As We Remember Purgatorial Souls We Also Can Know We See Relatives Again
There is supposed to be joy in the afterlife, in thinking of those who have gone before us -- not the dark ghoulishness of the morgue, the depression of the grave, and certainly not the ghoulishness of Halloween!
In this week of All Souls, we must realize that our relationships with loved ones never end, continuing through prayer until we see them again.
When we pray for someone who has died, said the Virgin of Medjugorje, the veil lifts; the deceased can see us as we pray for them.
And they are appreciative.
On their deathbeds patients have long described friends and relatives who predeceased them and came to help them with their passing. On the other side, it is often a relative who tells a person that it is not yet his or her time.
"All of us who research near-death experiences have stories about people who have been reconciled to the death of a loved one by hearing about such experiences," wrote a medical doctor, Dr. Raymond Moody, after years of studying cases in which people report glimpses of eternity when they are revived from clinical death.
"I think the experience makes many grieving people realize that death is a passage into another place, that even though the events leading up to death can be agonizing, once a person gets out of his body there is no pain and, in fact, a great sense of relief. And, based on many experiences, there will be a reunion with loved ones in the spiritual realm."
Everyone we have ever known we will encounter again, one day, in what Scripture calls a "glorified" body (unless, of course, there was damnation).
Near-death witnesses constantly describe how, upon "passage," they saw a father or mother or wife, a long-lost friend, a brother who died as a toddler. In most cases, the deceased appear to be 25 or thirty -- radiant and magnificently happy (unless there is a serious message).
Mothers. Fathers. Brothers. Sisters. Husbands. Wives. Can you imagine the joy of someone meeting a mother who died at childbirth -- whom they never knew on earth, at least not physically?
"Heaven is other people, united in communion around God," notes a priest. "The Catechism makes clear this vision of Heaven as a nest of relationships, of communion: ‘This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity-this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed-is called "Heaven".' [CCC 1024] This community, this communion of persons is called heaven. It's what we mean by Heaven."
Friends. Acquaintances. With great joy will we embrace loved ones -- especially if we have had a prayer relationship! Are we praying for those who have died? Do we say novenas for the souls? Do we pray for the help of St. Joseph -- and the Archangel Michael?
If so, the souls will be there, doubly, when our times comes!
"Many times before death a person will experience what is called a 'deathbed vision,'" wrote two professors, Dr. Craig R. Lundahl and Dr. Harold A. Widdison, in a book called The Eternal Journey. "Deathbed visions are accounts of dying people who report seeing deceased relatives and friends and into the world of spirits before dying. A typical deathbed vision is the following case of a sixty-year-old woman dying of intestinal cancer: 'All of a sudden [the doctor reported] she opened her eyes. She called her deceased husband by name and said she was coming to him. It was almost as if she were in another world. It was as if something beautiful had opened up to her. She had the most peaceful, nicest smile just as if she were going to the arms of someone she thought a great deal of.'"
Those who are not yet completely purified are often described as having gray or spots on their robes, while those who have made it to Heaven have bodies that are whole and apparel that's indescribably white.
According to one study by Arvin S. Gibson, a nuclear engineer (and retired energy executive), 55.4 percent of those who had near-death episodes saw someone they knew -- far higher than the 21.6 percent who saw a "tunnel" and nearly as high as the percentage who report an extraordinary light.
"Many handicapped people who have near-death experiences find that their handicaps are gone," went on the medical researcher. "In the spiritual realm, they are whole and highly mobile beings. Although some researchers theorize that near-death experiences are caused by intense belief in God and the hereafter, the fact is that these experiences happen to nonbelievers just as frequently as to believers.
Once a cleansing is finished in purgatory, there is entrance into the reaches -- the levels -- of Heaven.
Lessons there are for how to conduct ourselves here on earth. Love. Compassion. Said an older patient who had a near-death experience as a child to Dr. Raymond Moody of Virginia, "I never got wrapped up in family bickering like my brothers and sisters did. My mother said it was because I 'had the bigger picture.' I just knew that nothing we were arguing about had any real importance. I knew that any arguing that went on was meaningless. So when anything like that started in the family, I would just curl up with a book and let other people work out their problems."
"The interesting thing is that after the near-death experience, the effect seems to be the same," added Dr. Moody. "People who weren't overtly religious before the experience say afterward that they do believe in God and have an appreciation for the spiritual, as do the people who believed in God all along."
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