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18th Century Sermon On the Souls of Purgatory

Bartolomé Phelipe de Yta y Parra. La libertad en la esclavitud, sermón panegyrico de las benditas almas del purgatorio. México: Impr. de los Herederos de la Viuda de Miguel de Rivera Calderón, 1719. (Pamphlet [2], [x], 18 p., 19cm x 14cm)

This sermon is the earliest dated work in Bridwell’s collection of printed Mexican ephemera. Written by the rector of Mexico’s Metropolitan Cathedral, the oldest and largest cathedral in Latin America, this sermon speaks of the blessed souls of purgatory. In the first section, Yta y Parra speaks of the fire that God sends down upon his people to punish them for their sins, which have made them slaves. While we are living, he says, we are slaves of sin. In contrast, the souls of purgatory are free from sin because they died in grace. Instead they are slaves of justice, because they have been put in purgatory to endure a harsh servitude in repayment of their sins. In the second portion, Yta y Parra explains that even though our souls seem to be pure to men’s eyes when we die in grace, God can still see the stain of venial sin. According to the author, it is the job of the living to pay the debts of those in purgatory with their good works. Yta y Parra specifically charges his congregation with this task, since they are especially dedicated to doing good works for the benefit of the blessed souls of purgatory and must assist them in their quest for eternal salvation.