Dear Friends of the Kolbe Center,
A blessed Feast of All Souls!
It is a great joy to receive letters and emails from people all over the world who appreciate our apostolate and who often have great suggestions and insights that help us to carry out our mission more effectively. A year and a day ago, I received a letter from a supporter who told me that a friend of his had just had a memorable experience. A short time before his friend had received a telephone call from a priest who told him, "I need your help" and hung up. When his friend attempted to return the call to the priest, the care-giver who answered the phone told him that it was impossible for the priest to have called him because the priest had died two days before. In the words of my correspondent, it seems that the priest had placed a call to him "from Purgatory."
My correspondent went on to make some profound reflections about the connection between a decline in remembrance of the souls of the faithful departed and the decline of faith in the Church. He observed that the Books of Maccabees number among the seven deuterocanonical books which the protestant revolutionaries rejected even though they formed part of the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament that was used by all of the Apostles and Greek-speaking Church Fathers. He also observed that these books testify not only to the practice of offering prayers and sacrifices for the dead but also to the way in which apostasy can quickly corrupt the faithful when introduced from the top through the introduction of idolatry and false worship within the household of God. The heroic faith of the Maccabees which allowed them to prevail over the Nicanors and other powerful enemies of God (2 Mac 14-15) also filled them with compassion for those of their brethren who died having divided their loyalty between the God of Abraham and the gods of the pagans whose idols they carried into battle before they were slain (2 Mac 12:34-46).
Martin Luther originally recognized the truth of the Church's doctrine on Purgatory, but his new theology eventually forced him to abandon much of the traditional doctrine of the faith. In the orthodox Catholic faith, believers who are baptized into Christ become a "new creation" in Him, being born into supernatural life so that they can live one life with God and be transformed into the perfect likeness of Christ that they were created to achieve. In Luther's new theology, the Christian soul is not capable of perfection, but only of receiving a cosmetic covering that overspreads the soul of a saintly person in exactly the same way that it overspreads the soul of a mass murderer who utters the Sinner's Prayer at the moment of his death. If this were not the case, then it would have been necessary for Luther to do what the faithful had always done since the time of the Maccabees - offer prayers and sacrifices for the dead who died without having been fully sanctified so that they could be loosed from their sins. Instead, by abandoning the clear teaching of Scripture, he condemned the souls of his disciples to be mistakenly "assumed" into heaven, thus leaving them not only without viaticum but also - in the case of any who would be saved - without the prayers and sacrifices of their surviving loved ones.
This false theology lends itself well to the error of theistic evolution, since in theistic evolution there is no supernatural creation of a complete and beautiful world at the beginning of creation nor is there a supernatural new creation of the believer in Christ at the moment of Baptism. Instead there is a natural evolution of the world and a natural development of believers who are justified by faith (in some undefined way) but not created anew and transformed into the likeness of Christ so that, after having lived one life with Him, they can be united to Him as partakers in His divine nature for all eternity.
So, let us constantly remember to offer prayers and sacrifices for the souls in Purgatory; and let us ask them, in turn, to pray for the restoration of the true Catholic doctrine of creation, the foundation of our Holy Faith.
Our Kolbe Center director in Canada, Dr. Kevin Mark, has compiled a wonderful collection of passages from the Deuterocanonical books that highlight the literal historical truth of the sacred history of Genesis. Let us pray that our separated brethren will come to realize that they have been robbed of a magnificent portion of the Word of God, a portion that was rejected - not by the Apostles and Church Fathers - but by first-century Jewish rabbis who had rejected their Messiah and who wanted to remove the deuterocanonical books from the Old Testament because of the many ways in which these books pointed to Our Lord Jesus Christ as the longed-for Messiah and prepared the way for His Gospel teaching.
Yours in Christ through the Immaculata,
P.S. For those of us who belong to one of the Eastern Churches of the Catholic Church, today is not one of the days set aside for a special remembrance of the dead. However, since most of our readers belong to the Latin Rite, it seemed fitting to send this newsletter today. In the Eastern Churches, as seen in the Byzantine Catholic Churches, prayers for the dead have been offered continually since the time of the Apostles, and there are specific prayers that are offered for a deceased person for forty days after death as well as liturgical commemorations of all the faithful departed on various days, including the Saturday before Pentecost and the second, third and fourth Saturdays of Lent. The lives of the saints of East and West are full of accounts demonstrating the efficacy of prayers and sacrifices offered on behalf of the dead as well as of the power of their intercession for their benefactors on earth. (For an example, from the Acts of the Martyrs St. Perpetua and St. Felicity, see paragraphs seven and eight at this link.) In our day when the heresy of instant salvation for all has become so widespread, the dead are in greater need than ever of our prayers and sacrifices, and they will surely repay us all the more for our remembrance of them with their prayers for our intentions.
P. S. I cannot tell you how much we appreciate your prayers and financial support, as we could do nothing without them. Certainly, we could not honor our pledge to go anywhere in the world where we are invited to go without requiring payment, if it had not been for your amazing generosity. If you have not made a one-time or recurring gift to support our apostolate, please consider going to this link and making a gift today.