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Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Nice painting of a prie-dieu


A convent is giving me excess prie-dieux and chairs--up to four for the chapel.

I am so pleased. Again, when things look a bit better, I shall try and get a picture taken.

Still need an altar, tall candles (tapers--I am getting candlesticks from a reader), linens,standing Byzantine crucifix, and would like a sizable icon of the Divine Mercy. I cannot afford a portable altar at this time and am using a table.

Someone is sending me a relic.

Keep praying for these intentions, and help if you can.


Heaven, Hell, Purgatory and Time--Part Three Heaven

2 Peter 3:10-13

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.[a]
11 Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening[b] the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? 13 But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

Sadly, there is a lot of confusion on the Net, because of the myriad Protestant sites concerning the rapture, which is a heresy.

Catholics need to confine themselves to the ideas of the Second Coming and heaven to solid theologians and Church teaching throughout the ages.

The question as to time, especially the time between the particular judgment and the last judgment, was asked by a reader. Before answering this, one must considered what the soul, as separated from the body, knows or perceives. The separated soul has many abilities based on the time used on earth, as the intellectual or higher faculties remain but the senses are changed, as the soul does not have the body.

Garrigou-Lagrange writes this:

To have a just idea of the future life in general we must first see what theology teaches on the knowledge possessed by the soul separated from its body, the soul which no longer has the use of its senses, not even of imagination. Next, we study the state of the will, illumined by this new knowledge beyond the tomb.

We have said above [174] that the soul begins to be fixed either in good or evil by the last voluntary act, meritorious or demeritorious, which it makes at the very moment when it separates from the body. We have said further, that it completes this fixation by the act of the will which it produces at that precise instant where the state of separation begins. Then, since everyone judges according to his inclination, the humble soul continues to judge and will conformably to humility during its state of separation, whereas the proud man who has died in final impenitence continues to judge and to will according to his pride.

This fixity, either in good or in evil, is mysterious. But this mysteriousness is not without an analogue in facts which we meet with in the present life. The disposition wherewith we enter upon a permanent state often lasts throughout the entire duration of that state. The infant born into good surroundings has promise of lasting good health, whereas the child born into poor surroundings may anticipate feeble health. Again, he who with Christian motives enters marriage has good hopes of perseverance, whereas he who enters with an evil intention will not be blessed by God in this state, unless he is converted. He who enters religion for a good purpose ordinarily perseveres, whereas he who enters for an evil motive does not persevere, and has no profit from the religious life. These examples, in a way, illustrate the fixity of the soul after death, a fixation which is affirmed by revelation. [175]

The topic we now turn to, namely, the knowledge in the separated soul, will confirm this doctrine. It is immutability in knowledge that is the source of the immutability which is characteristic of the state of separation.

The central principle is this: Human intelligence, though it is the lowest of all intelligences, is nevertheless a genuine intelligence, an immaterial and spiritual power. [176]

Preternatural Knowledge

The separated soul, since it no longer has its body, no longer has sense operations, internal or external, because all these are operations of an animated organ. The separated soul retains the sensitive faculties, but only radically, since they do not exist actually anywhere except in the human composite. The human imagination, like the animal imagination, does not exist actually after the corruption of its material organ. The same holds good for the habitudes of the sense faculties. Remembrances of the sensitive memory do not exist actually in the separated soul. The separated soul can no longer see in the sense order, no longer imagine in the sense order.

But the separated soul does retain actually its higher faculties, its purely spiritual faculties, namely, intellect and will and the habits which are found in these faculties. But here we must draw a distinction. Reprobated souls can retain certain acquired sciences, but do not have virtues, either acquired or infused. They have lost infused faith and infused hope. But the souls in purgatory preserve their knowledge and their virtues, acquired or infused: faith, hope, charity, prudence, religion, patience, justice, humility. This truth is very important.

Similarly the separated soul preserves the habits which have remained in these faculties. Nevertheless the exercise of these acts is in part impeded, because these faculties have no longer the aid of the imagination or sense memory, an aid which is most helpful. What, for instance, would be a preacher who would no longer have the use of imagination in the service of his intelligence?

Theologians, generally, teach that the mode of being of the separated soul is preternatural, because the soul is made to animate its body. Hence it has also a preternatural mode of action, which it receives from God at the moment of separation, a mode consisting in infused ideas, similar to those of the angels, ideas which can serve it without the aid of the imagination. [177] Thus, to illustrate, a theologian who has become blind, and is no longer able to read, becomes a man of prayer and receives higher inspirations. It may be that formerly he worked too much and prayed too little. Now he consecrates himself to interior prayer and thereby becomes a better theologian.

But from this notion of infused ideas received by the separated soul there arises another difficulty, quite different from the preceding. Whereas the use of abstract and acquired ideas is difficult without the imagination, the use of infused ideas is difficult because they are too high for the natural intelligence, which is the lowest of intelligences and has as its proportioned object the lowest intelligible object, namely, sense objects. These infused ideas are too elevated, just as metaphysical conceptions are too high for an unprepared spirit, or as a giant's armor is too heavy for a young fighter. David preferred his sling to the armor of Goliath.

These deficiencies are balanced by perfections. First, the soul sees itself intuitively, as does the angel. [178] Consequently it clearly sees its spirituality, its immortality, its liberty. Further it sees in itself, as in a mirror, with perfect certitude, God, its Author and Creator. It answers the great philosophical problems with perfect clarity. St. Thomas says: "The soul in a certain real sense is thus more free to understand." Thus separated souls naturally know one another, although less perfectly than do the angels.

Can the separated soul know, not only universal truths, but also concrete facts? Yes, where it has special ties of family, friendship, and grace. Local distance is no impediment in this kind of knowledge, since it does not arise from sense but from infused ideas. [179] Thus a good Christian mother may recall in purgatory the children whom she has left on earth.

Finally, we are getting to the question at hand. Those souls in heaven have a different knowledge than those in purgatory. This knowledge is not only from merit, but infused.

Do these souls know what is happening on earth? St. Thomas replies: "In the natural order they do not know, because they are separated from the society of those who are still on the road to eternity. Nevertheless, if we restrict the question to the souls of the blessed, it is more probable to say that they, like the angels, do know what happens on earth, particularly what happens to those who are dear to them. This is a part of their accidental beatitude." [180] Those in purgatory too can have love of us, even though they do not know our actual state, just as we pray for them, although we do not know their actual state, their nearness, for example, to deliverance.

I return to the question of time

Here is Garrigou-Lagrange on this matter again, from a different perspective:

In beatified souls there is added to this double duration (eviternity and discontinuous time) also that of participated eternity, which measures their beatific vision of the divine essence and the love which results from this vision. This is one unique instant, an immovable eternity, entirely without succession. Yet this participated eternity differs from that of essential eternity which is proper to God, just as effect differs from cause. Participated eternity had a beginning. Further, the essential eternity of God measures everything that is in God, His essence, and all His operations, whereas participated eternity measures only the beatific vision and the love which follows. Eternity is like the invisible point at the summit of a cone, whereas continuous time is pictured by the base of this cone. Eviternity and discontinuous time are between these two, the one like a circular conic section, and the other like a polygon inscribed in this circular section.

So, what do the souls in heaven know about time on earth? 

What God wants them to know is the answer. They are not yet in the perfection which will come at the joining of the bodies and souls together in bliss at the Second Coming, but they are "living" out of time, but without their bodies, at least to this present day, as Christ has not returned in glory and the world continues on.

But, remember the Present Moment? When one is wrapped up with God, time no longer is the same as successive time, or solar time, which of course, does not affect heaven. Time is always present.

If time is always present in heaven, then one can extrapolate that the joining of the body and soul happens within that Present Moment in some mysterious way. 

That the Second Coming, with the resurrection of the bodies of all humans, is in time, one must recognize that on this point, and this point alone, the souls in heaven, too, await this joining of their complete humanity body and soul.

Waiting indicates time, but to put this time in to the format of solar time would be a huge error.

Heaven is eternal and in that eternity, the souls of the just await the Second Coming, but not in the time frame which we do. 

When Christ appeared in glory at the Transfiguration, He was seen with Moses and Elijah in glory, two saints whose bodies were already in glory. Mary is in glory with her assumed body. Perhaps, Enoch, who walked into heaven is another in glory with his body. Other than that, we can assume there is some sort of "waiting" outside of time.

More on this later.

Heaven, Hell, Purgatory and Time--Part Two Hell

Yesterday, I wrote about hell...more today regarding time in hell. Basically, it is eternal, and not subject to solar time or the time of purgatory, which has an end and is of a different type of time, as seen in the last post. 

Here is the other post yesterday on hell.

We are in the state of the "way", writes Garrigou-Lagrange. Death is the state of termination.

I have heard many Catholics tell me someone can repent after death. No...this has never been the teaching of the Church. Death ends all choices. It ends the journey, the way.

One leaves solar time and enters into another state of time, either heaven, hell, or purgatory. 
Maybe a short definition of hell from Garrigou-Lagrange is necessary before getting to time in hell.

Hell signifies properly the state of the damned souls, of demons first, then of men who die in the state of mortal sin and are consequently condemned to suffer eternally. Secondly, it signifies also the place where condemned souls are detained.

This is a problem today-the denial that people go to hell if they are in mortal sin.

Those who teach that there are no people in hell are, simply, heretics. One should be concerned for their souls.

Here is the great Dominican on this:

The existence of hell was denied in the third century by Arnobius who, following the Gnostics, held that those who are reprobated are also annihilated. This error was renewed by the Socinians of the sixteenth century. In ancient times, further, the Origenists, especially in the fourth century, denied the eternity of punishment in hell, because they held that all the reprobate, angels and men, would finally be converted. This error was taken up again by liberal spirits, particularly among the Protestants. The rationalists say the eternity of suffering is in contradiction to the wisdom of God, to His mercy, and to His justice. They imagine that suffering must be proportioned to the time necessary for committing the fault, and not to the gravity of the perpetual state wherein the soul finds itself after it has left the world with grievous and unrepented sin.

The Athanasian Creed and many councils affirm as a dogma of faith the existence of heaven, the eternity of punishment, both of loss and of pain, and likewise the inequality of suffering proportioned to the gravity of the faults committed and left unrepented.

So far, so good. One may look at Garrigou-Lagrange's book for all the Scriptural references to hell, as that is not the focus of this post.

I shall return to the question of justice again, but want to move on to time in hell.

Here is Garrigou-Lagrange again:

... if beatitude, the recompense of the just, is eternal, it is surely right that the suffering due to obstinate malice should also be eternal. One is the recompense for merit, the other the punishment for demerit. As eternal mercy shines forth on one side, so the splendor of eternal justice shines on the other. St. Paul says: "What if God willing to show His wrath (or to avenge His justice) and to make His power known, endured (or permitted) with much patience vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction, that He might show the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He has prepared unto glory?" [238] Since justice, like mercy, is infinite, each demands to be manifested in a duration without limit.

Moving towards understanding time in hell...

Medicinal suffering ordained for the correction of those who are guilty, is indeed temporary. But death and lifelong imprisonment are punitive sufferings, not meant for the correction of him who is thus punished. They become medicinal, indeed, but only for others, who are thus turned away from crime. In this sense hell has saved many souls. The fear of hell is the beginning of wisdom. [246] 

An objection: Pain, being contrary to nature, cannot be eternal. St. Thomas answers: "Pain is contrary to the soul's nature, but it is in harmony with the soul as soiled by unrepented mortal sin. As this sin, being a permanent disorder, lasts forever, the pain due to the sin will also last forever." [247] 

Time in hell is time in eternity.

St. Thomas [248] proceeds: Eternal punishment manifests God's inalienable right to be loved above all else. God, good and merciful, has His delight, not in the suffering of the damned, but in His own unequaled goodness. The elect, beholding the radiance of God's supreme justice, are thereby led to thank Him for their own salvation. "God, [249] willing to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction, that He might show the riches of His glory in the vessels of mercy which He hath prepared unto glory." [250] 

Infinite goodness is the source both of mercy and of justice: of mercy, because it is essentially self-communicative, of justice, because it has an inalienable right to be loved by all creatures.

This is what I learned in my moment of particular judgment in 2011. 

What created hell? God's justice, God's power, God's wisdom, God's love. Such is Dante's inscription on the gate of hell:

Through me the way into the doleful City, through me the way into the pain eternal, through me the way to people lost to pity. Justice did move Creator mine supernal, made me that power divine by evil hated, wisdom supreme and first love sempiternal. [251] 

I allow a description before returning to time..
Let Lacordaire conclude: "Had justice alone created the abyss, there might be remedy. But it is love, the first love sempiternal, which made hell. This it is which banishes hope. Were I condemned by justice, I might flee to love. But if I am condemned by love, whither can I turn?

"Such is the fate of the damned. Love, that gave His blood for them -- this Love, this same Love, must now curse them.

"Just think! 'Tis God who came down to you, who took on your own nature, who spoke your language, healed your wounds, raised your dead to life. 'Tis God who died for you on a cross. And shall you still be permitted to blaspheme and mock, to enjoy to the full your voluptuousness? No. Deceive not yourselves: love is not a farce. It is God's love which punishes, God's crucified love. It is not justice that is without mercy it is love. Love is life or death. And if that love is God's love, then love is either eternal life or eternal death." [252] 

The dogma of hell shows us the immense depths of the human soul, absolute distinction between evil and good, against all the lies invented to suppress this distinction. It shows us also, by contrast, the joys of conversion and eternal beatitude.

The Latin word, damnum, which we translate by "loss," signifies damage
. The pain of loss means the essential and principal suffering due to unrepented sin. This pain of loss is the privation of the possession of God, whereas that of sense is the effect of the afflictive action of God. The first corresponds to guilt as turning away from God, whereas the second corresponds to guilt as turning toward something created. [253]

We note, in passing, that infants who die without baptism do not feel the absence of the beatific vision as a loss, because they do not know that they were supernaturally destined to the immediate possession of God. We speak here only of that pain of loss which is conscious, which is inflicted on adults condemned for personal sin, for mortal sin unrepented. Let us see in what it consists, and what is its rigor.

Besides the pain of loss hell inflicts also a pain of sense. We shall speak here of the existence of this pain, of what it is according to Scripture, of the nature of the fire in hell, and of its mode of action. [276]

The pain of loss is clearly affirmed in the Gospel: "Rather fear Him that can destroy both soul and body in hell." [277] The existence of this pain follows, as St. Thomas [278] says, from the truth that mortal sin not only turns man away from God, but turns him also to a created good preferred to God. Mortal sin, therefore, deserves a double suffering, first, the privation of God, secondly, the affliction which comes from creatures. The body, too, which has taken part in sin and has found in sin a forbidden joy, must share the suffering of the soul.

In what does the pain of sense consist? Scripture [279] tells us by describing hell as a dark prison, as a place of tears and gnashing of teeth. Further, it speaks of fire and sulphur. [280] 

In these descriptions two connected ideas always recur; that of imprisonment, and the pain of fire. Theologians insist as much on the one as on the other, because each explains the other. We read: [281] "The king said to the waiters: Bind his hands and feet and cast him into the exterior darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.... The hell of unquenchable fire." [282] 

OK back to time...but one must understand that the fire of hell is corporeal, not merely spiritual. This changes the definition of fire, as well as time, for the soul in hell, as opposed to the soul in purgatory.

The common doctrine is that the fire of hell is a real fire. This view is based on the accepted position in the interpreting of Scripture, that is, we are to admit metaphorical language only when comparison with other passages excludes the literal sense, or when literal sense involves an impossibility. [283] Neither of these two conditions is here realized. In this sentence, "Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels," [284] the entire context demands a realistic interpretation. As the good go to eternal life, so you go to the fire prepared for the demon and his angels. This fire punishes, [285] not only souls, but also bodies. [286] The apostles [287] too speak with the same realism. St. Peter [288] takes as type of punishment in hell that fire which fell from heaven on Sodom and Gomorrah. The metaphorical interpretation, wherein the fire is a figure of chagrin or remorse, is contrary to the obvious sense of Scripture and tradition.

The Fathers generally, with the exception of Origen and his disciples, speak of a real fire, which they compare to terrestrial fire, or even to corporeal fire. Thus St. Basil, St. Chrysostom, St. Augustine, St. Gregory the Great. [289] A. Michel, [290] after a long examination of these texts, concludes: "When the Fathers simply affirm traditional belief, they speak without hesitation of a hell of fire. But when they discuss the difficult question of this fire's mode of action, we can notice some hesitation in their thought."

This fire, says St. Thomas, [291] is a corporeal fire, of the same nature as fire on earth, differing from it only accidentally, since it has no need of terrestrial fuel. It is dark, without flame, lasts forever, burns bodies without destroying them. [292] 

Its Mode of Action
How can corporeal fire cause pain in a soul separated from its body, or in pure spirits like the demons? Theologians answer in general: "It can do this as an instrument of divine justice, just as the sacraments, for example, the water of baptism, produce in the soul that spiritual effect which is grace. Those who have scorned the sacraments, instruments of God's mercy, suffer the instruments of divine justice.

Like the matter of the sacraments, the fire of hell produces a spiritual effect as well as being real.

Theologians here divide into two camps, as they do for the sacraments, some maintaining a physical causality, others only a moral causality. A moral cause, like prayer, which we address to someone to persuade him to act, does not produce directly the effect desired, it only inclines the agent capable of producing the act to realize it. If it be thus with the fire of hell, it would not produce effectively that which is attributed to it. The effect would be simply and solely produced by God.

Thomists, on the other hand, and with them many other theologians, maintain here, as in the case of the sacraments, a physical, instrumental causality, exercised by the fire of hell on the souls of the condemned. It is difficult indeed to explain its mode of action. St. Thomas [293] and his best commentators hold that the fire of hell receives from God power to afflict the condemned spirits. The fire ties and binds them, hinders their activity, somewhat like paralysis or intoxication. This subjection to a corporeal element is a great humiliation for immaterial beings. This explanation is in harmony with the texts of Scripture [294] which describe hell as a prison where the damned are retained against their will.

Retained against one's will for all time is punishment, indeed.

But how can this fire, after the general resurrection, burn the bodies of the damned without consuming them? That it does so is affirmed by tradition and Scripture. [295] St. Thomas [296] holds that the bodies of the damned, though they are incorruptible and unalterable, still suffer in some special fashion, as, for example, the sense of hearing suffers from hearing a high, strident voice, or as the taste suffers from a bitter flavor. [297] 

Difficulty in explaining how this fire acts, is not a reason for denying the reality of that action. Even in the natural order it is difficult to explain how exterior objects produce in our senses an impression, a representation in the psychological order, which surpasses brute matter. Hence it is not surprising that preternatural effects should be still more difficult to explain.

The pain of sense, as all tradition affirms, is not the principal pain. That which is essential in the state of damnation is the privation of God Himself, and the immense void which this privation causes in the soul, a void which manifests by contrast the plenitude of life everlasting, of which the present meritorious life is the prelude. [298]

So, just as a person chooses to stay in mortal sin for years, and years, and years while on earth, the punishment of hell mirrors that obstinacy. I have skipped much on pain here, but one can look at the link for more information at the bottom of the page.

 A very probable position, upheld by many theologians, is that God will not let die in sin those who have committed only one mortal sin, especially if there is a question of a sin of frailty. Final impenitence would thus be restricted to inveterate sinners. As St. Peter says: "God dealeth patiently for your sake, not willing that anyone should perish, but that all should return to penance." [308] God moves men to conversion. Hell is the pain of obstinacy. [309] 

We cannot understand eternity, the foreverness of hell or heaven. We cannot understand the corporeal pain or the spiritual pain which accompanies the endless time of hell. 

Pope Benedict XII, in 1336, in Benedictus Deus, clarified the state of souls in heaven or hell, particular and final judgment. The souls are in heaven or hell, but not the bodies until the Second Coming, the Final, General Judgment.

On the Beatific Vision of God

Benedictus Deus
Constitution issued by Pope Benedict XII in 1336

By this Constitution which is to remain in force for ever, we, with apostolic authority, define the following: According to the general disposition of God, the souls of all the saints who departed from this world before the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ and also of the holy apostles, martyrs, confessors, virgins and other faithful who died after receiving the holy baptism of Christ- provided they were not in need of any purification when they died, or will not be in need of any when they die in the future, or else, if they then needed or will need some purification, after they have been purified after death-and again the souls of children who have been reborn by the same baptism of Christ or will be when baptism is conferred on them, if they die before attaining the use of free will: all these souls, immediately (mox) after death and, in the case of those in need of purification, after the purification mentioned above, since the ascension of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ into heaven, already before they take up their bodies again and before the general judgment, have been, are and will be with Christ in heaven, in the heavenly kingdom and paradise, joined to the company of the holy angels. Since the passion and death of the Lord Jesus Christ, these souls have seen and see the divine essence with an intuitive vision and even face to face, without the mediation of any creature by way of object of vision; rather the divine essence immediately manifests itself to them, plainly, clearly and openly, and in this vision they enjoy the divine essence . Moreover, by this vision and enjoyment the souls of those who have already died are truly blessed and have eternal life and rest. Also the souls of those who will die in the future will see the same divine essence and will enjoy it before the general judgment.

Such a vision and enjoyment of the divine essence do away with the acts of faith and hope in these souls, inasmuch as faith and hope are properly theological virtues. And after such intuitive and face-to-face vision and enjoyment has or will have begun for these souls, the same vision and enjoyment has continued and will continue without any interruption and without end until the last Judgment and from then on forever.

(On hell and the general judgment)
Moreover we define that according to the general disposition of God, the souls of those who die in actual mortal sin go down into hell immediately (mox) after death and there suffer the pain of hell. Nevertheless, on the day of judgment all men will appear with their bodies "before the judgment seat of Christ" to give an account of their personal deeds, "so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body" (2 Cor. 5.10).

So, there is a mysterious moment in time, the Second Coming of Christ, the Final or Last Judgment, when the bodies of all will be joined to the souls, which have already, if the persons were dead, been in heaven or hell. Purgatory ends.

The distinction of the time between the particular judgment and the final one is the topic of the next post in this three part series as it deals with time in heaven and time in hell.

to be continued...



Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, and Time Part One--Purgatory

This post is one on time-temporal, (solar time), and eternity. The concepts are not new.

First of all, let us look at purgatory. There are many misconceptions about indulgences regarding time.

I want to clear that up first. When one does an indulgence through a prayer, let us say, of thirty days, 
it does not mean thirty days off of purgatory, but the equivalent of a real penance lived out in life for thirty days.

For example, in the Catholic cultures before the Protestant Revolt, a priest could ask a person to go on a pilgrimage to Canterbury or Walsingham, for sixty days, walking or so on, for adultery. This penance had a time connected to the mortification. 

Later on, when the Church could not realistically expect the penitent to live out the penance in real time, because of wars and persecution, Rome decided on prayer penances. Therefore, a prayer which has a "thirty day indulgence" means the saying of it takes the place of a thirty day penance. These penances would have been fasts, scourgings, pilgrimages, and so on.

Garrigou-Lagrange, again, comes to the rescue concerning time in eternity or outside the world. These quotations are from Life Everlasting.

 Here is his introduction to the question of purgatory, which I tackle first. My comments are in blue.

How Long Must Souls Remain in Purgatory? [435] 

Purgatory itself will last until the last judgment. [436] "And these shall go into everlasting punishment, but the just into life everlasting." [437] Purgatory will then be no longer. The last of the elect will find, before dying, sufficient purification. "There will arise false Christs and false prophets, and they will perform great prodigies, even so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect." [438] A little before this text we read: "Unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved, but for the sake of the elect those days shall be shortened." [439] The end of the world will come when the number of the elect is complete. Then purgatory will have an end.

But if the question regards the duration of purgatory for a particular soul, we can but answer that the punishment will be longer and more intense according to the expiation required. [440] Suffering corresponds to guilt, and its duration corresponds to the rootedness of sin. Thus one soul may suffer long, but with less affliction than another, whose more intense affliction brings earlier deliverance.

Let us illustrate by an analogy. Punishment on earth, say scourging, may be severe and brief, whereas imprisonment may be long and less severe. In the spiritual order, too, penance for a grave sin may be brief and severe, while for faults less grave but more deeply rooted, it may be long and mild.

Dominic Soto [441] and Maldonatus say that purgatory is so severe, and the suffrages of the Church so efficacious, that no soul remains there more than ten or twenty years. Theologians, all but unanimously, reject this view. Souls converted at the last moment, after a life of grave disorder, remain in purgatory much longer than ten or twenty years. Theological opinion, in general, favors long duration of purgatorial purification. [442] Private revelations mention three or four centuries, or even more, especially for those who have had high office and great responsibility.

I pray for souls in purgatory and have asked Mary to use the prayers to free those in purgatory longest. Years ago, I had the sense that one soul for whom I was praying had been in purgatory since the 1500s.

Garrigou-Lagrange explains purgatorial time as "discontinuous"  not solar, time.

To escape false imagining, let us again recall that purgatory is not measured by solar time, but by eviternity and discontinuous time. Discontinuous time, we have seen is composed of successive spiritual instants, and each of these instants may correspond to ten, twenty, thirty, sixty hours of our solar time, just as a person can remain thirty hours in ecstasy absorbed by one sole thought. Hence there is no proportion between our solar time and the discontinuous time of purgatory. But if it be revealed that a soul has been delivered from purgatory at a definite instant of our time, it means that this instant corresponds to the spiritual instant of its deliverance.

The closest events I have experienced as discontinuous time were both times of sorrow.  I went through three weeks of intense grief in 1995. I was so taken up in grief, that not only did I lose 40 pounds through stress and not eating, but I had no concept of time. I had to force myself to go through the needed actions of the days, as I had a seven year old boy.

Time was eaten up by an out-of-time experience of severe grief.

Again, in 2011, when I had a brief experience of my particular judgment, I was out of time. My guess is that this grief of realizing how one sin offends Almighty God lasted two and a half-hours, but it did not seem that long. In both of these instances, my experience was of  a "perpetual present".

Here is Garrigou-Lagrange on discontinuous time and "eviternity".

We must distinguish three kinds of duration: time, eternity, and an intermediate kind of duration, which is called eviternity.

On earth our duration is measured by continuous time, which is itself the measure of continuous movement, especially of the apparent movement of the sun. It is thus that we distinguish hours, days, years, and centuries. When the soul is separated from the body and is not yet beatified, it has a double kind of duration: eviternity and discontinuous time. Eviternity measures what is immutable in angels and separated souls. It is the measure of their substance, of their natural knowledge of self and God. Eviternity excludes succession. It is a perpetual present. Yet it differs from eternity, because it has had a beginning, and because it is united to discontinuous time which presupposes past and future.

To understand this, one must forget about continuous time.

Discontinuous time, then, is opposed to continuous or solar time. It is found in angels and separated souls, as the measure of successive thoughts and affections. One thought lasts for one spiritual instant. The following thought has its own spiritual instant. To illustrate: here on earth a person in ecstasy can remain two solar hours, or many hours, in one sole thought which represents to it one sole spiritual instant. Similarly, history characterizes different centuries, for example, the thirteenth or the seventeenth, by the ideas which predominate in each of these centuries. Thus we speak of the century of St. Louis, of the century of Louis XIV. Hence a spiritual instant, in the lives of angels and separated souls, can last many days, even many years, measured by our solar time, just as a person in ecstasy can remain thirty successive hours absorbed in one single thought.

Not being a person who is holy enough to experience what St. Teresa of Avila did in her Unitive State, ecstasies outside of time, I have not experienced the one single thought moment except in the two events above. Now, the souls in heaven experience time in a different manner than those in purgatory. All is in the Present Moment.

In beatified souls there is added to this double duration (eviternity and discontinuous time) also that of participated eternity, which measures their beatific vision of the divine essence and the love which results from this vision. This is one unique instant, an immovable eternity, entirely without succession. Yet this participated eternity differs from that of essential eternity which is proper to God, just as effect differs from cause. Participated eternity had a beginning. Further, the essential eternity of God measures everything that is in God, His essence, and all His operations, whereas participated eternity measures only the beatific vision and the love which follows. Eternity is like the invisible point at the summit of a cone, whereas continuous time is pictured by the base of this cone. Eviternity and discontinuous time are between these two, the one like a circular conic section, and the other like a polygon inscribed in this circular section.

So, time in purgatory is not like time in heaven. It has a beginning and an end. One is aware of purgation, and the goal, heaven. Eviternity is the status of time in purgatory. But, one's entire being is fixed on God. 

Continuous time flows without cessation. Its present flows continually from past to future. Our present life involves a succession of hours, in work, prayer, sleep. Eternity, on the contrary, is a continual present, without past or future, a unique instant of life which is possessed entirely and simultaneously. Eviternity approaches eternity. It permits us to conceive better the immutability of the life of the separated soul, not beatified, or not yet beatified: the immutability of knowledge which it has of itself, the immutability of the will fixed on its last end, good or evil.

When we pray and go into silence, learning to live in the Present Moment of God on earth, we are beginning to experience the eternity of God as we shall in heaven. This is the vertical movement of the soul within the horizontal time of work, sleep, eating and so on.

I learned this over the years by immersing myself in the Benedictine way. A monastic day allows one to concentrate on the vertical while being in the horizontal.

So, today, as usual, I got up, got dressed, made my bed, threw some clothes in the washing machine, went up to the chapel and said Lauds and a few other Third Order Prayers, as well a some intercessory prayers. Then, I came downstairs to eat breakfast, clean bathrooms, and so on. I say prayers at noon and at three...etc. making the day both horizontal and vertical, entering into the Benedictine way of being in silence as much as possible, (yesterday, I had to show the house to several people, which meant the schedule was out of kilter and I had to talk more than usual), returning to vertical time when I could. This is the discipline of the monastic and prayer become one in silence, so that one learns to be in the Present Moment of God even while cleaning bathrooms. Prayer continues over into work if one is in silence.

Let us recall here the words of St. Augustine: "Unite thyself to the eternity of God, and thou thyself wilt be eternal. Unite thyself to the eternity of God. Watch with Him the events which come to pass below you." [182] Let us watch the successive moments of our terrestrial life, not only along the horizontal line of time which runs between the past and the future, but also on the vertical line which binds them at each instant to immovable eternity. Thus our acts will be more and more meritorious, more and more filled with love of God, and thus will pass from time into eternity, where they remain forever written in the book of life.

These different kinds of time, on earth, in purgatory, and in heaven, permit us to distinguish also in the present life two kinds of time: one corporeal, one spiritual. Corporeal time, solar time, measures the duration of our organism. Thus measured, one is eighty years of age, an old man; but, measured by spiritual time, his soul may remain very young. Thus, as we distinguish three ages of corporeal life, infancy, adult age, and old age, so in the life of the soul, we distinguish three ages, namely, the purgative life of beginners, the illuminative life of those who are progressing, the unitive way of those who are perfect.

EXACTLY! This purgation can last years-for Mother Teresa of Calcutta, fifty years...for John of the Cross only about ninety days.....

Perseverance is key...Purgation on earth and purgatory are "medicinal" punishments, states Aquinas--back to G-L:

This spiritual kind of time may explain salvation in unexpected quarters. Some great act, never retracted, has borne fruit.

I knew a young Jew, the son of an Austrian banker, in Vienna. He had decided on a lawsuit against the greatest adversary of his family, a lawsuit that would have enriched him. He suddenly recalled this word of the Pater Noster, which he had sometimes heard: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." He said to himself: "How would it be if, instead of carrying on this lawsuit, I would pardon him?" He followed the inspiration, forgave completely, renounced the lawsuit. At that same moment he received the full gift of faith. This one word of the Our Father became his pathway up the mountain of life. He became a priest, a Dominican, and died at the age of fifty years. Though nothing particularly important appeared in the remainder of his life, his soul remained at the height where it had been elevated at the moment of his conversion. Step by step he mounted to the eternal youth which is the life of heaven. The moral runs thus: One great act of self-sacrifice may decide not only our whole spiritual life on earth but also our eternity. We judge a chain of mountains by its highest peak.

I know of two moments which changed my life because of a decision based on Scripture. The first was losing all my six years of work on a doctorate because I had to be a whistleblower for a teacher doing evil and I was blackballed by his friends, including my dissertation advisor. Choosing truth over comfort became the way back to complete awareness of truth, increasing discernment and clarity of mind as well as of the soul.

The second was giving my son to God willingly and freely, allowing him to follow Christ in his vocation and me to suffer detachment, which taught me about relying on Divine Providence and living in humility. I had to do this act of the will of detachment again recently regarding living in England, my true home. I have given this up, trusting that God will find a way, if it is His Will. So, I live in the Present Moment again, following self-denial in order to find God within.

These types of decisions, in real time, take us out of time and place us in the Present Moment. The more we do this daily, the more the Present Moment becomes a way of life. If one is practicing the Present Moment of living in God, one understands these passages of Garrigou-Lagrange more clearly.

Back to purgatorial time....

After long discussions and wide historical researches on this particular point, it seems wise to conclude with St. Robert Bellarmine and Suarez as follows: "Although the existence of fire in purgatory is less certain than that of fire in hell, the doctrine which admits a real fire in purgatory must be classified as a sententia probabilissima. Hence the contrary opinion is improbable." [424] 

Both the last two popes before Francis stated that purgatory is not a place. However, we cannot deny a fire-like purgation. These statements were confusing to some and seem to contradict the long teaching of purgatorial fire, as well as visions of purgatory. Basically, one experiences fire either outside of us or inside, like a terrible purging of the mind, imagination, and will, which is like unto real fire.

Aquinas states this about place. "Incorporeal things are not in place after a manner known and familiar to us, in which way we say that bodies are properly in place; but they are in place after a manner befitting spiritual substances, a manner that cannot be fully manifest to us." [St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Supplement, Q69, a1, reply 1]

Back to G-L:

This view rests on seven reasons: first, the consent of scholastic theologians. Second, the authority of St. Gregory the Great. [425] Third, the authority of St. Augustine. [426] Fourth, the concordant testimonies of St. Cyprian, St. Basil, St. Caesarius, of the liturgy, which begs refreshment for these souls. Fifth, the unanimous decision of the Latin fathers at the Council of Florence. Sixth, the very probable foundation found in First Corinthians. [427] Seventh, particular revelations, for example, those of St. Catherine of Ricci. She suffered forty days to deliver a soul from purgatory. A novice, touching her hand, said: "But, my mother, you are burning." "Yes, my daughter," she replied, "this fire is not seen, but it consumes like a burning fever."

Real fire is a possibility for purgatory, but interior fire is a certainty.

How can fire cause suffering in souls separated from their bodies? As we said above, [428] fire is an instrument of justice, as baptismal water is an instrument of grace. A soul which has refused the instruments of mercy must suffer from the instruments of justice.

I have been in terrible fevers, especially during the swine flu epidemic in America in the 1970s. When one is in delirium, as I was, one has a very high fever and one feels "out of time."

One cannot be "with" those in the room, or house. One is isolated in pain and suffering. Purgatory is like this, only much, much worse, because one has seen God and lost Him again. Only the perfect see God. All sins and tendencies toward sin must be purged from the person. 

The mode of this action remains mysterious. This fire has the power to bind the soul, [429] that is, to hinder it from acting as it would and where it would. It inflicts on the soul the humiliation of depending on a material creature. An analogy is seen in paralyzed persons who cannot act as they would.

More information may be found here-- Council of Florence, Decretum pro Graecis:  DS 1304; Council of Trent, Decretum de iustificatione:  DS 1580; Decretum de purgatorio: DS 1820). Look at this website for more.

to be continued....

Later Today, A Look at Spe Salvi

See you later...

 If technical progress is not matched by corresponding progress in man's ethical formation, in man's inner growth (cf. Eph 3:16;2 Cor 4:16), then it is not progress at all, but a threat for man and for the world.

Pope Benedict, Spe Salvi

Update: tomorrow, sorry....

Natural Law-Destroyed or Ignored?

Some Catholic moralists and ethicists have come up with an idea, in direct opposition to the teaching of the Church, that people in the world have moved so far away from The Golden Rule, written on their hearts, called natural law, that no one can expect people to react morally anymore.


Some thoughts to contradict this idea.
  1. To be human is to be rational. To be sub-human is to be irrational and live entirely on the level of the sensual, the passions. All humans by definition can reason.
  2. The soul is informed by the intellect even though one lacks proper catechesis through natural virtues, not only supernatural virtues. All people have access to natural goodness.
  3. God Himself judged harshly those who went against natural law in the Old Testament, before the great revelation of Christ, the Incarnate One. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed not merely because those inhabitants did not listen to Revelation , that is, the Ten Commandments but because as men and women, they had natural law as part of their very beings. God did not excuse them for "ignorance" of the Jewish Law.
  4. Cultures of all kinds have had the same rules for basic morality. Even the pagans understood that homosexual relations were not perfect or the basis of their societies. Some things were tolerated despite the fact that men and women knew these things were immoral.
  5. Some cultures get power from Satan, who deceives people by giving them power through his evil, such as the Aztecs. But, even those people had access to the law deep within, but refused to listen to conscience because evil gave them power. Nations, cultures, like individuals, make bad choices.
  6. To deny that natural law exists is to deny that men and women are made in the image and likeness of God. The fact that we keep the image (free will, eternal life), but lose the likeness (grace) does not deny the presence of natural law.
  7. To deny natural law is to deny God as a Good Creature, making humans to be happy and peaceful in a created order. God created order in the universe and natural law is part of that order, which is good. To deny natural law is to deny that God made humans good from the very beginning. 
  8. Those who state that natural law is hidden because of cultural norms which are now pagan forget that it is humans who created this pagan atmosphere, not God. The entire turning away of natural law is possible for a culture, an entire civilization, but this turning away is by choice, otherwise one is denying free will and the essence of what it is to be human. 
  9. Which brings me to a great heresy in these days, the denial of free will. If we have free will, it is a normative consequence to believe that God gave us means to figure out what is good and what is evil. 
  10. Natural law is reiterated in the Ten Commandments. Again, people choose to go against these, not out of ignorance, but out of sheer rebellion.
to be continued....

Thank you, Mr. Voris

Since last July, when I realized some of the trad newspaper were becoming rabid against the Pope and purposefully misleading the faithful with regard to his opinions, I have been warning people against the adversarial spirit. One can read an old post on that below with two more links

I no longer read any trad newspapers, (newspapers, not mags or periodicals which I do read), as all of them have fallen into, in one or more articles, this idea that the Pope has or will overturn Catholic doctrine.

It aint gonna happen.

To pit churchmen against each other is the work of the great Divider, and we know who that is.

Divide and conquer....

Wins every time...

Be prudent, be charitable.

Pray for all bishops, cardinals, the pope.

The Fall of Lucifer

Matthew 12:22-28

22 Then they brought to him a demoniac who was blind and mute; and he cured him, so that the one who had been mute could speak and see. 23 All the crowds were amazed and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons, that this fellow casts out the demons.” 25 He knew what they were thinking and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? 27 If I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own exorcists[a] cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

The Adversarial Spirit in The Traditional Church

Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour 1 Peter 5:8 DR
Pointing out error is a good, but being caught up constantly in an adversarial spirit is not a good.
Who is called the Adversary? Satan.
More and more frequently in the Church, I am seeing traditional Catholics who are laymen stepping out of their worlds, their own spheres of influence and condemning things over which they have no authority.
Our lay world provides enough grist for the mill-we are supposed to be evangelizing our families, our friends, our workplace.
To try and pretend we have the right and duty to continually criticize the clergy, including bishops, cardinals and popes reveals hubris and the adversarial spirit.
If one is continually looking for faults and not giving real answers on how to deal with these faults, in other words, giving remedies. one has fallen into the spirit of the adversary.
The adversarial spirit is not kind, charitable nor fair. It judges and does not bear with the burdens of others. There are few who are pure enough in heart, mind and soul to be real critics.
The adversarial spirit causes hatred, dissension, and eventually, schisms and splits in the Church.
If you are finding that you argue too much and are always finding fault, look towards your own sins and failings first.
Those who want to change priests and bishops only have to raise holy boys to become holy men to go out and change the Church as holy priests and bishops.
It is not only naive but wrong to think the crusader spirit must be aimed at the Church first. No. Our enemies are those of the devil and the world, as well as the flesh. If such enemies have inflitrated the Church, even at high levels, we can pray, but our words mean nothing.
Tearing down is not building up.
A person caught up in the adversarial spirit will not find peace in God, but fall into rancor,anger and depression. If you are merely tearing down, you have let satan use you. Eventually, the person with the adversarial spirit becomes a heresiarch. Those people most likely will find themselves judged as they have judged-severely and without mercy.
We are here for the building up of the Church.
In a grown man, the adversarial spirit could be connected to a male being caught up in teen-age rebellion-a sign of the peter pan. The teen thinks he knows better than the parent and rebels against imperfections, not understanding that he himself is a sinner. It is too easy to point out the evils of another, rather than looking at one's own sin.

Ask yourself if you are constantly arguing.

Ask yourself if you are playing into the hands of the great Adversary of the Church.

He has been defeated but is still looking maliciously for souls to bring down with him in defeat.
29 Let no evil speech proceed from your mouth; but that which is good, to the edification of faith, that it may administer grace to the hearers.
30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God: whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption.
31 Let all bitterness, and anger, and indignation, and clamour, and blasphemy, be put away from you, with all malice.
32 And be ye kind one to another; merciful, forgiving one another, even as God hath forgiven you in Christ. Ephesians 4:17-32 DR