The most frightening description of purgatory I ever heard and how to be healed

Imagine being in purgatory until the end of the world. This is my paraphrase of what was told to me:

  • Your sins are alive, present… You’re immersed in their evil… They are not a memory… They are alive… There’s no escape… So dark… So evil… On the attack… Mocking you…

The reason that this is so frightening is because it is all about the sinful person in purgatory:

  • This is what I did. These sins are inescapable. Look at them! They are so horrible. Woe is me…

In going through purgatory in this world (good idea, that), the way to be healed of the trauma of sin is to go to Confession, taking the emphasis off of oneself and noticing the wounds of the Lord by which we are healed. His wounds in hands and feet and side, His Heart, bear the story of our sins, speaking as if they are alive (and they are), telling the whole story of darkness, evil, not a memory – there they are! – (Revelation 5:6). But this is not an accusation so as to get us depressed, despairing and hopeless, but rather an invitation to recognize the completeness of the forgiveness of a mercy founded on justice, with Jesus standing in our place, Innocent for the guilty, having the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. He took on the punishment we deserve. He really loves us. So, He wants us to be with Him, thanking Him, not moping around staring at ourselves beating ourselves up…

Once we learn to stop looking to ourselves, looking instead to Jesus, we will no longer be frightened. Love casts out fear.

To put it another way: when we learn humble thanksgiving, it’s time to go to heaven with prompt eagerness, ready to give thanks to Jesus for all that He has done for us.

BTW, that scene of heaven, purgatory and hell at the top of the post is from a gargantuan mural in the choir side of the church of the University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome (in urbe, as they say).

So, three Hail Marys for the souls in purgatory… Hail Mary…

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