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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Raining Cats and Questions

Oh my goodness! Where is Noah, when we need him? One of our dear readers has asked after us, here in the Los Angeles basin where the rain has been as ceaseless as the rains that caused the Great Flood. It's supposed to finally stop tomorrow, or I think we'll have to start pairing up the squirrels and bunnies. We're fine, except for the leaky roof in the kitchen. We have buckets, so we are doing all right.  The leaks are right over where Sister St. Aloysius would normally cool the Christmas cookies, so now we have cooling cookies on the desk, among other places. They remain dry, as do we. But the temptation of the warm cookies here on the desk....the Poor Souls in Purgatory are getting their Christmas bonuses.

We do have a deluge of questions to answer, though.  They're questioning cats and dogs. First a follow up:

Is Limbo the same as Purgatory?

Let's have a quick afterlife primer.  What Goes on in the Afterlife 101:

There are four places (perhaps) where one could end up having left this earthly coil. Three we know of for sure, and one maybe. You are most definitely going to wind up in one of three places, Heaven, Purgatory or Hell. The fourth possibility would be Limbo, but we're not sure about Limbo anymore.  It's just a thought. The other three, however, are definite.

1.  If you die in perfect harmony with God and His Will, you go straight to Heaven.

2.  If you die with a mortal sin on your soul, you go to Hell.

3.  But if you're not perfect, but not horrible, you go to Purgatory until you are punished for the sins for which you didn't do penance while you were alive and to achieve harmony with God.

Thank goodness for Purgatory! We'd hate for the afterlife to be pass/fail.

Limbo was for the good people who died before Jesus opened the gates of Heaven with His death on the cross.  After they vacated the place,  it was for the unbaptized babies or the unbaptized innocents, like people who live deep in the jungles of Borneo and never heard of Jesus or His saving Grace.  I'm thinking with the internet and all, there must be very, very few people who never had the opportunity to hear a word about Jesus at this point.  As of today, the official stance of the Catholic Church is that we "hope" all the innocent people of every stripe and age group go to Heaven through the mercy of God.

Limbo is not Purgatory.  If there is a Limbo, it is a fairly happy place, free of pain and punishment, making everyone as comfortable as possible as an eternity without ever seeing God can be. Purgatory is a very unpleasant place to be, but not an unhappy place, because everyone who lands in Purgatory is definitely going to Heaven. That's happy, isn't it? Like having surgery that you know will cure you.  The surgery part is no fun. The cure is fantastic.

One last thing before the separated brethren start to howl.  Purgatory is the main reason we have separated brethren.  The controversy surrounding earthly prayers that release souls from Purgatory started a protest that caused the Protestant revolt. It wasn't enough for these folks that the Catholic Church addressed and corrected the problem.  The separated brethren actually decided there was no Purgatory at all and now proudly point to the "fact" that Purgatory is not in the Bible.

True.  It isn't.  That's because they use the King James Bible, the Bible edited by the Protestant movement that not only edited out the reference to Purgatory, they took out the whole book in which the reference is found. True, that in the Book of Macabees (removed from the King James Bible), you will not find the word Purgatory.  You will find encouragement to "pray for the dead".

In the Bible that was the Bible that all Christians followed for 1200 years, we were asked to pray for the dead.  Now if the dead only went to Heaven or Hell, why would they need our prayers? Prayers would not help them in either place.  That means there must be a place where the dead need our prayers.  The Catholic Church gave that place a name.

Purgatory.  In the actual Bible.

Moving on.


Can I ask why we bless things? I had bought a new second hand car and asked Father to bless it, and he did. In my mind, I was thinking about how blessing things 'super sizes' them...how does blessing my car super size anything I do with it?

I'm not sure that 'super sizing' is quite the right way to think of a blessing. In any case, we love answering this question. The answer will serve as a reminder for the rest of us as to what our blessed objects mean to us. A reminder of a reminder, so to speak.

It's not rocket science. We bless objects to consecrate their use to God. Then when we use those objects, we think about God, our relationship to God, what we're up to with the object, how we are behaving. The explanation is right there in the blessing itself.

And while you're at it, click on the upper left corner for the list of blessings. The Catholic Church=no stone unturned. A patron saint for every conceivable help, a blessing for everything you can think of.

And a dangling participle to end the day.


June said...

"Blessing of Bacon and Lard"
no stone left unturned indeed haha

Anonymous said...

If I recall correctly in the movie version of MASH, Fr. Mulcahy (Dago Red) improvised the jeep blessing with the blessing for chariots.

Dancing With Pussycats said...

Thank you, Sister, for your entry on blessings...it's very enlightening. But I'm still rather confused. When a priest blesses a sacramental, indulgences are obtained when they are used. But what about regular objects? Is there any difference whether a priest or a layman do the blessing? I had my priest bless my new car. Would there have been any difference if I had just blessed it myself?

John Salmon said...

Actually the Apocrypha were in the original King James Bible. These books were later removed from the KJV.

Anonymous said...

When my oldest son was learning to ride a two-wheeler, he was having a rough time. He tried and tried, but just couldn't get the hang of it! His bike just happened to be in the back of the truck when we went to Mass, and on the spur of the moment, I asked Father Jim to bless the bike. He blessed bike and reader, completely embarrassing the 6-year-old boy. But when we got home, the boy hopped on the bike, and--wonder of wonders!--away he went like a pro! Sometimes a little blessing (and the self-confidence it engenders) is all it takes!