Tuesday, March 19, 2013

In looking back, I believe one of John Paul II’s primary missions (or what he accomplished) was announcing the Gospel to the world, to everyone, but especially to young people; “Do not be afraid to follow Christ”, is the line I heard and remember from John Paul on the Boston Common in 1979. Maybe he wasn’t a great manager, but his preaching around the world is responsible for many, many good vocations to the priesthood and religious life as well as many devout Catholic families who directly trace their catholicity to the preaching of John Paul II.

To say Benedict XVI wasn’t humble because his papal wardrobe is just ignorant. (However TS and Amy Welborn are ahead of me on this.) Further, Benedict’s papacy was not a failure as many would have us believe. The Church’s job won’t be accomplished during any one papacy. History will tell of Benedict’s contribution to reforming the liturgy and beginning the reunification of Christian churches.

To say (as the media says) that Pope Francis election is a repudiation of the papacies of both Benedict XVI and John Paul II seems to be very ignorant or very wishful thinking.

And to the media and poorly catechized Catholics who are being interviewed all over the place who think that because Pope Francis isn’t Benedict XVI and loves the poor that he will change the Church’s moral and doctrinal teachings (most especially with respect to artificial contraception and women priests) I can only say they don’t know anything about the papacy or the Catholic Church.

There, I have gotten it off my chest. I am excited about Pope Francis, but I was excited about both John Paul and Benedict. I have hopes that Pope Francis will reform (rebuild) the Church and continue the Evangelization of all men with his own talents and charisma; but it comes down to Pope Francis’ response the Holy Spirit. Thus I need to pray for him and the Church.

Since I am getting things off my chest, here is something else which has been on my mind:

As Catholics, do we still believe in Purgatory? The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraphs 1030 to 1032 would seem to very clearly affirm the doctrine of Purgatory.

Then why is it never preached?

Maybe the subject doesn’t come up very often in Scripture and is thus not preached during most homilies, but at funerals?

Is the funeral Mass just for the consolation of the living? Or is it being offered for the deceased’s soul? Or may be the funeral Mass is both for the living and the dead.

And why would a funeral Mass be offered for the deceased’s soul if everyone goes straight to Heaven?

I ask because I have gone to many funeral Masses over the years, both for family members who have died and because my sons have served as altar boys at many funeral Masses over the years. Yet only one priest has mentioned Purgatory in all those funerals. Mostly I hear about the deceased looking down from Heaven at his gathered family and friends.

A funeral Mass is an opportunity for the priest to teach about what happens when we die. In this way we can be reminded both on how to continue to help the deceased on his way to Heaven with prayers for his soul and also be reminded of the possibly destiny of our own soul.

It may seem awkward or even uncharitable to tell family members that their departed loved one may still be suffering, but in reality it is uncharitable to withhold the truth-the truth that their departed loved one may still be suffering on his way to a Heavenly reward, but that they can help relieve his suffering and speed his path.

Purgatory is a mercy from God-without it few would reach those pearly gates. To cover-up God’s mercy is not merciful or charitable.

How many languish in Purgatory because no one is praying for them?

How many of the living will later languish in Purgatory because we believe we will go straight to Heaven upon our death?

Oremus pro invicem!

1 comment:

Emmett Gallows said...

There's been a lot in the media about Pope Francis being a better 'manager' figure than Benedict XVI or John Paul II. In regard to what you said about John Paul's mission of announcing the Gospel to the world, it made me wonder if managerial skills are such a primary concern at the moment, and if that means less focus on the spreading of the Word.