Saturday, 1 December 2012

The Works of Mercy and the Last Judgment

I'm sure this has been said before many, many times, but it is worth again reflecting that Our Lord's words on the Last Judgment and the works of mercy are applicable to the spiritual works of mercy as they are to the corporal works of mercy.

'And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty.  And all nations shall be gathered together before him: and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats:  And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, you blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 
For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see you hungry and fed you: thirsty and gave you drink? Or when did we see you a stranger and took you in? Or naked and covered you? Or when did we see you sick or in prison and came to you? And the king answering shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.'

We know what Our Lord says will be the judgment of those who do not these things and how often we see ourselves on the wrong side of the sheepfold, but then the temptation for us as Catholics is to only apply these words of Our Blessed Lord to physical, corporal works of mercy. If we take one spiritual work of mercy, that of praying for the living and especially for the dead (as we leave November behind, let's not leave the Holy Souls behind with it) we see that Our Lord Jesus Christ's words are surely just as applicable to this spiritual work of mercy.

The souls in Purgatory hunger. They hunger for God in a way in that we will perhaps not even experience in this life. They thirst. They thirst for God like we have never known because the worst thing about Purgatory is not, apparently (according to Doctors of the Church), the experience of purifying fire, but the experience of being in an ante-chamber awaiting union with Him. Their hunger and thirst is the hunger and thirst for God, the loss of whom is worse than any punishment or fire. They hunger and thirst in a manner that even the NHS could not inflict upon its patients. Naked. They are naked. They await to be clothed in Glory and to see the Beatific Vision for which they long. They are naked and exposed - as we shall be if we receive a merciful judgment - in the purgatorial prison. They know nakedness and shame - spiritual nakedness, spiritual shame. God has granted to the Church on Earth keys that will unlock this prison for those in torment - the prayer of the Church, the Holy Mass, indulgences and the devout prayer of the Church Militant. Sick. They know of the full extent of the spiritual sickness that is sin and separation from God, albeit temporal and finally they are in prison. Who will visit these souls with their prayers but the Church and those members of Her who desire to see their release? Strangers indeed, but our brothers and sisters also. Who will assist them to 'take them in' to the Heavenly City? They ask the questions of us. Christ asks the questions of us!

Finally, we can say that, in our age, perhaps the souls in Purgatory are indeed, 'the least of these' Christ's brethren, since apparently even 75% of the Universal Church doesn't even believe this place of purification before their sublime union with the Blessed Trinity exists! This means that the 25% or less of the Church Militant who believe what the Church actually teaches have to pray more regularly, seriously and devoutly for these brethren of Christ than perhaps at any other time in the Church's history!

If we do not sincerely pray for the repose of the souls of our brothers and sisters who have died in the Lord and who have Hope of the Vision for which they and we long, then let us take up this practice today because when Our Lord said what He said...He meant it!

Obviously, if you're a liberal 'catholic' and don't believe in Purgatory then don't worry. Just keep campaigning for female ordination, encouraging religious indifferentism, dissenting over issues of life, human sexuality, clerical celibacy, divorce and (re-/gay- [delete as appropriate]) marriage, spreading disinformation about Summorum Pontificum or whatever it is that floats your boat nowadays, because, as all the Doctors of the Church said, "If you don't believe it, then by golly it ain't true!" Was that St Thomas Aquinas or St Augustine who said that? I always forget.

Liberals would have us believe that not only is Hell empty, but Purgatory too. Eternal optimists though they may be, one wonders whether their belief in Heaven is empty, because, after all, if Heaven's empty too then where do people go when they die? Starbucks? Well, that's 'cafeteria Catholics' for you!

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