Tuesday, November 2, 2010

For all the Souls

Aladar Korosfoi-Kriesch
All Souls' Day --1910 Oil on canvas,
Its the Feast of All Souls Today.
And this day is cool because its not just the Saints that we are remembering, the big leagues, but all of the little guys, the regular folks who have died - the Joe Schmoes of the world who are just the regular guy in the trenches or mom in the laundry room. But even so, these folks, so many of them, have died, gone to heaven and deserve a remembrance. It's our nature to do so.

All Souls Day in Slovakia
Sometimes folks wonder why we even bother to think of a day to remember and pray for the dead. I mean, they have passed on, no use now right? Well, no. I think, and our faith teaches us, that in fact there is great use. Our souls are immortal. They are us, the realest us. They do not die. This is an article of faith and I know many who disagree. But I believe it. To my mortal bones, I believe we have souls that are immortal.

Painting by Rubens
Therefore, when I die, I hope and pray that my loved ones, heck, ANYONE, remembers to pray for me. Because I'm gonna need it.
I need it now, I will need it more so then, because my time on earth to actively turn my heart away from my measly selfish self and around to the face of God will be done. And so while I hope and pray I am going to heaven, I suspect...if I get to heaven I will be in the foyer of heaven: purgatory.

Yup.
I said it: 'Purgatory."

One of those words! One of those polarizing kind of words.
And I wish it wasn't.
Purgatory is a beautiful, sensible concept and gives me such comfort and hope.

As I am not a theologian, nor particularly smart or insightful...but am quite opinionated, I get to give you my take on purgatory and why I think its so cool. Keep in mind, I have simplified and condensed a rich complex theological concept into terms my little old middle age wandering mind can digest. So don't get all tied up in knots over this, go read someone knows.

But, for me, this is the deal with purgatory - a "mom" take on it.
In my rambling rabbit warren of a house, we are lucky enough to have a mud room. This is the main entrance to our house by all friends and family. And you know, even when its my son coming home from college and I can't wait to see him, we stop him for a moment in the mudroom...we say "Ack! Quick scrape those boots or take 'em off, they are covered in mud!" So he does and then we hug him and pull him into the kitchen to feed him pie and have the little's jump him with glee.


This is purgatory. Or just like it, to me.

Even if we have turned our hearts to God and want only to do the best we can...we screw up, we still are impatient and ill tempered and selfish (ok, me). And when we die, we don't just all of a sudden have those hurtful acts disappear; those sins still ripple out to those we left behind. We are still 'smudgy' with that selfishness. And while we may be deeply contrite and now, after our passing, fully understand how hurtful even some of our small 'unimportant' acts or "white lies" really are.....we are not ready yet to stand in the presence of Love and Truth. Because you can't. You can't if you still have some smudges. God's Divine self/presence cannot coexist with anything less than truly pure. Because God is pure. And so, we too become so - in purgatory. Purgatory is where we take off our muddy boots. We put on some clean soft slippers or go barefoot in to the pure white of the kitchen. And then, we are hugged, hooted over, loved and we all grin and eat pie.

So today we remember and celebrate those souls who have gone before us with their hearts turned toward God: All Souls Day.

Happy Feast of All Souls!
Perhaps even in heaven, or especially in heaven, it's all about the pie!
 
**reposted from last year because I still just think this sums it up for me, but I want to mark the day.  So. There it is.***

4 comments:

Chris said...

From C.S. Lewis:

"Our souls demand Purgatory, don't they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, 'It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy'? Should we not reply, 'With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, I'd rather be cleaned first.' 'It may hurt, you know' - 'Even so, sir.'"

coffeemom said...

Thanks for that Chris! Ah, C. S. Lewis...man, he's good! (and not Catholic, and yet, this..so perhaps this idea is more compeling than some might think.)

Chris and Jess said...

I love the analogy of dirty boots! It fits.

Zoe said...

That first piece of art is so gorgeous!