Not too long ago, we asked the parish to submit their questions as part of our Question Everything series. We received great questions and here are our responses. We broke the questions into eight segments that we will share throughout the Advent season. Thank you for your participation. Enjoy!
Sara Pekar, Pastoral Associate – 3 DEC 2018
We’re so thankful to Katie for her thoughtful answers to some of our questions!
Purgatory is something we don’t know much about, and this might leave us with a level of mystery about the topic. The Church teaches that purgatory is the name given to the final purification of the faithful. Those who die in God’s friendship are assured eternal life with Christ, but, as Katie pointed out, must first undergo a “cleansing fire” so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter heaven. This teaching comes through the tradition of the Church by reference to certain Scriptural texts (1 Cor. 3:15, 1 Peter 1:7, Mt. 12:31).
But Scripture and Tradition also tell us that this purifying and perfecting process can happen while we’re still on earth! When we remain close to Christ and continually open our hearts to Him, He frees us from the attachments we have to worldly things, and we become less inclined towards sin. This is another reason why receiving Christ in the Eucharist and being faithful to attending mass on Sunday is so important. Katie explained this when she said that we re-establish our faith in Christ by receiving communion. God’s grace builds upon our nature, and so accepting God substantially, wholly, entirely into our lives on Sunday helps us to more fully embody this choice – accepting God and His will – into our lives in every moment.
And while there are certainly faithful non-Catholic Christians who make the choice daily to accept God’s will in their lives and remain in His friendship, the reception of Holy Communion is reserved for those who are practicing Catholics in a state of grace. When one approaches the altar to receive communion, they respond “Amen” to the minister’s gift. As Katie mentioned, that “Amen” is an affirmation of the faith professed by the Catholic community gathered. In Hebrew, the word means “surely, indeed, truly”, and since the Catholic community professes faith in a Christ who is truly, and substantially present in the Eucharist, one cannot say “amen” without believing it to be so.
These were all great questions, and Katie did a great job answering them. But you can see that some of these doctrines are complex, and in the world today, the explanations aren’t immediately apparent. Especially with our doctrine around the Eucharist, the Catholic Church can seem very exclusive and unwelcoming if you don’t first understand the history of the Sacrament. We’re doing this “Question Everything Series” in the hope that asking those questions which trouble you most, you find the truth and an answer which reveals a loving, merciful and just God who desires to know you deeply. Peace!