It has become increasingly difficult today to speak coherently of our Christian hope for life after death. True, Catholics have traditionally manifested deep faith in an after-life by prayers for their departed loved ones, by devotion to the saints and general acceptance of the spirit world.
But in this present age of science and technology, the traditional Christian beliefs about resurrection and the next life can seem, especially to the youth, to be mere wishful dreams or projections.
Many Christian activists follow the Marxist-Maoist line in condemning all religious ideas about an after-life. Such ideas they claim, betray the human responsibility to work for justice and liberation on earth, and doom the poor to continued unjust exploitation by their economic masters.
There is no doubt, that the question of our existence after death is the most important and consequential question of all. It is the fundamental question of life decisive of our eternal destiny. Therefore it ever was, and must be the ultimate and essential purpose of Religion to answer this question.
As the end of our earthly pilgrimage, death involves an inescapable judgment which leads to the definitive outcome of the person’s life. The Church teaches that those who have died in the state of Grace “are received immediately into heaven, and see clearly God Himself, one and three, as He is, while those who die in actual mortal sin go to hell immediately.”
Heaven or hell, one or the other, we must choose by our lives, because the unjust, such either by transgression or through unsatisfied justice,”shall not possess the Kingdom of God”.
Through the ineffable mercy of God, in the next world, a place of purification is provided, for those who, at the time of their death, are not entirely pure, this place is called Purgatory.
Between heaven, “the place of refreshment, light and peace,” and Hell, the abode of eternal torment, there is, till the day of general Judgment, a middle state called Purgatory. A place for those souls that depart this life justified, but still in need of final purification. In this place of punishment and purification, of justice and mercy, dwell the souls that have venial sins to expiate, or temporal punishment to undergo or both.
Our dissenting brethren ask: “Why is it that souls who depart this life in a state of grace must nevertheless suffer so severely? Why must they, after having devoted their earthly career to true love of God, to the renunciation of all wickedness and worldly aspirations, be denied entrance into eternal bliss?”
Let the inquirer rest assured that if it were not necessary, God would not permit it, for He finds no pleasure in the misfortune and pain of man, but in his salvation and eternal happiness. As a father will not hurt us except it be necessary for our true welfare.
God fearing persons conscientiously avoid mortal sin; yet either from want of due vigilance or from human frailty, they commit venial faults which, trifling as they may appear, are punished by God; for Jesus says,
“But I say to you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of Judgment.”
“May we request that you offer mass for the Holy Souls at least once a year.”
-FOSS [Friends of the Suffering Souls]
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sponsor: Jim Doody