Diocese of Toledo, Ohio

Browsing From the Pastor

Purgatory: A Reality that is Consistent with Life as We Experience This

   During the month of November, our attention is drawn to a truth of our Faith that we profess in the Apostles’ Creed: “We believe in the communion of saints.” On All Saints’ Day, we honor the holy persons of all time who are now with the Lord in Heaven. The Saints continue to pray that each of us will join their company when we leave this world. How would we describe Heaven, the goal for which we yearn. We experience a foretaste of Heaven here as we are fully open to receive all that God would give to us and are willing to do all that the Lord asks of us. Heaven can be described as the eternal state of being in which we experience that our only security is in our Lord’s Friendship with us and with one another in Him.  

   To the extent that we make security blankets out of anything or anyone in this world, to such an extent will we lack the ability to be fully at home in heaven when we leave this world. The reality of Purgatory suggests on-going development after we leave this world. Purgatory can be described as the painful process of being weaned away from unwholesome ways of relating to God’s blessings in this life. All who experience Purgatory will reach a stage in their post death development in which they will perfectly experience that our only security is in the Gift of the Lord’s eternal Friendship with us. As this happens, persons will feel perfectly at home in heaven.

   As imperfect as analogies are to describe that which none of us has experienced, we might consider the following to illustrate the painful reality of Purgatory. Let’s imagine that as we develop, we are college bound. We are to reside at the college that we attend. As we’ve developed, we’ve had favorable circumstances. For example, we’ve had our own bedroom, and our own TV. Most of the time, we’ve enjoyed homemade tasty food. We didn’t need to share toys and games. As we grew up, we didn’t have experiences of being away from our parents for significant periods of time.

   If this somewhat describes the background from which we’ve come, the experience of being dropped off at college could be quite traumatic. In a real sense, the college setting would be our new home. To the extent that we were attached to the amenities with which we grew up, to such an extent would we not feel at home at college. It would take a lot of support from others as well as painful transformation on our part to embrace college as being our new home. Eventually, this would happen.

   On this side of death, we can each be likened to children who are developing. The prospect of Purgatory challenges us to examine how we are relating to all that has been entrusted to us. Are we making security blankets out of particular persons? Are we allowing others to make security blankets out of us in the manner in which they are relating to us? We can make security blankets out of the way that we relate to money, our own giftedness, busyness, our position in relation to others, having our own way, and the list goes on and on…

   Our on-going challenge as we develop is two-fold: 1) Let’s strive, with the Lord’s help, to develop a growing, healthy sense of detachment from all aspects of the world in which we are living. Speaking positively, let’s pray for the grace to relate to all that comes our way in this life in the Spirit and mind of Christ. As we strive, with the Lord’s help to grow in this way, we will not be disillusioned when at death, we are permanently separated from the blessings associated with living here. As we struggle to make the Gift of the Lord’s Friendship our only security blanket here, we will feel at home in that life for which Christ has redeemed us. 2) Also, as long as we are still here, let’s pray for those who have died, beginning with our loved ones, that more and more, they will advance toward the goal of our common development, namely to experience that they will be fully at home in that fullness of life for which Christ has redeemed all of us.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Fr. Nelson Beaver – Pastor


RSS Feed


Access all blogs

Subscribe to all of our blogs