Saturday, December 29, 2012

Quick Takes: See ya later, 2012, and don't let the door hit ya on the way out.

**Catholics and non-Catholics, find your saint for the year, here!**
And, I'd love to know who you got got you! 

Well, I have to say, I will not miss 2012. I can only hope that 2013 shapes up a little better, although if you read all the way to #6, there's at least one big bright spot that I will cherish in this otherwise dreary year!

After the New Year, I will resume regular blog posts, but for now, here's a final December Quick Takes.

1) This one struck my funny bone, from Mary Katharine Ham:
One of my favorite things about reading the New York Times and other liberal publications is how they frequently present age-old ideas we’ve all known about for centuries as new trends. For instance, sustainable eating? That’s what the rest of us call a garden. Co-parenting? That’s what the rest of us know as a two-parent family. Localvore charcuterie? Where I come from, that’s always been called bacon. 
Now, the NYT presents the brave new world of…teaching your children table manners. I can’t decide if it’s encouraging that parents actually want to do this or depressing that they’ve just discovered it might be a good idea and are now outsourcing it because they’re too wimpy to do it on their own. 

Read the rest at: Modern parents have discovered table manners & the NYT is on it!

2) To this one, I give a hearty "Hell yeah!"

We need more heroes, and civil disobedience against unjust laws should always be on the table. Go and patronize Hobby Lobby! You can be sure that the sexual left is hard at work trying to vilify this good company.


4) Is anyone else just a tad bit frustrated with the crybabies in Washington fighting about taxes (and the left and the media whining about needing more, more, more "revenue") and yet no one wants to address the massive, out-of-control, sickening and irresponsible SPENDING that has gotten us to this disgusting point??? I'll ask again: Where are the grown-ups? Live within your means, you idiots, before you demand that even a single taxpaying citizen pony up another red cent to cover your irresponsible spending sprees!

And let's make sure the already ignorant citizenry pays no attention to Obama's new executive order GIVING RAISES TO JOE BIDEN AND MEMBERS OF CONGRESS!!!!!

Yes, we are that messed up, folks.

5) Okay, so the sweet irony of this was too good not to share:

A sampling of the amusement you'll find there:

When NRA President Wayne LaPierre called for armed guards to be placed in schools late last week, an irate David Gregory derided the idea during his interrogation of LaPierre on Meet the Press. Yet Gregory’s children attend the same school in Washington, D.C. as President Obama’s daughters. And yes, Sidwell Friends, a Quaker school, employs armed guards.

But seriously, can anyone help me make sense of this? I truly don't want to believe that people are this disingenuous, this hypocritical, or this arrogant and elitist.

6) My happy news! A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece about the kind of man you'd want your daughter to bring home (a "values" man or a man of virtue). That was right about the same time that my own daughter struck up a friendship with this young man:

Since you are all wondering, she's 5' and he's 6'.

And this very morning, the gentleman proposed marriage and the lady accepted! My firstborn found her "Athanasius"!

Be hopeful, parents, as this is proof that daughters can and do bring home men of virtue, despite how many things the parents have done wrong along the way!

Dean and I and the whole family wish them God's blessings and a holy, happy life together!

(Someday, if you ask really nicely, I will tell you the story of how they "met". It's probably one of my favorite stories ever, heh, heh, heh.)

7) Karen and Chrystyna are sisters. Karen has no special needs, but is simply a 16-year-old girl who is doing well but is in need of a family. She is legally too old to be adopted alone, and can only be adopted with her sister, Chrystyna, who is ten years old and does have some special needs.

Click for more information on beautiful Karen!
Click photo for much more information on Chrystyna!

Please consider these sisters for your daughters, and if you cannot be their family, then please pray for them, and share their information.

Many good wishes for the New Year, friends!

And thanks to Jen for hosting!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

The Nativity of our Lord


And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. 
-- John 1:14


And at the risk of becoming too technical on my simple little blog, I reprint the following Catechism section, as it behooves us to know why the Second Person of the Holy Trinity (GOD!) became man, as it strikes at the core of who we are:





Paragraph 1. The Son of God Became Man


456 With the Nicene Creed, we answer by confessing: "For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit, he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and was made man."

457 The Word became flesh for us in order to save us by reconciling us with God, who "loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins": "the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world", and "he was revealed to take away sins":

Sick, our nature demanded to be healed; fallen, to be raised up; dead, to rise again. We had lost the possession of the good; it was necessary for it to be given back to us. Closed in the darkness, it was necessary to bring us the light; captives, we awaited a Savior; prisoners, help; slaves, a liberator. Are these things minor or insignificant? Did they not move God to descend to human nature and visit it, since humanity was in so miserable and unhappy a state?

458 The Word became flesh so that thus we might know God's love: "In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him." "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."

459 The Word became flesh to be our model of holiness: "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me." "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me." On the mountain of the Transfiguration, the Father commands: "Listen to him!" Jesus is the model for the Beatitudes and the norm of the new law: "Love one another as I have loved you." This love implies an effective offering of oneself, after his example.

460 The Word became flesh to make us "partakers of the divine nature": "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God." "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God." "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods."


461 Taking up St. John's expression, "The Word became flesh", the Church calls "Incarnation" the fact that the Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. In a hymn cited by St. Paul, the Church sings the mystery of the Incarnation:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.

462 The Letter to the Hebrews refers to the same mystery:

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, "Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, Lo, I have come to do your will, O God."

463 Belief in the true Incarnation of the Son of God is the distinctive sign of Christian faith: "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God." Such is the joyous conviction of the Church from her beginning whenever she sings "the mystery of our religion": "He was manifested in the flesh."

Read the rest of this section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, fully footnoted and with brief summary, here.

Merry Christmas from the Miller house to yours!

Oh, and uh… just one more little thing. Check this out!


Friday, December 21, 2012

Quick Takes: Newtown tragedy

"The souls of the just are in the hands of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But, they are in peace." 
--Wisdom 3:1-3

It's been a rough week. I am pretty sure we are all still reeling from the evil that took place last Friday in Newtown, Connecticut. And those of us with six- and seven-year-olds cannot stop imagining, "What if…" and holding our little ones tight.

1) In First Century Palestine, the evil King Herod ordered the slaughter of all the male children two years and under, hoping to kill the Christ Child. Horror and grief filled the land, and their mothers could not be consoled. We ask the Holy Innocents for intercession in our own day.

A Prayer To The Holy Innocents

Holy Innocents, you died before you were old enough to know what life means, pray for all children who die young that God may gather them into His loving arms.

Holy Innocents, you were killed because one man was filled with hatred, pray for those who hate that God may touch their hearts and fill them with love.

Holy Innocents, you experienced a violent death, pray for all who are affected by violence that they may find peace and love.

Holy Innocents, your parents grieved for you with deep and lasting sorrow, pray for all parents who have lost young children that God may wrap a warm blanket of comfort around them.

Holy Innocents, those around you certainly felt helpless to prevent your deaths, pray for all who feel helpless in their circumstances that they may cling to God for courage and hope.

Holy Innocents, you who are now in Heaven, pray for all of us that one day we may join you there to bask in God's love forever.


The Feast of the Holy Innocents is December 28, and I know this Feast will take on special significance for many of us this year.

2) Fr. Barron addresses the tragedy:

3) Too many articles I've read over the past week deal only superficially in policy and politics and do not touch upon the reality of evil and the darkness of the human heart.

A few commentators, however, have gone deeper in exploring our primal sicknesses. Dr. Gerard Nadal at Coming Home wrote a notable piece:
Causes and Remedies. 
That’s what we want. A nation addicted to fast food and fast answers, where the police solve the crime in one hour on TV (less if we factor in the commercials). The difficulty with real life is that the answers are often elusive. That’s frustrating when calamities on the scale of Sandy Hook are visited on us, because humans cannot bear the chaos of random evil. 
Read the rest, here:

4) Ben Stein, a Jew, can see the darkness as well, and includes comments "that will enrage the beautiful people" -- and no doubt he is right on that score, as you will see:

No need to sugar coat the truth of it.

5) I am not a gun owner, nor am I a member of the NRA. I support the Second Amendment, but it's not my passion, and I understand on an emotional level why ordinary folks want to blame guns for the atrocity of Sandy Hook. But I think Charles Hurt is on to something with his piece in the Washington Times:

An excerpt:

A 20-year-old man grows up in America with every luxury imaginable. He is incapable, we are told, of feeling any pain. He is excruciatingly shy and utterly isolated. He is not able to fathom that other people around him have emotions and feelings. Computers and modern technology are his most treasured haven. He plays, we are told, vividly lifelike and violent video games that coach perfect muscle memory for quickly killing large numbers of people without a hint of remorse. Then someone — reportedly, his mother — teaches this unstable sociopath how to shoot guns and then leaves the guns so they somehow become available to him. And then, emerging from his isolation, he lashes out and kills at random 20 small children in retaliation for his own miserable life. 
And these people around here want to talk about America’s “gun culture?” How about this culture of irresponsibility? How about this culture of isolation, this culture of technology and vivid violent role-playing over and over and over again? What about the culture of loneliness and divorce and despair? This culture of painless living? 
No, they only talk about the “gun culture” because it sounds like a pat and easy answer to score some political points and raise a little campaign cash. Never mind that it is a craven insult to millions of good, responsible, God-fearing gun-owners across this country who would have gladly laid down their lives to save just one of those children. The line for that, literally, would be miles and miles long.

6) Finally, an appeal from the sister of the young priest from St. Rose of Lima parish who is tirelessly ministering to the families and community in grief, with no end in sight, even as we move through the busy Advent Season. Please consider acting on her heartfelt plea for her brother, Fr. Luke Suarez, ordained less than two years:

My friends,

All of you, I am sure, have heard so much about the tragedy in Newtown, CT. Many of you have received emails from me about my younger brother, Father Luke Suarez, who is a priest at St. Rose of Lima parish, a Catholic church just down the road from Sandy Hook Elementary. He, and his pastor, Monsignor Weiss, arrived at the school within moments of the shooting, and have been caring for the community ever since. The picture I have included was taken at the school.

Father Luke has an impossible task before him. His diocese is without a bishop right now…. Monsignor … is personally devastated by the losses. The parish is very large…. The rectory has received serious threats, and as my brother gave the homily Sunday at the noon mass, the church had to be evacuated by SWAT teams. After experiencing identity theft and online hacking incidents, he had to erase all of his internet accounts. After a weekend of endless media requests, notifications and vigils with heartbroken families, and little sleep, he now has two wakes and two funerals every day, until the fourth Sunday of Advent. Father Luke has not even been ordained two years.

My large family has been trying to send Father Luke our love and support from afar, and one of my brothers was able to visit with him briefly a couple times. All he asks for is prayer.

I have been wracking my brain, trying to think of a way that our beautiful, loving community could tangibly reach out to Father Luke, Monsignor Weiss, and the St. Rose parish, to support them in this most awful of times. I have sent many prayer requests, and I am asking for more prayers again. But I also want to ask everyone to search their hearts, and if the Holy Spirit moves you, please consider sending one of your family’s Christmas cards to the rectory, with a few words of love and encouragement. Here is his address:

Father Luke Suarez
46 Church Hill Road
Newtown, CT 06470

My brother has said over and over again that without the prayer support he is receiving, he could not keep going. And this week is only the beginning. Everyone there is still in shock. Their peaceful home has been desecrated by violence. They will need to live with this sorrow forever.

But in our weakness is His strength. Grace abounds. Can you help me carry him through this time of trial?

On a hopeful note, Father Luke did say that no media coverage has even touched the deep, beautiful awakening of faith that has occurred there. Their tiny church, where my children have received sacraments and where Luke was ordained, has been full of people in prayer without ceasing since this tragedy happened. Love is stronger than death.

Please feel free to share the address with your family, friends, and community. An outpouring of love will sustain these good priests through their impossible ministry–impossible on their own, but possible with God.

I am so grateful to live in this community. We are all so blessed with one another. Every day, I see you all loving one another as Christ loved. Thank you for letting me reach out to you now.

With humble appreciation.

7) In memory of the children lost in CT, I have chosen to show you a seven-year-old child who still can be saved. Please consider rescuing a child such as Parker, whom I have profiled before. His delays are reportedly mild, and he so desperately needs a family:

Click my photo for more information!
(My previous Orphan Report on Parker, here.)

Please also pray for Carla, who is missing her sweet Henry so dearly during this Advent Season.

Yes, this is a downer of a post, but this world, as we Catholics repeat in our prayers, is a vale of tears. The only Light in the darkness is Jesus Christ, and so now we take the final days of Advent to prayerfully await His coming. And we have hope.

Thanks to Jen, for hosting!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Quick Takes, including the Benedict prophecy

This Quick Takes was published before the horrific Connecticut shootings. JoAnna's post speaks to the evil that we cannot fathom: The Question of Evil. Lord, have mercy.

1) All eight kids are home tonight (the oldest two back from college), and that means all ten of us are together under the same roof! I know it will start to feel crowded soon, but for now, it is heavenly, and I am so very grateful.

2) Here's something that never crossed my mind for the first 27 years of my Catholic life: Christmas literally means "Christ's Mass"! It's a feast of the Catholic Church, a holy day on her liturgical calendar.

It's also one of the only feasts of the Church that has been retained by Protestants (the other being Easter). I hope one day Christians will be reunited again, and that we will all celebrate the Christ's Mass at holy altars around the world, as the Lord intended.

3) Did you know that the Twelve Days of Christmas are not the twelve days prior to December 25? In fact, the Christmas season does not end on Christmas Day, that's when it begins! Catholic families should live out the true Christmas season (as opposed to confusing it with Advent), and here is a beautiful way to do just that. My dear friend, Rebecca Even, has worked lovingly for years to put together something special to celebrate those twelve days and reclaim the season:

A new take on a familiar song, and so much more for the family to enjoy!

4) I am so, so, so excited. Remember when I told you about the book that changed my life, because it introduced me to the three traditional stages of holiness? Well, I went forth on that path way back then, and made progress. However, it's been a full ten years since I briefly hit a height of prayer that allowed me to glimpse what the prayer masters (Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross) were talking about -- and through my own slothfulness I have failed to get back to that point on the path. Spiritually, I have been treading water for a decade.

But today I took concrete steps to forge ahead again, in a disciplined program of prayer ("Plan of Life", through the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity) that bore great fruit for me all those years ago. I will be sure to share my insights as I go along this time.

God is so good, as it took the profound sorrow of Obama's reelection to hammer home the fact that the only answer to the darkness of our times is growth in holiness. We are all (yes, all) called to be saints. Whether we like it or not, we were made for this age. It's time for us to get crackin'!

5) This breathtaking prediction needs no commentary from me:

“The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning.

She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes ... she will lose many of her social privileges…. As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members….

It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek…. The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution — when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain…. But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.

And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.”

-- Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), from his book Faith and the Future

(Pope Benedict has started to tweet! Follow him, here!)

6) God speaks to us through Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. An ode to Beauty:

San Chapelle Cathedral, Paris
Ahhhh……balm for the soul!

7)  Sweet, beautiful Lilly!

She has been waiting for so long, and yet she doesn't have time to wait. This precious five-year-old has a heart defect that needs surgical correction. The sooner Mama is found, the sooner she will get the medical attention she so desperately needs.

Click my photo for more info! Single moms and Canadian families welcome!

The good news is, Lilly has over $10,000 in her adoption grant just waiting to be used to bring her home. More good news? She is sweet and calm, and full of affection.

Is she your daughter? And if she is not your daughter, will you share her face and name with your family and friends? You may very well be the instrument that connects her to her family!


Also, many thanks to everyone who has done their online Christmas shopping through the Amazon link on this blog! I have earned over $140 in commission this month so far, and 100% of what I earn goes to the RR orphans and families. You guys are amazing! Group hug!! Keep those orders coming!

Thanks to Jen for hosting, and although I missed the streaming of the first episode of her reality show, it can now be seen for a short time on YouTube, and right here!

I'll be back next Friday, as I'm doing only Quick Takes during Advent.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Quick Takes: Advent, and my crazy new blog!!

As we are in Advent, and in prayerful preparation to receive the Christ Child, I am winding down a bit and will be posting only Quick Takes till after Christmas.

1) If you are confused about the difference between Advent and Christmas, this fun, two-minute video is just what you need to see (and will keep you humming!):

Although folks tend to think we are currently in the Christmas season, we are not. The Christmas season begins on December 25, continuing for several days thereafter. Right now, we are in the Advent season.

2) By the way, it honestly makes me laugh when I see atheists trying to strip public squares of Nativity scenes or when politicians contort themselves calling Christmas trees "holiday trees" -- because last I checked, Christmas is a federal, government holiday! And the "Christmas" that is being commemorated by the government is that time in the manger, lo those many years ago, when Christ was born! And so the Nativity is the basis for the federal holiday that is on the government calendar, but we are apparently not allowed to mention or show that Nativity on public ground, or use the name of Christmas (tree), which is actually the name of the government holiday that we are commemorating! We can't speak or display the things of Christmas in relation to the government holiday commemorating… Christmas! The irony is rich! It is actually hilarious if you think about it. Why can't atheists see it?

If they had integrity and critical thinking skills, what these atheists should be lobbying for is an end to the government holiday of Christmas. Or do they like the day off work too much to attack the real problem?

3) Catholics who are still in the dumps about our nation's fast decline (evidenced by the last election), you must read about this incredible priest in, of all places, France:

Fr. Michel-Marie Zanotti-Sorkine

There, now doesn't that make you feel better?

4) An interesting follow-up to the "War on Men" articles of my last Quick Takes, by the author of the first article:

Yes, let's!!

5) And that leads to my latest endeavor, which comes (several years later) on the heels of my Catholic Moms Matchmaking email group (long dormant). It's my new, private blog dedicated to Catholic matchmaking!

If you are a devoutly Catholic mom (including spiritual moms), faithful to the Magisterium, and you would like to help your child find a great Catholic spouse, then you should become a follower of my new blog. Or, if you are a young single who would like to profile yourself on my blog, or just read it and see who is out there looking, then you, also, should become a follower of my blog. The blog is by invite only, and it's unsearchable. I already have a good list of readers, and the first post (a profile of a lovely young Catholic lady) is ready to publish in the next couple of days.

If you are a practicing, Church-loving Catholic and would like an invite to the blog, please send email me at, and make your case. :)

Isn't this fun??? And yes, I know I'm a little weird.

6) Please keep praying for Baby Dominic, our own Becky's nephew, as he struggles after major surgery. He is so very loved

Dominic before surgery, with big sister Bernadette,
one of his many adoring siblings.

…and his family wants to watch him grow up.

Recovery after surgery has been very difficult;
 he has coded twice, and he still is not out of the woods.

Please pray hard for this little boy and his family.

St. Padre Pio, pray for your little namesake.

7) One of my addictions is this blog:

I dare you to start a few months back and begin reading the story of how they brought two Russian special needs orphans, a ten-year-old girl (Maria) and a baby boy (Elijah), home to America.

Blessed to be orphans no more.

And when you read, you will learn about Maria's very best friend from the orphange, Kate, whom she left behind. Kate still waits for a family, and Maria misses her so, and prays that Kate will be saved by an American family, just as she was. I pray that, too.

Please click Kate's photo for more information.

Blessings for a peaceful Advent, and a beautiful Feast of the Immaculate Conception!*

And thanks to Jen, for hosting!

*The Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of Mary in her mother Anne's womb; it does not refer to Jesus' conception in Mary's womb (which we refer to as the Annunciation). Catholics, please remember that December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, is a holy day of obligation! It is a mortal sin to willfully miss mass on a holy day, although our gratitude and the joy we have at knowing that Our Lady was conceived without sin should be enough motivation for us to get there to celebrate. What a gift we have been given in a sinless mother!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Purgatory is...

  • Purgatory is a doctrine of our Faith. 

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned." (1030-1031)

There are only two ultimate destinations for a human being: Heaven or hell. Purgatory is the "wash-room" of Heaven.

  • Purgatory is necessary.

The Bible, in Revelation 21:27, says, "Nothing unclean shall enter Heaven" -- and God was not joking. Are you utterly pure? Perfect? Sinless? Completely without fault or blemish? I'm not either. To get from here to there requires an actual change from imperfect to perfect. The purification of Purgatory is that transitional bridge. If you die in the friendship of God, and unless you are the rare soul perfected in love before that moment of death (think of a Mother Teresa or a newly baptized infant), you are going to be cleansed before you enter Heaven. You simply cannot enter otherwise.

  • Purgatory is logical.

If I repent of a sin, I not only ask forgiveness, but I make recompense. We instinctively form our own children this way, as we teach them to make amends when they have committed a wrong. Not only do we require a child to make his apology ("I'm sorry I recklessly ran over your flowerbed, Mrs. Jones"), we require that he make things right as well ("I will purchase new flowers and replant them for you"). Purgatory is the final "making things right" -- both in our own souls and in the Mystical Body of Christ, i.e., the Church, which is harmed by its members' sin.

That "making things right" after we are forgiven is called the temporal punishment for sin, and it can and should happen while a person is still on this earth. However, if temporal punishment (or "expiation") for our forgiven sins has not occurred fully by the time of death, the expiation is still logically required after death.

  • Purgatory is merciful.

C.S. Lewis, a non-Catholic Christian, understood the mercy of Purgatory, and how the soul cries out for it:
Our souls demand Purgatory, don't they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, 'It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy'? Should we not reply, 'With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, I'd rather be cleaned first.' 'It may hurt, you know' -- 'Even so, sir.'  (Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer)
Amen, and thank God for the mercy of Purgatory.

  • Purgatory is just.

Benevolent Grandma was a baptized Christian who stayed close to Jesus and lived a good life of caring and love, but she was a mild gossip. Serial Killer was a baptized Christian who lived a life of evil, destroying people and goodness everywhere he went, but he sincerely repented on his deathbed.

Both souls are Heaven-bound, but the soul-cleansing required of Mr. Killer is going to be a lot more severe, prolonged, and painful than the mild purification required of Grandma.

And that's as it should be. That is how justice works.

We are not all the same. We are all individuals who come from different circumstances and who make different choices. God alone can read our hearts, and His justice for each of His children is very personal, not a rubber stamp.

As Jesus said, "You will not get out until you have paid the last penny." For some of us, the payment exacted will take longer, as the sum required to "make it right" is larger.

  • Purgatory is Biblical.

The clearest manifestation (and my favorite) is 1 Corinthians 3.

We read that by our life choices and works, we build on the foundation that is Jesus Christ:

If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, the work of each will come to light, for the Day will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire (itself) will test the quality of each one's work. 

"The Day" refers to the Day of Judgement. The first Day of Judgement for most of us will be the Particular Judgement, the day of our death, when we face God. So, keep in mind that all that follows happens after a person's death. There are three possibilities for a soul:

First possibility: If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage. This is the soul who goes directly to Heaven.

Second possibility: But if someone's work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire. This is the soul who goes to Purgatory, who is cleansed by the fire of God's love before entering Heaven.

Third possibility: Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy. This is the soul who goes to hell.

Glance back at the second one: "suffering" "loss" "saved, but only as through fire". We call that Purgatory.

  • Purgatory is historical.

The doctrine of purgatory, or the final purification, has been part of the true faith since before the time of Christ. The Jews already believed it before the coming of the Messiah, as revealed in the Old Testament (2 Macc. 12:41–45) as well as in other pre-Christian Jewish works, such as one which records that Adam will be in mourning "until the day of dispensing punishment in the last years, when I will turn his sorrow into joy" (The Life of Adam and Eve 46–7). Orthodox Jews to this day believe in the final purification, and for eleven months after the death of a loved one, they pray a prayer called the Mourner’s Kaddish for their loved one’s purification. 
Jews, Catholics, and the Eastern Orthodox have always historically proclaimed the reality of the final purification. It was not until the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century that anyone denied this doctrine.  (Catholic Answers)
The witness of the Roman Catacombs (products of the early, pre-Nicene, persecuted Church) attests to a belief in Purgatory by their etchings and inscriptions. In fact,
so overwhelming is the witness of the early Christian monuments in favour of prayer for the dead that no historian any longer denies that the practice and the belief which the practice implies were universal in the primitive Church. There was no break of continuity in this respect between Judaism and Christianity. (New Advent)

  • Purgatory is painful.

Every cleansing of an open wound is painful. Every turning toward the purifying fire of God's love is an uncomfortable shock to the system, and every honest move to perfection (even in this life) is accompanied by a suffering.

Facing the judgement of our Father will not be a clean, comfortable adjustment. The man who looks through a dark veil his whole life and is then, in an instant, exposed full-on to the dazzling white light of the Son can expect to cry out in some initial pain.

But the pain of Purgatory is most rightly described, I believe, as the pain of loss. We are made for union with God, and we are not complete and satisfied until that union is achieved. When the soul knows without doubt that she is at long last on her way to be united with her Beloved, but also knows that she cannot yet get to Him, and when she knows that it was her own actions and choices that are keeping her from that final, perfect and eternal union with her Beloved, she experiences a great and melancholic longing, an aching sense of loss.

There is a reason that God speaks to His people through marital imagery: The Bride and the Bridegroom, The Wedding Feast, The Consummation, the final achievement of perfect, eternal union with the Beloved. Earthly marriage and physical consummation is the closest we can get to another human being on earth, but it is a pale reflection of true Marital Union with God. The knowledge that one could have rushed to His embrace sooner, but now must wait and long and pine, is a nearly unbearable suffering for the soul in Purgatory, as it would be (on a much lesser scale) for any bride who cannot yet, through her own fault, reach her lover.

  • Purgatory is joyful.

Although the suffering in Purgatory is intense, the joy of Purgatory great, even greater than any earthly joy. After all, total, ecstatic union with God is palpable now, as the beatific vision is nearing one's view. No jubilation on earth could ever compare to the clear knowledge that Pure Love is drawing the lovesick soul to Himself for completion.

Fr. Alvin Kimel summarizes Peter Kreeft:
Purgatory is joyful, not gloomy. Whatever pain may attend the process of purification, it does not diminish the profound joy and triumph of Purgatory. The holy souls have passed through death into life and know that their ultimate destiny is now secure. The sufferings of Purgatory are more desirable than the most ecstatic pleasures on earth.

  • After Jesus' Second Coming and the Final Judgement, Purgatory will cease to be.

When Jesus returns in glory and the end of the world comes, and when the Final Judgement separates the sheep from the goats for all eternity, and when the new heaven and new earth are established in perfection, there will be no more purification of souls necessary. Purgatory will cease to be, and all souls will be fixed in their final states forever.

“God is the Last Thing of the creature. Gained, He is its paradise; lost, He is its hell; as demanding, He is its judgment; as cleansing, He is its purgatory” --Hans Urs von Balthasar

Related post: Indulgences: No need to freak out!