DAILY CATHOLIC     FRI-SAT-SUN     November 13-15, 1998     vol. 9, no. 223


To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO

    INTRODUCTION      "Getting to the Heart of the Matter" is what Sister Mary Lucy Astuto pinpoints in every issue when she takes a common sense approach to living our faith with her practical columns. In this issue, she begins a short series on Purgatory in conjunction with the month of poor souls. She gives the reader a different viewpoint of what Purgatory really is by describing, through Sister Emmanuel's book and the mystic Sr. Emmanuel interviewed, a true perspective on what it's really like for the souls in Purgatory as they wait to be received into Heaven as we see in Sr. Mary Lucy's column PURGATORY IS WONDERFUL!.

         Her column, along with columns by Father John Hampsch, C.M.F. and Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv., provide effective, vital insights into our faith and ways of fulfilling God's Will every day in every way. You can visit Sr. Lucy at her web site for Heart of Mary Ministry at http://www.heartofmaryministry.com or you can reach her at Srmarylucy@aol.com by e-mail.


          Iím reading a book by Sister Emmanuel of Medjugorje. Itís called "The Amazing Secret of the Souls in Purgatory: An Interview with Maria Simma."

          Maria Simma, who is now 82 years old, has been visited by many souls from Purgatory and related a lot of what she knew about Purgatory to Sister Emmanuel who put the compilation of her interview in this book. This reading is a great joy to me because it has given me a new insight into what a work of mercy Purgatory is and why I feel free to call it a wonderful place.

          Many of us have grown up with the idea that Purgatory is a place of great suffering and purgation for those souls who are not yet ready to enter the purity of heaven. It is safe to say that such is true but more information about how and why souls go to Purgatory and what their suffering there really is about is in order. Iíd like to quote Sr. Emmanuel at this point.


      ď... What exactly is Purgatory? Iíd say that itís a marvelous invention of God. Let me give you an image which is my own. Suppose that one day a door opens, and a splendid being appears, extremely beautiful, of a beauty that has never been seen on earth. You are fascinated, overwhelmed by this being of light and beauty, even more so that this being shows that he is madly in love with you -- you have never dreamed of being loved so much. You sense too that he has a great desire to draw you to him, to be one with you. And the fire of love which burns in your heart impels you to throw yourself into his arms.

            But wait -- you realize at this moment that you havenít washed for months and months, that you smell bad; your nose is running, your hair is greasy and matted, there are big dirty stains on your clothes, etc. So you say to yourself, ĎNo, I just canít present myself in this state. First I must go and wash: a good shower, then straight away Iíll come back.í

            But the love which has been born in your heart is so intense, so burning, so strong, that this delay for the shower is absolutely unbearable. And the pain of the absence, even if it only lasts for a couple of minutes, is an atrocious wound in the heart, proportional to the intensity of the revelation of the love -- it is a Ďlove-wound.í

            Purgatory is exactly this. Itís a delay imposed by our impurity, a delay before Godís embrace, a wound of love which causes intense suffering, a waiting, if you like, a nostalgia for love. It is precisely this burning, this longing which cleanses us of whatever is still impure in us. Purgatory is a place of desire, a mad desire for God, desire for this God whom we already know, for we have seen him, but with whom we are not yet united.Ē

          Sister Emmanuel further points out that the joy of the souls in Purgatory is greater than their pain because they have felt deeply the love that God has for them and they know they are saved.

          I invite you to meditate on the above explanation. It reflects that Purgatory is another proof of Godís mercy. More about Purgatory next week. God bless you!

November 13-15, 1998       volume 9, no. 223


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