People: what work of art best reflects your outlook on life, and your worldview?
Me: Groundhog Day.
I could write a LOT about the 30-40 years (that’s right) of purgatory Phil spent in Groundhog Day. I would just note, I think it’s entirely plausible that one of the punishments/graces of purgatory that we will have to undergo is reliving every moment when we sinned in word/deed/omission. The grace/punishment will be that God will allow us to perfectly see and understand the complete ramifications of each and every one of those sins. I know that I am far, far too lax in experiencing a true horror of sin. Cardinal Newman said “The Catholic Church holds it better for the sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions on it to die of starvation in extremest agony, as far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul, I will not say, should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin, should tell one wilful untruth, or should steal one poor farthing without excuse.” This is something that I know on some level, but I don’t truly experience with real understanding. I think in purgatory though we will truly, completely, understand how each of those sins leads inexorably to a crucified Christ. His prayer, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do” is answered for us in this life, but I fear in the next we will finally know what we did.
I know that purgatorial suffering will be great, and yet, I believe that we will actually experience a kind of joy in finally being able to undergo our just punishment. At the end of Groundhog Day, Phil is still being punished, but he finally learned to embrace that punishment and ended up seeing how it must be turned from a curse to a blessing. I think the same will be true with us. C.S. Lewis famously opined that hell’s doors are locked from the inside, but I think the same may be true of purgatory. That is, when we truly understand the reason for our punishment, and Who awaits us on the other side of those doors, we will be loathe to approach Him unworthily. We ourselves will insist on staying until we “repay the last farthing.”
And when we have paid, perhaps we’ll say, “Do you know what today is? Today is tomorrow. It happened.”