On Purgatory

Praying for the souls in Purgatory was never part of my milieu growing up. That was among the many things Vatican II had 'done away with', an embarrassing relic of 'Pre-Enlightenment' Catholic mythology.

We called November the Month of Remembrance. We prayed for those in our families who had passed away by filling out their names on cards which would be ceremoniously burned. But we didn't pray for their souls; we simply honored their memory. Praying for their souls would reek of sanctimony.

No, God who is all-loving welcomes all of us into Heaven. We are already saints at Baptism. As they say in the parish where I grew up, "Lord we are ready to receive you; only say the word, and we shall be healed." This has earned us the nickname, the 'Worthy' Parish by those who follow the GIRM.

The spiritual economy was a concept altogether lost on me growing up. That we could earn merit for souls through prayer and fasting...say wha? Plenary indulgence...isn't that something we quietly disposed after the Reformation?

So-- to find out about this quaint tradition of going to cemeteries has been something of a culture shock in my 27th year. We visit my grandfathers' graves on Memorial Day. I'd never heard of doing so in November until yesterday.

From my 11th grade Morality Class, I understand purgation to be something one can obtain on this earth, something the recorded saints achieved in their lifetime. From Catholic Radio apologists I gathered scriptural basis for it. But the spiritual economy is a great Unknown. I can read the Catechism's definition, but knowledge is not the same as understanding.

Anyone have any books to recommend on the subject?

1 comment:

Kt said...

I've always been curious about the basis of purgatory, and how much the idea is embraced in the modern Catholic church. Do you know, in a nutshell, how the concept originated?

And indulgences/spiritual economy - that's a *very* interesting subject. Are you saying that it is still practiced? Again, I'd be curious as to its origins. If you get well read on the subject, you'll have to write more about it here.

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