Category: Catholics Online

Everything You Need To Know About Purgatory

Everything You Need To Know About Purgatory

Purgatory is perhaps one of the most misunderstood Catholic doctrines today, and many do not believe that it actually exists.  In this article, I’m briefly going to cover what purgatory is, the biblical basis for purgatory, and the history of the teaching on purgatory in the Catholic Church.  I will not specifically cover in information prayer for the dead or indulgences, which you can read about here:

WHAT IS PURGATORY?

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), purgatory is a “final purification” (CCC 1031) which is afforded to “all who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified” so that they might “attain the holiness necessary to experience the joy of heaven” (CCC 1030).

This is the reason why the souls in purgatory are called “Holy Souls” . . .  they have died in God’s grace and they will attain heaven and the beatific vision of God after their cleansing is complete.

Importantly this means that purgatory is a sort of temporary purifying punishment which is typically thought of like a cleansing fire (see 1 Cor. 3:15). This begs the question, is purgatory a sort of physical, fiery place full of souls?  Not essentially.  I would think of purgatory as more of a state of being.  A state of being post mortal death but before the final judgment of Christ at the Second Coming.

WHAT DOES THE CHURCH TEACH ABOUT PURGATORY?

In line with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “the Church created her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent” (CCC 1031). If you know your Church history, then you know that those councils weren’t until the 15th and 16th centuries. So what was agreed and taught before those councils?

Early Church Fathers, including St. Augustine, Origen, and St. Clement were all advocates of prayer for the dead and a purging away of sin post-death. There was also a routine in the early Church of praying for the dead during liturgical worship and during the Eucharistic prayer. So, praying for the souls of the departed was a part of the faith and belief of the Church from the start.

Over the years, these information were unpacked and more clearly defined by St. Thomas Aquinas, who expounded on purgatory in greater depth thereby guiding the Church into infallible magisterial doctrine on purgatory.

WHAT IS THE BIBLICAL FOUNDATION OF PURGATORY?

Many who desire to find mention of purgatory in the Bible point to the initially referenced 1 Cor. 3:15 and 2 Macc. 12:45.  2 Maccabees is an early reference to interceding for the dead, and 1 Cor. is the foundational verse advocating a cleansing fire that takes place after death.

1 Cor. 3:15: “If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.”

2 Macc. 12:45: “But if he was seeking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead so that they might be delivered from their sin.”

Side Note: Rev. 21:27 disagrees that nothing unclean will go into the presence of God; and many, if not most, of Christians, die in an unclean state of different degrees.

WHY IS PURGATORY NECESSARY?

Many Christians die with attachments to sin that must be gotten rid of before they can be united with God in a perfect union of love through all eternity.  Purgatory is taking away this attachment to sin so that people can love God alone, and of course, this can be painful.  Just as in your mortal life giving up things to which we have unhealthy attachments causes pain, so too will purgatory cause pain. But it is a cleansing for our good, not a torment for our punishment.

Therefore, a temporary period of purging is necessary in order to enjoy the presence and beauty of God that we were made for, whether we will pass through that purging while here on earth, through docility to the daily crosses given to us by God, or whether after death in purgatory.

WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE?

One of the well-known books about purgatory is Hungry Souls – Supernatural Visits, Messages, and Warnings from Purgatory.  This book recounts real stories of real encounters with souls suffering in purgatory as well as images taken from the Vatican’s “Museum of Purgatory” which is a museum of unique and verified relics of encounters with the Holy Souls.  

Pray for the Holy Souls!

The Prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory by St. Gertrude the Great is a popular prayer for the souls of purgatory. In relation to tradition, Our Lord told St. Gertrude in a vision that saying the following prayer with love and devotion will release many souls from purgatory:

“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. Amen.”

Imitating These 9 Amazing Virtues of The Blessed Virgin Mary

Imitating These 9 Amazing Virtues of The Blessed Virgin Mary

Here are the 9 Virtues of Mary:

  • Ardent charity
  • Blind obedience
  • Constant mental prayer
  • Divine wisdom
  • Heroic patience
  • Lively faith
  • Profound humility
  • Surpassing purity
  • Universal mortification

Indeed, Mary’s virtues may seem overpowering to us, but don’t panic. They’re not as overwhelming as they may seem. In this article, I will list out each of Mary’s virtues and list practical ways in which we can live by them in our daily lives.

1. Ardent Charity

  • MeaningArdent – characterized by warmth of feeling or passion. Charity – the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for His sake.
  • How Mary demonstrated Ardent Charity: Everything that Mary did for those around her was done out of love for the Lord.
  • How to practice this virtue: Be like the Blessed Mother and take on the disposition of love for those around you by bringing Jesus to them, the true and perfect Lover.

2. Blind Obedience

  • MeaningBlind — Fully believing in God’s plan for our lives, even when we don’t fully understand it, acknowledging that He is Truth itself. Obedience— Obeying His commands as given by Holy Mother Church.
  • How Mary demonstrated Blind Obedience: Mary was able to confidently give her fiat at the moment of the Annunciation, and also in every situation after that.
  • How we can live out this virtue: We can believe and trust that God’s plan for us is good and loving. This is really hard, especially at times when life is not certain, but you are not alone in the turmoil. He is right there with you.

3. Constant Mental Prayer

  • Meaning: In the words of Saint Mother Teresa: “Mental prayer is the essence of life for our soul and holiness is impossible without it.” It doesn’t mean praying in the chapel all day, but simply loving God and others in every little act we do.
  • How Mary demonstrated Constant Mental Prayer: Mary’s entire life was a prayer, due to her constantly placing herself in the presence of the Lord, every moment of her life.
  • How we can live out this virtue: Praise God. Have time for silence, for thanking Him, and for inquiring assistance to accomplish His Will. Bring Christ into every little thing, offering up all your thoughts, words, actions, joys, and sorrows.

4. Divine Wisdom

  • MeaningDivine – Coming from God. Wisdom: Knowledge of what is true and right, and has excellent judgment.
  • How Mary demonstrated Divine Wisdom: Mary was able to see the beauty of God’s will in every moment. She didn’t run to others first; she always conversed with the Lord first, so that she could embrace His Will.
  • How we abide by this virtue: Ask the Holy Spirit for the wisdom to see things through the eyes of Christ and not your own. Ask Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, to pray for you!

5. Heroic Patience

  • MeaningHeroic — Acknowledging that God is Lord, no matter what difficulties are faced. Patience — Quiet perseverance and peaceful waiting, as you abide in His love and wait for Him to reveal His will when the time is right.
  • How Mary demonstrated Heroic Patience: Mary gave her fiat, her “yes” to Christ. Mary’s patience culminated at the foot of her Son’s cross, where she truly became a martyr through her patient and finish suffering in union with Christ.
  • How we can live out this virtue: Unite your sufferings with the pains of Our Lord and Our Lady of Sorrows. Pray for the gift of perseverance and establish silence in your life and in your heart.

6. Lively Faith

  • MeaningLively – Full of life and spirited. Faith – When man totally submits his whole being to God, including his intellect and his will.
  • How Mary demonstrated Lively Faith: Mary totally submitted herself to God in an energetic way. She joyfully gave herself to the Lord.
  • How we can live out this virtue: Faith is a gift from God! To receive a gift, we must be in communion with the Giver. Decide to trust Him and practice receiving His gifts with humble, open palms.

7. Profound Humility

  • MeaningProfound – Penetrating or going deeply into subjects of thought or knowledge. Humility – Free from pride and arrogance; lowliness of mind.
  • How Mary demonstrated Profound Humility: Mary perfectly conformed herself to God’s Will. She saw herself as God saw her: nothing more, nothing less.
  • How we can live out this virtue: See yourself as God sees you! Pray the Litany of Humility, accept compliments gracefully and quietly, and don’t be disappointed to have made mistakes in front of others.

8. Surpassing Purity

  • MeaningSurpassing – More than what is typical in magnitude or degree. Purity – The state of being free from sin; oneness of heart and mind in desiring God.
  • How Mary demonstrated Surpassing Purity: Everything in Mary was of God. Her mind and heart were pure. She lived her life with the unity of purpose, seeking only to love and honor with all her heart, all her mind, and all her soul.
  • How we can live out this virtue: Live a life full of prayer and frequent the Sacraments. Work hard to keep your mind pure and focused on heavenly things rather than things of this world.

9. Universal Mortification

  • MeaningUniversal – All-encompassing, applicable everywhere. Mortification – Dying to yourself and your own will.
  • How Mary demonstrated Universal Mortification: Mary died to herself from the moment she said, “Not my will but Yours be done.” She continued this throughout her entire life, constantly dying to herself and totally uniting herself to her Son.
  • How we can live out this virtue: Make sacrifices and offer them up for the greater good of someone else. Prepare yourself in little daily events, such as getting right away when the alarm goes off and not hitting the snooze button!

Mary’s 9 virtues are impressive to reflect on but don’t feel downcasted. The key to defeating any task is to start small. Try choosing one virtue each week, month, or year to intentionally focus on and practice emulating.

7 Ways To Use Holy Water

7 Ways To Use Holy Water

“From long experience, I have discovered that there is nothing like holy water to put devils to flight and prevent them from returning again. They also flee from the Cross, but return; so holy water must have great virtue. For my own part, whenever I take it, my soul feels a particular and most notable consolation.”– St. Teresa of Avila When we read this quote from St. Teresa of Avila, we should be reminded of the significance of holy water. We Catholics dip our fingers in holy water and make the Sign of the Cross when going inside a church in order to remember our baptism and our baptismal promises,

As you know, the baptismal promises included renouncing Satan and disdaining sin. We don’t remember this, however, and take holy water for granted often. If we use it always, that’s an easy thing to do.

We must recall that holy water, through a priest, is blessed by God in virtue of Christ’s baptism. The Catholic Church possesses massive power in being able to impart sacramental grace—and holy water as a sacramental receives its power through the prayer and authority of the Church.

The rite of the blessing said over water by a priest to make it holy contains prayers of exorcism. It can banish demons, heal the sick, and send unwarranted grace upon us—yet most of the time we cross ourselves with this water without even thinking about how holy it really is.

The fact of the matter is that holy water is a powerful sacramental and we ought to use it daily. To stop us from using it without wondering , we should consciously find ways to use it more. Holy water can be used to bless people, places, and things that are used by humans in their aim of glorifying God with their lives.

Here is a list of seven ways to use holy water in your everyday life:

1. Bless yourself. This recommendation is clear, but if we are only blessing ourselves with holy water on Sunday, then aren’t we missing out on the rest of the week?  You can never have too much grace or blessing in your life.  Use holy water every day.  Keeping a holy water font in the home is a wonderful idea so that you, your family, and guests can be blessed in the comings and goings from your home.  Keep the font right by the front door to make sure you never leave home without it.

2. Bless your house.  If you haven’t taken the time to bless your house with holy water, then no time is better than the present.  Your home is the domestic Church and is in search for spiritual protection.  You can sprinkle holy water in your home yourself, or call a priest to formally bless your home using holy water as part of the house blessing ceremony.

3. Bless your family. Use holy water to pray and make the Sign of the Cross over your spouse and children before they go to sleep at night. Bonding the family to each other and to God in this way is a great family tradition to adopt. Keep a holy water bottle by the bedside for this reason.

4. Bless your workspace. If you work outside of the home, sprinkling your workspace with holy water is a nice idea, not only for spiritual protection on the work front but also as to sanctify your daily work for the glory of God.

5. Bless your car. The car is probably the most unsafe place where you spend a reasonable amount of time each day. Never look down on the power of holy water applied to your vehicle to keep you safe from harm’s way, when used in faith and trust in God. In fact, you can also call a priest to bless your car with holy water.

6. Bless your vegetable garden. It was a common practice in the Middle Ages for people to sprinkle their vegetable gardens with holy water.  In times when people were very dependent on crops for their livelihood, insufficient rain or early frosts could be destructive. Using holy water to bless and purify the plants that would be used for the family’s sustenance showed their hope on God’s grace.

7. Bless the sick.  If you know of any sick friends or family, then blessing them with holy water probably counts as a spiritual work of mercy.  If you visit the sick in a hospital or nursing home, bless their living space with holy water and leave a holy water bottle with them as a comfort in their time of need.

Here is a simple prayer to say when using holy water:

“By this holy water and by Your Precious Blood, wash away all my sins, O Lord. Amen.”

There is no specific prayer to pray when using holy water, other than making the Sign of the Cross: “In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” You can equally pray an Our Father or even the St. Michael Prayer when using holy water. Have in mind that holy water has already been blessed by the prayers of the priest.

How do you use holy water?

Holy water is one of those wonderful gifts (and weapons) from God to keep us sanctified and holy in our daily routine and to keep the things we regularly use sanctified and holy. (Some parents even use holy water to bless things their children always use such as bicycles and school books.) If we stop and ponder about what a generous gift holy water is, we will use it more frequently, thoughtfully, and gratefully!

8 Short Meditations for Making a Good Confession

8 Short Meditations for Making a Good Confession

One of the best favors and blessings that flow out of the Sacred Heart of Our Lord is a kindness that is communicated most profoundly through the Sacrament of Confession. This Sacrament is additionally at times called the Sacrament of Pardon, Reconciliation, Penance, and additionally Sacrament of God’s Mercy.

Words that create incomprehensible harmony, euphoria, encouragement, and expectation are the words that the Catholic cleric communicates in the expressions of pardon toward the finish of the Sacrament of Mercy: “And I clear you of your transgressions: for the sake of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. So be it. My child, your wrongdoings are excused; go in harmony!” The inside learning that the majority of my transgressions have been absolutely and totally eradicated, demolished, wiped out and pardoned by the Blood that Jesus shed for me on Calvary creates a delight and harmony that goes beyond the capacity that human words can express!

The two most imperative and glorious motions that a Catholic can do on earth are the accompanying: to get with confidence, dedication and consuming adoration the Sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist — the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ; at that point the second is to admit one’s transgressions to the cleric (who speaks to Jesus, the Healer and Friend) and receive sacramental absolution and forgiveness of sins.

This being the situation, we ought to endeavor with the majority of the vitality and fiber of our being to enhance our inside manner to get these ceremonies better every time we do get them. In a word, every gathering of both of these holy observances ought to be better and increasingly intense than the earlier gathering! That ought to be our optimal and steady objective! May God help us!

The greatest sinners can become the greatest saints if they simply trust in the mercy of Jesus. That which wounds most the Sacred Heart of Jesus, even more than sin itself, is the lack of trust in His mercy. Saint Paul encourages us with these words: “Where sin abounds the mercy of God abounds all the more.”(Romans 5:20)

The following are ten Biblical passages related to the Sacrament of Confession, but each in a unique way.  Pray over these; meditate on them; trust in God’s mercy and them make the best confession in your life: “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.”(Psalm 34:8)

1. Galatians 5:16-26

Saint Paul contrasts those who live according to the flesh and those who live according to the spirit. Those who live according to the flesh will have a harvest of corruption and death. Those who live according to the spirit will experience the fruits of the spirit and experience eternal life.

Confession helps us to put to death the works of the flesh and to be led by the Holy Spirit. May we form the habit of frequent confession, conquer the desires of the flesh and conquer them and live the true freedom of the sons and daughters of God.

2. Psalm 51

Pray before and after going to confession Psalm 51.  This is the heart-felt Act of Contrition that King David prayed after he committed adultery with Bathsheba and then murdered Urias the innocent man. Plead for the grace to have true repentance for your sins.

True sorrow, true and heartfelt contrition, is important to making a good confession. David humbly admits that his sin is his own doing and blames nobody excluding himself. May we own up to our own sins and blame only ourselves always, like David, trusting in God’s infinite mercy!

3. John 20:21-23

Read and pray over the Institution of the Sacrament of Confession that first Easter night when the Apostles were in the Upper Room and Jesus breathed on them the Holy Spirit and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit: whose sins you shall forgive they shall be forgiven; whose sins you shall bind shall be held bound.”

Be very thankful for this great gift bestowed upon the Church and its members the same day we celebrate His victorious triumph over death, the day of His Resurrection from the dead. In fact, every time we go to confession we individually celebrate the death to sin in our own person and rise to the new life of grace! Every confession is a Paschal-Easter experience! The Lord Jesus has risen in us, Alleluia!

4. John 21: 15-19

Read and meditate this conversation between Jesus and Peter. After the Apostles have made the miraculous catch of fish Jesus walks with Peter along the shore and asks him three times if Peter really loves Him. Peter is repairing for the three times that he denied Jesus three times shortly after the Last Supper.

Pray for the grace to truly be repentant for your sins and make a perfect act of contrition — a contrition of love!  Love covers a multitude of sins. You become the repentant Peter; tell the Lord you are truly sorry for your sins and how much you really love the Lord.

5. Luke 15:1-7

The Good Shepherd leaves the 99 to pursue the one lost sheep. Know that you are the lost sheep and you have great value in God’s eyes. Your soul has infinite value in the eyes of God. You were redeemed not by the blood of lambs or goats, nor bought back by gold or silver, but redeemed and ransomed by the Blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. (I Pet. 1:18-19)

6. John 10

Jesus is the Good Shepherd that goes after the lost sheep. Moreover, once you have experienced the loving embrace of Jesus the Good Shepherd then it is up to you to be a Good Shepherd for the sheep that Jesus has put in your charge.

The key for us to be a Good Shepherd is that we must first be a good sheep of the Good Shepherd, to hear His voice and follow Him. After we have experience and we Taste and see the goodnessof the Lord in Confession, then let us bring others to the loving embrace of the Good Shepherd!

7. Matthew 8:1-4 

Every Sacrament has a unique sacramental grace — that of Confession is healing! Jesus came to cure and heal the sick, all of the sick that trusted in Him.  We have to see ourselves in the leper; sin is leprosy and all of us are sinners.  As Jesus touched and healed the leper, so He can touch and heal me if I permit Him.” ”Though your sins are as scarlet, I will make them as white as the snow.”

8. Prodigal Son: Luke 15:11-32

Read and pray over the Parable of the Prodigal Son before going to Confession. Plead for the grace to comprehend what God really wants you to understand from this spiritual masterpiece. Every time you read and meditate upon this spiritual gem, God will enrich you with new and deeper wisdom.

However, in all times and places, the central message is that the Father is God, the Father who is full of love, mercy, and compassion to all those who believe Him. Saint Pope John Paul II wrote an entire encyclical on this one Parable: Dives in Misericordia. Study it and meditate on it!