The Thirty-Eighth Clarion:
"Amen I say to you, as long as you did it for one of these, the least of My brethren, you did it for Me."
Matthew 25: 40
Completing our short series on "Heroic Acts of Charity" in WE NEED A HERO!, we pick up where we left off two weeks ago in reminding all that there is indeed a place called Purgatory and it is not just a concept but an undeniable truth of the Church incorporated within the Communion of Saints which composes the Mystical Body of Christ which Saint Paul refers to in Colossians 1: 18, 1 Corinthians 12: 27 and Romans 12:5 in the fact that Christ is the head, we are the body, the members of the body. Just as there is an interdependence of the individual functions of the body with other parts of the body for certain purposes, there is a dependence on the entire body for the entire body which includes the Church Militant here on earth, the Church Triumphant in Heaven, and the Church Suffering in Purgatory. This supernatural fellowship, this mystical union is presented to us in the Apostles' Creed in the doctrine of the Communion of Saints - all united in Christ as its Head. As we have emphasized in the last two installments, the an Heroic Act of Charity leaves us perfectly free to pray for those souls in whom we are most interested; the application of prayers for the Holy Souls in Purgatory is subject to the disposition of the adorable Will of God. This Heroic Act does not oblige under pain of mortal sin and can at any time be revoked. It may be made without using any particular formula; it suffices to have the intention and to make it from the heart. In summation, the Heroic Act does not subject us to the direful consequences of having to undergo a long Purgatory ourselves; on the contrary, it allows us to rely with more assured confidence on the Mercy of God in our regard. We are rewarded for our cooperation in the Mystical Body of Christ by doing our part to help it function as God wills.
Very few of us have had a vision of Purgatory. Yet, through prayer, we can learn something of the sufferings of these Holy Souls in this place of expiation. We can learn that their sufferings are more intense than we can comprehend or imagine, and this suffering is of the spirit, of the soul, and is likened to a burning fire which might scorch and annihilate our human body. Unlike our human flesh, which, when burned, will shrivel and die, there is no relief, nor end to the pain of suffering. And this fire-like suffering comes from the knowledge the Holy Souls have of God, of having experienced for a fleeting second, as it were, that incredible Love which is God, and then being separated from that All-Consuming Love. If we recall when we were most homesick or lonesome and magnify it a million times, we would then arrive at some understanding of the suffering of these Holy Souls in Purgatory.
We might also consider that we, too, when we are called before God, might find ourselves escorted to Purgatory, knowing that unless we are remembered on earth by the Church Militant, our sufferings are without relief for the period consigned to us by the Almighty. And would we not, in that moment, desire with all of our soul, that someone would make this Heroic Act of Charity on our behalf that we might, as members of the Church Suffering, be freed from suffering and enter into Eternal Bliss? What we do for the least of our brothers, God shall do for us.
We can never outdo God in generosity. Let us, then, resolve to amend our own lives and become generous benefactors for our departed brothers and sisters, fully confident that at the moment of our death, this very Heroic Act of Charity will gain for us a speedy entry into Eternal Joy where we can finally unite with the Church Triumphant. This is the true "communion" of the Communion of Saints which is the very backbone of the Church and something we should be ever mindful as we prepare during Advent and this upcoming final year of the second millennium...as we prepare for His Coming, not just at Christmas but when He returns for the second time for we say every day at Holy Mass: "Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again!" After all it will be the ultimate Advent for the word comes from the Latin ad meaning "to" and veni which means "come." Yes, many things are yet to come but none more important as the reason for our very existence - Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God. It is time for all of us to take our roles seriously as "soldiers of Christ" as members of the Church Militant and, as soldiers begin to attempt to do heroic acts for others beginning with the Heroic Act of Charity and to do unto others as we would have done unto us. Like any good soldier, we're going to fall often; but there is no shame in falling, only in failing to bounce back up. For the sake of the souls in Purgatory we all need to bounce back up, to pray and prepare during this season of Advent, which signals the beginning of the Church's liturgical year. Our Lady is preparing us in her boot camp of motherly love by reminding us of her Divine Son and of the realization that we are coming to the end of an era and that Christ is "to come" soon after God has recleansed the earth as He did during the time of Noah, 2000 years before sending His Only-begotten Son to redeem mankind. Now it is our turn to help redeem the Holy Souls.
In the next installment we shall begin a short series on indulgences in light of the fact Pope John Paul II has brought this to the forefront in his recent Papal Bull Incarnationis Mysterium.