Sunday, February 22, 2004

A Disturbing Dimension on Purgatory

I have been testing the Borromeo Project in one of my parishes (I have three that I am pastor of). Today, we talked about death, judgment, heaven, hell, and purgatory. It was very fruitful and very interesting as I have two Protestants (spouses of parishioners) in attendance. It often becomes apologetic-ious.

So, no big surprise, the Protestant Observers had some difficulty with purgatory. Essentially, salvation is an all or nothing proposition and there is no need to make amends or to be purified from the effects of our sin after the sin itself is forgiven. I made a spirited defense and explanation, but I don't think I got all that far with them.

Anyway, as I drove home, an aspect of purgatory occurred to me. Normally, we like to think that we merit all of our good acts and that if we sin, we got "tricked." But if you assert that Purgatory is part of salvation and redemption then you have to admit a couple of things. You have to admit that our good acts are really more God's than mine. When I do good, I am really cooperating with the Grace and Revelation of God. You also have to admit that our sins are really more about me than God. You can think of it as Grace and Revelation pulling at us trying to keep us from the switch. But we still choose it, and then like Urkel, standing in a field of debris say, "Did I do that?"

Purgatory forces us to admit that we are not the be-all and end-all of the moral universe. We are required to assent and then act. After you read this, say a prayer for the Holy Souls. Help them and they will help us.

No comments: