Answering Fr. Hunwicke

Over at his site*, Fr. Hunwicke asks some questions about Purgatory. Specifically, he asks whether a soul, once dead, can slip into Hell proper. His question is prompted by some prayers in the Traditional Latin Mass that beseech God to deliver the soul from the eternal pains of Hell.

Here is my answer:

1.) Souls that go to Purgatory go there after their particular judgment, at which point their destination of Heaven or Hell is forever sealed. No one in Purgatory can ever end up in Hell proper, whether eternally or temporarily.

2.) The prayers of the Church that invoke God to deliver the soul from Hell do not refer to souls that have already been assigned to Purgatory. They’re offered with the premise that that soul is imperiled by a sentence to Hell. The soul hasn’t been sentenced yet in the imagined scenario.

3.) We conclude therefore that these prayers are offered “outside of time.” We’re offering our prayers on behalf of the departed soul as it passes before God at its particular judgment. Effectively, we’re praying to the Eternal God, who can answer our prayers outside of time, that the soul at the moment of death possess(ed) whatever graces it requires (required) to be saved.

It’s rather like those dramatic scenes where a soul is being judged and seems doomed until the Blessed Virgin intercedes on its behalf. In reality, this means that the person *seemed* to die in mortal sin, but in that mysterious twinkling of an eye called the final moment of life (“the hour of death”), the soul repented, prompted by the grace of the Blessed Virgin. The prayers that Fr. Hunwicke cites refer to *that* moment. They posit that the soul hasn’t been judged yet.

4.) A request for Fr. Hunwicke: Please do not refer to Mark of Ephesus as “Saint.” That title was awarded him by a schismatic group. He is not honored as a saint by Catholics. He opposed Union with the Apostolic See of Rome and rejected the Church’s defined dogma on the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son. I hope that Mark of Ephesus is in Heaven, which is as good as saying I hope that at the moment of his death he repudiated the heretical and schismatic positions he championed in life and for which (at least in part) schismatics venerated him after his death.

* I have no idea why I can’t post at his site directly using my WordPress identity.

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