Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Purgatory in the Beatitudes?

A few days ago I was reading through the Beatitudes of our Lord Jesus in His “Sermon on the Mount” (Matt 5 – 7). As I was reading, the sixth Beatitude really struck me...
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” – Matt 5:8
God is holy, holy, holy (as we proclaim every time we gather for the Mass) and a consuming fire (Heb 12:29). Because of the sheer awesomeness and holiness of God, I am not aware of any Christian who would be presumptuous enough to assume that he has a sufficient purity of heart to look upon God without being utterly consumed in His holiness. And why is this? Because, even though we have been washed by the Blood of Christ, we are still sinners. Even though we have been born again through the waters of baptism, our hearts are still far from pure (e.g. Matt 5:28).
And that is why Purgatory is so necessary for us as Christians. It is only when we realise just how impure of heart we really are that we realise what a great (albeit painful) gift the Lord has given us in Purgatory. The purgatorial cleansing that we experience after death refines and purifies us so that, once every stain of sin has been purged, we are able to look upon the utter holiness of our Almighty God. Anyone who really understands the holiness of God understands the Christian’s need for Purgatory. Because C.S. Lewis of Narnia fame put it much better than I ever could, I will finish with one of his quotes:
"Our souls demand purgatory, don’t they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, ‘It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy’? Should we not reply, ‘With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, I’d rather be cleaned first.’ ‘It may hurt, you know’—‘Even so, sir.’"

1 comment:

  1. An interesting take on Matt5:8. The Beatitudes are most frequently seen as extolling certain virtues to encourage us to adopt them.

    Perhaps that is so, but an additional consideration could be that Christ refers to specific blessing that accompany some conditions.

    Certainly not all the Beatitudes are pleasant conditions that we should strive for such as mourning. Most would difficult at the least.

    However Christ says that there is a special blessing associated with each of these conditions which stand apart from the norms of this world.

    We can therefore adopt the beatitude and receive the blessing or pass. Th blessing associated with purity of heart is to see God. If we can achieve this purity then the promise seems to be that our stay in purgatory would be very short.

    God bless