By Susan Tassone
Anyone of else could die suddenly and find ourselves stranded on the lost continent of purgatory. Scripture tells us that our lives are like a flower of the field, like grass which flowers in the morning and grows dry and withers in the evening.
*Our Lady of Medjugorje also reminds us of the quickness of the passage of life. “Everything is passing, little children; only God is not passing.” (3/5/08)
Pope John Paul II defined purgatory like this: “Every trace of attachment to evil must be eliminated, every imperfection of the soul corrected. Purification must be complete, and indeed this precisely what is meant by the Church’s teaching on purgatory.” To achieve this we must pray. We have this tremendous energy in us and prayer gets us in touch with that energy. Prayer unleashes souls from purgatory through the Mass, the highest form of prayer.
In Rome there is a church called the Church of the Suffering Souls. In that church there is a small museum with relics from souls who touched objects and scorched them to show the purifying spiritual fires (and to indicate the desperate need for our Masses to move them on to Heaven). Every relic has a story. Every story has the same theme. Purgatory exists, and they were in desperate need of Masses. Once the soul leaves the body all merits ceases. For the poor souls their work does not count. It is penal labor -- a wearing out of one’s self without any effect. Their efforts obtain nothing. It flows, yet dries up as a river in the sand. Such is the life of the poor souls in purgatory.
At wakes do we hear the need to pray for the souls of our loved ones? We must remember that our faith requires our prayers to help our loved ones join the house of the Lord. Very few of us have souls free from defects -- but with our prayers we can create a soul without blemish. Pope Benedict XVI stated that “if we did not have the doctrine of purgatory we would need to invent it!”
The great month of the Dead is upon us. Do we have time for our departed loved ones? Do we have time to help our friends reach high places before the throne of God? You can help them. They are poor you are rich. The can do nothing for themselves; you can do everything for them. They can no longer assist at holy Mass and cleanse themselves in the Blood of Christ; you can offer the holy sacrifice and Christ’s Precious Blood for them. They can no longer eat the Bread of Life; you can receive it for them in Holy Communion. They can no longer perform good works or pay their debt by giving alms; you can do it for them! They can no longer draw from graces of the church you can apply your indulgences to them. Your prayers descend to them like refreshing dew and speed them home to Heaven.
Our Lord says to us: “Have mercy on these souls, whom My justice must purify; intercede for them, for they no longer can work; pray for them, atone for them and I will look upon you as if you had done it to me. And on the day of your judgment I will say to you, “Come blessed of my Father for I was in prison and you visited me; And you will ask, “When did I visit you in prison, Lord? And I will answer, “All you did for the Holy souls in the prison of purgatory, you have done it to me.”
Even though the holy souls can do nothing for themselves, they can do much for us even now while they are in purgatory, for they are just. Much more will they intercede for us when they enter into glory. Oh, how we need that prayer in the dangers and troubles of this life; and how we shall long for their prayers when we may have to languish in purgatory.
*Our Lady of Medjugorje told visionary Mirjana that in Purgatory there are several levels. The more you pray on earth, the higher your level in purgatory will be. The lowest level is closest to hell where the suffering is the most intense. The highest level is closet to Heaven and there the sufferings are the least.
Descend in spirit into the silent world of the holy souls and learn wisdom from the dead. Keep up a conversation with the holy souls; visit them frequently; appeal to them in the hour of trial and temptation; ask their advice in difficult problems and bring them the help they longingly desire, make their desire your desire, to see the face of God and be with Him forever.
[resources: Purgatory books]
[For Masses and Gregorian Masses visit: http://www.spiritualtreasury.com/]