One of my grandmas was the Catholic matriarch of the family. She can be credited for being one of God’s primary instruments in passing on the faith to her grandchildren. When she was in the last weeks of life, one of my uncles approached her and began to speak comforting words to her about heaven. She was in and out of sleep frequently at that time, but at the mention of heaven, she turned to him and said, “Purgatory!”
My aunt had a similar story, but in that story, my grandma lit up at the men on of heaven and quoted Scripture! I am fairly convinced that my grandma is in heaven, but I still often pray for her soul just in case! Saying that one of my loved ones may still be in purgatory is not in any way an insult to their holiness of life, a judgement of their person, or a reason to be unhappy.
Scripture is very clear that heaven and hell are real and are places that people can go after they die. Purgatory creates a beautiful way for us to better understand heaven. We hear in the book of Revelation that “nothing unclean shall enter [heaven]” (Rev. 21:27). There are many people who leave this life very imperfect and with many faults, so someone may draw the conclusion that they cannot go to heaven. However, if someone is not yet completely purified of sin but still in God’s friendship, they enter purgatory for a time to be purified. Scripture likens heaven to a wedding feast. If you were to go to a wedding feast you would need to be properly dressed. Purgatory is that place of preparation for heaven.
Due to Covid-19 many people did not have the opportunity to be anointed before their passing or to have proper Catholic funerals. While we always have hope in heaven for someone who passes, we should also pray for them, especially in these circumstances. For this reason I invite you to join us as we offer nine monthly Masses for the Faithful Departed beginning on Thursday, Sept. 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the North Church. The eight subsequent Masses – October through May – will be on the second Thursday of those months at the same time and location.
May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
~ Fr. Patrick