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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


We're very excited. Advent is just around the corner. We'll spend all that time having too much fun, and then we'll have even more fun during Christmas time. Sister St. Aloysius saw something in a magazine about making little advent calendar bags and since her successful Halloween candy making binge she has been scouring the internet for Christmas candy recipes to put in the little bags.

I sense a meltdown coming on. Pardon the pun. But I think her plan involves making a set of these bags for whoever wants a set. Each bag has a number on it for the calendar day and candy inside. That's a lot of bags, a lot of days, a lot of numbers and a load of candy. I picture myself cutting out felt numbers until I have freed everyone from Purgatory with my suffering. Whoever thought that felt was a fun and easy thing to work with? I'd like to meet that person and cover her in felt bags with numbers on them and ride her out of town on a rail, which shall henceforth be known as "bag and felting". Less cruel than tar, but certainly right to the point.

I digress.

I thought I should get this messy question out of the way before the festive season begins.

Question: As a Catholic in a state of grace (no mortal sin on my soul), and having received five out of seven of the sacraments - can I assume I will go to Heaven someday after a "stint" in Purgatory? If so, how does the "final judgment" enter into this? What does the final judgment mean - when Jesus will "come again to judge the living and the dead"? Surely the people who died already have gone to either Hell, Purgatory or Heaven by now. I don't really understand. I also don't understand what it means about Jesus "spewing out of His mouth" those who are lukewarm - what if they don't have any mortal sins on their souls, but aren't exactly zealous Christians? Does that "spewing" mean He is condemning them to Hell? Thank you for your time - Penelope Purgatory
I don't know.

Yes, I do. I'm just not sure I have a firm grasp on the concepts because I try never to think about the Last Judgment. I hope I just get reunited with my body and get to shuffle off to Heaven. We all have our dreams.

Here is my understanding: If you drop dead right now, your body stays here and rots. Your soul heads off to Heaven, or Purgatory, if you've managed to lead some sort of decent life. If you haven't, your soul will go to Hell forever. Terrible news for you. That happens because when you die, you have a personal judgment.

The Last Judgement is a general judgment. During the Last Judgment, Jesus comes back and you are reunited with your body. I know, it rotted away to nothing, but it's back. It's in great shape. Even if you never liked your chin, you'll love it now. Cellulite? What cellulite?

Why do you get your body back? You don't really need it in heaven.

You get it back so that you can feel even more bliss.

If you've gone to Hell, you'll get it back so you can feel even more suffering. If you're missing any parts now, you'll get them back, too, so you can have two legs to burn in Hell forever instead of one. Rohm Emanuel with have his finger back, for example.

So that will be a big party for some people and some terrible news for others. During all of that, Jesus will judge the nations. That's because sins have a way of hanging around and being repeated by generation after generation. Is America the best country in the world? We'll see. In my opinion, just like Lucy, we have some s'plainin' to do.

Here's how New Advent explains what will happen and what it's all about. Prepare ye the way for your eye to glaze over:

The Roman Catechism thus explains why, besides the particular judgment of each individual, a general one should also be passed on the assembled world: "The first reason is founded on the circumstances that most augment the rewards or aggravate the punishments of the dead. Those who depart this life sometimes leave behind them children who imitate the conduct of their parents, descendants, followers; and others who adhere to and advocate the example, the language, the conduct of those on whom they depend, and whose example they follow; and as the good or bad influence or example, affecting as it does the conduct of many, is to terminate only with this world; justice demands that, in order to form a proper estimate of the good or bad actions of all, a general judgment should take place. . . . Finally, it was important to prove, that in prosperity and adversity, which are sometimes the promiscuous lot of the good and of the bad, everything is ordered by an all-wise, all-just, and all-ruling Providence: it was therefore necessary not only that rewards and punishments should await us in the next life but that they should be awarded by a public and general judgment."

Speaking of glaze, I'm not looking forward to cleaning the stove again, either. Purgatory will be empty soon.

As for the spewing...I think we have to take the New Testament to mean what it says. That's why the Catholic church has all sorts of fun and interesting ways to keep you worked up about God. Advent wreaths and nativity scenes, lenten candles and Easter baskets, martyrs and shrines, rosaries and missals. It's like a continual pep rally. That's exactly why we're making advent calendar candy bags. The sugar rush should help your excitement level some, too.


Anonymous said...

Re: the General Judgment

What is the most important thing we can do for our fellow humans? To try and save their soul.

I think, when we go to be judged, not only will be judged on our merits, and whatnot, but who we bring with us, and who we leave behind (hopefully omission, and not deliberately). We are an evangelical Church, and when opportunities arise to share, we should prayerfully grasp them.

I wonder if our the way in which we lived our lives will be the basis for our personal judgment, and the effects we have on others will be a part of the general.

I really don't know lol. It just made me think, which is good :). I'm not even sure if it matters to me- I will still try and live each day as best I am able! Interesting topic, though!

Leigh said...

This is a scary one that nobody really WANTS to talk about. If you bring up resurrection of the body with priests, more than a few address the matter with a less-than-confident, rather shaky answer. The concepts surrounding this are so incomprehensible that we tend to throw our hands up and hope for the best. Here's what's really got me in a twitter:

When Jesus comes back to COLLECTIVELY judge all of creation... If I have to worry about the sins of the whole world, I can tell you right now, my goose is cooked. Just taking care of my own sins and those of my family is more than a full-time job.

Lord have mercy. Literally.

Ginkgo100 said...

To the questioner who asked if she (he?) could "assume" she would go to heaven if she committed no mortal sins, the word you are looking for here is hope. Not "hope" as in an optimistic feeling, but hope as in a theological virtue. We talk and think about these things in precise terms because God is rational, but remember he is not legalistic -- that is, he does not make rules for the sake of making rules. What is paramount to remember is that God is just and merciful; the teachings on the last things follow from that, but are not independent of it.

You won't know about Purgatory until your personal judgment, but I think it would be safe to say that almost everyone goes to Purgatory before heaven. Of course, if you do not die until the world ends, Purgatory will have been abolished (correct me if I'm wrong here, sister) and any purification you need will be completed here on earth near or during death. Ouch.

Anonymous said...

Is Sr. St. A really going to make dozens and dozens of those tiny bags? Whoa. Maybe you can talk her into something easier like this, though these are disposable, not reusable like the bags:


or this:


At the very least, use a fabric marker for the numbers on those bags. I'd hate for you to develop cramped hands due to felt.

Anonymous said...

I would like to order one set of advent bags, please, complete with candy.

Anonymous said...

I guess I still don't understand - at the general/final judgement, when we'll be judged as a nation, then what if, say WHAT IF (lol) the U.S.A. is guilty of some biggies - as a nation, that is - does that mean that as an American I will be rejudged and I may have to do some more purgatory time even though I WAS already in Heaven?
I don't think so - but, that's what it sounds like to me...

I ought to spend SOME time there for that run-on sentence, at least, eh?

Thanks Sister - Penelope Purgatory

Jade Dunlop said...


Anonymous said...

Why doesn't "Sister St. Aloysius" do a Catholic Advent Calendar--the Jesse Tree?

Anonymous said...

I think that the point of the general judgment is so that everyone can see how everything fits together and praise the justice of God as manifested by the personal judgments, now made public.

Anonymous said...

I'm for the fabric markers as well. You can also buy precut sticky backed numbers, but I'm dubious as to their sticking ability on felt. Maybe you could use roman numerals too which would be easier to cut out.

Leigh said...

Don't you all love the fact that we comment on the fate of our souls for all eternity and within the same post, discuss the merit of fabric markers? Much like when you have a really big, strategic project to complete but the only thing you can think about doing is organizing your desk.

Anonymous said...

Sister I need saint matching and there is no time to waste. My sister has inoperable cancer. She has two small children at home yet and one in college.
We need a miracle. Please answer right away.

Shannon said...

All I can say is that if Sister St. Aloysius and I could get together, we could feed a neighborhood, have an absolute ball, and probably burn down a kitchen or two!!
Maybe she could start a candy blog?

Sister Mary Martha said...

Sister I need saint matching and there is no time to waste. My sister has inoperable cancer. She has two small children at home yet and one in college.
We need a miracle. Please answer right away.

St. Peregrine, the patron saint of cancer and St. Elizabeth Seton and St. Elizabeth of Hungary, both of whom were left alone with small children to raise.

You and your family will be in our prayers.

Leigh said...

Anon...You are in my family's prayers tonight and we will remember your sister in Mass tomorrow.

Helen said...

Sister, a few months ago you did a post about which mysteries to pray on which days during Lent and Ordinary Time. Advent is almost here. Do I treat it like Ordinary Time. I have started say the rosary (note the small r) on most days, and plan on continuing. I would like to follow the Church's suggestion. Please tell me what that is.

Anonymous said...


Do you have a patron saint or perhaps just a good saint quote about sharing in someone else's joy? (instead of being sad that you don't have the same joy in your life) I have a friend (no really!) that's struggling with this.


Nancy said...

I once asked a priest, "Why doesn't the Catholic Church talk about Purgatory anymore?" At the time I was a CCD teacher and remembered learning about it when I was young(er). His answer? "Some theologians agree that we are in Purgatory here on earth."

Anonymous said...

For Anon.#1, there's Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, an Italian wife, mother, and pediatrician who, among other things, refused to endanger her unborn baby's life even though it meant that she would die. She left her husband with the newborn and two small girls. Since Saint Gianna cared so much for her children, I have no doubt that she is caring for them from heaven right now and that she will both help care for your sister's children and help your sister put her trust in God.

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit confused by the inclusion of my friend Rahm's photo here as an example in the paragraph on Hell. (And it's Rahm, not Rohm). Is the point that he's missing a finger? Or that he's Jewish? How does the latter figure into his fate in the personal or general judgement? Is that why he's in the paragraph on Hell? Please explain. I doubt he'll see this but in case he does, I'd like to be able to explain it. Many thanks!!! Love the site!

mel said...

We make those bags!
Don't cut out letters, use fabric paint! Just make sure you slip a piece of paper inside the bag until the paint dries...I had to pry apart a couple before I figured that out. :)

Leigh said...

I'm sure that this is NOT what Sister Mary Martha meant by including Rahm Emanuel's photo in her post but...there are more than a few who would argue that spending any amount of time with Mr. Emanuel must be a taste of what it's like in hell. I recently read this comparison: His style of influence can be compared to a cross between a hemorrhoid and a toothache. If you're his opponent, you just give up 'cause you can't take it anymore. Anyway, sounds pretty hellish to me.