HEAVEN, THE KINGDOM OF LOVE
I wish to include some basic notions of Christian eschatology, which, because of the Resurrection of Christ give a reason for great hope to everyone — in particular, to those who suffer from evil spells. Our life, our earthly pilgrimage, and our suffering are not the fruit of a blind randomness; rather, they are ordered for our greater good and definitive friendship with God.
Let us begin, then, precisely from paradise, the final goal and the reason for which we have been created. “Those who die in God’s grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they ‘see him as he is,’ face to face,” (CCC 1023).
Our Faith guarantees that in paradise we shall enjoy the vision of God; that is, we shall become participants in that same happiness that the divine Persons enjoy among themselves:
“The life of the blessed consists in the full and perfect possession of the fruits of the redemption accomplished by Christ. He makes partners in his heavenly glorification those who have believed in him and remained faithful to his will. Heaven is the blessed community of all who are perfectly incorporated into Christ” (CCC, no. 1026).
A question arises spontaneously: What need did the Trinity have for creatures, for men and angels, when It was already perfect and absolutely sufficient in Itself? The Trinity did it solely out of love, gratuitous and unconditional love for us. The advantage is solely ours: love, joy, and happiness, for all, in paradise.
There are degrees of participation in the joy and love of God. This degree of rank is given according to the level of sanctity each person has reached during his lifetime: the joy of St. Francis of Assisi, for example, will be different from that of the good thief. There is a difference between men on earth, and there will be a difference in paradise.
It is similar to what happens with the stars in heaven: there are those that shine brighter and those that shine a little less. So also it will be with men in the glorious resurrection: all of us shall be resplendent, but each one with a different proportion. Each one will have that maximum of splendor and happiness that he is personally capable of, based on how he has lived his life. Some will have a greater capacity and others less, but without envy or jealousy toward each other.
Indeed, each one will know complete joy. A verse from Dante’s Divine Comedy comes to mind: “In his will is our peace.” In paradise there is no jealousy; each one is in the will of God, and in His will there is peace. Eternal peace is definitive, where each tear, each sorrow, and all envy will be wiped away.
THE SOULS IN PURGATORY
Purgatory is the place, or, better, the state to which come the souls that have need of a purification and therefore have not been immediately admitted to contemplate the face of God. This purification is necessary in order to arrive at sanctity, the condition that heaven requires. The Catechism speaks of the souls in purgatory:
“All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (no. 1030)
This article is from a chapter in An Exorcist Explains the Demonic.
We can understand that there are gradations or diverse states in purgatory; each one accommodates the situation of the soul that arrives there. There are the lower strata, more terrible because they are closer to hell, and the more elevated that are less terrible because they are much closer to the happiness of paradise. The level of purification is linked to this state.
The souls in purgatory are in a state of great suffering. We know, in fact, that they can pray for us and that they can obtain many graces for us, but they can no longer merit anything for themselves. The time for meriting graces finishes with death.
Purged souls can, however, receive our help in order to abbreviate their period of purification. This occurs in a powerful way through our prayers, with the offering of our sufferings, paying attention at Mass, specifically at funerals or at Gregorian Masses, celebrated for thirty consecutive days.
This last practice was introduced by St. Gregory the Great in the sixth century, inspired by a vision he had of a confrere who died without confessing himself and, having gone to purgatory, appeared to him, asking him to celebrate some Masses in his favor. The pope celebrated them for thirty days. At that point, the deceased appeared to him again, happy for having been admitted to paradise. One must take care: this does not mean that it will always work this way: that would be a magical attitude, unacceptable and erroneous toward a sacrament. In fact, it is solely God who decides these matters when He wills it through His divine mercy.
On the subject of Masses, it is necessary to say that they can be applied to a particular deceased, but, at the last moment, it is God who destines them to those who have a real need. For example, I often celebrate Masses for my parents, whom I believe in my conscience are already in paradise. Only God in His mercy will destine the benefits of my Masses to those who have more need, each one according to the criteria of justice and goodness reached during his life.
Regarding all that I have said, I wish warmly to advise that it is better to expiate suffering in this life and become a saint than, in a minimalist way, to aspire to purgatory, where the pains are long-lasting and heavy.