April 5, 2007

Prayer for the Poor Souls

God of Justice, God of Mercy, You have no choice but to love us because love is the only word in your vocabulary. Love is the only thing You think of or say or do, even when we deserve punishment for our sins.

Give us the grace to by-pass the purifying flames of Your love in purgatory by now living lives of sincere prayer, fervent self-denial, and unselfish love.

Help us to unite our labors of love with those of your divine Son to win the release of those suffering souls who have been part of our lives, especially our family members, relatives, friends, benefactors, and those You want us to remember to pray for.

Keep us alert to the indulgences we may gain to help our departed brothers and sisters, by making the Stations of the Cross, by reading Sacred Scripture in a prayerful way, by spending time before the Blessed Sacrament, and by reciting the Rosary with others at home or in Church.

Lord, we know that where the poor souls are now we may well be soon. Their cries are pleading for our prayers at this very moment! "Have mercy on me, have mercy on me, at least you my friends because the hand of the Lord has touched me."

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace.  -  Amen.


Can we help those who are in Purgatory? Definitely! That's why the Church provides us with a memorial Mass for all the faithful departed. We're praying for those who died in the arms of Jesus but who have not yet reached the full glory of heaven. Think of your loved ones who died believing in Jesus and wanting to be loved by Jesus. Even if there was the smallest seed of faith in them, as long as they didn't reject Jesus when he came for them as they took their final breath, they are with him now.

We can be assured of this because of what Jesus said in today's Gospel reading. The Father's decision is that everyone who recognizes Jesus as the Son of God, believing that he is our Savior and the Redeemer of our sins, will have eternal life. "And I shall raise him on the last day," Jesus promised.

However, rarely does anyone die in the full state of grace, perfect in holiness. Most still have unrepented or unexpiated sins ("unexpiated" means insufficient penance has been made to rectify the damage of sin). And God wants all of his children to receive the fullness of his perfect love, which means being united to him in a state of complete holiness. Nothing unholy exists in heaven, so when souls realize what they've forfeited by clinging to their sins, they want to be purged. They gladly choose the state of Purgatory to reach the state of full grace.

Our loving prayers help them make the transition.

Pope Leo XIII wrote in his encyclical on the Eucharist, "Mirae Caritatis", on May 28, 1902: "The communion of saints is nothing else but a mutual sharing of help, satisfaction, prayer and other good works, a mutual communication among all the faithful, whether those who have reached Heaven, or who are in the cleansing fire, or who are still pilgrims on the way in this world."

Through Jesus and our love for the souls in Purgatory, we can do penances on their behalf in imitation of Jesus who was crucified on our behalf. Such penances include prayers, alms-giving, fasting, sacrifices, good works and other acts of piety. A bonus benefit is that we're also purified, here on earth instead of later after our own deaths, because such deeds made on behalf of others will increase our own holiness.

By offering Masses for the souls in Purgatory, publicly and privately, we consciously give them our love and we commend them more fully to Jesus' love. The celebration of All Souls Day and the whole month of November is given over to this important ministry of the Church. What are you going to do this month that will help your loved ones who've gone Home to Jesus but who are probably not yet enjoying the fullness of his love for them?

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