Monday, November 14, 2016

Fr. Cliff Ermatinger's Homilies on Purgatory


It's been a great blessing to have Fr. Cliff Ermatinger presiding at some of the early morning Masses at Old St. Mary.  He is a powerful homilist and so very reverent.  Attending Mass when he is presiding keeps me from distraction and I'm always inspired.  My pen flies when he begins his homily because I don't want to miss a thing he has to share!  He recently gave two very engaging homilies on purgatory.  During this month of prayer for Holy Souls,  Fr. Cliff's words are encouraging for all of us who are striving to be saints and to spend as little time as possible in purgatory.  Here you will find the Gospel reading and my notes on Fr. Cliff's homily.


Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west you say immediately that it is going to rain-and so it does; and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south you say that it is going to be hot-and so it is.  You hypocrites!  You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?  If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate, make an effort to settle the matter on the way; otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the constable, and the constable throw you into prison.  I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”  ~ Luke 12:54-59

This is the foundational text for belief in purgatory.  If we have the smallest speck of disordered attachment in our heart we need purgatory.  Purgatory is God’s mercy so we can see God’s face without shame.  Purgatory is painful in its shame, yet souls are happy there because they know they are going to heaven. 

Our venial sins and attachments keep us from union with God.  We have a choice.  We can have purgatory in this life or in the next.  The trials that come our way are God’s mercy.  It’s our chance to offer it up without complaining and in doing so our hearts are re-ordered to see the face of Christ.

The Lord gives us opportunities to configure ourselves with him; to suffer in a meritorious way.  In purgatory suffering is passive.  There is no possibility of any more merit.  The purpose of our trials in life is for our own configuration with Christ.


Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.  Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” 

He answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.  After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’  Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.  Depart from me, all you evildoers!’ And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out.

And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the Kingdom of God.  For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last.” ~Luke 13:22-30

Pope Benedict looks at key scriptural words and their use in other parts of scripture.  The mustard seed becoming a large bush is compared to the Kingdom of God, but elsewhere he says if your faith is the size of a mustard seed you can tell the mountains to move and they will.  Then “faith” and “kingdom” become interchangeable terms.

Making an act of faith is the work of grace.  It’s not from ourselves.  It’s our will in cooperation with grace.

Knowing that new life comes when the seed dies we see the truth of the ancient Christian saying that the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christianity.  We see martyrs today in the Middle East and in France and their deaths strengthen the Kingdom and our faith.  They prove to us that there are things worth dying for.  The martyrs don’t pass through purgatory.  Their martyrdom is their sacrifice.

Our sacrifices are powerful. When our faith is tried and encroached upon as is occurring right now in this country, then our faith is strengthened.  In our trials and crosses we’re given a chance to grow, to bear fruit and to be configured to Christ.


  1. Ann, I just wanted to comment that I know I don't comment as often as I once did, but that I DO read and appreciate your words here. And on this Thanksgiving weekend I wanted to take the time to tell YOU thanks. I just read my prior postings which I had labeled with the word Thanksgiving. And I read the comments to my postings. So many of the comments were from you, and I recalled how blessed I was to read your words, often in some of my darker hours.

    I am thankful for you, Ann, and all you do.

  2. Hi Tom, thanks so much for this kind note! I really haven't been doing much with blogging lately-not reading or writing like I used to. It's wonderful to know that there are terrific people like you in the world living for God and His glory. Happy Thanksgiving, Blessed Advent and Merry Christmas to you!

  3. Please, please, please, I'm glad I found your post - I loved it. I've been trying to get in touch with father Cliff for months and have been unable to find his email or phone on the internet. Noone with the Archdiocese could help me. Where is he? I knew him at Saint Anthony's.
    Plesae direct me to contact information if you can. Thanks
    John Puchner