02 November 2010

All Souls' Day

Gueranger's The Liturgical Year has some excellent reflections on purgatory. These help to focus one's mind on a day like today.  Why don't we do more for those suffering souls who can do nothing-- nothing-- for themselves, and whose ranks we are soon to join, provided we escape damnation?

"If faith teaches us the existence of a purgatory where our loved ones may be detained by unexpiated sin, it is also of faith that we are able to assist them; and theology assures us that their more or less speedy deliverance lies in our power."

"Every sin causes a twofold injury to the sinner: it stains his soul, and renders him liable to punishment. Venial sin, which displeases God, requires a temporal expiation. Mortal sin deforms the soul, and makes the guilty man an abomination to God: its punishment cannot be anything less than eternal banishment, unless the sinner, in this life, prevent the final and irrevocable sentence. But even then the remission of the guilt, though it revokes the sentence of damnation, does not cancel the whole debt. Although an extraordinary overflow of grace upon the prodigal may sometimes, as is always the case with regard to Baptism and martyrdom, bury every remnant and vestige of sin the abyss of divine oblivion; yet is it the ordinary rule that for every fault satisfaction must be made to God's justice, either in this world or in the next."

"Now, Indulgences under every form are continually coming in our way. Let us make use of our treasures, and exercise mercy towards the poor suffering souls. Is any condition more pitiable than theirs?... All heaven cannot help them, for their is no merit to be gained there. God Himself, though most merciful, owes it to His justice not to deliver them until they have paid the whole debt that they carried with them beyond the world of trial. The debt was contracted perhaps through our fault, and in our company; and it is to us they turn for help, to us who are still dreaming of nothing but pleasure, while they are burning, and we could so easily shorten their torments!"

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