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There has been some confusion in recent years about ‘limbo.’  Some people say that the Catholic Church got rid of it.  Strictly speaking, that’s not true.  The most church teachers said was that limbo may not be a necessary reality at all, as there is hope for salvation for infants who die without baptism.  But they also reaffirmed that the idea of limbo, though never confirmed as Roman Catholic dogma, is in agreement with said dogma.

You remember the idea of limbo, right?  A state of waiting, away from the vision of God, and a ‘time’ of purification.

Well these days I am here to say that limbo is a reality, and I don’t mean just the dance where you go lower and lower under the waving sticks (I could never do that!).

No, the limbo that is real to me is that of an interim state between one moment and another, between one place and another, between the familiar and the unfamiliar.  It is that moment when the man (or woman!) on the flying trapeze has released his or her grip on the one bar and it waiting (calmly? confidently? patiently?) for the next one to arrive for the grabbing.

We all have times like this in life.  Some of us become accustomed to them.  But fewer of us ever become entirely comfortable in limbo.  And that is good.  Why?  Simply because – whether theologically or practically – limbo is not a place where anyone is meant to stay.


A native of the North Shore of Boston, I currently live on Long Island, New York. I worked at Boston College as the Acting Director of The Church in the 21st Century Center until August, 2010 and served until November 2016 as Canon for Formation, and Dean of the George Mercer Jr. School of Theology of the Diocese of Long Island. I am now Rector at the Church of Saint Anselm of Canterbury in Shoreham, New York.

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