• Students are dismissed for Thanksgiving Break on Tuesday, November 26, at 2:05 PM.
• The school’s annual Advent Lessons and Carols will be on December 15, at 7:00 PM. Mark your calendar now. A reception will follow.
• Students are dismissed for Christmas break on December 20, at 12:30 PM. No one may leave early, since that week is also their first semester exams.
• The Fall Sports Award Ceremony in this Sunday, November 17, at 7:00 PM, in the Perpetual Help classroom. All are welcome to attend.
• Our first soccer game is November 19, at 2:00 PM, at Lake Forest Sports Park [28000 Rancho Pkwy, Lake Forest, CA 92630].
Those of us who wear glasses or contacts know how difficult it is to go through even one day without them. Without corrective vision some of us can see only about one-fourth of what we ought to see, and this makes finding our way in this world quite difficult—in fact, it’s close to impossible, and even quite dangerous. Impaired vision leaves us with a faulty view of reality and therefore hinders our actions as well.
During this month of November Holy Mother Church tries to correct the shortsightedness of her children, we who so often see only about one-fourth of reality. Divine revelation tells us in both Scripture and Tradition that in addition to this present world in which we now live there exist other worlds, as it were—that is, heaven, hell and purgatory. With the celebration of the Feast of All Saints and All Souls’ Day, and the special indulgences offered during this month, we are reminded that there is a “bigger picture” which we often fail to see, and our distorted view of reality can have grave effects on how we live our lives.
The Church’s teaching on heaven, hell and purgatory, though profound enough to fill volumes, can be summed up quite simply: All of us will die someday. Those who die in the state of grace (with no mortal sins on their soul) are destined for heaven. If such ones have venial sins on their souls or have not done enough reparation for past sins, they will spend some time in purgatory, where they are purified before seeing God in the Beatific Vision. Those who die in the state of mortal sin will go directly to hell for all eternity.
The existence of all three places—and they are real places—can be demonstrated from Scripture as well as from Tradition; and we can note that even many of the Greek pagan philosophers, like Plato, held for a place of eternal bliss, another of eternal punishment, and one of temporary purification. Since, however, all here are believing Catholics and surely would never doubt Christ’s teachings, instead of offering proofs we might rather take a few moments just to remind ourselves of what these three places are like.
The chief punishment in hell is the eternal separation from God. Our Blessed Lord once appeared to St. Catherine of Siena and told her: The first suffering which the damned endure is that they are deprived of seeing Me. This suffering is so great, that if it were possible, they would choose to endure fire and torments, if they could in the meantime enjoy My vision, rather than to be delivered from other sufferings without being able to see Me. The other, secondary, punishment in hell is the physical pain which the bodies of the damned will feel when they are joined to their souls at the end of time. No prayers can free them from such torments. They are there forever. This is not cruel on God’s part, for such souls have freely chosen in this life to live without God. They spend eternity cursing God and hating Him; they do not want to repent, and at the same time they know that it is by turning away from Him that they lost all happiness.
Purgatory is, as the name implies, a place of purgation. There too the chief suffering is the lack of seeing God, but for these souls it is only temporary. They have left this world with grace in their souls and will soon spend eternity with God in heaven. They willingly suffer the just punishment which their sins deserve. They patiently and with great hope endure this immense suffering, knowing as they do that it is for the love of God and their own eternal happiness that they are there. The souls in purgatory cannot free themselves, however, and so count on our prayers and good works to pay off their debts.
And finally, heaven. In heaven the souls of the just dwell forever in perfect and unspeakable bliss. The chief and greatest joy which they have is from beholding God face to face. And as if that were not enough, the blessed will receive additional joys from their union with each other, especially with those with whom they had a friendship in this life, only now that union will be perfect, far more intimate and never-ending. And though they are forever occupied, as it were, with adoring God, these saints have a very great love and concern for those still laboring in this world, and they offer up many prayers for us, especially for those who seek their intercession.
That, dear friends, is the whole picture. How different we would live our lives if we always kept before our eyes the whole picture and not just one fourth of it. With what diligence would we avoid sin and the near occasions of sin if we kept the thought of hell fresh in our minds. With what fervor would we pray for the dead if we never forgot that they are suffering as we speak and in great need of our prayers. How we would be consoled while suffering in this valley of tears if we would only think more often of the joys of heaven. St. Jose Maria Escriva used to say, In time of temptation think of heaven.
For years now many, for some reason, have ceased speaking about heaven, hell and purgatory, thus blurring the vision of all the faithful. The result of all this as that less people pray to the saints, less people pray for the souls in purgatory, and we here in this world live as if it were the only one. Pray for the souls in purgatory (they desire so badly your prayers), pray in honor of the saints and implore their help (they long to intercede for us), and may God bless you the rest of your life with 20/20 vision, that you might walk the straight and narrow path, the only one which lead to heaven.
• For all the benefactors of St. Michael’s Preparatory School, living and deceased.
• For all the students and families of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.
• For all faculty and staff of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.