Why pray for the Poor Souls?
Our Lord’s great law is that we must love one another, genuinely and sincerely. The first great commandment is to love God with all our heart and soul. The second, or rather a part of the first, is to love our neighbour as ourselves. This is not a counsel or a mere wish of the Almighty. It is His great commandment, the very base and essence of His law. So true is it that He takes as done to Himself what we do for our neighbour, and refused to Him what we refuse to our neighbour.
We read in the Gospel of St Matthew (25:34-46) the words that Christ will address to the just on the Judgment day.
34 Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me to eat: I was thirsty and you gave Me to drink: I was a stranger, and you took Me in.
36 Naked, and you covered Me: sick, and you visited Me: I was in prison, and you came to Me.
37 Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee to drink?
38 And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee?
39 Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee?
40 And the king (God) answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to Me.
41 Then he shall say to them also that shall be on His left hand: depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels.
42 For I was hungry, and you gave Me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave Me not to drink.
43 I was a stranger, and you took Me not in: naked, and you covered Me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit Me.
44 Then they also shall answer him saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee?
45 Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these, neither did you do it to Me.
46 And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.
Some Catholics seem to think that this law has fallen into abeyance in these days of self assertion and selfishness, when everyone thinks only of himself and his personal aggrandisement. “It is useless to urge the law of love now-a-days,” they say “everyone has to shift for himself, or go under.”
No such thing. God’s great law is still and will ever be in full force. Nay, it is more than ever in our best interest.
We are bound to pray for the Holy Souls
We are always bound to love and help each other, but the greater the need of our neighbour, the more stringent and the more urgent this obligation is. It is not a favour that we may do or leave undone, it is our duty, we must help each other.
It would be a monstrous crime for instance to refuse the poor and destitute the food necessary to keep them alive. It would be appalling to refuse aid to one in the direst need, to pass by and not extend a hand to save a drowning man. Not only must we help others when it is easy and convenient, but we must make every sacrifice, when need be, to succour our brothers in distress.
Now who can be in more urgent need of our charity than the souls in Purgatory? What hunger, or thirst, or dire sufferings on this Earth can compare to their dreadful torments? Neither the poor, nor the sick, nor the suffering we see around us have any such urgent need of our succour. Yet we find many good hearted people who interest themselves in every other type of suffering, but alas! scarcely one who works for the Holy Souls.
Who can have more claim on us? Among them too, there may be our mothers and fathers, our friends and near of kin.
– 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