February 23, 2016

Article at Authory

The Last Soul in Purgatory

Over the years, I've seen many Catholics say they choose to pray specifically for the soul in purgatory that is closest to being released. According to the theory, perhaps it will be their prayer that gets that soul to heaven, and then they'll have a grateful soul in heaven praying for them.

For some reason, that idea never set well with me. My thoughts always turned to those in purgatory who were furthest away from heaven. Didn't they need my prayers more? And what was it with Catholics treating those in purgatory for a very long time almost as if they were really in hell?

But when I started to pray for these souls, something didn't feel quite right there either. It wasn't that I felt they deserved to remain there, but I felt like I should be asking for something else. Finally I settled on praying for "the soul most in need of Your mercy."

Then one day I remembered something. Jesus promised that "the last shall be first, and the first shall be last." What if being the last soul to be released from purgatory wasn't a punishment but a grace? After all, the one thing the souls in purgatory can do is to help others. They can't help themselves, but they can help other people, perhaps even each other.

That's when I got to thinking of purgatory as a little like being on the Titanic. The souls help each other off a sinking ship and into the life rafts headed for heaven. As Bill Paxton said of the Titanic in James Cameron's Ghosts of the Abyss:

"Titanic is like a stage where God tells you, 'You have two hours to play out the rest of your life. What will you be? Will you be a hero? Will you be a coward?'"

What if being the last soul in purgatory was like being the captain on a sinking ship? Or, more hopefully, like being the captain of U.S. Airways Flight 1549, who ditched his plane in the Hudson, then walked the length of the plane twice, looking for passengers, before getting off to be rescued himself?

If that's anything like purgatory, you might want to be the last to go, but in need of tremendous prayers and graces while doing the job.

That's when I decided to start praying for the grace to be the last soul in purgatory. If for no other reason than to volunteer for a position no one else seems to want.

(Image: Ship stranded in ice, Pixabay.)