This isn’t actually gray. I, uh, I frost the tips, kind of a throwback to the,
you know, the boy bands of the 90s when they had frosted tips on the hair on their heads. I just thought like I don’t want to dye
my hair but I will frost the tips here. You know, I’ll do that because I want it that way.
(singing) ‘Cuz I want it … Anyways, OK, here we go. Hi, my name’s Father Mike Schmitz
and this is Ascension Presents. So a little while ago, I did a video on purgatory and so in that video, in the notes, there are some links to, from
arguments, you know, scriptural arguments as well as some historical and theological
arguments for the existence, the reality of purgatory and I invite you to take a look at that. I’m just gonna presume in this video that you understand that purgatory is real, that it’s a place of purification.
What is it? We know as Christians, that Jesus Christ, he took away the eternal consequences of sin. The eternal consequence of sin, consequence of sin being hell, but there are such a thing as temporal or temporary or
in-time consequences for sin. We all recognize this and this is a very interesting thing is that we recognize, yeah, there’s eternal consequences for sin, aka hell, but there’s also temporal consequences for sin that we experience the effects of it in our lives. One of the effects, one of the consequences of sin in our lives is we don’t love how we should, right? We love the wrong things
or we love the right things wrongly, right? It just becomes one of those things where our hearts need to be purified, our love needs to be purified, either in this life
or in purgatory, in order to be able to do what? In order to be able to love God
as he deserves. Because I know this about myself, that even if I’m in a right relationship with God, right, so I’m in a state of grace,
I don’t love God as he deserves to be loved. And so what the spiritual life is for, in many ways,
and what purgatory is for, if it doesn’t happen in this life, is for one’s love to become purified, for one’s love, for one’s heart to be able to
love God like he deserves to be loved and also how you’re made to love God. And so again, that’s what purgatory is, but you don’t actually have to go to purgatory for that to happen. In fact, in fact, God wants to do that in this life.
He wants to purify your love. Kind of a classic way that it’s been described by a lot of like really big-time saints has been, it’s finding, defining the three ages of the interior life or the three ways of the interior life. Here’s kind of some technical terms. There’s what you call the purgative way.
It’s what most of us are in right now. It’s probably, we’re wrestling with some big deal sins but
you’re kind of really battling, battling them out. You’re choosing God, but sometimes you fall back. You have to go to confession because, you know, you keep slipping up but you’re experiencing some, some, some
highs in the spiritual life and you’re experiencing some kind of lows in the spiritual life, dryness and distraction in prayer. That’s the purgative way, purifies you, right? The second way or a second age is called the illuminative way. The illuminative way is marked by at least two different, what they call dark nights, not Batman but dark nights, N-I-G-H-T-S’s dark nights of this- the dark night of the soul
and the dark night of the senses. Senses comes first, then soul. I’ll talk about that in a second. And then, there’s what we call the unitive way. And that’s after passing through all of this,
one experiences this kind of a union with God because they love God as he ought to be loved as best as they can, by his grace, in this life. OK, so the purgative way,
the illuminative way, and the unitive way. OK, so what is this all about? Well, I like to describe to- kind of like, imagine these three ways because that sounds very abstract, right? Let’s make it concrete. Imagine there is a boat and the boat is on the shore of some water or the shore of like a lake, whatever kind of thing, right? And so you’re not in the boat but you have to push the boat, you have to move the boat out into the water. Now in the purgative way, what happens is there’s kind of, the water, the waves are kind of lapping the shore, right? So every time the waves come in, the boat
lifts up a little bit and you can push it out but then the waves go out
and it’s like a little bit harder. And so, imagine sometimes it’s really easy,
that’s the moment of grace and just being lifted up. And sometimes the water goes out.
It’s like, “Oh, it’s not really moving very far.” That’s what you and I experience a lot
of times when it comes to dryness in prayer, when it comes to spiritual desolation. Desolation is that kind of, what you might call spiritual darkness in prayer, where you don’t feel anything, so you can push, but it’s like,
“It doesn’t feel like anything’s going anywhere,” and that’s the purgative way, in some ways, right? because it’s, you feel grace and you’re moving forward.
It seems like,”Oh seems like there is no grace, and I’m stuck.” If a person keeps pushing in that,
they get to this place called the illuminative way. Now in the illuminative way, there’s a couple moments of like a powerful consolation. We might even say that like, though the tide comes in and it’s like, “Whoa, my gosh. I can move this boat without even hardly pushing on it, because just God is doing something in my
life with this great consolation.” Now what God is doing in that great consolation is he’s revealing to you two important things: One is that he’s real,
Two, that you can trust him, because where he’s leading you is what is called the
first dark night of the senses. Now the dark night of the senses is, you can imagine, you go to prayer and you don’t feel anything, like you, go to, you show up for prayer like,
“Wait, this used to be really helpful for me.” “I used to read Scripture and set my heart on fire.” “I used to do the Stations of the Cross and was so moved by the Lord’s Passion.” “I used to go to Mass and just be
so engaged, but right now I feel dryness.” “I feel emptiness. I’m not getting anything.” And what the boat image could be is that
the tide goes out. So again, maybe at first, there was there was grace, right, consolation; the tide’s in and you can just float that boat as much as you want, but the tide goes out. Here the boat is on the earth and you’re just like trying to push this thing but it’s not going anywhere. You can see the the water and you’re like,
“If I can just get to the water, it’ll be a lot easier,” so you just keep on pressing. Now what happens is,
if a person continues to be faithful in that, because desolation in and of itself is not a good thing, like desolation of itself doesn’t do anything. It’s when we’re in the moment of desolation and we continue to lean in to the Lord;
THAT’S what does something. OK, so by God’s grace, we continue to act, we continue to choose God, we continue to pray, we continue to do good works; these are things that combat desolation. So tide comes in, that was the first dark night,
the dark night of the senses. Tide comes back in and again, God reminds you, OK, he’s real and he’s good, you can trust him and then what happens is the dark night of the soul. And my image for the dark night of the soul, is the tide goes out but it doesn’t just kind of go out so you can see it in the future or see it in the distance. The tide goes out so far that it seems like I’m in the middle of the Sahara Desert and I’m supposed to push this boat and
it feels impossible, and OK, now, because here’s the thing. In the dark night of the senses, you could still see the tide, you could still see the water. Similarly, when we’re in the dark night of the senses, we can say, “OK, I’m not getting anything in prayer, Lord, but I’m gonna choose you because I know that ultimately
you’re gonna bring me into your presence, ultimately you’re gonna bring me into heaven.” Well, the dark night of the soul is, the water is gone and there’s no … it’s not anywhere in sight and the person perceives that; they’re tempted to have the sense of like, “There is no hope and there is no heaven.” But even in the fact that I feel like there’s no hope and I feel like there’s no heaven, I’m still going to choose God,
I’m still gonna push on this boat, I’m still gonna show up for prayer,
I’m still gonna belong to Jesus. Even if I never get heaven,
I’m gonna still choose him. And then what the Lord is doing in that moment of the dark night of the soul is he’s purifying that love even more. That’s what has to happen, right? If for your love and for my love for God to become the kind of love that can step into heaven, we have to choose him even in darkness.
we have to choose him when we don’t feel consolation. We have to choose him when it feels like desolation.
Why? Not because God is testing you, like he’s saying like,
“I wonder how long they can hold on?” Not because God is saying like, “I wonder.
Let me, let me see how far they’re willing to go.” That is not the point.
The point is, my heart can’t be the kind of heart that gets into heaven
if I love God just for his gifts. So at some point, he has to stop giving the gifts. That’s why, right now even, sometimes in your prayer there’s this desolation. You’re like, “I don’t feel anything.”
Yes, perfect. That’s a really good moment because why? Because that’s a great moment you get to
choose God for his sake, not for his gifts. When you feel desolation, again, desolation in and of itself is not good, but desolation … but choosing God in the midst of desolation is a HUGE good. In that time, the dark night of the senses, “OK yeah, I’m not feeling anything but Lord I’m just gonna lean into this,” and the dark night of the soul is, “God even if there’s no heaven,
even if like I never get there, I’m gonna choose you because I’m not even choosing you for heaven. I’m choosing you because you are God and you deserve to be loved.” Now that’s what is meant to happen in this life. That’s why if you experience
dryness in prayer, like, oh, don’t despair. like that wasn’t supposed to rhyme, but if you experience this darkness and dryness in prayer, do not give up. That’s the time to lean in and to be able to say,
“OK, Lord, you’re doing something in my heart right now that you couldn’t do without this dryness.” Let me just sidebar here really quick: Spiritual desolation and depression are two very different things. I heard a Catholic psychologist or psychiatrist,
I can’t remember, talk about the distinction. He said, “Spiritual desolation or spiritual darkness has to do with only with your spiritual life.” Like only when it comes to prayer and what not. Depression is kind of this pall casts a
darkness over your whole life. That’s maybe a helpful way that some of you can make a distinction: Am I in spiritual desolation or am I experiencing depression? So what am I talking about? What I’m talking about is, this is God’s work in your life that he wants to do right now. Jesus Christ took away our eternal consequences for our sin: hell. He made it possible for you and I to have access to the Father in this life and in eternity, though we still have these temporal consequences. When we go through spiritual desolation
and continue to choose Jesus and continue to choose to love God for his own sake and not just for his gifts, your heart is becoming the kind of heart
that can love God forever in heaven. So please don’t despair and don’t give up.
When you experience that dryness, just keep praying, keep pushing that boat,
knowing that the Lord who’s calling you
is also giving you the strength to stay faithful. He’s giving you the strength to push the boat. He’s giving you the strength and he will lead you through this with the heart that’s even more powerfully capable of loving him and loving others. From all of us here at Ascension Presents,
this is a long video and Father Mike Schmitz. God bless.