Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

Purgatory once again

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dohle-purgatory-web(originally posted to a non-Catholic discussion forum)

. . .To me the term “Purgatory” represent a state of being and not some place of imprisonment.  “The term does not indicate a place, but a condition of existence”--- John Paul II.

God the Father in Christ Jesus is calling all to a loving relationship.  All relationships that have any real love in them, and even those with those we struggle with have a purgatorial aspect to them, they bring out our own inner wounds and struggles to be able to love and to be present with others.  The more self centered we are, for instance, the deeper the struggle to become free enough to have an actual loving contact with others.   This takes humility, the letting go of blame and a radical acceptance that we are not victims if we choose to understand that most of our problems are based on an inability to love.  So it is with our relationship with God the Father as revealed to us by Christ Jesus.

I believe that like Jacob we wrestle with God.  And like Jacob we are wounded when we do that by God, it causes us to limp.  We are made aware of our fragility when God slowly heals us of our self centeredness; we are lead to make choices that cause inner struggle and conflict with ourselves.  This is another form of purification and death to self…..this is another purgatorial state.

In the Gospel of Luke Jesus says this:  Luke 3:16-17

John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”(NRSV)

This verse can be looked at on different levels.  One level is that in our own souls, the chaff will be burned away (be healed) by the infinite fire of God’s love, which is unquenchable.  St. Paul talks about that as well:

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire. (NRSV: 1 Cor. 3:11-15)

So the experience of purgatory is in actuality Gods love continuing the work of salvation in the soul.  As we suffer in this life in the dying to self, so it continues if we do not trust or allow God’s love to fill us.  If we fear the letting go, it is grace that allows this to continue in purgatory:

“The fire of loss is the fire of Hell. The saving fire is the purgative fire of Purgatory.  The purgative, saving fire brings a soul to full holiness; for “without holiness, no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).   This is why a soul who desires to dwell with God and glorify God desires to be purified before seeing the face of the Lord.   A soul burden with the residuals of sin is encumbered in its ability to glorify God.  Through His infinite mercy, God purges the residuals of sin with fire and lovingly draws the soul in.

Oh, how our souls should yearn for the fire of Christ’s scared heart, a heart that burns with love and mercy!  Oh, to be consumed and purified by the fires of His heart.” (https://toloveandtruth.net/2013/08/21/st-paul-on-purgatory/)

I don’t expect this to change any ones mind about the reality of purgatory.  However purgatory is still based on God’s saving grace.  Souls still being purified are saved by Jesus Christ, it is God who heals and brings his work to completion.

I pray for the souls in purgatory because they are still on the way, as I pray for all my brothers and sisters in this world…..Christ calls us each to grow in love and compassion.  We are a royal priesthood and Christ Jesus also works in and though us.  We are his hands and his feet, his mouthpiece,  for we have died and it is Christ Jesus who continues his saving work in our souls, all we need do is to open our hearts and that will lead to praying and loving all others…..judgment is God’s alone, for he is infinite truth and love.  So I pray for the salvation of all and am at peace.  In judging others, I am only judging myself.

Br. Mark Dohle, OCSO
Holy Spirit Monastery

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