On Lent and Being Human: Penance, Fasting, and Abstinence

On Lent and Being Human: Penance, Fasting, and Abstinence

Lent is a penitential season, and among the features of a penitential season in the Judeo-Christian tradition are fasting and abstinence.  Fasting, of course, involves forgoing food.  Abstinence involves forgoing comforts of the body.  Think of fasting as giving up what we strictly need at a bodily level and abstinence as giving up those bodily goods that we can live without, but which make life a lot more enjoyable. Most Roman Catholics think of abstinence

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Purgatory as Surrender

Purgatory as Surrender

Once, when I was teaching moral theology, a student who wasn’t Catholic asked me about purgatory.  I explained that, in this life, we retain numerous attachments to earthy goods and concerns, selfish wants, resentments, prideful aspirations that have little to do with our relationship with God.  We dread the approach of death because there’s too much in this world we aren’t prepared to leave behind if that’s what going to heaven requires.  It’s not that

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Purgatory Beyond the Images of Flames and Punishment

Purgatory Beyond the Images of Flames and Punishment

In the third installment in our series on purgatory, we examined the opinion that purgatory involves actual corporeal fire.  We saw that this odd-seeming view has some basis in a sound understanding of the relationship between the soul and the body, and that it concerns an undo attachment to merely material goods.  We saw, too, that this view is related to other models of purgatory.  In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  Jacob Marley is sentenced

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Is there Actual Fire in Purgatory?

Is there Actual Fire in Purgatory?

In Part 2 of my series on purgatory, I talked about St. Paul’s reference to the typology of fire in 1 Corinthians 3:10–15.  Over the centuries, many great theologians and doctors of the Church took this reference, and references to the fires of hell in the New Testament, in a literal, corporeal sense.  But how could that be?  How is it even possible for a soul to suffer from corporeal fire after it’s been separated

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St. Paul Talks About Purgatory in the New Testament

St. Paul Talks About Purgatory in the New Testament

In his First Letter to the Corinthians (3:10–15), St. Paul says that a Christian life can have its foundation only in Jesus Christ, but that on that foundation, the life we go on to live may be more or less worthy, as it’s constructed of works that conform more or less perfectly to Christ, or not at all. Much of what we do is unworthy of our Christian vocation and so, won’t survive judgment. Employing

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