God wishes us to help the Holy Souls in Purgatory
In any event, the Holy Souls are God’s dearest friends. He longs to help them, He desires most earnestly to have them in Heaven. They can never again offend Him and they are destined to be with Him for all Eternity. True, God’s justice demands expiation of their attachments and sins, but by an amazing dispensation of His Providence He places in our hands the means of assisting them, He gives us the power to relieve and even release them. Nothing pleases Him more than when we help them. He is as grateful to us as if we helped Himself.
Our Lady wants us to help them
Never did a Mother of this Earth love so tenderly a dying child, never did she strive so earnestly to soothe its pains, as Mary seeks to console Her suffering children in Purgatory, to have them with Her in Heaven. We give Her unbounded joy each time we take a soul out of Purgatory.
The Holy Souls will repay us a thousand times over
But what shall we say of the feelings of the Holy Souls themselves? It would be utterly impossible to describe their unbounded gratitude to those who help them! Filled with an immense desire to repay the favours done them they pray for their benefactors with a fervour so great, so intense, so constant that God can refuse them nothing. St Catherine of Bologna says: “I received many and very great favours from the Saints but still greater fervours from the Holy Souls.”
When they are finally released from their pains and enjoy the beatitude of Heaven, far from forgetting their friends on earth, their gratitude knows no bounds. Prostrate before the Throne of God they never cease to pray for those who helped them. By their prayers they shield their friends from the dangers and protect them from the evils that threaten them.
They will never cease these prayers until they see their benefactors safely in Heaven and will be for ever their dearest, sincerest and best friends.
Did Catholics only know what powerful protectors they secure by helping the Holy Souls they would not be so remiss in praying for them.
The Holy Souls will lessen our Purgatory
Another great grace that they obtain for their helpers is a short and easy Purgatory, or possibly its complete remission!
Blessed John of Massias, the Dominican lay brother, had a wonderful devotion to the souls in Purgatory. He obtained by his prayers, (chiefly by the recitation of the Rosary), the liberation of one million four hundred thousand souls!
In return they obtained for him the most abundant and extraordinary graces and came at the hour of his death to help and console him and accompany him to heaven.
This fact is so certain that it is inserted by the Church in the Bull of his Beatification.
Who were those helpers?
The learned Cardinal Baronius recounts a similar incident.
He was himself called to assist a dying gentleman. Suddenly a host of blessed spirits appeared in the chamber of death, consoled the dying man and chased away the devils who sought by a last desperate effort to compass his ruin.
When asked who they were they made answer that they were eight thousand souls whom he had released from Purgatory by his prayers and good works. They were sent by God, so they said, to take him to Heaven without his passing one moment in Purgatory.
She was fiercely tempted by the devil on her death bed
St Gertrude was fiercely tempted by the devil when she came to die. The evil spirit reserves a dangerous and subtle temptation for our last moments. As he could find no other ruse sufficiently clever with which to assail the Saint, he thought to disturb her beautiful peace of soul by suggesting that she would surely remain long years in Purgatory since, he reminded her, she had made over long ago all her suffrages to other souls. Our Blessed Lord, not content with sending His Angels and the thousands of souls she had released, to assist her, came Himself in person to drive Satan away and comfort His dear Saint. He told her that in exchange for all she had done for the Holy Souls He would take her straight to Heaven and would multiply a hundredfold all her merits.
They made a pact
Blessed Henry Suso, of the Dominican Order, made a compact with a fellow religious to the effect that one of the two died the survivor would offer two Masses each week for his soul and other prayers as well.
It so fell out that his companion died first and Blessed Henry commenced immediately to offer the promised Masses. These he continued to say for a long time. At last quite sure that the soul of his saintly friend had reached Heaven he ceased offering the Masses.
His friend appeared to tell him off
Great was his sorrow and consternation when the soul of the dead Brother appeared to him suffering intensely and chiding him for not celebrating the promised Masses.
He replied with deep regret that he had not continued the Masses believing that his friend must be enjoying the Beatific Vision and added that he had ever remembered him in prayer.
“O dear Brother Henry, please give me the Masses, for it is the Precious Blood of Jesus that I most need,” cried out the suffering soul.
Blessed Henry began anew and, with redoubled fervour, offered Masses and prayers for his friend until he received absolute certitude of his delivery.
Then it was his turn to receive graces and blessings of all kinds from the dear brother he had relieved, and very many times more than he could have expected.
– From: Read Me or Rue It, by E.D.M., approved of His Eminence the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon 4/6/1936, printed by Kerryman, Co Kerry, Ireland