Category Archives: Purgatory

Editing Jesus’ prayer He provided to Saint Gertrude as a Daily Offering

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Just before the “Amen” I couldn’t but add: “and for me, as sinner, the worst of all.”

I recall a story about a bishop introducing himself I’m not sure on what occasion, perhaps a retreat for priests at which he was invited to lead a Penance Service. His introductory remarks were about himself, and were meant to put people at ease. It went something like this: “I’m Bishop So-And-So, and I’ve been a sinner since I was made a bishop [number of] years ago. And before that, I was a sinner since I was ordained a priest [number of] years ago. And before that, I was a sinner since before my first Confession, [number of] years ago. Good for him.

There’s another practice that I would heartily recommend to all, that of saying three Hail Marys daily for the souls in purgatory. Helping them out, it is they who will welcome you into the everlasting habitations, into heaven, as Jesus says.

  • Hail Mary…
  • Hail Mary…
  • Hail Mary…

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On dying, death and purgatory

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Allow me to share a couple of stories from the rehab / nursing homes of the parish. This is my joy in life, going to the rehab / nursing homes / hospitals / …

Diane:

I’ve been regularly visiting an elderly lady, Diane by name, at Valley View nursing home for many months. She received all the sacraments and last rites and got all the Pontifical blessings and indulgences. We prayed together some hours previous to her passing on, preceding the rest of us who remain – for the moment – here on earth.

I told her that she was leading the way, that we would soon follow. She expressed some fear. But grace was with her. She took in my words, inept as they were, about being at peace because Jesus has a good grip on her soul, flooded with grace as she was with so many sacraments and the rest. She became so peaceful. She was so very thankful. “Thank you, Father,” she weakly whispered many times. Such a gentle soul. Such a good soul.

As I heard from one of the nurses later, the door to her room was open, as usual, and, across the hallway, many of the residents were eating in the dining room, which also had its doors open. What I report next tends to give shivers to the listeners, with smiles and wide eyes of wonder. As seen from the dining room, a super bright light filled Diane’s room, like the flash of a soul come to life after a long exile upon earth: “The light was so very bright, and filling her room, so bright” recounted one of the residents in the dining room. That’s, of course, when she died. May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen. Hail Mary…

Marie:

Marie’s good sister, Cathy, is the one who put that sticky note pictured on the top of this post on the door of Marie’s room just as I was about to knock. “No priests allowed” – with a smiley face, mind you. Hahaha. What it means is that I’m not allowed to have a room in the rehab / nursing home and be one way to heaven before anyone else. They want all the sacraments and such so as to be on their way in good order.

There were many visitors there. Lots of laughter, some tears. Marie received a pretty devastating diagnosis. Going back another day, I was greeted outside the room by this new sticky note:

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Not that I’m a “good priest.” Hahaha. You might as well say, “No Father George allowed.” Anyway, this thing about being a good priest quickly turned into a discussion about purgatory, what with me saying that even though I’m so evil and bad, I still want to go to heaven. Miss Marie, as always, is want to say the following:

“Oh, that’s right Father George, just go ahead and go to heaven right now and then end up in purgatory until the. end. of. the. world. Or, you can wait until Jesus calls you and then you can go straight to heaven. Your choice, Father George.”

Stunning, really. Said like a modern day Saint Catherine of Siena who spoke so eloquently about purgatory.

This went on to a discussion about Saint Therese of Lisieux and her desire to go straight to heaven. She was berated by an elderly nun who said that she herself feared Jesus as the great Administrator of Justice and that she expected to be in purgatory. She died before Therese did, and appeared to Therese from purgatory to say that she was there because of concentrating on justice over against mercy. These two go hand in hand. Saint Therese, trusting in Jesus’ friendship, who Himself is eager to be good friends with us, calling us His friends, seems to have gone straight to heaven.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (The very flames of hell, edition)

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Rhododendron calendulaceum or Flaming Azalea is native to these mountains in WNC. This one is next to the Samuel the Angry Donkey pasture some miles down the mountain from the hermitage. A “snitty” florest on the internet calls it “Satan,” as if Satan has rights over anything to do with flames. No.

God is love, and God’s love which we witness with Jesus is ardent. We poetically speak of the ardent flames of love. The Scriptures speak of the flames issuing from the majestic throne of God. Those flames are symbolic of God’s love. God’s love does not itself change for the recipient. It is the receiver whose changing capacity to take in God’s love which put’s a limit or less so on God’s love.

  • In heaven all receive fully of God’s love and rejoice in those ardent flames of love.
  • In purgatory those very same flames of love, so to speak, instruct those preparing for heaven, purging them of their lack of thanksgiving, and in this they also rejoice as they know they are on their way and are progressively more capable of thanking the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception. They are learning, but, mind you, they are also holy, as they are in the state, as we say, of sanctifying grace.
  • In hell all are also provided with the ardent love of God, but they, fallen angels and damned souls, have chosen to have no capacity to take in that ardent love. They perceive that love as punishing flames, writhing in spiritual and intellectual frustration even while choosing to be that way.

How to say it? God’s love is God’s love.

But what about Mary, the Immaculate Conception? She was free of any need for purging so she knows nothing of our weakness and anguish and struggles, right? So, she can’t actually be a good mother to us, right? Wrong.

It’s because of her purity of heart and agility of soul and clarity of spiritual vision that she saw exactly our need in all it’s horror, much more than we could even begin to know, and at the same time she was in solidarity with her Divine Son in His mission to redeem us, and, if we so choose to cooperate with His grace, to save us. Mary knew all about the ardent flames of God’s love from the perspective of those on earth, those in purgatory, and, analogously, as one fully in grace that is to turn to glory, as Saint Paul says.

So, whatever it’s called, a fiery flower for you, Mary, Jesus’ good mom.

shepherd boy

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Malicious solidarity with Pope Francis, Jesus’ “holy servant”?

World Youth Day 2016 Pope Francis and Jesus

It is not malicious solidarity with Pope Francis to pray for him. Those who agree with Pope Francis on pretty much everything should pray for him. Those who disagree with Pope Francis on pretty much everything should pray for him. It’s “traditional” to pray for the Pope:

V. Let us pray for Francis, the Pope.
R. May the Lord preserve him, give him a long life, make him blessed upon the earth, and may the Lord not hand him over to the power of his enemies.

V. May your hand be upon your holy servant.
R. And upon your son whom you have anointed.

Let us pray. O God, the Pastor and Ruler of all the faithful, look down, in your mercy, upon your servant, Francis, whom you have appointed to preside over your Church; and grant, we beseech you, that both by word and example, he may edify all those under his charge; so that, with the flock entrusted to him, he may arrive at length unto life everlasting. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

About those words “holy servant” or the vocative title “Holy Father” or, for those in the Pontifical Household, “Most Holy Father,” we have to realize that “holy” in the most ancient sense refers to being chosen out of, set apart, and hasn’t necessarily to do with whether we are canonizing anyone. In fact, the prayer is about the Pope subjunctively getting to heaven, which is in question. Get that? And that will permit the lefties, who think there is no such thing as holiness, to pray for him. And that will permit the traditional-ism-ists, who don’t think of Pope Francis as “holy”, to pray for him as well.

I hope that people would pray for me while I’m still alive. I need all the help I can get, and I’m just a back-mountain country priest in the tiniest of all parishes. Imagine the horror that Satan puts any Pope through.

When I die, I hope people pray for me that I might be able to get out of purgatory. If I go to hell your prayers go for others. If I go to heaven your prayers go for others. But if I am indeed in purgatory otherwise until the end of the world, you would do me a great favor by praying a Hail Mary for me and getting me on my way to heaven. Wouldn’t it be terrible for a priest to know that he is in purgatory until the end of the world unless someone prays a Hail Mary for him, as he watches his entire parish from purgatory, and everyone in the parish is saying that Father George was so holy, so surely he went straight to heaven, and we don’t need to pray for him, and so we won’t pray for him. And I’m going, like, “No! Instead, please pray a Hail Mary for me! Pleeeeaaaasse!”

On the one hand, it is malicious solidarity with Pope Francis to be a “Yes”-man who just says anything one thinks Pope Francis wants to hear. That would be evil and bad. I hope that I am not ever a sycophant of anyone.

On the other hand, humor is not malicious solidarity as there is always some bit of truth in the humor, which can be a backhanded critique:

“Cute” is nice. But the first thing we would want anyone to say about any of us is that we speak of Jesus, right? Is that the first thing people say about us, that we speak of Jesus? And so, we pray for each other. Also for the Pope. It would be downright malicious not to pray for each other, or specifically, not to pray for the Pope.

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November visit to the town cemetery

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2018-11-15 · 10:53 am

Top Gun before Top Guns. Cemetery visit lest we forget. It’s November.

This is a terribly disjointed post. Lots of emotion for me.

The Top Gun flight instructor program started in 1969 (see above video). I don’t know what top flight instructors were called before 1969 (probably lots of four letter words by some sometimes disgruntled slow-learning students), but dad had that role first in the other Andrews in Maryland just to the Southeast of the U.S. Capital Building while also doing up JAG school at Georgetown, and then closer to home in Chicago. Dad died decades ago. And November 2nd has come and gone, again. And November 11 has come and gone, again. Do we remember when it’s not those days? Do we forget?

I also think of the 22 average each day who take their own lives because of the war they carry in themselves after their war experiences. A seminarian once told me with almost ballistic anger that in his opinion PTSD doesn’t exist, that that’s all for wusses and tender snowflakes. He said that without the experiences of those who take their lives. I’m guessing he had PTSD and couldn’t face the fact. Zero solidarity for others. He was really angry. White hot. How fragile we all are.

Anyway, my own dad had his faults – and I dare say some severe PTSD – but the reason why he’s always my hero is not because he did stuff in the military or was a “perfect human being,” but rather because he had the humility to face all of that and deal with it. Dad knew he needed Jesus and started a regime of spiritual direction, daily Mass, and good habits, shunning bad habits. I gotta lot of respect for that.

Anyway, it continues to be November, when we especially pray for the dead. It’s cold and rainy. Almost ready to snow and sleet. A slate gray day. I’m heading up to the local cemetery to say a pray or two for the souls of the faithful departed, for our vets who laid down their lives for us.

Don’t wait to visit a cemetery until you’re the one being buried. When’s the last time you’ve been? I’ll update this post with a picture or two after a bit.

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Dancing because of love stronger than death. It’s an Ezekiel thing to do.

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Did you pray for the Holy Souls today. If you pray for them, they will, as Jesus says, be the ones to welcome you into the eternal habitations. Meanwhile, I don’t want to be in purgatory until the end of time. Pray for all the Holy Souls. It’s a great act of charity that helps you get on your own way to heaven.

Jesus did NOT come to save us from death and all that is consequent to original sin outside of the guilt. And He forgives the guilt also of our own sin by flooding us with sanctifying grace, which makes no room for the guilt. God is love, and He makes us His tabernacles. The joy of the Holy Spirit is not untoward.

1 The hand of the LORD came upon me, and he led me out in the spirit of the LORD and set me in the center of the plain, which was now filled with bones. 2 He made me walk among them in every direction so that I saw how many they were on the surface of the plain. How dry they were! 3 He asked me: Son of man, can these bones come to life? “Lord GOD,” I answered, “you alone know that.” 4 Then he said to me: Prophesy over these bones, and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: See! I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life. 6 I will put sinews upon you, make flesh grow over you, cover you with skin, and put spirit in you so that you may come to life and know that I am the LORD. 7 I prophesied as I had been told, and even as I was prophesying I heard a noise; it was a rattling as the bones came together, bone joining bone. 8 I saw the sinews and the flesh come upon them, and the skin cover them, but there was no spirit in them. 9 Then he said to me: Prophesy to the spirit, prophesy, son of man, and say to the spirit: Thus says the Lord GOD: From the four winds come, O spirit, and breathe into these slain that they may come to life. 10 I prophesied as he told me, and the spirit came into them; they came alive and stood upright, a vast army. 11 Then he said to me: Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They have been saying, “Our bones are dried up, our hope is lost, and we are cut off.” 12 Therefore, prophesy and say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD: O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people! 14 I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land; thus you shall know that I am the LORD. I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD. (Ezekiel 37:1-14 nab)

For the Holy Souls in Purgatory: Hail Mary…

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Homily 2017 11 02 – All Souls – Purgatory

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All Souls sotto voce moment of silence

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That quiet moment of prayer when Jesus lays down His life for us…

Did you know that the “moment of silence” came about with Irish Catholics who were imitating the silence of the souls in purgatory? With very few exceptions, the souls in purgatory cannot ask us for help – thus the moment of silence – even though they can only be helped by our prayers.

However weak and begrudging our prayers might seem to be to us (it being that they can’t ask and we can’t see the result right now), it is precisely for that reason that our Lord very much respects our prayers for them.

Our Lord expects that it be obvious to us that we ourselves are doing our purgatory hear on this earth, that is, painfully coming to know the depth of the depravity of original sin and whatever of our own sin by which He was crucified, and this so that we know how to properly thank Him, which will be our joy in heaven.

Our Lord expects that it be obvious to us that we ourselves generally do a pretty bad job with this, perhaps staying in the state of grace, attending the sacraments, but not being as generous as we might in having our hearts and souls wrenched open by reality, so that, it should be pretty obvious that we might well be headed to purgatory before hopefully being on our way to heaven.

Our Lord expects that we understand the very same for everyone else on this earth, so that we shouldn’t expect necessarily that anyone whosoever who dies is certainly going straight to heaven.

And that means that the debt we have to pay – of having our hearts and souls wrenched open – is payed by praying for the souls in purgatory.

Put it a different way. The holy souls in purgatory have something against us if we are not paying our own debt by praying for them. Nothing could be clearer to them. They are there because they were lacking in the same way. They pray for us that we might pray for them.

Jesus says that at the judgment He will hand us over to the jailers (our guardian angels?!), who will have us thrown into “prison” until we have paid the full amount.

The Holy Souls in purgatory are so grateful when we do pray for them and get them to heaven. They are the ones, Jesus says, who will be the ones to welcome us into the eternal habitations, that is, heaven.

Pray for the Holy Souls every day!

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Homily 2017 10 27 – Signs of the Times!

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  • Dissing “spiritual plans” and “goals” with Saint Paul, because it’s all about Jesus.
  • Signs of the times and being up to date!
  • Purgatory as the example of Jesus, needing purity of heart and agility of soul and… and… humble, humble, humble thanksgiving.

Again, if I were to have given this homily in the seminary back in the day, I would have been thrown out for sure. Why? Because, at the time anyway, Jesus didn’t belong in the seminary, just smarty jesuity theologians, because we can’t otherwise know Jesus, or Scripture or what the Church teaches. But instead… well… listen to the homily.

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On God’s love and entering heaven

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First, a couple of things:

1. I know nothing about going to heaven

Saint Paul speaks of being whisked away to the third heaven, whatever that is, though he does give us a clue in his repeating a number of times that this happened to him while he was in the body or out of the body he does not know. This sounds like the ecstacy some of the saints have experienced, but whether in the body or out of the body we do not know. Sanctifying grace, which turns to glory in heaven according to the Apostle in another place, is entirely amazing in the profundity of the Sacred Mysteries, as this concerns the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity, the fiery Holy Spirit bringing us through, with and in Jesus unto the Father, as Jesus’ gift to the Father. Some confuse this with the beatific vision. I always tell such good souls that, in fact, the beatific vision will be so very much better, no matter the goodness and love they experienced, what with that grace turning to glory. But, again, what do I know or what could I even say, since the Apostle himself says that he heard ineffable things that man is not permitted to speak.

2. I found out the other day just how much I don’t know about God’s love, again

Here’s the deal: I brusquely take Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament with me on long and not always uneventful journeys of some hundreds of miles such as I did this past Tuesday, racing off to see this and that person who have suffered more than most of us have or could ever suffer put together. And then we speak of heaven, of God’s love, or, rather, I have the privilege of listening, captivated by all that which resonates in the weak sounding board that is my heart and soul. They come close to speaking that which is ineffable as they open up above me the weight of the glory of God, putting me into reverence mode before the Lord who loves us so much, before the angels who encourage these souls for my sake to express their love of the Lord the way they do. I come to know a little bit more just how much I don’t know about God’s love, but rejoice to have been introduced to His goodness and kindness in whatever way that is. I am so very much in debt to those who pray for me, so many lay people, so many priests and bishops, so many cloistered souls, some of whom have offered their prayers and sufferings for me for life. As I often repeat, when I complained to one cloistered nun that the Lord is going to reprimand me at my judgment, asking me what I did with all the graces which I have been given because of all those who have prayed for me, she said, yes, Father George, that is true, but just think of where you would have been had we not prayed for you!

So, having said all that… let’s continue our journey to the gates of heaven, which journey boasts of two possible venues, the first of which is inescapable here on this earth, the second of which, in purgatory, can be dispensed if we cover the ground which we must here on this earth if we should go straight to heaven when the Lord calls us. Both places are, after our redemption and, please God, in our being saved, training grounds for entering into heaven. The training is somewhat different here on earth and in purgatory.

Here on earth… the Lord introduces Continue reading

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Fatima 13 May 1917: 99th anniversary – First Apparition of Mary

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Our Lady of Fatima (Saint Anne’s Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC)

In the words of Ven. Lúcia de Jesus Rosa dos Santos (Irmã Maria Lúcia de Jesus e do Coração Imaculado, O.C.D.):

And we began to go down the slope driving the sheep towards the road. When we were half-way down, near a holm oak there, we saw another flash of lightening, and after a few steps we saw on a holm oak a lady dressed in white, shining brighter than the sun, giving out rays of clear and intense light, just like a crystal goblet full of pure water when the fiery sun passes through it. We stopped astounded by the Apparition. We were so near that we were in the light that encircled her, or which she radiated, perhaps a meter and a half away.

“Please don’t be afraid of me, I’m not going to harm you.” “Where are you from?” “I come from heaven.” The Lady wore a pure white mantle, edged with gold and which fell to her feet. In her hands the beads of a rosary shone like stars, with its crucifix the most radiant gem of all. The Lady’s presence produced in her only gladness and confident joy. “And what do you want of me?” “I want you to return here on the thirteenth of each month for the next six months, and at the very same hour. Later I shall tell you who I am, and what it is that I most desire. And I shall return here yet a seventh time.”

“And shall I go to heaven?” “Yes, you will.” “And Jacinta?” “She will go too.” “And Francisco?” “Francisco, too, my dear, but he will first have many Rosaries to say.” For a few moments the Lady looked at Francisco with compassion, tinged with a little sadness. Lucia then remembered some friends who had died. “Is Maria Neves in heaven?” “Yes, she is.” “And Amelia?” “She is in purgatory.”

“Will you offer yourselves to God, and bear all the sufferings He sends you? In atonement for all the sins that offend Him? And for the conversion of sinners?” “Oh, we will, we will!” “Then you will have a great deal to suffer, but the grace of God will be with you and will strengthen you.” She opened her hands, and we were bathed in a heavenly light that appeared to come directly from her hands. The light’s reality cut into our hearts and our souls, and we knew somehow that this light was God, and we could see ourselves embraced in it. By an interior impulse of grace we fell to our knees, repeating in our hearts: “Oh, Holy Trinity, we adore You. My God, my God, I love You in the Blessed Sacrament.””Say the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and an end to the war.”

After that she began to rise slowly in the direction of the east, until she disappeared in the immense distance. The light that encircles Her seemed to make a way amidst the stars, and that is why we sometimes said we had seen the heavens open.

/// So, to the heart of it: Keeping our sights on heaven and not forgetting those in purgatory, this is about suffering in atonement for sin and for the conversion of sinners:

“Will you offer yourselves to God, and bear all the sufferings He sends you? In atonement for all the sins that offend Him? And for the conversion of sinners?”

“Oh, we will, we will!”

“Then you will have a great deal to suffer, but the grace of God will be with you and will strengthen you.”

“Oh, Holy Trinity, we adore You. My God, my God, I love You in the Blessed Sacrament.”

“Say the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and an end to the war.”

N.B. The title of our Lady of Fatima is actually “Our Lady of the Rosary.”

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