Thursday, November 18, 2010

Msgr. Charles Pope: Are You Ready to Die?

"While you are still on earth, it is impossible to understand what God demands of a soul expiating its sins in Purgatory. You are under the impression that many prayers, well said, will place a soul almost at once in possession of eternal happiness. It is nothing of the kind. Who can fathom the judgments of God? Who can understand how pure a soul must be before He admits it to share His eternal happiness? Alas, if people only knew, if they would only consider it while still on earth, what different lives they would lead!"

~ Sr. M.G, a soul from Purgatory:  excerpt from An Unpublished Manuscript on Purgatory~

"Not only do modern people think little of death, but even less do we think of the judgment to follow. The Book of Hebrews says, It is appointed to man to die once, and after this the judgment (Heb 9:27). Even Church-going Catholic largely pass over any notion of judgment after death. This is most evident at Catholic funerals which are dominated by gleeful canonizations of the deceased and never a mention of jjudgment or the need to pray for the one who has died. Our neglect to pray for the dead is a terrible dereliction of duty."

"Hence we must live our lives in readiness. Our central priorities must be prayer, the reading of Scripture and other spiritual works, devotion to the Sacraments, holy fellowship and weekly Mass. We must repent of serious sins and seek seriously to grow in holiness. Scripture says that we must Strive for peace with all men, and that holiness: without which no one shall see God (Heb 12:14). Some of us have to bury the hatchet and offer forgiveness to others for the Lord warns sternly, If you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Matt 6:15) and James also warns: Judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful (James 2:13). We cannot go on living in presumption that the judgment we face is of little account for Scripture gives no basis for such a casual attitude. Neither should we despair for God is rich in mercy and does not spurn those who are humble and contrite. Perhaps the best approach is simply to have a kind of sobriety about the fact that we will all face judgment and to thoughtfully prepare for it.

"A word about the nature of judgment we face. None of us can say for sure what that moment will be like. However it would seem that the key word to describe what must go on is “honesty.” In that moment, before the Lord, all masks will be removed. All the little excusing lies we like to tell ourselves will be set aside. We will see ourselves as we really are. Perhaps too we will also see more clearly some of the grief and trouble we have been carrying and have a truth compassion for our self even as we have a sober understanding of our faults and incompleteness. For a true believer the judgment is not simply between heaven and hell, but even more so, an assessment of what remains incomplete in us. The Lord promised us perfection (Matt 5:48) and St. Paul wrote: May God who has begun a good work in you bring it to completion (Phil 1:6). Hence our judgment must also certainly include the question of what, if anything, remains incomplete in us. For it is impossible that a promise of God would remain incomplete for us or anything be less than perfect. Whatever is judged to be incomplete or imperfect is set right in purgatory which is for us not against us."

~ Msgr. Charles Pope:  excerpt from here--worthwhile reading. ~

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