Tuesday evening our Bible study book group discussed the first half of C.S Lewis', The Great Divorce. It's a really interesting read filled with allegorical vignettes about Heaven, Hell and that intermediate place -- Purgatory. Lewis melds the two together, Hell and Purgatory that is. Hope I'm not giving anything away by saying that for those who care to read the book. I do highly recommend it -- short, sweet and full of many things to consider about eternal life.
This week I will pull three Faith facts from F.J. Sheed's must own book, Theology for Beginners, from the section on Purgatory.
Purgatory exists to make us ready. The word is from the Latin verb meaning to cleanse; and cleansing is precisely what Purgatory is for. (Sheed, 168)
We gain no grace there, we emerge from Purgatory with no increase of supernatural life. It exists solely for the cleansing of our nature. (Sheed 168-9)
How are the defects of nature removed in Purgatory? By direct action upon them, the most direct action possible, namely, suffering. [There is an] organic connection between accepted suffering and healing; we have seen that suffering of this kind (Cf. Sheed 99-105) is not the vengeance of an angry Judge, but the rememdy of a Physician who understands us perfectly. We see the same truth in operation in Purgatory. (Sheed, 169)
Purgatory purifies us and prepares our souls to be in the presence of Perfection -- The Beatific Vision. This is our reward; why we work so diligently here is this "vale of tears" to spend eternity basking in the Love of God.
Many dear priests remind us that we should aim higher than Purgatory --work out the kinks (temporal punishment for our sins) here on earth, so that the wonder of heaven will be ours at the moment of our death.
Have a blessed Friday!