Monday, November 02, 2009

All Souls' Day

Before Heaven ---
a Graduate School of Love

The Office of Readings of the Liturgy of the Hours provides opportunity to reflect upon some of the most powerful passages of scripture and some of the most inspiring literature of the Fathers of the Church. Every now and then wonderful sections from the documents of the Second Vatican Council appear. For the memorials of saints or feasts readers at Office are free to choose an appropriate alternative text. This morning we heard a reflection from a book we frequently use, Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feasts, 4th revised edition (ed. Leonard Foley, OFM and Pat McCloskey, OFM, St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2001. The editors comment for today:
Whether or not one should pray for the dead is one of the great arguments which divide Christians. Appalled by the abuse of indulgences in the Church of his day, Martin Luther rejected the concept of purgatory. Yet prayer for a loved one is, for the believer, a way of erasing any distance, even death. In prayer we stand in God's presence in the company of someone we love, even if that person has gone before us into death.

The article concludes with a quote from Fr. Leonard Foley, OFM - Believing in Jesus.

We must not make purgatory into a flaming concentration camp on the brink of hell - or even a 'hell for a short time.' It is blasphemous to think of it as a place where a petty God exacts final punishment...St. Catherine of Genoa, a mystic of the fifteenth century, wrote that the 'fire' of purgatory is God's love 'burning' the soul so that, at last, the soul is wholly aflame. It is the pain of wanting to be made totally worthy of One who is seen as infinitely lovable, the pain of desire for union that is now absolutely assured, but not yet fully tasted.

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