Why Purgatory?

Cello Scroll

Cello Scroll

Some would call it cacophony. Others would be more blunt and describe it as tortuous noise. Be that as it may, it is my absolute favorite sound. I hear it and immediately everything inside me comes alive, attentive, expectant. You say, “Enough all ready. What is it and what does it have to do with the title of this post?” I am so glad you asked!

“It” is a musical ensemble (band, orchestra, symphony, etc.) tuning before a performance. You know, the squeaks and sighs as reeds are moistened and tested. Add in the plaintive strains as pegs are turned fraction by fraction to tune the strings. With this the trills and scales-leading-nowhere-in-particular circle and stumble as fingers limber up over the keys. Already, it is music to my ears.

Perhaps you’ve seen the program for the evening’s performance and in one sense you know what is about to begin. Or maybe the names and titles printed on the paper in your hand mean nothing to you as you launch into music unknown. But you can be assured by the sounds made by meticulous tuning that what is to follow will be transcendent in its beauty. In fact, the quality of the performance is determined in large part by these moments of attention to precise chromatic detail.

For me, this is an apt analogy for purgatory. It isn’t that the violin is all bad. It is basically very good, just slightly out of tune. And to play its best it needs this time of perfecting. Heaven is infinitely greater than any musical production on this earth and it makes sense that souls should be adequately prepared to enter into the “Eternal Symphony.” It is all part of the Divine Maestro’s plan. How merciful He is to provide for our own perfection!

If, as I die, I hear instruments tuning, you can be assured that I will hurry to join them, tighten my loose strings until I have perfect pitch then take my place adding to the celestial sounds of Heaven!

By Sister Mary Louise, O.C.D.
Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles


To learn more about the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, read their biography below and visit their website.

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Promoting a Deeper Spiritual Life Among Families through Healthcare, Education and Retreats

The Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles strive to give striking witness as a vibrant, thriving community of dedicated women with an all-consuming mission. It is our God-given mission, a mission of the heart, a mission of loving service to the poor, the sick, the needy and the uneducated. Our loving service overflows from each sister’s profound life of prayer. We strive to reflect His life and hope and His promise to all that light has come into our world and darkness has not overcome it.

A look at the history of our community, with its motherhouse in Alhambra, California, reveals how its life-giving presence has come about. During the beginning decades of the 1900s just as the epic Mexican revolution was subsiding, a ruthless religious persecution was gaining momentum in Mexico. This horrible persecution accompanied the birth and humble beginnings of our community, a legacy that Mother Luisita, our foundress, and her two companions brought with them as religious refugees entering the Unites States in 1927.

Those seeds planted by Mother Luisita, now a candidate for sainthood, have taken deep root in the United States since those early days. People and places have changed throughout the years, yet the heart of our mission remains. As an autonomous religious institute since 1983 we continue to carry out our loving service in our healthcare facilities, retreat houses and schools which remain to this day centers of life and hope. Today we are moving forward together “Educating for Life with the Mind and Heart of Christ” in schools, being “At the Service of the Family for Life” through health and eldercare and “Fostering a Deeper Spiritual Life” through individual and group retreats. At the heart of our vocation is a passionate mission of loving service which facilitates our life-giving encounter with the living God.

The heritage of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles is rooted in the spirituality of Carmel, the Gospels, the Church, with our particular charism derived from our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

In His merciful goodness, God has graced our Institute with the Carmelite charism which has its roots in a long history and living tradition. The spirituality of St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross is rooted in this tradition. Carmel means enclosed garden in which God Himself dwells. The divine indwelling in the soul is the foundation of Teresa's doctrine. Thus our vocation is a grace by which contemplation and action are blended to become an apostolic service to the Church.

Our ideal finds a living expression in the life and charism of our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament, whose spirit we faithfully preserve and foster.

Our life is characterized by: - A life of prayer and union with God - A deep love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist - Devotion to our Blessed Mother - Steadfast fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church - Praying for priests - Commitment to works of the apostolate in ecclesial service

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