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November 9, 1999
SECTION TWO vol 10, no. 212
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Appreciation of the Existence of Purgatory
Today we continue with our new series in the search to uncover the wonderful treasures of the Church contained in the great Deposit of Faith. We look today at that merciful gift from God - Purgatory - where we are able to be cleansed before looking upon the Beatific Vision forever. There have been many misconceptions about this intermediate "stopping off point" between earth and Heaven and we hope to convey what the Church teaches about Purgatory over the next several installments. For the forty-seventh installment, click on APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH
THE EXISTENCE OF PURGATORY
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
SIMPLY SHEEN:Experience is the best lesson
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but the words of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen have been known to launch a thousand images in one's mind, one of the ways this late luminary did so much to evangelize the faith. Because of the urgency of the times and because few there are today who possess the wisdom, simplicity and insight than the late Archbishop who touched millions, we are bringing you daily gems from his writings. The good bishop makes it so simple that we have dubbed this daily series: "SIMPLY SHEEN".
"It is part of our fallen nature to despise the trouble we do not understand. Not having the power to drive into the mystery, it seems to us a shallow thing. When the sufferers complain much, we are inclined to think that they are exaggerating or giving way to cowardly weakness, just as the rich are too often ready to regard the very poor as whining imposters. He who has never felt the pangs of conscience looks with contempt upon the penitent's tears."
Today is the Feast of the Dedication of Saint John Lateran Basilica in Rome while tomorrow is the Feast of that great papal doctor of the Church, Pope Saint Leo the Great who saved Rome from the Huns in the fifth century. For the readings, liturgies, meditations, and vignettes on these feasts, click on DAILY LITURGY.
Tuesday, November 9, 1998
First Reading: 1 Kings 8: 22-23, 27-30 or Ephesians 2: 19-22
Psalms: 1 Chronicles/Paralipomenon 29: 10-13
Gospel Reading: Matthew 5: 23-24
Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome
Known as "Christianity's first cathedral" and the "mother of all churches", the Lateran Basilica was the first church built by the Emperor Constantine after the Edict of Milan in 313. In 314 Constantine gave Pope Saint Miltiades the old palace on Monte Celio which had formerly been land owned by the patrician Laterani family. Constantine also decreed that the popes should live in the Lateran palace which was called the Patriarchate. It would remain the pontifical residence until the 15th Century, but the basilica itself would be in peril throughout the centuries. The successor to Pope Miltiades was Pope Saint Sylvester I who officially consecrated the basilica in 324 and dedicated it to Christ the Savior with Constantine's blessings. Eighty some years later the barbarian Alaric sacked the basilica; likewise the pagan Genseric in 455. It was the great Pope Saint Leo the Great who rebuilt it in 460. Three centuries later a devastating fire swept through the basilica and it was left to Pope Hadrian I in 785. A little over a century later an earthquake rocked Rome and practically destroyed the entire basilica. In 909 Pope Sergius III rebuilt the basilica and dedicated it to Saint John the Baptist. It was also dedicated to the other St. John - Saint John the Evangelist by Pope Lucius II in 1144. During the papacy of Pope Clement V the basilica was again heavily damaged by fire in 1308. No sooner was it rebuilt then another fire swept through in 1360 while Pope Innocent VI, the 199th in the line of Peter, was pontiff. It was so devastating that when Pope Gregory XI returned from exile in Avignon in the 1370's, he moved both the residential palace and the head of the See from the Caelian Hill to Vatican Hill which the Roman Senate had donated to the Pope. While the Lateran Basilica laid in ruins Gregory gave special prominence to Saint Mary Major Basilica for gaining a jubilee indulgence since people could not go on pilgrimage to the Lateran Basilica at that time. It was left to Pope Sixtus V to have the ruins of the Lateran torn down and in its place replaced them with late-Renaissance structures which he commissioned architect Domenico Fontana to construct. The only structure not torn down was the Pope's private chapel which was saved. Sixtus was known as the builder of churches and urban renewal projects. He also had the Holy Stairs (Scala Santa), which had been brought to Rome from Jerusalem by Saint Helena in the 4th Century, moved from the old palace residence to the entrance of the Sancta Sanctorum (Pope's private, holy chapel). This staircase was believed to be the one Jesus ascended in the palace of Pontius Pilate. In 1645 Pope Innocent X commissioned one of the leading Baroque architects Francesco Borromini to complete the interior of St. John Lateran's by the Jubilee Year of 1650. Nearly eighty years later later Pope Clement XII held a competition among architects to submit the best design for a new facade of the Lateran Basilica. Italian master Alessandro Galilei completed the work in 1735. The exterior of the Basilica today is a tribute to his work which aptly depicts a huge statue of Jesus holding the Cross of Redemption, the cross which Helena found and which her son saw miraculously in the sky on the eve before his victory and ultimate conversion. There have been five Ecumenical Councils held over the centuries at the Lateran Basilica and numerous diocesan synods. The Lateran Pacts signed by and Benito Mussolina on February 11, 1929 which defined the territory and status of the State of Vatican City was signed at the Basilica. Sadly, the devastation of this magnificent structure was not limited to the middle centuries, for on July 27, 1992 a bomb, planted by the Italian Mafia in retaliation of Pope John Paul II's stand against the crime organization, exploded at the Roman Vicariate of the Basilica, causing great damage. It was restored in a few years ago. The November 9th date for celebrating the feast of the Dedication of this great Basilica evolves from early in the 1100's when almost all the churches dedicated to Jesus chose this date to celebrate a miraculous event that happened in Beirut, Lebanon prior to the Nicene Council there in 787. The phenomenon occurred when a crazed man struck a statue of Our Lord with a sword and the statue, though made of stone, bled profusely as blood poured out in torrents. It was not until 1565, that Pope Pius IV decreed it be celebrated throughout the Church. Since this was the first church of Christianity, it is considered the "mother of churches throughout the world" and served as the seat of Christianity for a thousand years.
Wednesday, November 10, 1998
First Reading: Wisdom 6: 1-11
Psalms: Psalm 82: 3-5, 6-8
Gospel Reading: Luke 17: 11-19
WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant
Pope commemorates ten year anniversary of the tearing down of the Berlin Wall by arriving in the former iron curtain country of Georgia
His Holiness John Paul II left the tension of India yesterday behind for a warmer reception in Georgia, a former province of the Soviet Union where Mikhail Gorbachev's former aide Eduoard Schevardnadze, now President of the Republic of Georgia welcomed the Holy Father along with the Orthodox Patriarch of Georgia Catholicos Ilia II. It was a meaningful day for the Pope who noted the tenth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall which crumbled the iron curtain throughout Russia and Eastern Europe including Georgia. It is his second trip to a predominantly Orthodox country following his historic journey to Rumania earlier this year. For more, click on Georgia on his mind
POPE ARRIVES IN GEORGIA
VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II arrived in the former
Soviet republic of Georgia on November 8, in the last stop of a tour
which began with three days in India.
"I am happy to be arriving in Georgia on a significant day," the Pope
said, alluding to the 10th anniversary of the day when the Berlin
Wall fell. He was greeted at the airport in Tbilisi, the nation's capital,
by President Edouard Schevardnadze and Catholicos Ilia II, the
Orthodox patriarch of Georgia.
In his remarks at the airport, the Pope mentioned that
Schevardnadnze had played an important role in the final days of
Communism, when he served as foreign minister of the Soviet
government under Mikhail Gorbachev. The final results of the fall of
the Communist empire, the Pontiff observed, included the revival of
Georgia as an independent country.
ZENIT News Agency also reports that John Paul II's visit to Georgia
is full of meaning, not least because of the extraordinary
variety of cultures, religions and ethnic groups he will encounter in this
small land. After decades of Soviet domination, at present 65% of Georgians
profess Orthodoxy, and 11% Islam.
The country has a surface of 69,700 square kilometers. In a population of
5,460 million, with a density of 78.1 inhabitants per square kilometer, the
urban population equals 59%. The fertility rate is 2.10% and life
expectancy 72.8 years.
A number of languages are spoken in Georgia, but the most important are
Georgian, Russian, Azerbaijan, Hebrew, and Kurdish. Ethnic groups include
Georgians (about 70%), Armenians, Russians, Azerbaijanis, Greeks, Hebrews,
Kurds, etc. The principal religion is Christian Orthodoxy, but there are
Muslim and Catholic minorities.
The capital of Georgia is Tiflis, and its government is a presidential
In so far as the economy is concerned, the GNP totals $2,358 million. Per
capita GNP equals $1,470. The foreign debt amounts to $1,189 million, and
the annual rate of growth is 10.5%. Georgia's main suppliers are: the
European Union, the Community of Independent States, and the United States.
Its clients include Russia, Armenia and the European Union.
The Catholic Church in Georgia According to tradition, the Apostle Andrew
brought Christianity to Georgia. Catholics number between 50,000-100,000
faithful. Catholics of the Latin Rite from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia
are under the Caucasus apostolic administration, established on December
30, 1993. Fr. Giuseppe Pasotto, CSS, is the Apostolic Administrator. The
missionaries in Georgia include: 17 priests, 29 religious and 11 seminarians.
Holy Father tabs the third millennium as the time for evangelization of Asia with release of his Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia
On November 6th the Holy Father officially ended the year-long Asian Synod when he issued his traditional Apostolic Exhortation to signal the close of the Synod. In Ecclesia in Asia the Pope points to the fact that there is much work to do in this oldest of lands where the Faith is sorely lacking in many parts of the most populous lands in the world and the Church's faithful greatly persecuted. He marked the new millennium as the time when the emphasis would be placed on Asia. For more, click on Apostolic Exhortation
POPE ISSUES EXHORTATION ON ASIA
VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- On November 6, Pope John Paul II issued
an apostolic exhortation entitled Ecclesia in Asia, concluding the work
of the Asian Synod.
Officially signed in India at the start of the papal visit there, Ecclesia
in Asia emphasizes the special role of the Asian continent in God's
plan for salvation. Taking up one of the main themes of discussion
among the bishops who participated in the Asian Synod, the Pope
acknowledges that Christianity has attracted only a very small
minority of the people on the world's largest continent. Nevertheless,
the Holy Father argues, "Asia is thirsting for the living water that
only Jesus can give."
Contemplating the continent where Jesus was born and lived his
earthly life, and where today the Church is often subject to
persecution, the Pope predicted a surge of evangelical success-- "a
great harvest for the faith"-- in the early years of the new
millennium. The Asian people take a keen interest in spiritual
questions, he pointed out, and Christianity can provide the answer.
The Pope's confidence about the future of the Asian Church is based
on two factors. Christ and the Church are part of Asia's hertage. God's
saving plan was "initiated in Asia, God chose an Asian tradition; it
was in Asia that the Church first began to spread," the Pope recalls.
Although "it is a mystery why the Savior of the world, born in Asia,
has until now remained largely unknown to the people of the
continent," the Pontiff reasoned that "the Jubilee is an occasion for
proclaiming that "the Savior of the world was born in Asia."
[For further analysis of Ecclesia in Asia, see the Special CWN Feature carried
in our VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS today.
For the full text of the apostolic exhortation can be found on the Vatican
web site: www.vatican.va]
Catholic and Lutheran Church leaders earmark education of the meaning of the Doctrine of Justification to breakdown prejudices and misconceptions
Many believe the recent historic concordat signed at Augsburg a little over a week ago will end the Reformation mentality and signal the beginning of the Reconciliation and Reunion phase between Catholics and Lutherans at all levels - the clergy and laity. Meeting in Rome Friday Bishop Walter Kasper, secretary to Cardinal Edward Isdris Cassidy of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Bishop Ismail Noko, secretary general of the World Lutheran Federation embraced and called for both faiths to educate their flocks as to the meaning and significance of this agreement to give a clear, understandable definition to the Doctrine of Justification so all will comprehend the impact of the agreement and shed the prejudices built up over centuries on both sides. For more, click on Reconciliation between Catholics and Lutherans .
CHALLENGE TO CATHOLICS AND LUTHERANS: ANNOUNCE THE LOVE OF GOD
Following Joint Declaration, New Progress in Dialogue
ROME, NOV 6 (ZENIT).- The picture of the long and affectionate embrace of
two Bishops -- one Catholic, the other Lutheran, following the historic
signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, which
took place in Augsburg on October 31, is the best proof of the joy inspired
by an historic reconciliation, which happened after more than 450 years of
The two Bishops -- Walter Kasper, secretary of the Pontifical
Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Ismail Noko, secretary general of
the World Lutheran Federation, met again last Friday afternoon in Rome -- in
the Pro Union Center, to address the challenges and tasks that they must now
confront on the ecumenical road. One of the most important points, according
to both Bishops, is to help both parts understand the content of the Joint
Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification that touches the very heart of
What does the agreement mean? "Now, Catholics and Lutherans can give common
testimony of the heart of the faith. It is what is most needed in this
secularized world. Of course there are issues that remain to be further
clarified and studied. There are new tasks to be undertaken. For both
Lutherans and Catholics the Bible is fundamental to our faith," Bishop
Because of this, Bishop Kasper believes that dogmatic questions should be
ultimately studied with the help of Sacred Scripture. He went on to
emphasize that one of the most important tasks is the translation of the
doctrine of justification into language that is accessible to modern
Christians. God often seems to be excluded from our world, from our daily
"The question of God's mercy, which so impressed Luther, has become distant
for us and often says nothing to us. Together we must be capable of
expressing this reality today. It is not simply a question of language. We
must ask ourselves: What does God, Jesus Christ, mean to us today? What does
believing in God's mercy mean? What does it imply for our life? The doctrine
of justification says that with our own efforts alone we cannot construct
our life and reach the fullness of happiness. Beyond our life, God's mercy
prevails. In everything and in spite of any situation. He is the one who has
our life in his hands. Because of this, we, for our part, must be merciful
with our brothers and sisters. This is the Good News that we must
communicate in a convincing way," Bishop Kasper explained.
Lutheran Bishop Ismail Noko also forcefully expressed the importance of this
agreement. "The signing on justification is much more than an agreement." It
is "a sign of hope in a world that suffers," he said. It is a patrimony
that must reach universities, seminaries, history books. Henceforth the
presentation of Catholicism and Lutheranism must be different. The agreement reached
sheds new light. He gave an example: the Pope's own proposal in the
encyclical, "Ut Unum Sint," to profoundly study the way his pontifical
ministry can be exercised in order to go out to meet brothers of other Christian
traditions can now be undertaken with another disposition.
The key phrase of the Joint Declaration, which summarizes the common
understanding of Catholics and Lutherans on justification, can be found in
paragraph no. 15: "We confess together that, not on the basis of our merits
but only by means of grace and faith in the salvific work of Christ, we are
accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts, makes us
capable and calls us to do good works."
Thus, with modern language, the same thing is repeated that was said by the
Council of Trent in the two first canons relating to the doctrine of
justification. With language proper to the time, that decisive Council for
the history of the Church stated: "If someone said, that man can be
justified with God by his own works, carried out only by the force of
nature, or by the doctrine of the law, without divine grace acquired by
Jesus Christ, let him be anathema (condemned)." And it adds: "If someone
said, that divine grace acquired by Jesus Christ, is conferred only so that
man will be able to live in justice with greater facility and merit eternal
life, as if by his free will and without grace he could acquire one or the
other -- although with labor and difficulty --, let him be anathema."
The Catholic Church, meeting in Council, then clarified: "If someone said,
that man, without the prior inspiration of the Holy Spirit and without his
help, can believe, hope, love and be genuinely repentant, so that he can received the
grace of justification, let him be anathema."
Separate Catholic churches avert terrible tragedies, miraculously no lives are lost
On separate ends of the coast Sunday two Catholic churches avoided the loss of human lives miraculously. In Altamonte Springs, just north of Orlando a concrete roof gave in over a walkway collapsing with some caught underneath. Miraculously no one was killed, though several were hospitalized with bruises and broken limbs. Later that same night, in Stockton, California in the mid-northern part of the state suspicious circumstances pointed to arson and possible sabotage by radical Nazi groups for the swastika and other symbols were scrawled on the walls. Investigators are checking to make sure it did not come from the lit vigil candles in the church. For more, click on church casualties.
CHURCH ROOF COLLAPSE INJURES DOZENS IN FLORIDA WHILE FIRE AT CALIFORNIA CHURCH LABELED ARSON
ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Florida (CWNews.com) - The collapse of a
roof on a covered walkway at a Catholic Church on Sunday
injured 23 people, six of them seriously.
Dozens of people were gathered near the walkway Sunday
morning at St. Mary Magdalene Church following a Mass when
part of the concrete roof on the 72-foot-long walkway fell.
"A couple of people were able to run off to the side. Others
that didn't see it or got caught by surprise or couldn't
move fast enough got caught underneath," said fire
spokesman Alan Harris. Eleven people were taken to the
hospital in ambulances, with the two most serious injuries
including a broken hip and a spinal injury.
"I heard the crash, looked out the window, saw everybody
running, but I didn't know what it was all about," said
Sister Rita Galligan, who heard it from her home at the
convent next door. "There was no wind, no rain, no bump, no
nothing. It just happened." The walkway connects the church
to offices and must be passed through to go to the parking
The city building inspector blamed the collapse on a nail
that dislodged from a rotten wooden beam supporting the
roof, Harris said. "The nail that held the mesh to the beam
fell out and, by the pure weight of it, started a domino
effect that brought the whole thing down," said Harris.
Meanwhile in Stockton, California police and arson
investigators on Monday were investigating a suspicious
fire at a Catholic Church following a Sunday evening Mass.
Investigators said they found a swastika painted on an
outside wall of the Church of the Presentation following
the fire. The blaze caused extensive damage to the
sanctuary and a classroom area.
While the fire was described as suspicious, candles were
used during the service and haven't been ruled out as a
possible cause, a fire department spokesman said. A freshly
painted swastika and other graffiti was found on a wall and
on a statue in a garden area.
- Total number of visits to the DAILY CATHOLIC thus far in 1999 (as of November 7): 4,312,204
- Total number of visits since this daily publication went on line November 1, 1997: 6,199,644
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November 9, 1999 volume 10, no. 212 DAILY CATHOLIC