by HFH Reuvers


In the confessional box:
"Sir, please bless me, my last confession was ten years ago."
"In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen."
"I have become a neonazi, and I have been shooting around with a machine gun in a Roman Catholic home for the aged deaf."
"That was you? And now you regret it?"
"Yes, and I was afraid I should go to hell. Now I'll become a collector for the blind care."
"Okay. Just pray an act of contrition."
"O merciful God, I regret my sins, because I deserve Thy punishment, but most of all because I offended Thee, my greatest Benefactor and the highest Good. I detest all my sins and I promise, with the help of Thy grace, to amend my life and sin no more. Lord, have mercy upon me, a sinner. Amen. "
"Ego te absolvo ... In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. Amen."

Now suppose you die from a heart attack just after leaving the confessional box. Can you go directly to heaven?
Probably you have to go to purgatory. This is the common cure resort where most of the deceased have to expiate their sins. It is a sort of waiting room. You have no notion of time, but you know an angel will 'soon' appear and lead you into paradise. Meanwhile you are poignantly aware of your shortcomings and of the multitude of chances you failed to seize.
'Soon', at the Final Judgment, the disposition will become clear of all people you met on the earth. Then the souls in heaven shall praise God together and be happy in eternity.

In the years nineteen fifty you could still earn indulgences for the souls in purgatory, especially at All Souls' Day. If you prayed in the church to the intention of the pope five times an Our Father, a Hail Mary and a Glory be to the Father, you earned an indulgence that saved one soul from purgatory. After you earned the indulgence, you left the church, entered it again and said again the prayers mentioned above to earn another indulgence.
Nowadays, the Church doesn't propagandize this indulgence any longer. But praying for the souls in purgatory is always good.