The following comes from an Oct. 20 posting on the blog site of Father Ed Broom, OMV, associate pastor of St. Peter Chanel Church in Hawaiian Gardens.
At funerals all too often you hear: “Well, he is no longer suffering!” And, “Now he is in a much better place.” And another common saying: “Now he is in heaven with the Lord in glory!” Although the persons who have expressed these common niceties were most probably moved with good will and the best of intentions, they could be far off the target! Why this straight-forward and possibly startling remark? It is for this reason: the reality of PURGATORY!
Among the many heresies floating around in many Catholic circles is that everybody goes to heaven and right away! In other words, simply being a baptized Catholic and nothing more is a sure passport to heaven. No need for any intermediate state of purification; with death, the gates of heaven are open and the flight is non-stop and one way! The pearly gates are opened and the Lord is ready to embrace forever!
Not only is this a false theology, but it is highly dangerous and damaging for the state of the deceased. Why? If all are totally convinced that Uncle Harry is rejoicing with God, the angels and saints meriting the fruits of his faith in God and earthly labors, then what is the purpose and reason for praying for him? No sense in praying for the saints in heaven, nor the condemned in hell, but only those detained in Purgatory.
It has been sound and solid Catholic teaching over the centuries that only those who are perfect in charity, have no impurities and imperfections on their souls and have done due reparation for the sins of their past will have access to their Heavenly abode. The Book of Revelation expresses this with the utmost clarity: “Nothing impure can enter the Kingdom of God.” Jesus reiterated this in the Sermon on the Mount, in one of the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the pure of heart; they will see God.” (Mt. 5:8)
The point is this: none of us have the authority to canonize unofficially any person that has passed from this life to the next life! By doing so in proclaiming that such a person is in a better place, is no longer suffering, is in the eternal and everlasting hills of peace and joy is presumptuous, wrong, and simply false – compassion. Worse yet, we are taking over the role of the Holy Father, the Pope. Only the Pope himself has a right to canonize or to declare that such a person is definitely in heaven. And there is only one Pope—it is not you nor is it me!
To read the original posting, click here.