I have not come to call the righteous but the sinners to repentance.Luke 5:32
We know we have done wrong. The pangs of a guilty conscience are there as a constant reminder. Joel Osteen tells us to say a prayer, asking for divine forgiveness, and then we are born again, ready to bask in the great things God has in store for us. Does that clear the guilty conscience? In the Catholic faith, we are compelled to take our mortal sins to a priest for absolution through the sacrament of Penance. For many, the sins may persist, and we go back again to the priest, and again.
For Catholics, even if we die in a state of grace, meaning having no unconfessed mortal sins, Purgatory is pretty much a certainty. Purgatory is described as a process, not a place, where the taint or stain of our venial sin, or lesser sins, is washed away or otherwise cleansed, making us pure or pure enough, so we can join Christ and the community of saints.
We understand that Jesus died and rose from the dead to conquer sin, to make salvation possible by erasing our sin debt. Many would say that was sufficient to make clear the way to life everlasting in heaven. Because we have free will, we can always turn our back on Christ, reject his message of salvation, and live a decrepit existence, suppressing conscience, and perhaps creating our own hell on earth. Conversely, accepting Christ and striving to live a good and holy life, may create a sense of heaven on earth.
Now this is a lot to fathom, and it’s no wonder that some give up the fight, and set aside their sense of right from wrong, and instead try to power through life, depending on self, and even self-medicating to address any remaining guilt and emotional pain due to sin.
A better approach would be to honestly confront those behaviors that weigh on our consciences and make a concerted effort to remove these imperfections from our lives. Prayer, confession, and even having an accountability person in our lives may help us come to terms. Any remaining taint from our sins may have already been addressed somewhat through our sufferings and trials here on earth. As an example, my brother passed away this year from Parkinson’s disease. He suffered much, but never complained, which was his nature. That said, it makes sense to me that any reconciliation needed in Purgatory was cleared due to his suffering in this life from Parkinson’s.
All we can do is our best, and keep forging ahead, keeping our gaze on Christ, never giving up hope, as our perseverance alone should bode well for us on the day of judgment. For this, we should rejoice!
Have a Blessed Sunday!