- The Great Conversation
The Great Conversation is a
referenceto what many Catholic apologistsbelieve happens in purgatory.Peter Kreeft, "Between Heaven and Hell" (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1982), 7.] In effect, people in purgatory are to naturally converse with each other in an effort to determine where they are and how they got there. Think of a big social gatheringin which every participant has, almost invariably, the exact same questionson his or her mind.
According to common Catholic teachings, purgatory is the place where people go after
deathin order to undergo a sort of final purificationbefore entering heaven. With that said, "The Great Conversation" is a phenomenonthat will naturally occur as a result of the deeply socialaspects attributed to all of humankind. Besides, if what C.S. Lewisclaims is correct, then heaven knows only two languages: silenceand music. Therefore, people ought to get all of their talking done in purgatory, especially if, as Lewis asserts, traditional conversation is a feature not known to exist among the inhabitants of heaven.
1982Christian novelentitled "Between Heaven and Hell", author Peter Kreeftsheds some light on the notion of "The Great Conversation" by fostering a dialog in purgatory between three historical figures, namely that of John F. Kennedy, C.S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley. All three men had died on November 22, 1963, and it is this fact alone which gave Kreeft the inspirationto write his novel.
Purgatory as a Holding Tank
It has been said that certain human actions will either increase or decrease the
soul's time spent in purgatory. [http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p123a12.htm#III Catechism of the Catholic Church: Purgatory] On the one hand, good acts like helping an old lady cross the street or painting a stool for your handicapped uncle are quite small in the grand scheme of things, but they do help with respect to reducing the length of time required for the purification that every person's soul must undergo after death. On the other hand, bad acts like punching your brother in the face or clogging your neighbor's toiletwithout telling him may in fact prolong the process of purification in purgatory. Needless to say, very bad acts like murderand rape, if unrepented, obviously lead a person's soul to be eternally damned with no option for purgatorial purification. However random these acts may seem on the surface, "The Great Conversation" is the manner in which one should be able to reflect upon the nature of his actions while he was alive. "The Great Conversation" therefore presents itself as a wonderful opportunity to consult the collective advice of others when personally deciphering the quality of human moralityon earth. And thus, it becomes necessary to emphasize the importance of prayerfor all those who have departed, especially since they are engaging in "The Great Conversation" while undergoing their final purification. [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12575a.htm#VIII Catholic Encyclopedia: Purgatory]
* [http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p123a12.htm Catechism of the Catholic Church]
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/index.html Catholic Encyclopedia]
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