Last weekend, I was thinking about our modern culture's propensity to celebrate holidays early (more on that in an upcoming post I'm working on!), and then to quit celebrating the day after. I think one of the benefits of the Catholic faith is that you can prep for the holiday, celebrate the holiday, and...wouldn't you know, but there is usually an octave or a season or a few feasts coupled together! So, the celebration usually continues for days!
Well, despite some colds, we Chronisters celebrated well last weekend, I think.
Poor Therese woke up with a fever the morning of All Saints Day, so Andrew and I took turns going to separate Masses (not a holy day of obligation but still an awesome solemnity!) and the girls stayed home. BUT they did briefly dress as their patron saints so we could take pictures. Maria lost interest in that game pretty quickly, but we periodically saw a little Carmelite around our house the remainder of the week. She even dressed up in her costume for our weekly Mass and lunch at the seminary...much to the delight of the priests and seminarians!!
The night before, we celebrated Halloween/All Hallows Eve with a party at the seminary, but - FIRST! - trick-or-treating. It was the girls' first time really trick-or-treating, and it was cold but fun. Auntie Em and the Tinman (I can't believe I convinced him to dress up...what a good dad!) were happy to show off our very own little Dorothy and Toto. :-)
I get such a kick out of their blossoming sister relationship. They are finally getting to the point where the affection is mutual, not just big sister smothering baby sister with love. Even funnier is the fact that Maria tends to give a baby kiss and immediately follow it up with a smack to the face, then another kiss to say sorry. Therese, bless her heart, loves her sister so much that she often responds with a smile and a, "That's okay if she hits me."
This year was also the first year that we took the girls to a cemetery to pray on All Souls Day. Some dear friends of ours lost their unborn child this past spring, and Therese is good friends with their older children. Granted, in cases like this, you pray that the child may rest in God's loving embrace, but knowing that her family would have raised her to know God and be baptized means that her baptism was one of desire and she is most likely went to heaven immediately or very quickly. Yet, still, we pray for all those who have died, that they may move quickly past the purgatory stage and into the heavenly rejoicing stage. I know that there are a lot of people who are confused by the Church's teaching on purgatory, but I find it so comforting. I don't have to be perfect when I die, or be perfectly ready to meet God. All I have to do is my best (weak and imperfect and sinful though I may be) and God swoops in and abundantly covers the rest with His grace and mercy. Purgatory, thankfully, gives Him a little extra time to make me more like Himself. And I'm sure I'll need that time!
But it's hard, growing in holiness, and allowing God to mold and shape and perfect you. It's very hard. Moreover, those in purgatory know that they are going to get to go to heaven, and they finally know what an incredible thing that is. They finally begin to love God as fully as He deserves...but their love is still imperfect. And it breaks their hearts, knowing fully that they have hurt God in the past, and that they haven't loved Him as fully as they should. Purgatory is painful and hard, the way that labor is - suddenly you realize how little and weak you actually are, and how desperately you need God. And from that pain, you are ready to finally embrace God and live with Him forever. But there is no such thing as having a child without pain. Whether you adopt, have a scheduled c-section, have an epidural, have an medication free birth - it doesn't matter. There is pain in each of those paths. And God works through that pain, to increase your love for the child who results from that pain. In the same way, God works through the pain of purgatory, to increase our love for Him. I think that this doctrine especially makes sense, as a parent. I spend my days training and preparing two small people for life - forming them and shaping them. And you can bet that it's hard for them to grow up at times - but I love them so much, that I'm not going to shirk from doing all that I can to help them along that process. It makes perfect sense that God, as a Father, would want extra time to finish perfecting His children, wearing away all that needs to be worn away, until at last they are perfect.
Point being...pray for the souls in purgatory! The stage they're in is a hard one, and they still need our love. And the good thing? If the person you're praying for is already in heaven, then he or she just begins to pray for you!!! Not even death can separate us from the love of Christ, or from the love of the members of the body of Christ. :-)