Altar Fire: The “How” of the Old Testament

November 5, 2016
The fire that fell from God’s presence onto the Old Testament altar is the same fire spoken of in the NT as the fire of purgatory which purifies, or sanctifies, us now on earth or after death (in the absence of mortal sin). Popes Gregory and Benedict XVI, along with such mystic Saints as Catherine of Genoa, Faustina, and John Paul II, have said the fire of purgatory and the fire of hell are the same fire: Trials on earth are bitter fire for the sinner, even as they purify the person of God.

Life’s “fiery trials,” then, are the all-consuming, jealous fire of God probing and purifying us deliberately, deeply, and intimately, just as the altar fire once did in the OT sacrifices. If we offer them to God willingly in Communion with Jesus’ Cross, they contribute to our salvation to the degree that we can be wholly holy at death. When our trials are viewed this way, they become our sacred offerings of love, offered in participation with Jesus’ Cross. They “save” us.
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