Acceptance, purification, fulfillment….



“Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God” (Romans 15:7).

The love of family is life’s greatest blessing. God chose the people who create memories in our lives. When a loved one journeys home to God, we begin to think about their souls – and our own promises to God. Acceptance and seeking forgiveness have always been commitments to living a good life. Jesus shared the whole truth and gave us everything we need to fulfill our Christian duty here on earth. How do you find truth and accept the glory of God in your life?

In 2015, a dear aunt passed away months before celebrating her 100th birthday. Her home was like a museum of history for the Church and our world. There were many treasures found in the home she lived in her entire life. The knowledge she shared with others and her acceptance of decades of change in her lifetime were blessings to our family.

I found items representing the Catholic faith: her first Communion dress and prayer book; holy cards; and many pictures of her involvement in the Church from an era long past. In the attic, I found old religion schoolbooks from her grade-school days at St. Francis Xavier in Vincennes. It was a bittersweet discovery because the books were no longer readable. Years of humidity, and smoke from oil lamps and coal heat, had deteriorated and darkened the paper. The book that most intrigued me was a catechism on purgatory. I wish I could have used the book for teaching children today. There is little discussion about purgatory and not much information, except for the Catechism of the Catholic Church – unless you have read and understand “World of Dante:” “The place in which ‘the human spirit’ purges himself, and climbing to heaven makes himself worthy.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines purgatory as a “purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven,” which is experienced by those “who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified” (CCC 1030). It notes that “this final purification of the elect … is entirely different from the punishment of the damned” (CCC 1031).

Roman Catholic doctrine calls it the purification of imperfect souls who die in God’s grace but may have past sins in need of cleansing. Purgatory is a loving and healing place that prepares us for our final journey home. It was first defined at the Second Council of Lyon in 1274. Two points were established; first, some souls are purified after death; and second, such souls benefit from the prayers and pious responsibilities of those still living.

The Church respects the dignity of the human body as a temple of the Holy Spirit. The passing of every soul is a sacred matter because we believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. In the grieving process, the Corporal Work of Mercy ­– to bury the dead – can comfort us. Our Christian duty does not end with the proper burial of our loved one. Visiting the gravesite, having a Mass celebrated and praying daily are part of this gift of mercy.

I find comfort in knowing that the glory of God brings joy to every soul. Whether living or dead, through the power of our acceptance, purification and fulfillment, we find eternal rest. God’s message to St. Gertrude to pray for the poor souls in purgatory can be a blessing to your loved one:

“Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family.