In the Kingdom of the Eternal
Vast Provinces number three
All sights set on Jerusalem
the Heavenly City.
Residents of the earthly realm
fighting for eternal life
against the enemy.
The fires of purgation
consume the helpless ones
in darkness they await
to see the morning Son.
All members of the Body
from the greatest to the least
all united with each other
At the Eucharistic Feast.
There I go again... something about the month of November and the poor souls in Purgatory brings out my inner poet. Perhaps it is easier to speak of these things in the abstract. Scripture says so little about the fires of purgatory, so we reach for the treasury of Tradition to help our understanding.
One author referred to the place of Purgatory as being the porch of Heaven. What a great visual! These souls have an attachment to sin but are guaranteed their salvation. They suffer on the "front porch" in anticipation for the doors of Heaven to open, waiting for their eyes to be opened to the beatific vision of Heaven.
This November, I am reading the 1893 book Purgatory by Fr. F.X. Shouppe, S.J. This almost 130-year-old book does NOT sugarcoat things. It has really got me thinking about my mortality.
Lent is the season when many of us consider our death- "Remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return." Ash Wednesday- talk about a humbling experience!
But here in November, it is also natural to think upon our mortality as we pray for those who have gone before us.
For some, this idea is frightening!!
But once we get past the discomfort, it might just be what our troubled hearts need.
When we are especially anxious, calling to mind this inevitable reality can put everything into perspective.
The practice of "Momento Mori", Latin for "remember your death", has been practiced for most of Christendom. The strange irony in it is that it sounds so macabre, but it brings peace and joy to those who are in the habit of meditating upon it.
Certain saints kept a skull before them as a constant reminder, but I find that it doesn't match the rest of my decor very well. I prefer to simply think about it before falling asleep. It's like a form of the Examen. But sometimes I find it helpful to have a little structure. For those times, I reach for my go-to on the subject- St. Alphonsus Liguori's masterpiece, Preparation for Death: Considerations of the Eternal Maxims. I keep this one on my nightstand.
Remember, we aren't citizens of this world, but travelers on a long journey to our Heavenly Home. Remembering Momento Mori is the ultimate roadmap.
Until next time, your sister in Christ,
*Originally published at catholiccountrychronicles.com on 11-13-22