DAILY CATHOLIC    TUESDAY     November 9, 1999     vol. 10, no. 212

APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH

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SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO
    INTRODUCTION
      Every day we present a short point that helps bring into focus the treasures of the Roman Catholic Church that comprise the great Deposit of Faith.

      It is no secret that over the past thirty years fewer and fewer know their Faith and it shows with the declining number of vocations, parish participation and attendance at Holy Mass. We have the new Catechism of the Catholic Church but for the common man, the one brought up on sound bites and instant gratification, it is more of a text book and that in itself prompts them to shy away from such a tome. So what's a loyal Catholic to do in evangelizing to fellow Catholics and understand their Faith? Our answer: go back to basics - to the great Deposit of Faith. We have the Baltimore Catechism which, for unknown and ridiculous reasons, was shelved after Vatican II. We have the Holy Bible but there are so many newer versions that the Douay-Rheims and Confraternity Latin Vulgate in English versions, the ones used for so long as the official Scriptural text authorized by the Church, seem lost in a maze of new interpretations that water down the Word. This is further complicated by the fact there are so few Douay-Rheims editions in circulation though it is available on the net at DOUAY-RHEIMS BIBLE. We have so many Vatican documents available at the Vatican web site and other excellent Catholic resource sites that detail Doctrine, Dogma and Canon Law. We have the traditions, and the means of grace but how do we consolidate all these sources into one where it is succinct and easy to understand? We have the perfect vehicle. It is called "My Catholic Faith", now out of print, that was compiled by Bishop Louis Laravoire Morrow and published by My Mission House. This work ties in Scriptural references, the Sacraments, Dogmas, Doctrines, Traditions, Church documents, Encyclical and Papal decrees to clearly illustrate the Faith in simple, solid and concise terms that all can understand and put into practice. We will quote from this work while adding in more recent events and persons when applicable since the book was written in the late forties during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII. We also quote from the Catholic Almanac published by Our Sunday Visitor for the Roman Curial offices.

    Nothing in Holy Mother Church's teaching has changed and therefore we feel confident that these daily "points of enlightenment" will help more Catholics better understand their faith, especially those who were not blessed with early formation of the faith in the home and their parish school. Regardless of where any Catholic is in his or her journey toward salvation, he or she has to recognize that the Faith they were initiated into at the Sacrament of Baptism is the most precious gift they have been given in life.

THE EXISTENCE OF PURGATORY

part one

        Today we begin a short series on Purgatory. Both reason and faith tell us that there is a middle ground of expiation, where the soul is cleansed from all stain of sin before it can enter the glory of heaven. "There shall not enter into it anything defiled" (Apocolypse/Revelation 21:27). Christ said, "Amen, I say to thee, thou will not come out from it until thou hast paid the last penny" (Matthew 5:26). Even persons who deny the existence of Purgatory instinctively pray for their loved ones who have died. This would be great inconsistency if their reason did not tell them that their prayers would do the dead good. Prayers are useless for those in Heaven or hell.

        Those are punished for a time in Purgatory who die in the state of grace, but are guilty of venial sin, or have not fully satisfied for the temporal punishment due to their sins.

        Purgatory is a middle state where souls destined for Heaven are detained and purified. Souls in Purgatory cannot help themselves, for their time for meriting is past. But they can be helped by the faithful on earth, by prayers and other good works.

        In some places, at eight o'clock at night, the church bells sound to admonish the faithful to pray for the souls in purgatory. This hour is in commemoration of Christ's prayer in the garden. We should then kneel and pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and the Requiem aeternam: "Eternal rest give unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them," etc.

        Belief in the utility of praying for the dead automatically includes belief in the existence of purgatory. If there were no Purgatory, it would be useless to pary for the dead, because saints in heaven need no help, and those in hell are beyond aid.

        And we can be sure there will be no more Purgatory after the General Judgment; because the reason for its existence will have passed. Purgatory is a place of temporary punishment for those who have died in venial sin, or who have not fully satisfied God's justice for mortal sins already forgiven.

        A boy with a stone deliberately breaks a window pane; this is a venial sin punishable in Purgatory. Some argue that God is a good God, and will not punish such slight sins with the pains of Purgatory. We must remember, nevertheless, that the judgments of God are different from those of men, as His holiness is far above human holiness.

        "My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways my ways,saith the Lord. For as the Heavens are exalted above the earth, so are my ways exalted above your ways, and My thoughts above your thoughts." Let us reverence God's holiness and justice, as we have loving confidence in His mercy.

        Another example - a man commits a cruel murder. This is a mortal sin which, unrepented and unconfessed, will send him to hell.

        The man repents, confesses, and obtains absolution for his sin; the guilt therefore is removed. But justice requires that he make up for the evil he has done; this atonement takes place in Purgatory, unless he makes full satisfaction before death.

      Tomorrow: The Existence of Purgatory part two

November 9, 1999       volume 10, no. 212
GREAT DEPOSIT OF FAITH

DAILY CATHOLIC

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