We’ve all heard it before.
The universal call to holiness means we’re supposed to get holy. Every one of us is called to sainthood. And really, what are the alternatives? Well, behind door number 1 is the eternal fire of hell. No thanks.
Slightly less warm is behind door number 2 – purgatory – the place scripture says our work on earth will be “tested” by fire (cf 1 Cor 3:13).
Interestingly, I don’t think we take purgatory seriously enough. In fact, it seems that many of us are pretty resigned to that fact: that’s where we’re going to end up. How many times have you heard someone declare with a sigh, “As long as I make it to purgatory!” Really? That’s what you want? Cuz it’s not going to be cupcakes and brownies.
We may not know exactly what it is or how long it lasts, but we do know it’s gonna hurt. Scripture says nothing unclean can enter heaven, and our impurities are going to be “revealed by fire.” So we’re talking way hotter than James Brown’s hot tub on SNL.*
St. John of the Cross said that purgatory is more terrible than a thousand deaths. Without God’s grace, it’s a purification we couldn’t survive. Yikes!
The good news is, you don’t have to go there. Our Lord provides door number 3 – it’s called sainthood. Love God with everything you’ve got, and there’ll be no reason for the eternal elevator to stop on the way up.
So make sure to set your sights as high as possible. Besides, it’s not a good idea to aim for purgatory…You might miss.
Keep striving, my friends! God bless you.
*SNL: Saturday Night Live–a comedy show.
Art: An Angel Frees the Souls of Purgatory, Ludovico Carracci, circa 1610, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.