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It's said that Christmas night is when the most souls are released from purgatory. It's also said that on her feast days -- as Guadalupe is such a feast -- the Blessed Mother appears in purgatory to console the souls.

Let's reflect on purgatory -- the great place of expiation.

When Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem -- from just across a valley -- it was due to that city's worldliness. It had not accepted the "visitation" -- (Luke 19:44). With its worldliness, it had rejected God.

We often lose sight of "worldliness," a great danger not only to temporal peace but also to time in purgatory. What is not atoned for here will be atoned for in the hereafter. Many are those who go to church, pray, and perform good works of mercy, but allow a "thin crust" of worldliness to form around their souls. This must be melted away before one reaches eternal glory. It is purgatory that demonstrates God's greatest Love and Mercy. It is swamped with that. It is permeated with love. It is a workshop of reparation. The soul must be repaired from damage incurred during the trials of earth. It must be restored to its original splendor.

"Many Poor Souls prayed and begged me to go to the world and tell them there of purgatory, that they may not live in 'blindness," says an anonymously written revelation contained in an incredible little booklet, The Secrets of Purgatory. "So I am writing these words to the best of my ability, impelled, as it were, by the Poor Souls themselves. There are many souls in purgatory. These souls are so beautiful -- they are there only to be polished as a pure crystal glass. The gold has only to be purified from all the dross of earth. A truly holy intellect is something of importance for all eternity. It contains no harshness, no misunderstanding, no evil, and no aversion, wickedness, or pride. Truly genuine and holy understanding is simply an outpouring of Divine understanding, of Divine knowledge. All harshness must suffer violence in purgatory."

What can we say about our own time? What can we say about a world and sometimes even a Church that has rejected the visitation in our current time, of the Virgin Mary?

Those who believe themselves to be wise are in the most danger. Too often, this is also true of those who exercise devotions and are strict in legalistic religiosity but look harshly upon others. As we mentioned last week, harshness, with secularism, sullies the "robe" we wear into eternity. The world rejects miracles. The world rejects self-sacrifice. The world honors (and rewards) those who are judgmental (and self-centered). Many are those in purgatory, says the revelation, who are convinced that their lives are upright and praiseworthy but who will find themselves mistaken in grievous fashion.

"The souls in purgatory are enveloped, as it were, in a thick shroud into which they have wound themselves while living on this earth," says this booklet that contains the revelation, which bears an imprimatur. "It is the garment of their own egoism. Their main care in this life was themselves, just as the world's highest ideal is self-glorification and honor. It is this which fashions that coarse garment through which the Light of God can hardly penetrate."

Many are the faithful who in the name of righteousness are ensnared by harsh politics or fall into the worldliness of scientism, celebrityhood, idolatry of sports, infatuation with wealth, and hyper-consumerism (worshipping at the altars of the mega-store).

It is not to fear: Therese the Little Flower warned that an excessive fear of purgatory can also hold a soul back. We are not to dread the afterlife. We are to focus on purity. Even in the deepest parts of purgatory is consolation, the certainty, one day, of everlasting happiness in Heaven. But:

"We are not to dispose of our time rashly. Life must be filled with holy resolves -- one should do nothing which is not inspired by holy motives. One can give value to the most insignificant and seemingly useless actions by a good intention.

"Whoever loves the world and its ideals gets along well in it; he who loves the world, to whom everything earthly is a cross, reduces his attachments down to its minimum.

"Every moment during which we live without supernatural motive is rueful waste. We must give an account of every minute. In purgatory many religious have gaps in their souls caused by their frequent and worthless conversations with men."

Have joy and fun in life but not in a way that is frivolous.

Yes, said the mysterious author (the subtitle is "Reminiscences of a Soul in Purgatory"), there are priests in purgatory even to the "end of time" for their own failure to escape worldliness. While they lived in close relationship with the world and men, they "forgot their dignity." There are many we assume to be in Heaven who are not and those we think are unworthy have entered the glory of eternity because God's judgments are different than our own.

He knows far more about who we really are.

"The simple, docile soul who loves its Lord and God as a child, which blooms unnoticed on earth, can be much more holy than a so-called 'saint.'

"In this holy place, where I see the souls so clearly, I have also learned what genuine and feigned piety are.

"I saw many souls, even those of religious, which were very pious on earth -- but, according to their own conception of piety.

"Individual, egoistic piety will be as devout as the soul wants, but not as God wills.

"On the other hand, piety that is humble thinks: 'Oh Jesus, You must do it. Have patience with me, for I cannot.'"

As mentioned, it's said that on Christmas many are released, which causes us not only to remember to pray for them but also in this season to ask the Infant to illuminate our souls -- the deepest recesses -- and purify. Illuminate and purify: this is what to request for Christmas. You will be answered by the Holy Spirit.

[resources The Secrets of Purgatory

[see also: The 'robe' you wear into eternity]

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