Friday, November 2, 2012

Catholic Catechism & Purgatory

St. Joe's doesn't have weekday Masses on Fridays, but today was the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed - the Feast of All Souls - so a Mass was said anyway. Yesterday, being All Saints' Day, was a Day of Obligation, but I was able to go to Mass this morning as well. There were only nine of us there, and with one exception I was the youngest by at least 30 years.

Our priest had said something interesting yesterday during his homily, and mentioned it again during today's Mass, and it got me to thinking about the Catholic cathechism. He said that he didn't believe anyone went to hell; we all go to heaven. He talked about purgatory, and about our understanding of time: One spends a certain amount of time in purgatory, and once one's soul had been purified, one went to God.

I don't quite know how that would work, especially if someone outright rejects the idea of God's existence. I didn't have the chance to talk to Fr. Carley about this, but I'd like to. I wonder if those who do not believe in God (let alone those who are not in a state of grace) go to purgatory and are given the opportunity to get to know and accept Him. I don't know if acceptance is a guaranteed end result, if purgatory allows for a cleansing of one's soul if one wants it, or if purgatory allows for not only the cleansing of believers' souls for for the acceptance for those who do not believe in God. I have a lot of unanswerable questions.

Fr. C. talked about the Baltimore Catechism that had been used when he, born in 1945, was growing up, but that it was no longer used past the late 1960s because errors had been found as our understanding of theology developed and matured. Our idea of how time is measured, theologically speaking, has changed since those days; our "time" is not necessarily the same as God's sense of time. As an example, he spoke about indulgences that lessened a soul's time in purgatory - it involved going into a chapel or church through one door, saying six Our Father's, six Hail Mary's, and six Glory Be's before departing through another door. (If one wanted another indulgence, one need to enter through a third door, depart through a fourth, etc.) This was, as Fr. C. said, clearly ridiculous, but not only does our own theology mature, the Church's does as well.

Ed and I talked a bit about catechism tonight over dinner, and I was reminded that I have a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I believe this to be the most recent edition, but I can't be entirely sure; for the moment it's close enough. I also bought the Kindle version of the Compendium of the Cathecism of the Catholic Church (although it's available online, it's easier to read in a different format), written by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who authorized the Impromi Potest for the Cathechism.

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