Perfection and Purification
I love being Catholic. I have gradually grown to appreciate so many of its teachings for how logical they are. I especially appreciate how it is built around the fact that we are not perfect, but spend our lives striving to reach perfection. Perfection in the sense of being what God has created us to be. What made me start to think about this occurred while reflecting on the whole concept of the Communion of Saints and the souls in purgatory. The whole concept is genius! Let me explain.
We are all created good. God does not create anything bad for He himself is good. Being good and gracious, He provided us with free will, which allows us to have choice. Because God wants us to remain in relationship with Him and to be good, He has given us so many gifts in order to keep us on that track toward holiness, but free will can lead us astray. The goal is goodness. We, the Catholic collective, work to help others achieve goodness. The Saints, those canonized through the Church, are examples of how ordinary people can be extraordinary through the grace of God and others championing them. We are all saints, those who have the propensity to become Saints. So when we speak of the Communion of Saints, that means every human being created by God who strives to know, love, and serve Him at all times. We lean on one another, both living and deceased, to fulfill that mission. How marvelous to know that we remain connected as family across time and place! An example of how we do this is when we pray for both the living and the dead. This is in recognition that not everyone is perfect and prayer helps us in the purification process. Our souls, the essence of who we are, carry within it the consequences of our actions. The soul carries the weight of our sins. Saints are purified. We don’t all pass away in a purified state, but because God loves us and wants us to be with Him for all eternity, there is a divine plan in place for us to help each other get to a place of purification. That is where we need one another as family. We, of course, are purified through the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. If we are not able to receive this sacrament upon the end of our lives, we have the Communion of Saints to help us. Assuming that an individual has worked to maintain a relationship with Jesus throughout their lives, praying for the deceased helps them gain purification as they “wait” in purgatory. “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.”(CCC #1030). Purgatory is a place of purification. Even in death we are helping each other get to heaven. Therefore, as we honor all those who have gone on before us , remember them in your prayers. They are then praying for you. This is what we believe. This is what we can count on. This is why we work hard to have our children develop a strong relationship with Jesus.
All you Saints and Angels pray for us.
All you holy men and women pray for us.