Friday 13th December 2019

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A Leaven In The World… Life Is Beautiful With Final Judgment In View

November 12, 2019 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK

The prospect of final judgment brings negative impressions, images, or emotions to mind for many. Sometimes it also does so for some who claim our Catholic faith. As a step along the way to spiritual maturity, we must often be purged of our childish or worldly impressions. With an authentic and deeper faith, the prospect of meeting God, the ultimate arbiter of good and evil, at the end of our lives is something not only to look forward to, but which is helpful in daily life.
Acknowledgment of the fact of final judgment comes to the fore each November when we turn from the first day of the month, celebrating all the saints in glory, to praying the very next day for all the poor souls in Purgatory. We cannot pray, and offer the Holy Mass and sacrifices for these suffering souls, without also thinking of ourselves and of our own ultimate meeting with the Lord face to face, after our eyes close on this world for the final time in death.
November each year is an opportunity for realizing in a deeper way that not only does it not make life worse to keep final judgment in mind, it makes life better. Each moment of this incredible gift of life here and now, through faith, is charged with an ever deeper and eternal significance because it is transformed by grace into the supernatural anteroom to glory. Our decisions and encounters with temptation are made ever so much more important for us as we become more deeply aware of their consequences for good or evil in the next life. This aspect of our faith becomes a powerful help to rejecting the Devil and his empty promises.
Last year, the Holy Father in a Casa Santa Marta homily made a startling and helpful point. His departure point in the Gospel for that November 6 was of the “double rejection” by those invited to the rich man’s banquet. As reported by Vatican News, the Pope repeated the invitation, then commented:
“‘Come: everything is now ready.’ But one by one they all began to excuse themselves.” There is “always an apology,” the Pope said. “They apologize. Apologizing is the polite word we use in order not to say, ‘I refuse’.”
Then he made the forbidding statement that arrests us in our comfortable presumptions or refusing apologies and opens our eyes to faith. “And so the master then told his servants to ‘bring in here the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame’.”
This passage, the Pope said, ends with a second refusal, this one from the mouth of Jesus Himself: When someone rejects Jesus, “the Lord waits for them, gives them a second chance, perhaps even a third, a fourth, a fifth . . . but in the end, He rejects them.”
“In the end He rejects them.”
In our lack of repentance, in our unforgiven sin, we reject God now and the consequences will be eternal for us if we fail to avail ourselves of His loving invitation to eat and drink deeply of His mercy in the sacramental life. The banquet of each week is Confession for mortal sin and the Eucharist for growth in grace. The mercy of the Lord is His repeated invitation to lift up our eyes to the horizon of eternal life entered through meeting with Him at its threshold. It is our choice as to whether we will encounter Him with authentic love which begins now in humble obedience or with pride which invites His rejection.
We are among those who reject the Lord’s invitation if we put off Confession while in a state of mortal sin or fail to include a firm amendment to avoid the near occasions of sin in order to practice true sorrow for the sins we have confessed. Absolution is not effective for us if this condition is not met. Psalm 36 asks us to consider the true state of souls heading for damnation, the rejection of God for those who died in rejection of Him.
“Be not emulous of evildoers; nor envy them that work iniquity. For they shall shortly wither away as grass, and as the green herbs shall quickly fall. Trust in the Lord, and do good, and dwell in the land, and thou shalt be fed with its riches. Delight in the Lord, and he will give thee the requests of thy heart. Commit thy way to the Lord, and trust in him, and he will do it. And he will bring forth thy justice as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday: be subject to the Lord and pray to him. Envy not the man who prospereth in his way; the man who doth unjust things.
“Cease from anger, and leave rage; have no emulation to do evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off: but they that wait upon the Lord shall inherit the land. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: and thou shalt seek his place, and shalt not find it. But the meek shall inherit the land, and shall delight in abundance of peace” (Psalm 36:1-11).
It is painful to see others walk away from the faith because they persist in a sinful relationship with the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Those blessed with more mature faith respond with humble repentance to this experience in their own lives. The difference is found in the ongoing practice of the Lord’s mercy in regular participation in the sacramental life. The perspective of final judgment, with its prospects of either damnation or salvation, is a bracing dose of reality for our spiritual slumber. Our sloth is not a mythical “middle way” because it in fact is a state which invites God’s rejection in the inevitable judgment facing each one of us after death.
We benefit as we practice our faith each November, offering the Holy Mass for the poor souls in Purgatory. These died with an attachment to sin which called for purification in preparation for eternal glory. In our prayers for them we contemplate our own end and grow in our desire to die a holy death and so avoid the pains which the poor souls now suffer. We also invite the joy which the view of eternal life should give to each day of our journey of faith now.
As our priests offer the requiem Masses of this month for the poor souls we can participate in them also by submitting the names of our deceased family members. In a more intense way of prayer, these are placed on or near the altar. The priest at Mass harnesses the power of the prayer of the Lord Himself in Holy Mass to intercede for these suffering souls — so that their waiting may end and eternal joy may commence. Our love for them is most authentically expressed by our own participation in the sacrifice, by our stipends if not by the greatest gift of ourselves praying with him. In doing so we bring the threshold of eternal life into the present moment, transformed in hope thereby.
Thank you for reading and praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.

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