Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Hello Sister, I love your blog! I have a question related to this angel thing. You know how in the movie "Ghost", the Patrick Swayze character died, but stayed on earth to accomplish a task? I'm pretty sure the Catholic church teaches that that is not possible, right? People that have died don't come back to earth and influence or protect or do things. I ask this because of an angel experience that we had in our family -- my son was seriously injured, and before the paramedics came, he said that he saw a crowd of people surrounding him, but in reality there was no one there. I think he was being surrounded by angels, protecting him. Part of me would like to think that my father-in-law, who was a crusty old Marine who passed away years before, was one of those beings, protecting his grandson until help came. What does the Catholic church teach on this? And do they address the whole 'believing in ghosts' thing?
Yes and no. Let's just not get carried away. The Catholic Church doesn't officially say one word about what people call ghosts. Except the Holy Ghost. The Church does talk quite a bit about Him. But people do come back and talk with us, at least according to several saints who had dead people show up and beg the saints to pray for them because they were having a rough time of it in Purgatory.
I should say these dead folks came to visit future saints, as actual saints are all also dead people who are in heaven. At any rate there are quite a number of future saints who, while they were alive on earth, had souls from Purgatory show up at their door.
"When I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament on the Feast of Corpus Christi a person enveloped in fire suddenly stood before me. From the pitiable state the soul was in I knew it was in Purgatory and I wept bitterly" - St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.
Sometimes it seems as though our future saint was having a vision of Purgatory and sometimes it seems as though the souls came a knockin'. I believe it was St. Catherine of Genoa who had been at the death bed of some poor devil who appeared to her after he died begging her to pray for him in Purgatory. He was suffering so much, he said, he had been there sixty years. "Sorry, buddy," she had to say, "you've only been dead an hour."
We believe that dead people are either in Heaven or Hell or Purgatory. They aren't roaming around looking like a mist doing the same thing over and over again or trying to find 'the light' or waiting for someone to give them a boot into the next world. They're not stuck in between worlds rattling chains or showing people how awful Christmas is going to be next year, or trying to help their poor little widow find their killer.
What the Catholic Church does teach about seeing dead people is that if you see one, ignore it, even if it's your beloved Auntie Tilly, because it's probably not Auntie Tilly, it's probably the devil dressed as Auntie Tilly. If you can't ignore it because it's throwing things off your shelf or carving it's initials on your mid-section, call a priest, even if your Auntie Tilly was known to throw things.
I'm sure your son saw angels. Anyhow, you said that a bunch of people gathered. So your father-in law would have had to actually bring a few of his Marine buddies along with him. Sempre Fi does not need to extend into the afterlife.
When the children of Fatima were talking with Our Lady, there was a 14 year old girl who had died and the children asked after her, if she would go to Heaven. Our Blessed Mother assured the children that the girl was indeed going to Heaven, but that the girl would be in Purgatory until the end of the world. While it is we hope that by now our prayers have freed the child, it is possible that she is still there, as Fatima was not so long ago.
And if some 14 year old peasant child from Fatima is in Purgatory until the end of the world, I can't think that the Marines, given what they do when they're on leave, have skated straight to Heaven. We hope they have all gone to their reward, but let's be realistic. When your son saw these people gathered around, were any of them on fire?