Posted by: fvbcdm | November 7, 2011

Feast of Saint Ernest (7 Nov 2011)

 The first two days of the month of November are All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Then, in our own Dominican calendar, we have on November 7 and 8 the corresponding celebrations for those of our own Dominican family.  So on Monday, November 7, we celebrate all the members of our Order who are already in heaven, and on Tuesday, those who have died and are still being detained in Purgatory to make atonement for their sins on earth.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes it clear to us that the final purification of the elect, or those destined for heaven, is “entirely different from the punishment of the damned.”  In hell, there is no hope, no anticipation.  And Purgatory is ALL hope, ALL anticipation, ALL happy expectation.  Those there have a clearer understanding of what Heaven is, and therefore they are filled with the desire to go there, to enjoy “what God has prepared for those who love him.”
Have you ever tried holding a hollow rubber ball under water? Its inclination is to rise to the top of the water where the pressure on the air-filled ball is much less than under water.  When we were children, we often took a large beach ball into the water with us during our summers on the Mississippi gulf coast.  There we would try to force the ball down into the water and keep it there.  It’s nearly impossible because of the “eagerness” of the ball to rush to the surface and then pop up into the air.  I think of the people in Purgatory in a similar situation.  EAGER! YEARNING to be freed from the pressure of Purgatory, and admitted into the TREMENDOUS JOY of Heaven.
This morning, as we celebrated All the Saints of our Dominican Family, I thought of those whom I have personally known and who are very likely already there.  Kind, loving, zealous men and women who have treated me with great goodness and have shared their Dominican insights with me.  My directors of formation, my professors, my confessors, and many of my own classmates or men just a year or two before or after me in the seminary process.  Two of them come to mind right off-hand.  The wonderful man who was assigned to be one of our confessors in the House of Philosophy and who had a deep devotion to the Holy Spirit.  I was young; he was old. I was eager to learn what he had to teach me; he was just as eager to teach me and the others.  In those days, we went to confession every week, and I always looked forward to confessing to him, because after the confession, I could ask him questions about the spiritual life.  Invariably, he spoke of the Holy Spirit in a way that was beautiful and very appealing. 


The other one is a Sister who was one of our cooks in the House of Studies. She was quiet, gentle, and very hard-working because she had to cook three meals a day, seven days a week, for some two hundred hungry men.  One day, when I was assigned to serving the food in the dining room, I went back into the kitchen to get something from her.  It was hot and she was standing over her big, black, iron stove, perspiring in the voluminous habit of the Sisters of those days.  By way of foolish encouragement, I said to her, “Sister, one day in heaven, you’re going to wear a crown made from part of that stove.”  She smiled faintly and said, “Oh no, Brother! I want a crown made out of something better than this!”  We both laughed, but the point was well taken.  So whether it is an insight into the operation of the Holy Spirit in our life or the sort of eternal reward we’re anticipating, those wiser than we have much to teach us, and have already done so. God bless them, and hear their prayers for us.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.


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