Uncle Steve Explains Purgatory
Purgatory used to scare me, especially while I was standing in a graveyard after a funeral Mass, near the tombstones of a departed friend or family member. I didn’t understand at the time why my family prayed for the dead or for the holy souls who are waiting to be released from purgatory.
Last November on the feast day of All
Souls Day, I told my Uncle Steven about
my fear. In fact, I ended up asking him hundreds of questions about purgatory and the
This is what he told me...
Mara and the Two Coins
Mara lived in Capernaum with her mother, her father, and two brothers. Mara was born with no hair.
Everyone said, “Don’t worry. Next year, Mara will have hair.”
Next year, she still had no hair. Everyone promised, “Next year, Mara will have hair.”
When Mara was two, people said, “She should have hair by now.”
Now Mara was eight. No one ever said, “Next year, she’ll have hair.” When Mara went to the market, she wore a headscarf. It was pretty, but it itched. Today, Mara’s mother looked worried as she handed Mara her scarf and the market basket.
“Buy salted fish for dinner, whatever is cheapest.” She handed Mara two coins.
Usually, Mother gave her four, but last week, Father had broken his leg. He hadn’t worked this week. Was there no more money? Mara’s head itched under the scarf, and the money itched in her hand. How would she feed the family with only two coins?
Mother tried to look brave. “I won’t be hungry tonight.”
The Covid Christmas Miracle
I pressed my face against the living room’s cold windowpane. Behind me, Mom and Dad stood huddled in the kitchen. "It won't be much of a Christmas this year, Sonia." Dad's heavy words said more. Worry about COVID, his lost job, and no money. https://cdn.rvtheme.com/templates/rvs_library/100/images/business-mobile.jpg
"We'll make this Christmas special,” said Mom. “You'll see."
Dad shook his head and strode out the door.
Mia tugged on my jeans. "Come on, Tony. Play Christmas with me." My little sister stood with her hands on her hips, white paper angel wings masking-taped to her back.
"We've already played Christmas," I said.
"You can be all three of the wise men," said Mia. "And you won’t be lost anymore because I'll show you the way to the manager."
"The angel doesn't do that," I said. "The star leads the wise men to Bethlehem."
"The angel could if they asked her to," said Mia.
"Tony!" Mom's call from the kitchen came just in time. The warm kitchen smelled of chicken and spices.
"What do you need, Mom?"
"Here's some soup I want you to take to Mrs. Hosea.” Mom snapped the plastic lid in place. “She's still moving pretty slow after her fall. Wear your mask and keep your distance."
A visit with our neighbor, Mrs. Hosea, was like torture—in slow motion. But I tugged on my jacket and face mask and cradled the warm soup in my gloved hands.
I knocked on Mrs. Hosea's door. Her scratchy
voice commanded me inside...