Psalm: 72
Old Testament: Nehemiah 13:4-22
New Testament: Rev 12:1-12

Although expressly forbidden to do so by the 39 Articles….the old Catholic in me can’t help but be intrigued by the concept Purgatory

Both Eastern Orthodox and Western Churches traditionally maintain that the living and the dead are in a mutual relationship….with each group praying for the other….so that the Church of all saints (which we discussed last night) is eternally bound together.

Roman Catholics went so far as to define the nature of that relationship during the medieval period……an illustration of which we have in Dante’s Divine Comedy

In his travels, through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise, Dante describes the mid-level not as a place of torment like the Inferno….but as a place of purification.

At each level of the mountain, saved souls undergo certain activities and punishments that correspond to the 7 deadly sins.

What is fascinating about the way Dante frames this….is that the souls ascend to Paradise when they feel purified and worthy. The extent to which they must undergo trial and tribulation depends firstly on the will of God…..but also is dependent on the extent to which they feel weighed down by the sins of their past.

For whatever reason, this makes a whole lot of sense to me…..and gets rid of one of the more problematic theological outlooks of the Protestant movement.

Under some strains of evangelical thought, confessing the name of Jesus (regardless of when you do it in your lifetime) is the way to heaven. Under this model, it doesn’t matter if you utter it simply because you are afraid of dying, or afraid of punishment…..all that matters is that you say Christ is Lord.

If that’s all it takes……suddenly Grace seems really cheap. I think there is an element of one’s personal conscience which is also an important factor to be thinking of in a theological context.

God knows the thoughts of our hearts, and all our motivations for doing what we do…..

Am I willing to say that purgatory exists? No. But would I be surprised if we had to do some personal reflection and repentance before entering the gates of Paradise??? Not entirely 🙂

On this Feast day we thank God for all those who now share in his presence…and look forward to that day when we will inherit the Golden Jerusalem with them. Alleluia! +

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