Sunday, October 24, 2010

Knox - Purgatory

YOU AND I, MAYBE, after death, will find ourselves in the twilight state known as purgatory. Saved (please God) by faith in the risen Christ, we shall not yet be partakers in the glory of his Resurrection.

Preachers who discuss the conditions of that intermediate state are apt to lay stress on the severity of the divine punishments. They may be right; it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Only, I dare to hope that the severity of it will be relieved by something we had no right to expect, something we had never been told about, the influence of our blessed Lord's passing, on Easter Eve, through the place of departed spirits. The holy water still glistens on your table when the priest has come and gone; what if our Lord, on that first Holy Saturday, blessed it once for all with the lustration which time can never efface? I like to think of purgatory, however long and however dreary it be, as consoled in some measure by the consciousness that he has been there before us; as a process of passing onwards from room to room, always with the sense that the presence of one we love has only just been withdrawn. Not strong enough, yet, to follow him out into the sunlight, we shall follow him eagerly through the dark. Is that fanciful?

At least let me say this: I think we do well ... to remember our dead. No, do not exclaim that I am a kill-joy, clouding your festival with sad thoughts ... But consider, when you see our Lord represented as rising from the tomb with a banner in his hand, it is the symbol of a military penetration; he, the Victor, in rolling back the stone has made a breach in the enemy's lines, for what? So that the army of his redeemed may pour through at his heels. Or, if you will use St Paul's metaphor, his is the first birth out of death; he has opened the barren womb of extinction, not for himself only but so as to be the first-born of many brethren. Vidi aquam - our Lord's Resurrection is the opening of the springs; the full river has yet to flow. It broadens out, reaches its fulfillment, in ours.

- Ronald A. Knox

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