Sunday, November 1, 2015

Reflections for the 31st Week in Ordinary Time, Part 1

Monday – The Love of Purgatory

What do you think of when you hear the word “Purgatory”? Suffering perhaps? Flames? Weeping, pleading souls? Punishment? Praying for the poor souls? 

What would you think if you were to hear that Purgatory is all about love? It's true! Purgatory is an expression of God's great love for His children. Let's explore this idea.

We all know that humans are messy. When we sin, we fall into spiritual muck and get ourselves all dirty. When we repent and confess our sins, God forgives us at once, but the consequences of sin remain. We are still covered in the muck of our fall even though our relationship with God is no longer broken or damaged. 

Nothing impure or unclean can enter Heaven. So what happens if we still have have spiritual muck on us when we die? There's where Purgatory comes in. In Purgatory, the love of God envelops us and scrubs us clean. Yes, there is suffering involved because the dirt doesn't come off easily. God needs to scour us a bit. But He does so because He loves us, and He does so with His own pure love. 

According to saints and mystics who were given the gift of speaking with the souls in Purgatory, those souls, while suffering, are happy. They know that they are saved and will one day be in Heaven. They realize that they are surrounded by love. They do, however, ask for our prayers and acts of mercy and love, which can help them be cleansed of their spiritual muck more easily and quickly. They are also more than willing to pray for us in return. After all, they are immersed God's love, and they are eager to share it.

On this All Souls' Day, then, let us pray for the souls in Purgatory that they may soon experience the Beatific Vision in which they will see God face to face for all eternity.

Tuesday – Some Practical Advice

In today's first reading, St. Paul offers some practical advice to the Romans and to us. 

1. “Let love be sincere...” – Really love others, i.e., will the absolute best for them and then pray and work to help bring it about. Don't just pretend. Love isn't about show or even merely emotion. Love is active.

2. “[H]ate what is evil...” – The Greek word for “hate” is very strong. It consists of a base that means “abhor” or “detest” and a prefix that adds the intensification “utterly.” We must stay far, far away from evil and never be lured by its seeming appeal.

3. “[H]old on to what is good...” – The Greek for “hold on” literally means “glued to.” We are to be stuck to good things like glue, and of course, the greatest good in our lives is God. We are to cling to Him and whatever comes from Him.

4. “[L]ove one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor...” – The Greek for “mutual affection” is really “brotherly love.” We are to treat each other as family and recognize the value and dignity of each and every person.

5. “[D]o not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit...” – We must be passionate for God, burning with the fire of the Holy Spirit in our own spirit. This passion must overflow into every area of our lives as we shine the light of God to the world.

6. “[S]erve the Lord.” – God's will must be our will. We should be obedient to His every command, trusting that He knows what is best for us in every situation.

7. “Rejoice in hope...” – We have so much to look forward to. Heaven awaits those who remain in God's grace.

8. “[E]ndure in affliction...” – Trials and suffering will always be part of life. They teach us to cling more closely to God and to trust and rely on Him in the midst of pain and sorrow.

9. “[P]ersevere in prayer...” – Prayer is our direct line to God. Much more than mere requests, our prayers keep us connected to God and help us grow in intimacy with Him. Sometimes it's difficult to pray, and we feel as though we're surrounded by darkness and distractions. Then we must pray even more, reaching out to God and trusting that He is holding us close.

10. “Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality.” – God has given us everything we have. We, in turn, must share our blessings with others in love.

11. “Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them.” – Love extends even to those who hate and mistreat us. We must still will the best for them and pray and work to bring it about. After all, that's what Jesus did.

12. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” – We are to share in the joys and sorrows of those around us with true sympathy and empathy.

13. “Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly.” – Each and every person in this world is created in the image and likeness of God, and God loves everyone with a love greater than we can ever comprehend. Each and every person possesses human dignity and must be treated accordingly. Every human life matters. 

Wednesday – Lavish Giving

Today's psalm describes a man who fears the Lord, takes great delight in His commands, acts with mercy and justice, and gives lavishly to the poor. 

Please take some time to read the following blog post about lavish giving, and please share this important article with others: “Dear Word: Let's Stop Giving our Crap to the Poor”

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