Wednesday, January 05, 2011
The only thing we know about Purgatory for sure is that it exists. There is a place where souls go before they enter Heaven. Wherever that is and whatever goes on there causes them to need our prayers.
The traditional view of Purgatory is that it is rather like Hell. Fiery, miserable, great suffering. One hour there feels, literally, like sixty years. Mary visits. Angels bring the suffering sips of water.
And poor Amelia is there until the end of time! What in the world did she do, by the age of 14 when she died, to deserve that?
Have we left you behind, dear Readers? Let's re-cap:
We know there is a place between Heaven and Hell where there are souls who need prayers because we are admonished in Macabees to "pray for the dead". The dead people in Heaven don't need any prayers and prayers are useless for the people in Hell. The Catholic Church named that place Purgatory. We believe that you go there to be punished for sins that you skated on, punishment-wise, and to achieve perfect harmony with God.
After that, everything we think about Purgatory is derived from what the Doctors of the Church and various individuals have said. We have to pay close attention to what the Doctors of the Church have said. But we are free to totally ignore things that individuals have said.
Those individuals have seen visions of Purgatory. For example, St. Catherine of Genoa, who was with a man at his death bed. One hour after his death, he appeared to her full of woe and suffering, begging her to pray for him as he had been in Purgatory "for sixty years". She had to lower the boom on him and tell him it had only been an hour.
Math class was like that for me. Time wise. I was never on fire.
We are never compelled to believe what we call "private revelations". This includes all sightings of Mary: Fatima, Guadlupe, Lourdes, that new one in Wisconsin... Great news for the separated brethren who are so uncomfortable with Mary in the first place.
Here's a thought for you, separated brethren, while we're on the subject. If you could sit down today and have brunch with Mary, wouldn't you? Of course you would! If Mary, the Mother of God, called you on the phone or texted you for brunch, don't try and tell me you wouldn'g hop right over there. And while you were at brunch and talking with each other, wouldn't you ask her to pray for you, like you might some other Christian friend at brunch? Of course you would!
So, don't wait for brunch.
Which brings us to Amelia. The children of Fatima wrote down the things Mary said to them and they asked her about a couple of people they had known who had passed away. The first girl, Mary told them, was in Heaven. But when they asked about poor Amelia, Mary said she was in Purgatory until the end of the world.
Mary appeared to the children of Fatima in 1917. So Amelia is still in Purgatory. 94 years. 32, 520 days. 390,360 hours. And if one hour is experienced as 60 years, well...I'll try to do the math on that and offer it up to the Poor Souls in Purgatory.
Amelia is experiencing Purgatory, so far, as 21, 621,600 years, according to St. Catherine of Genoa. I'm on board with St. Catherine, because we all know that time does not fly when you're not having fun.
I can't fathom what Amelia could have done to merit this. Our grade school nuns always told us that Pontius Pilate was in Puragtory until the end of time, too. Pontius, perhaps you'd like to sit over here with Amelia.
I am one of those people who becomes very upset when children are tried as adults no matter what they've done. The argument is always that they were old enough to know right from wrong. To which I must answer, but not old enough to be trusted to drive, drink, serve in the military or vote. Why? They have issues with good judgement solely because of their age. Unless you want to let children do those things, I don't think they should be tried as adults, either.
On the other hand, Mary said a lot of things that proved to be true during her time visiting Fatima, so I'll just....let it go. Perhaps our prayers and sacrifices have given Amelia an early parole. We pray this is the case.
Keep in mind that we do believe, suffering notwithstanding, that Purgatory is a joyful place overall, because everyone there has full knowledge that they are definitely going to Heaven (even if some of them are wishing time would go ahead and end, already). So we know that Amelia is actually very, very happy.
You can offer your prayers for them and offer your sufferings and set backs up for them and free them from their joyful misery. You can also say prayers for yourself ahead of time for when you end up there, because chances are very high that you'll be going.
I know I'm going to end up there (at least!) Clergy and nuns are held to a higher standard because we have to be good examples of the love of Christ and are therfore punished with, shall we say, more vigor. Jesus loved people that were just about impossible to like, let alone love. He asked us to love enemies. The words "love" and "enemies" usually don't even go into the same sentence.
Like joyful misery. Which is exactly how you are to offer up your suffering. Joyfully.
There are several things you can do to avoid Purgatory. Strive for perfection. Go to confession often. Google "indulgences" for a full list of prayers and activities.
Or...you could die the death of a martyr. Martyr's go straight to Heaven, no questions asked.