The Merry Catholic
"MERRY" (mer - ee) adjective:
full of cheerfulness; joyous in spirit; mirthful.
"CATHOLIC" (kath - lick) noun: a believer in Christ; the Church founded by Jesus Christ in 33 A.D.
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The Merry Catholic essay: October 22, 2014:
What Purgatory Is Really Like
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says Purgatory is real, and that it’s an opportunity to get spiritually purified before entering into the eternal joy of God. Everyone who experiences Purgatory ultimately goes to Heaven, but the Church is silent about the exact nature of Purgatory.
Well, not to worry. I’ve got it all figured out. I know exactly what Purgatory is like. The moment after we die, our souls will be whisked away to a comfortable conference room. There will be refreshments and snacks. Then Jesus will enter the room and greet us warmly. Under His arm will be a large 3-ring binder. He’ll sit down, open the binder, and say, “These are the specifications I used when I created you. These pages spell out all the talents I built into you.”
Then He will begin to list the various talents we were given, and whether or not we used those talents very often. “I gave you a warm smile,” He’ll say, “so you could comfort people who were depressed and lonely. But you rarely comforted anyone, unless there was something in it for you.”
Then He’ll say, “I gave you an analytical mind so you could read the Scriptures, understand them, and share the message with others. But you used your intellectual skills mostly to manipulate people and make money.”
We’ll start to explain ourselves, but no words will come out. Then the Lord will turn a page and say, “I gave you an above-average voice so you could sing My praises in the church choir, but you preferred to sing raunchy songs while drunk at Karaoke bars.”
At this point, we’ll realize He is only on page 6 of the binder, and there are about 100 more pages to go. The next few hours will not be fun at all.
When Jesus finally finishes going through the binder, and we are thoroughly uncomfortable despite the ergonomic leather chairs and refreshments, we will think the meeting is over. But then He will pick up a remote controller and turn on a big screen TV at the far end of the room.
“Um, what is this, Lord?” we’ll ask nervously, hoping it’s ESPN but figuring it’s probably not. Jesus will smile and say, “This is a video record of your life, specifically every selfish or cruel thing you’ve ever said or done. We have surveillance cameras everywhere, you know.”
For some people, the video will last two hours. For others, two years. And for a select few, two decades. If we thought reviewing the binder was uncomfortable, we ain’t seen nothing yet.
When the video finally ends, we will be emotional wrecks, filled with remorse and sadness. Jesus will turn off the TV and say in a compassionate voice, “I know that was painful, but I had to do it. You’ve always known in your mind that selfishness was wrong, but you never accepted it deep in your heart. I had to reach your heart. This grueling experience—which, by the way, is called Purgatory—has reached your heart. Now, you are no longer prideful. Now, you are humble. Now, you truly care more about others than yourself. Now, you are ready to enter into Heaven.”
At this moment we’ll look up in surprise. “Really?” we’ll ask. And Jesus will say with a smile, “Really. Your faith in Me got you here, but I had to make you holy enough for eternity. Welcome into my Father’s kingdom!”
So, that’s Purgatory. And the bishops have my permission to include this detailed account in the next edition of the Catechism. (And if they’re foolish enough actually to do that, then both they and I will need a little extra Purgatory time!)
(Note: Listen to these "Merry Catholic" essays on WJMJ, the radio station of the Archdiocese of Hartford, at 88.9 FM or by streaming audio at wjmj.org.)