Category Archives: Theology

Souls in Purgatory and our obligation

 

Thumbnail image for St Gregory delivers the soul of monk GB Crespi.jpgThe month of November is the Month of the Holy Souls in Purgatory. I was thinking after a funeral celebrated earlier today for a friend, Jack, who died last Saturday, about my on-going responsibility for the souls in purgatory. This after being reminded that I am called, as are all the baptized, to be an echo of the encounter with Christ in this world, but also in eternal life. What I do here and now has a direct consequence in the later in the promised Destiny with the Savior.

Is it a matter of saying the Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary and the Glory Be with the Eternal Rest prayers around the time of a person’s death, or only on the anniversary of death of a loved one or friend? Somehow I doubt it.

The law of charity that I think Christians are called to live with certainty makes a claim on us to pray for the dead and dedicate some portion of prayer, fasting and almsgiving for the Church Suffering (the Holy Souls) so that one day they become part of the Church Triumphant. Being Friends in the Lord (disciples of Christ) can’t be indifferent to those who have died. We believe that the bonds of love don’t unravel with the death of the body. We promise the dying that we won’t forget them. If this is true, then why do we so often forget to have a Mass offered for their intentions, or say a rosary for our loved ones, or absent ourselves from visiting the cemetery? Mass, the rosary and a visit are concrete acts of love that have a real consequence for real people we knew and loved in this life.

Consider the image of posted above is a example of spiritual works effecting the soul of another. Here the Baroque Master Giovanni Battista Crespi, “Il Cerano” (1573-1632) paints in 1617 Saint Gregory the Great “delivering the soul of a monk.” The deliverance is the result of the monk and pope Gregory offering Mass for the soul of a monk. The depths of mercy and love are mined by the devotion of the Mass for another.

As faithful Christians we state, in faith, that we will be reunited with those we knew and loved in this life with those who have gone before us. So, because of love, we reach out with the hand of prayer and charitable acts giving help to those being purged of the last vestiges sin will soon be fully capable of being with God in the Beatific Vision (heaven).

What does the Church teach about Purgatory?

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

Paragraph 1030: All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

Paragraph 1031: The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of cleansing fire. As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age but certain others in the age to come.

Paragraph 1472 excerpted: This purification frees one from what is called the “temporal punishment” of sin.

For more on purgatory you can read here.

In a newsletter I periodically read, the entry for today said,

The Holy Souls in Purgatory. Purgatory has been described, as a “cleansing fire” that burns away the dross of sins on our souls. Saint Paul wrote those of being saved “yet so as through fire” and whether or not the soul endures a literal fire, its purification does involve suffering. The time each soul spends there, and the severity of the pains it experiences, varies. However, our prayers for these souls can help alleviate their sufferings and help them reach heaven more quickly. Although they can no longer pray for themselves, they can and do pray for us as well out of gratitude! In addition we can help them by having masses said for the departed and by engaging in works of cha
rity and sacrifice on their behalf.

Philosophy and theology are important in the Church’s dialogue with the contemporary world


Brian Daley Ratzinger Award Alan Holdren CNA.jpgThe Ratzinger Prize is getting a whole currency these days: it is the second year that’s been bestowed on worthy scholars. What’s novel of me is that it’s not everyday that you get a prize for serious work from the man the prize is named after, and that he’s the Supreme Pontiff! The 2012 Ratzinger Prize was given to a French philosopher and American theologian on Saturday, October 20, 2012. Pope Benedict said that “Father Daley and Professor Brague are exemplary for the transmission of knowledge that unites science and wisdom, scientific rigor and passion for man, so that man might discover the [true] ‘art of living.'” Chris Altieri has the Vatican Radio report here.

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Two new Doctors of the Church

procession-of-st-hildegards-relics-2012Today, the Holy Father proclaimed two new Doctors of the Church, the highest honor for saints because of their exemplary lives and insightful doctrine.

Saint Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) is the fourth woman Doctor of the Church. Saint Hildegard was a 12th century German  Benedictine nun, writer, composer, philosopher, polymath, and mystic. The sainted abbess was also the founder of several monasteries. On 10 May 2012, Pope Benedict formally proclaimed her a saint by an equivalent of canonization, and therefore added her to the Church’s roster of saints (Roman Martyrology) extending her liturgical feast throughout the world.

Pope Benedict also proclaimed Saint John of Avila (1500-1569), a Doctor of the Church. He’s known as the Apostle of Andalusia, priest, reformer, educator, mystic, author, and patron of the early Carmelite Reform and the Jesuits.

May Saints Hildegard and John of Avila bless the work of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.

Mediums and Christian Faith –incompatible?

Angels BiccideLorenzo.jpgSince today is the feast of the Guardian Angels there are some in the secular world, especially on TV, who are speaking on the feast trying to give an aire of respectability to an already firmly established belief in the existence of the Guardian Angels. However, so much in the public forum forget key points in Catholic teaching: the angels look, in glory, upon God’s face and sent by Him to man and woman in manner that is unseen by man. Angels help us, and are in pure contemplation of God; they obey God’s holy and uncontestable will.

The 12:30 interview of Phil Quinn of Guilford, CT by Teresa LaBarbera of WTNH today on the theme of “Guardian Angel Day” was grossly misguided and plainly gave false information to the public. Now, LaBarera and her WTNH team are not aiming at promoting Catholic teaching; she did, however, abscond with Catholic and Jewish teaching, manipulated it for their own purposes, and promoted many falsehoods. Let me be clear, mediums are consummate self-promoters; they are false teachers. Instead of consulting a validly ordained Catholic priest or even a rabbi, WTNH consulted a medium. How trite! How tempting! How irresistible for the weak of heart!

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Ratzinger Prize 2012


The “Ratzinger
Prize” is also known as the “Nobel of Theology.” The Prize is sponsored by the
Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) Vatican Foundation, whose aim is to “promote
the publication, distribution and study of the writings of former university
professor Joseph Ratzinger.” The Prize, though, recognizes excellence in theological study and teaching and not the echoing Ratzinger’s thought. Vatican Radio explains more here.

In 2010, the Holy Father established, in consultation with other, a
Prize in Theology noting three areas: Sacred Scripture, Patristics and
Fundamental Theology.

2012

  • Rémi Brague, Professor emeritus of medieval and
    Arabic philosophy, University Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris I) and professor of
    Philosophy of the European religions (Romano Guardini Chair), Ludwig-
    Maximilian University
  • Father Brian E. Daley, SJ, Professor of Theology,
    University of Notre Dame

2011

  • Professor Dr.
    Manlio Simonetti, Professor of Ancient Christian Studies and Patristic Biblical
    Interpretation, La Sapienza University
  • Father Dr. Olegario González
    de Cardedal
    , Professor of Dogmatic and Fundamental Theology, Pontifical
    University of Salamanca
  • Father Dr. Maximilian Heim, OCist, Abbot of
    Heiligenkreuz Monastery, Austria, Professor of Dogmatic and Fundamental
    Theology, University of Heiligenkreuz.
The Ratzinger Prize will be conferred on Brague and Daley on 20 October 2012, during the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.

BEDaley.jpg

I am delighted that Father Brian won the prize not merely because I know him (lived with him when I was in studies at Notre Dame) but he is a generous man, a faithful priest, and terrific scholar and teacher. 

Father Brian is a New York Province Jesuit, studied at Fordham, Frankfurt and Osford, and he is an avid runner.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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