The sixth beatitude proclaims, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” What does it mean to be “pure in heart” and how can we attain purity of heart in this life?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that the “heart is the seat of our moral personality.” and there is a connection between purity of heart, of body, and of faith. St. Augustine summed up this connection:
“The faithful must believe the articles of the Creed so that by believing they may obey God, by obeying may live well, by living well may purify their hearts, and with pure hearts may understand what they believe.”
The “pure in heart” are promised that they will see God face to face and be like him. “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13: 12-13) Purity of heart is the precondition of the vision of God.
But what happens to a soul who dies in God’s grace and friendship, but is not yet perfectly purified in these three areas of “heart, body, and faith” in order to see the Face of God? The Church teaches that these souls are assured of eternal salvation, “but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.” (CCC 1030) The joy of Heaven–which is the joy of seeing God face to face eternally. The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of souls that enables them to attain the beatific vision. Theologians have said that this purification or suffering of the souls in Purgatory is their intense longing for the Face of God.
“It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.” (2 Macch. 12, 46)
The faithful departed being purified are also members of the communion of saints, however, they can no longer pray for themselves; the opportunity for them to gain merit and virtue ended with their lives. They are in need of our prayers.
“We must say many prayers for the souls of the faithful departed, for one must be so pure to enter Heaven.”–St. John Vianney
We can help these holy souls by our prayers, especially in the month of November, when the Church remembers the Faithful Departed in its prayers. There are many ways to obtain indulgence from God for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, through the Church, such as visiting a cemetery and praying for the dead. A plenary indulgence for the souls in Purgatory can be obtained by visiting a cemetery any day between November 1 and November 8 or by a visit to a church or public oratory on November 2nd and reciting the Our Father and the Creed. A partial indulgence can be obtained for the souls in Purgatory, especially in the month of November, when we recite:
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Purity of heart makes it possible to see God in heaven. So, we should strive to attain purity of heart here on earth which helps us to see things according to God in this life. To do this demands prayer, the practice of chastity, purity of intention and of vision. (CCC 2532). Purity of heart also requires the modesty which is patience, decency, and discretion. (CCC 2533). So, in charity, let us pray, not only for ourselves but for the souls of the departed, so that they may soon see God face to face.
Eternal Father I offer you the most precious blood of your divine Son Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, sinners in the universal church, those in my own home, and within my family. –St. Gertrude Prayer
UPDATE: THE HUMAN FACE OF GOD IN THE HOLY VEIL OF MANOPPELLO (NEW- 2017) will air on EWTN, Tuesday, November 8th, at 6:30 pm Eastern time (U.S.). Filmed on location in Italy, host Paul Badde introduces the Veil of Manoppello as he relates it to other images of the Holy Face of Jesus. (30 minutes)