Pastor's Corner Feb 9 2020

As we put away the joyful decorations of Christmas and don the penitential violet of Septuagesima, we might be tempted to fall into those dreaded "winter blues." Few things bring more warmth to a frost-bitten soul than the smiling Babe sleeping peacefully in the manger. Now that Our Lord has liturgically "grown up" and lost that endearing childish charm which we sing about in that silent night, we might notice our devotion begin to cool towards Him. It is not that we love Him less, but let's face it: penance does not have the same appeal after the joys of Christmas.

But before we resign ourselves to a Lent bereft of our favorite bacon cheeseburgers and practice our "fasting face" in the mirror, we have to remind ourselves why we do penance. It is the same reason Christ came into this would in the first place: the salvation of our souls.

It might be hard to picture a suffering soul in purgatory rejoicing, yet who would not get excited knowing that those temporary sufferings are necessary before an eternity of happiness in Heaven?

Those purgatorial fires are no laughing matter. Throughout history, God has permitted certain souls in Purgatory to appear to saints and teach them just how intense those fires can get. One soul from Purgatory allowed a drop of sweat to touch the forehead of a saint: she promptly passed out from the pain! Theologians teach that the fires in Purgatory and the fires of Hell differ only in their duration but not in their intensity. Put another way: they both hurt like the Dickens but at least one of them is temporary!

If those souls in Purgatory are able to find a reason for joy, we can certainly keep a smile even though we are going through some great trials. Our Lord Himself tells us that He gives us a peace that the world cannot give. Many have tried to substitute this peace with other things: all to no success. This peace of Christ is most dramatically seen in the death of martyrs: men, women and children were happily singing songs and laughing as they were fed to the lions. If you were a Roman watching this spectacle, you might wonder, "What in the world is going on?"

Some of these Romans looked into it and found this peace of Christ, and it was definitely not of this world! Having a conscience pure and undefiled and a soul filled with the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity: now that gives us comfort! And you can keep that peace in your soul even through the most intense sufferings and trials this world has to offer.

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