A SHORT NOTE FOR THE BENEFIT OF OUR SEPARATED BRETHREN:
Some terms are not used in the Bible; rather, those tenets of faith are described in the Scriptures without using the relevant term, such as “Holy Trinity” or “Purgatory”, the latter referring to the “fire that cleanses some souls so they can enter heaven”. These souls are saved, they will enter heaven eventually; Purgatory is not a place as such, it is a s t a t e of the soul. Holy Scripture teaches that God will render to every man according to his works; that nothing defiled shall enter heaven; and that some will be saved, ‘as one who has gone through fire’ (Mt 16:27; Apoc 21:27; 1 Co 3:15).
“THE GREAT IMPORTANCE OF DEVOTION TO THE HOLY SOULS
Devotion to the Holy Souls is so pleasing to God and so beneficial to our own souls. The least pain of Purgatory is far worse than the greatest suffering we can imagine upon this earth. This is why a moment in Purgatory can even seem to be hundreds of years. The Holy Souls cannot help themselves nor alleviate their sorrows in the slightest way. However great their sufferings may be, they can no longer merit, nor can they obtain new graces.
At death the time of working and meriting has ended once and for all and the soul remains in that state in which it has departed from this life. The punishments of Purgatory have one purpose alone and that is to satisfy God’s justice and to cleanse the souls from all stain of sin. Let us listen to the pleadings of our suffering brothers and sisters (who could also be our friends and relatives) and let us help them by all the means in our power.
If we fail in this, our hard-heartedness will most certainly be displeasing to Our Lord, for those who have no mercy on the suffering souls in Purgatory will also be wanting in mercy when they in their turn perhaps have to spend time in the purifying flames of Purgatory. ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.’
THE LONGING OF THE HOLY SOULS TO BE WITH GOD
The Holy Souls long to be with God and to enjoy the Beatific Vision. Their sufferings are indescribable in human terms, but what causes their greatest agony is the absence of God, Who is now the sole object of their desires.
On earth we cannot really understand Who God is, but the Holy Souls begin to know Him, His goodness, His mercy and His love. After this clearer view and their thirst for union, they yearn for God unceasingly. Whilst on earth so many people do not realise that this life is just a journey and do not even give God or eternity a thought, but if once opened to the Beatific Vision, even for a brief moment, the eyes of the soul can never again close without inexpressable pain. To shut out that most beautiful sight is agony.
IT IS VERY PROFITABLE TO HAVE DEVOTION TO THE HOLY SOULS
God often grants more graces through their intercession than through the prayers of the Saints. St Catherine of Bologna, whenever she wished to obtain any grace, had recourse to the Souls in Purgatory and her prayers were immediately heard. She even declared that by asking the intercession of these souls, she obtained many favours which she had not obtained through the intercession of the Saints.
Then if we want to be even more certain of obtaining what we request, we should pray for and at the same time ask the intercession of the Holy Souls who have loved Our Lady the most whilst upon earth. These are the ones She most wishes to release and we will surely see that our prayer is heard.
GOD WANTS US TO HELP THE HOLY SOULS
God is so pleased with those who help the Holy Souls, because He longs for them to be with Him for all eternity. By helping to deliver a soul from Purgatory, we give God as much pleasure as if we had released He Himself from a dark prison. Did He not say: ‘Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these My least brethren, you did it to Me.’
WE SHOULD STILL PRAY FOR THEM EVEN MANY YEARS AFTER THEIR DEATH
What suffering for the Holy Souls to see that they have been forgotten by those whom they loved during life and for whom, perhaps, they made sacrifices. We think far too little about our deceased friends and their memory often perishes soon after their death. But we should remember, and this has been confirmed by St Pio of Pietrelcina, that since with God there is an eternal present, the prayers we say for them now (even many years after their death) will have been taken into account by God at the moment of their death. That is why we should never cease in our prayers for them.
CHARITY COVERS OVER A MULTITUDE OF SINS
Those who help the poor souls in any way, perform not one, but all of the seven works of mercy at the same time, in a more perfect manner and deserving greater reward than if these acts of charity had been performed for a soul living on earth. In showing mercy to the holy souls, we have the great hope that God will also be merciful to us in our hour of need.
THE GRATITUDE OF THE HOLY SOULS
The Holy Souls, in their turn, will not be ungrateful to their benefactors who will most assuredly be remembered in their own prayers to God. It is their Guardian Angel who will make known to them how we have assisted them and will urge them to show their gratitude by praying for us. God so wants to relieve the Holy Souls of their sufferings and is pleased to answer the prayers which they offer for their benefactors.
THE SABBATINE PRIVILEGE
This is the early liberation from Purgatory on the first Saturday after death, through Our Lady’s intercession, for those who wear Her Brown Scapular, faithfully fulfilling the requisite obligations.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO AVOID PURGATORY?
God grants all souls all the graces and lights necessary so that they may go straight to Heaven. Those who abandon themselves completely into His hands and strive to do His holy Will in all things, will, at the end of their earthly lives, close their eyes upon the sun so as to open them to the true Light.
WAYS IN WHICH WE CAN ASSIST THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY
God Himself has placed in our hands the keys of Purgatory so that we may help to alleviate their pains and hasten their arrival in Paradise, where they will love and praise God for all eternity. What a consoling thought it is that we are able to help, even after their death, those whom we have loved in this life, thus proving our sincere love and gratitude to them. There are many ways in which we can assist them.
THE HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS
There is nothing more efficacious in satisfying the justice of God and in obtaining the remission of the temporal punishments due to sin as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, during which Jesus Christ renews the Sacrifice He once offered on Calvary. St Cyril said: ‘This Sacrifice affords them extraordinary relief.’
Another way in which we can help the Holy Souls very much is by fervently offering up our Holy Communion for them. In doing this we offer to the Heavenly Father all the merits of Christ’s Passion and Death in satisfaction for the temporal punishment still due to them.
The Council of Trent confirmed that the use of Indulgences are of great benefit to the Christian people. We can obtain both plenary and partial indulgences for the Holy Souls in many ways. Let us ask Our Blessed Lady to help us to obtain as many as we possibly can for our brothers and sisters suffering in the fires of Purgatory.
Our prayers for the Holy Souls are very efficacious because they proceed from our true disinterested charity and because we are asking not for temporal but for spiritual favours. After the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the prayers which help them the most are the Holy Rosary and the Way of the Cross.
OFFERING UP SACRIFICES FOR THEIR RELIEF
Let us offer many little sacrifices for the Holy Souls during the day. These should be as hidden as possible and offered to God with love. One example is that we could abstain from eating or drinking something which we like. In addition to exterior mortifications we can also offer for the Holy Souls the interior mortifications of the overcoming of our sinful inclinations and subduing our evil passions. Let us also cheerfully embrace all the crosses which God sends to us each day and offer these in satisfaction for the Souls in Purgatory.
We are able to assist the Holy Souls in Purgatory by almsgiving, which can be compared to a shower of rain falling into Purgatory and mitigating its devouring flames or even extinguishing them altogether.
(This leaflet is dedicated to St Michael the Archangel. He is the one who leads souls to Purgatory and then on to their eternal home after their purification. Everyone should honour him in a special way and the best way of doing this is by spreading devotion to the Holy Souls in Purgatory.)”
– This is the content of a leaflet by the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, House of Contemplation, Blessed Virgin of Mt Carmel, Lanherne, St Mawgan, Newquay, Cornwall TR8 4ER