Just Show Up – Refiner’s Fire
Nine years ago I wrote a novel titled “Refining Rachel”. I was three to four chapters away from completion when we moved to Kingwood and have yet to finish it, though the characters are still as part of me as friends in my past. The ending is still on the tips of my fingers and I’m certain one day I will finish. I’m certain it needs a lot of work being that I wrote it nine years ago! The concept came from a disagreement a friend and I were having over the abortion issue. She was pro-choice, I was (AM) pro-life. In a moment of frustration she spatted out, “And what if you were raped and got pregnant? Would you really want to have that baby?” I was heading out the door but turned back to her and clearly stated, “I would not hold that baby responsible for the father’s actions.” Our friendship has never been the same since. When I walked out that door I think we chose to agree to disagree. That is when Rachel became real to me. I wanted to get in the mind of a woman that had to make that choice but had no real stance on the issue until she was thrown into the depth of the fire.
Last night I found myself in a similar disagreement with someone I love. It was not about abortion but about the understanding of purgatory. Obviously this person I was disagreeing with is no longer a practicing Catholic (probably for the last 50 years she’s been away since a child) so her understanding of the faith is minimal and through her adolescent eyes. Purgatory is not a subject I like to discuss because of my own lack of understanding but what set me off was in her honest questioning of what it was she began to get heated up as I explained it was a purification of our souls to get into heaven. That is when she threw out her protestant believe of being saved by the blood of the lamb and there is no need to be purified because they no longer have sin. I asked her then, “So you don’t sin?” That set her back and she threw out the same argument and I continued to ask “Do you not sin daily? Do you knot tell a white lie? Do you not talk about others, think bad of another?”
Regardless, I had to shut the door and walk away but I left with her shouting “Show me where in the Bible it says…” So this morning I emailed my response and I thought I’d share it with you all:
Simply, to clarify purgatory is not a place, that is the biggest misconception. Rather purgatory (coming from the derivative to purge) is an action. As I was saying last night it is to purify the soul. YES we are ALL saved by the blood of Christ which means through HIM we enter into the Kingdom of Heaven but that does not mean you suddenly become sinless. 1 Corinthians 3:10-17 :
According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it,
for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ.
If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw,
the work of each will come to light, for the Day 7 will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire (itself) will test the quality of each one’s work.
If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage.
But if someone’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, 8 but only as through fire.
Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy. 9
There are other stories that summarize this ‘purging’ on our ‘judgment day’ – for instance Matthew 19:24 “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” This refers to the gates into a city that they would close at night which left on a small opening for people to come through but if they had their camels and possessions they had to shed it all in order to fit through the ‘eye of the needle’ to enter.
Again – shedding, purging, ….
I think it is the reference to the misunderstanding that it is a ‘place’ that keeps the ‘argument’ going. But what we all need to remember is that God’s time is not in our understanding. He has no time. I know for a fact (given even by messenger) that my grandmother died and went straight to heaven. I know this because she believed in God, she was faithful…was she sinless when she died? NO…lol not Sweetgraw…but I know she was purified on her entry into heaven.
Martin Luther before leaving the Catholic church went to confession 10 times a day sometimes, driving his spiritual advisor crazy…he just couldn’t fathom that he was ‘good enough’ and every time he sinned he went to confession. When he left the church he surmised the theory that we are all ‘cow dung of constant sin’ for a lack of better term…and the blood of Christ covers that ‘cow dung’ so that when you enter heaven God doesn’t see the cow dung He sees only the blood of His son. That’s a perfectly fine analogy…many churches that continue to branch off over the centuries from the Lutheran church have taken it and made it fit to their liking as well.
I guess you can say that we (Catholics) don’t want to always be cow dung covered in the blood of Christ when we enter heaven…we want to look, smell, and embody the PURIFIED FULLNESS of the blood of Christ when we enter into heaven…
You can choose to agree or disagree…either way I know we will BOTH be in heaven and truly, we’ll see the TRUTH only then and these misunderstandings will not matter. Because what we all need to see is that we are ALL the body of Christ as Christians believing in the Jesus and his sacrifice. I have not ever tried to ‘make you’ believe or see the way I see. If you ask, I’ll explain or tell but you can choose to believe what suits you. I’m happy you are a woman of Christ and that’s all that matters to me.
I do not claim to be a theologian or to know exactly how to answer that question. I pray that I am not going against our true Catholic belief. I think we are constantly being ‘refined’ by the fire of the Holy Spirit and maybe as much as we learn hear on earth might determine how long that purification of soul would take.