Tag Archives: Christian

All sort of places to visit once you pop your clogs.

limbo of the Fathers by Domenico Beccafumi

As it’s November I thought I might speculate about where various people get to go either to stay or visit after death.

We know from Scripture and Tradition that when Adam and Eve sinned and got evicted from the Garden that the gates of heaven were closed to them. Until the coming of Christ and His Salvific act we were locked out.
Before Jesus came there were plenty of very good and holy men in among the people of Israel and probably quite a few pagans who had tried to live good lives.
So where did they go?
Where did Elijah go when he was assumed in that fiery chariot? Where was Enoch taken to?
According to Tradition there was a place for the dead, the Limbo of the Fathers as it was called. This was not heaven but it was a paradise where those who had died could await the opening of heaven.
Jesus tells the story of Dives and Lazarus. When Lazarus dies he is held in what Jesus called “The bosom of Abraham.” This would seem to be the Limbo where Lazarus awaits heaven.
Jewish Tradition had it that there was heaven, Sheol and Gehenna.  Now we see from Scripture and history that Gehenna was a place on earth. It was the accursed place where the evil king Manasseh, having apostasised from his Jewish faith, sacrificed his children to Molech for riches and power. In the time of Jesus it was a burning heap of rubbish, and as such was a symbol or metaphor for hell.
Apparently Sheol was thought to be a place beneath the Temple where the souls of the dead went, but as the Greek word used is Hades, it seems more like the murky land of a sort of purgatory, not the Limbo of the Fathers or Bosom of Abraham.
Jesus died for us and rose again and the gates of heaven were opened wide. On Holy Saturday we celebrate what is rather misleadingly called The Harrowing of Hell. It was Hell that was harrowed, it was this other place, Sheol and/or the Bosom of Abraham/Limbo of the Fathers. All those who had waited so long as so patiently were welcomed into heaven. In art and tradition (small t tradition) Adam and Eve are the first to be called from their graves.
So, I wonder now, do any of these places external to heaven but not hell and not purgatory still exist? Or are they part of purgatory?
And where are Enoch and Elijah?
We know that heaven is for those who are perfect and at the Resurrection will be where the perfect with their resurrected bodies will live. We know that Our Blessed Mother has her resurrected body, from the Assumption. It would also explain how her appearances to people are more “solid” for want of a better word, than those of other saints.
But neither Enoch nor Elijah have died or received their resurrected bodies yet. So are they in the Paradise – Limbo of the Fathers? How much of the Beatific Vision have they already had? I don’t suppose there are answers to these questions at this point.
Interestingly I notice that just about everyone who has received either visions or visits to purgatory or visits of people from purgatory report on the matter as though, like Dante’s epic, there are chambers and grades that souls work through. The final chamber or circle or whatever is like paradise, but not yet within the full Presence. People in this place sometimes get permission to visit those who have prayed and offered for them and say thank you. I like that 🙂
I suppose I can’t  miss out dear Saint Augustine’s view that there may be a Limbo of the unbaptised. This is one of those things that has caused many of us mothers who have miscarried babies to struggle. Thankfully the Church has said that we leave our unbaptised children in the Mercy of God. Whether the Baptism of desire works from parent to child isn’t decided on I suppose.
We do know in the very end there are only death, judgement, heaven and hell. So I suppose that even if these other places do still exist for any reason that in the end, they wont – and that has to include St Augustine’s Limbo, if it’s there.

Share and be happy. Give TIME and find joy.

Today’s readings were pointing us towards how to find happiness. Ronan went up to light the pink candle and even with all Donna’s flowers in church (which even though I had arranged for that took me by surprise) there was a lifted mood there.

Father told us we find happiness by sharing what we have. Give away your second tunic he reminded us. He is right of course, we need to hand on those children’s clothes to other mums who are struggling to afford them just as much as we did. We need to sort out the kids toys and make sure Father Christmas receives a few for other children.

There is joy in a shared lunch where everyone brings something and we all eat together.

But I think the thing many people seem to have little of is time.  Putting money in a tin is easy, as is bagging up those unwanted baby clothes; but rearranging your day for someone else’s benefit is a true giving. Making that phone call you know will be difficult because the other person is going through a bad time; but you make it anyway-THAT is giving.

Taking the children off someone’s hands for a day while they struggle with a crisis-that is giving.

One of the major sorrows for so many people these days is that no one has time for them.  We are awaiting the arrival of Christ and He will come in Glory one of these days and ask us what we did for the sick, naked and prisoners; many of whom are in our own families.

In short try and do things that make others feel better, rather than what you think will make you feel better and hey presto! There is Joy and Peace.

I wonder what happened to Malchus.

All four Gospels tell of how the High Priest’s servant got his ear cut off when Jesus was arrested. The synoptics don’t mention names and it is sensibly surmised that this is because Peter would have been in even more trouble if they had openly named him.

35893fJohn however names both Peter and the servant, Malchus. John was a relative of Caiaphas and Annas so he was probably in the know as to the names, but there is something about the deliberate way John says “The servant’s name was Malchus” that struck me yesterday when the Gospel was being read.

John understood the Jewish view of the power of names-of course. Malchus means counsellor or king. Oh the irony. While John is the only one of the writers to call Malchus by name (and name Peter as the sword swinger) so Luke the Greek physician is the only one to record that Jesus healed the sliced ear.

Outside of the Gospels though I don’t think we hear of Malchus again. There doesn’t appear to be a St Malchus and yet he seems like someone who would have become Christian in the end. He has heard both sides of the story. On the one side is the High Priest and the Temple who having waiting all this time for a Messiah don’t want the one on offer, and on the other side if the Gospel message Jesus brings. Malchus gets to choose his High Priest.

Jesus seems to make it remarkably easy for him.

The men arrive with Judas and Jesus asks them who they are looking for. “Jesus the Nazerene,” they say and He says “I AMHe.” At this John tells us they stepped back and fell to the ground. The implication is the power of the Word the “I AM” caused this. So Malchus ends up on the ground because of the Name of God.

After this Malchus gets his ear cut off and Jesus heals it back.

None of this makes any difference and Jesus is arrested and hauled off to the High Priest.

Caiaphas is in an interesting position. He is High Priest sitting on the seat of Moses and therefore God speaks through him in a way. I suspect-but I haven’t read anything on this, that just as the Pope is infallible (through Peter’s seat)-that is protected from teaching error in faith and morals, so was the High Priest. He has said “One man must die for the people”

Jesus is crucified and then there is the Sabbath when all is silent.

The apostles went back to the Upper room to hide out and feel sorry. NOT ONE of them went off with the women on Sunday morning to see if He had risen. They didn’t seem to believe He would.

Interestingly though Caiaphas had been listening and understood Jesus promise to rise all too well and wanted to make sure it didn’t happen. He sent guards to the tomb to make sure no one stole the body.

So what happens to Malchus? Who does he listen to once that ear is healed? We are not told and the silence on it bothers me. There are no legends from long ago, that I can find, that tell us Malchus was baptised.

Was he at the foot of the cross making sure the deed was done? Did he see the darkened sky, and feel the earthquake. Surely he saw the huge lintel above the Holy of Holys broken in two, ripping the great curtain from top to bottom.

But none of this appears to have moved him.

It seems that despite hearing what Jesus had to say, despite seeing up close and personal the spite and fear of Caiaphas; despite the miracles he witnessed and even received, Malchus never believed.

Kindess and Concerns

My sister in law was over today and we got talking about the way communities seem to work. She is working with people who live in a more rural area than she used to. She feels she relates better to them than her old client group who tended to live in high rise flats and housing estates. In many of these places people, even the worst of estates, can find a kind of community. Certainly it may be easier in rural places where there is a village culture, but even inner city places can have these little oasis of kindness and community.

With the way the economy is going there is a lot of worry that people will be left destitute.lancasterbishop1 Bishop Patrick O’Donaghue, affectionately referred to as POD, has talked of how this time around the economic downturn could have serious effects on families because families and communities simply are not as strong as they were even in the 80’s when we had the last massive problem economically.

He pointed out that families simply seem not to be taking care of one another these days and that a change in behaviour was desperately needed to ensure people got through what could be a number of very difficult years.

I think there are real signs that people are trying to care for one another even in the most difficult circumstances. I know of one case where a friend came and stayed with a friend of mine while her baby was in hospital and helped out. I know of a sister who has offered to pay the gas bill for her sister because she has no children and understands the problems of heating a home with little ones in it.

In my own life I love how the mums share so much so that we all have a way of caring for our children and for each other.

I think it was St Francis of Assisi who said that anyone who owns more than he directly needs is in effect stealing from those who are in need. It’s a good thing to remember as I think it won’t hurt to hoard all those kids clothes for a while.

A lot of support I see in my local area is done quietly. It’s the neighbour who takes care of a garden for someone less able. That same neighbour who kindly gives you a lift on the day the tutor at college phones to say he has called an Ambulance for your son (as happened to me last year).

It’s the person at Church who asks what help you might need when a new baby is due-or a child is sick.

It’s the time taken after Mass to offer support to a mum with a concern about her child, or the mother who has just lost her baby.

I know of parents who are working when they could be retired to help out their children and grandchildren.

I know of teenagers willing to help someone sort out a house they are moving into.

There are loads of these little things going on just around here. It’s not too gloomy is it?

What Are We Waiting For?

I notice that the msm has reported on the Holy Father’s Wednesday Audience of 12th Nov 08 in which, no doubt because he mentions the End Times, they manage to use headlines that completely misrepresent what the Holy Father said. Weird.

What is it about the End of the World and the Second Coming that gets people all twisted in the underwear?

I wont comment on some of the weirder views some people have expressed about the Holy Father’s straight forward and rather beautiful escahatological teaching.

As Advent continues we are awaiting the Parousia and the Holy Father talks of St Paul’s teaching on this. We have to remember that for the early Church the imminent return of Christ came with the Parousia in 70AD when Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed. By this point nearly all Christians who had seen the Signs of the Times had sold their property, distributed their wealth and got well away from Jerusalem.

We are taught that from the days of the Resurrection we had entered the last days and are now living in what one priest I remember described as “The Already but Not Yet” of the Parousia-the coming of Christ. This could be another way of saying as the Holy Father did that “The Three moments” of salvation history; Creation-Incarnation-Parousia “Are not understood simply in chronological succession.”


I am not sure why some commentators got so irate that the Holy Father should say we still don’t know when Christ is coming (as the Just Judge)-we don’t. We do know all the prophecies that Scripture warn us about-the AntiChrist for a major example-have yet to be fulfilled.

There is no sign of Enoch and Elijah just yet.

There are many many signs that the end is on its way, but there are a lot of things yet to happen.

I think the Holy Father is simply saying we need to put our trust in God and not think too much about stuff we don’t need to be fretting about right now.

Jesus is coming. He is Present in all the Tabernacles East to West. That’s good enough for now.

And don’t forget; St Faustina was told we are living in a time of Mercy-let’s not be too quick to wish for judgment.

O Clavis David

I know I am a bit behind. The others are



Discernment in the minefield of faith


In Familiaris Consortio we are told that parents have a “RIGHT AND DUTY” to educate our children. The major role of that education is to help make our children fit for heaven-and what with Original Sin, concupiscence and Free Will, that can be one difficult task.

In the end no matter what we say as parents, our children must grow up and form their own relationship with God and make their own decisions on how or whether they will follow Him.

I remember long ago someone saying they assumed I was Catholic because I grew up Catholic and had never questioned it. The remark struck me as shallow (and a bit crass) as at the time I was going through a huge questioning process and looking all over the place-even at Islam-for answers. I could never simply be Catholic because of my parents. I had to KNOW that was the Truth. This took a number of years of searching and praying. Lots of people had lots of answers and all the answers were contradictory. It was a confused and confusing mess.

Continue reading