Reply3

3. If your response is personal in nature and you want to share your personal story, then you are very welcome here.

If you want to affirm what someone has posted, please do so.

If you need to challenge someone’s personal story, then begin by telling us how your religious journey took you down another path.

If you are angry because someone does not believe and act as you do, then simply write, “I am angry.  I wish you could be like me.”  [No threats.  No put downs.  No infallible pronouncements.  No lies.]

If you have personally been moved by what someone has shared, then you might write, “I’m gratified/challenged/edified by your words.” or “Please tell me how your were changed by your story.”

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2 thoughts on “Reply3”

  1. My religion classes at Holy Cross Grade School were taught by Ursuline Nuns that had originally come from Europe. When I was in the 6th grade, my teacher was Sr. Matilda.  I could see that she liked me, and because I had lost my mother to cancer when I was in the 3rd grade, I naturally gravitated toward any woman who took an interest in me.  In late October of 1950, Sr. Matilda taught us all about purgatory and how the “poor souls” suffered there due to the sins that they had never confessed prior to their death. Sr. Matilda explained to us that the suffering in purgatory was approximately what it was in hell save for one very important difference: “The souls in purgatory all have the assurance that their suffering would come to an and that they would finally be welcomed into Heaven by their loving God and Father.”

    Then, to my surprise, Sr. Matilda went on to tell us how we could rescue souls from purgatory due to our prayers for them on October 31st, All Souls Day.  “Our Holy Father, Pope Pius XII has decreed that any Catholic who enters a Catholic church and prays five Our Fathers, five Hail Marys, and five Glory Bes will receive a full plenary indulgence that will release one soul from purgatory immediately.”  Sr. Matilda explained that even a “poor soul” that had hundreds of years remaining in purgatory to look forward to, could, because of my prayers be completely pardoned and enter into Heaven.  Thus, Sr. Matilda continued, “This is why the Roman Catholic Church deliberately places All Saints Day on November 1st, the day immediately following after All Souls Day.”

    This idea completely captivated my twelve-year-old Catholic imagination.  I immediately made up my mind to rescue seven poor souls.  Later, while walking home, I also decided to apply my plenary indulgence to the seven souls that had already spent “the longest time in purgatory.”  I frankly felt sorry for anyone who didn’t go directly to Heaven when they died.  I felt all the sorrier for those who had spent over a thousand years suffering due to unconfessed minor sins and due to uncompleted “penances” that were given by the priest for sins being confessed.  Most of all, I was amazed that a seemingly insignificant boy of twelve could achieve such an outstanding effect simply by reciting a few prayers in church.

    When I think back to this period, I now see that my early Catholic upbringing conditioned me to accept a quasi-magical mindset regarding the power of my prayers.  It never once crossed my mind that Sr. Matilda’s instructions were filled with suspicious soft spots.  Three such soft spots come immediately to mind:

    • Why, for instance, must these prayers be recited within a Catholic church?  Would God not hear my prayers if I had chosen to enter a Protestant church?  Going further, would God not hear my prayers even if I recited them outside of a church, for example, while walking home from school? 
    • Why did these prayers have to be recited only on All Souls Day?  If I had a nasty cold that day and I was home sick in bed, might God then allow me to recite the required prayers in a church once I recovered? 
    • More to the point, if the time in purgatory did have the power to heal the sickness of soul that those selected to go there suffered, then, would the poor soul not want to get the full treatment (the full cure) that God intended?  I could imagine that a poor soul might say, “Please, God, don’t apply this plenary indulgence to me.  I know that I need more time to heal my soul in these purifying fires.  I want to be entirely cured of sin before I arrive at the pearly gates.”

    However, at the age of twelve, my critical faculties were underdeveloped.  In effect, however, the critical faculties of Sr. Matilda were likewise underdeveloped.  She was effectively leading me toward accepting a quasi-magical worldview when it came to the power of prayer. 

    JMJ, pray for us,

    Aaron Milavec

  2. When you say, “This idea completely captivated my twelve-year-old Catholic imagination,” I want to humbly share with you that my Lutheran pastors always preached about the “shear lunacy” of Catholics who thought that they could rescue souls from hell by reciting a few prayers.  I felt sorry for Catholics.  You might say that I was completely repulsed by the silly mistakes made by Catholics. But now that I hear about how you wanted to relieve the sufferings of those who did not make the grade by going to heaven, I now see what you did as a very caring act–something like the Good Samaritan. Hence, I don’t imagine God was too angry with you, if he was even angry at all.  In fact, your mixture of good intentions and silliness might just have given God a good laugh.  So I admit that at least one Lutheran (me) is secretly proud of your deeds on behalf of the long-suffering.

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