Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Year of Faith or Purgatory

The Need for the Year of Faith:
Without it, Purgatory

Remember: The “Last Things” are Christological. They are relations, not states or places.

Hans Urs von Balthasar: “God is the ‘last thing’ of the creature. Gained, he is heaven, lost, he is hell; examining, he is judgment; purifying, he is purgatory. He it is to whom finite being dies, and through whom it rises to him, in him. This he is, however, as he presents himself to the world, that is, in his Son, Jesus Christ, who is the revelation of God and, therefore, the whole essence of the last things. In this way, eschatology is, almost more even than any other locus theologicus, entirely a doctrine of salvation. This is, as we shall see, absolutely central.” [1]

Joseph Ratzinger: “What actually saves us is the full assent of faith.”[2] “But in most of us that basic option is buried under a great deal of wood, hay and straw. Only with difficulty can it peer out from behind the latticework of an egoism we are powerless to pull down with our own hands. Man is the recipient of the divine mercy, yet this does not exonerated him from the need to be transformed. Encounter with the Lord is this transformation. It is the fire that burns away our dross and re-forms us to be vessels of eternal joy.”

                 Thus, “The essential Christian understanding of Purgatory has now become clear. Purgatory is not, as Tertullian thought, some kind of supra-worldly concentration camp where man is forced to undergo punishment in a more or less arbitrary fashion. Rather is it the inwardly necessary process of transformation in which a person becomes capable of Christ, capable of God and thus capable of unity with the whole communion of saints. Simply to look at people with any degree of realism at all is to grasp the necessity of such a process. It does not replace grace by works, but allows the former to achieve its full victory precisely as grace.” That is to say again: “What actually saves us is the full assent of faith” [Ibid.]

[1] H. U. Von Balthasar, “Explorations in Theology” 1. The Word Made Flesh, 260.
[2] J. Ratzinger, “Eschatology,” CUA (1988) 231.

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