picked apart all the insanities, illogical fallacies, and asininities of competing Protestant heresies, and this, precisely because they still held to this last vestige of God's truth, if even merely natural, REASON!
And so God sees the INNER being. If there is darkness there because of mortal sin, God sees it, and is grieving. If sanctifying grace is there, God sees a friend, even if it is but a faint supernatural light. Yes, the repentant drunk on his death bed, has a faint light of love, and for this, God says, see, there is a little babe there. He was come home. I shall prepare a wonderful wedding garment for him, after my love purifies him. If God sees a saint, there is a shining INNER beauty of brilliance, and God is so in love with that soul. This is in no wise a white garment over a grotesque tomb. This is a Divine life and love that permeates the whole soul, from its very inner depths outward. This is a CERTS, not a white M&M with brown filling. (Got that one from Gary Michuta, thnx, bro!)
The Intrinsic Wounding Effect of Sin
Returning to the repentant alcoholic on his deathbed, we need to consider how his actions of giving himself over entirely to a pleasurable substance have impacted him. Here, the Church teaches a painful reality: the effects of our sins are in no wise EXTRINSIC to ourselves. They AFFECT our inner being. They make us PARTIAL to the objects of our sins. They make us ATTACHED. Hence, the lifelong drunk who was baptized as a babe, has made himself extraordinarily attached to alcohol. His very INNER being has patches of darkness all about it that DISPOSE him to this disease. Unfortunately, a clean slate is no longer possible without an indulgence, since Baptism, with its total cleansing, is past. It is a singular event, never to be repeated, just as God said He would never baptize the world again, as He did with Noah.
Now, regarding this mention of indulgence, if the priest were to come with a relic that contains blessings for a plenary indulgence, and if the alcoholic man, by some miracle from God, had had such a powerful conversion, that he detested every single act of alcohol amongst the countless of such, and was utterly detached at that moment, then if he confessed, and the priest blessed him and gave him the holy Eucharist, then all those countless events of drunkenness would be swallowed up in the ocean of God's mercy, and upon opening his eyes on the other side of this dimension of time, Our Lady and the Angels would carry him immediately to that place of rest and peace, and bypass the purifying fires.
And YET, who can count for sure on such perfect contrition and a priest available with an opportunity for plenary indulgence? How do YOU know if your oil won't run out a few minutes before the Bridegroom comes, and you have not time to go to market and buy some for yourself? Therefore, the man who shirks the regular and diligent practice of his faith and virtues is like the foolish virgin. You might get lucky and have oil, but maybe not.
And so if the drunk, once again, is dying and the priest comes, but cannot offer a plenary indulgence, what shall we say? Even if the man IS detached, all those attachments must still be atoned for. And that could be ages of fire.
Indulgences: a Great Salvation
Hence, knowing that if our sanctification is incomplete at death we shall have to suffer a purification to make OUR TRUE INNER BEING snow white, and that all this applies to all our loved ones, how much more should we be diligently seeking to procure our own hearts to make them pure and love-filled, and to pray and make indulgences for our loved ones. The FORGOTTEN SOULS!
How many priests today with misguided compassion and fear of offending the faithful withhold the small part of the sermon to plead with the grieving loved ones to pray for their beloved deceased and rather, however understandably to be comforting, practically canonize the deceased person?
What then is an indulgence? Let us make an example: St. Kateri suffered much psychological suffering from ridicule and imposed, excessive work in her tribe. She suffered greatly in her death bed, dying painfully because she imposed such cruel penances on herself in the latter portion of her life to suffer for her tribe that was mostly unbelieving. Our beloved St. Kateri deposited into the great account of Jesus Christ and the whole nation of God a GREAT TREASURE of merit. Behold, her little seeds first made, 30, 60, and then 100 fold. Now Mother Church can reach into the inexhaustible purse of treasures from Kateri and ALL those of heroic love, and pull forth 30, 60, and 100 fold, and on and on, of the merits of the saints and apply them. But, you object, who will pay all the merits back?
Well, DUH! Was there not a man who was despised by His own People, an "Unorthodox" person, who found a man beside the road half dad, a man called Adam, who had been robbed by demons of his innocence and left half dead with Original Sin? And did not that unorthodox Man heal him with the sacraments of wine made God and oil made Chrism, for Baptism, for Confirmation, for Anointing unto Service and Anointing to strengthen the Sick? And where else did that "unorthodox" Man take Him except to a great House, the House of all the Just, that He might be cared for there. And did He not appoint one man to look after the wounded man until He would "come back", a man who has KEYS to all the rooms, and therefore to the Kingdom that is this House? And now, we come to the point: this unorthodox Man gives the man with all the keys a certain amount of Money. And yet, He says, "IF YOU SPEND ANYTIHNG ELSE, I WILL PAY YOU ON MY WAY BACK"! This is an indulgence. Jesus will provide all the SPIRITUAL money that the POPE spends in INDULGENCES when He RETURNS. JESUS HAS US COVERED! Jesus has given His Church CREDIT, and no matter how much we CHARGE to FORGIVE SPIRITUAL DEBTS, Jesus will PAY THE BILL AT THE SECOND COMING.
So what are we waiting for. Let us charge up indulgences for US pathetic sinners, and ESPECIALLY OUR LOVED ONES IN THE PURIFYING FLAMES. They are suffering, let us NOT let them down.
Eternal Father, We offer you the Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
In Union with all the Masses said throughout the World this day,
For ALL the souls in purgatory (especially our friends and loved ones),
For sinners everywhere,
For sinners in the Universal Church,
And for those of all our Household and Families…