Death and Purgatory

As a person who suffered from alcoholism, I can say that I have already experienced death of a sort.

The old me has died. Some parts of the old corpus may still be twitching, but essentially out of the agony and expiration of the old Paul S. a new person has been reborn.

Oblivion did not result from that death. It could have, as with the case of so many people who died of their addiction before being reached by treatment of whatever manner. Not to mean that oblivion follows death, as a Christian I believe in an afterlife. But an oblivion that results from dying anonymously, forgotten, and not-missed.

My rebirth as a sober alcoholic led me to return to the Catholic Church. In essence, my recovery helped to to sort out the garbage of my life and keep what’s best. My “truer self” is now represented by me.

The death throes of the old Paul S. could be likened to an experience of Purgatory. Purgatory is that state of existence after dying where the souls destined for Heaven need to be “purged” of their attachment to sin and the self. Nothing impure can enter into Heaven, and even if you die in the graces of God, you can still have an attachment to Earthly things that would prevent you from being fit to enter into the presence of God. Some Catholic mystics describe the purging as a pain caused by being near to God but separated from Him, and knowing that their Earthly attachments and selfishness is the cause of that separation. The pain is a longing for God that burns away those parts of the self that separates the soul from God.

I was “purged” of my addiction and character defects through withdrawal from alcohol and hallucinations, and finally just wanting what sober people had. The withdrawal could be likened to a “death”, the wanting what others had the purgation of the flaws of the old self.

In both deaths, the symbolic death of the alcoholic self and the real death we all face, a truer person emerges from the ordeal. In Heaven we will be free from all of our personal failings and shortcomings, all defects and things that hindered our true personality and development.

We will be the persons we are supposed to be.

That journey can begin now with a concerted effort in developing a vibrant prayer life, a commitment to involve oneself in the sacramental life of the Church, and a firm purpose of amending sinful ways.

Live as you were meant to live.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

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