Relief for the Souls in Purgatory
– What can bring them relief –
The Council of Trent decreed, We believe that souls detained in Purgatory are relieved by the suffrages of the faithful. That is how the Church, in its Divine and magnificent unity, includes Christians of all eras and all classes. The charity, which binds them and unites their spiritual wealth is shared not only among the living but beyond the grave, reaching those who have died in the peace of the Lord. Charity, St. Paul tells us, is not like faith and hope that dies with our last breath. It survives our death and never dies. Thus, those who are just are not separated from the Church following their death, nor are they removed from the Communion of Saints. They are still our brothers, our sisters and our friends. Along with the elected in Heaven, the angels and the saints, we can also deliver souls from Purgatory. Moreover, angels and saints can only offer their prayers whereas we can offer acts of charity, of love and of good intentions, God has given us so much power on the fate of the deceased, says Father Faber, that they seem to depend more on earth than Heaven. Such is the doctrine of the Church! Such is the touching mutual support of the Communion of Saints. What a joy this is for you who are mourning a father, a mother, a spouse, a child! You can still show them signs of your love through your devotion; you can be their liberating angel. Hurry then; break their chains and pay their debts that those dear souls may fly up to Heaven, to the bosom of the triumphant Church.
– We must bring them relief –
Not only can we, but we must come to the aid of those suffering souls. We owe it to God our good and tender Father. He loves them as his spouses and greatly desires to open the gates of Heaven to them but is opposed by his Justice. He thus turns to us and pleads for us to help them; He gives us the means and considers done to Him what we might do to the most guilty, the most suffering amongst them.
We owe it to those poor souls in exile. Some of them, perhaps a great many among them are there, suffering because of us, because of our negligence, our bad advice, our scandal. Yet, will we do nothing to alleviate their torment? Would we dare say, I am innocent of the tears shed by that soul? Finally, we owe it to ourselves. Let us not forget that one day, maybe sooner than we think, we will need to have acts of charity offered for us, acts which we could have done ourselves for others. St. Ambrosius told us, Everything which pity inspires us to do for the deceased turns into works of merit for us and at the end of our life, we will receive a hundred-fold what we have given. Question your conscience. Have you understood this important duty and have you put it into practice to date? Do you often think, do you daily think of the suffering souls in Purgatory? Henceforth, have for them that charity which God commands and blesses; that charity which opens the gates of Heaven for those who practice it and for those for whom it is offered; that charity which is the Christian’s passport to the next world.
– Example –
Catherine de Cortone was the daughter of a duke. As a child, her piety and her fervour were those of an angel. She was not yet eight when she lost her father. One day, he appeared to her burning with the flames in Purgatory. My daughter, he told her, I will be in this fire until the day you do penance for me. Her heart filled with compassion, Catherine elevated her courage beyond the weakness of her age. She began from that day forth a life of austerity and penance, which astonished all who knew her. Her tears, her prayers, her mortification soon disarmed the Divine Justice and acquitted her father’s debt. Her father, shining with the brightness of the blessed, once again appeared to her and said to her My daughter, God has accepted your acts of love and your prayers; I am now going to live in his Glory. Continue to offer your suffering for the salvation of the souls in Purgatory. It is the will of God that you do so.
The heroic virgin was faithful to her sublime mission. For the rest of her life, she was an example of piety and severe austerity for the relief of the deceased. Her pious companions tried to make her diminish her acts of penance. She retorted in the words that reveal the secret of her life, When one has seen as I have what Hell and Purgatory are like, one can never do enough to save souls from one and prevent souls going to the other. We too have the same mission. It is our mission and our duty to bring relief to the souls that Jesus has saved; let us never forget this.
Let Us Pray
Be blessed Oh my God, for having entrusted me with the relief of those souls whom You love so tenderly and who are so entitled to my compassion. How good it is for me to dry their tears and open the gates of Heaven to them! Remind me often of this great responsibility of charity and help me to accomplish it. Oh Jesus! Be their Conciliator. Call your children and our brethren to eternal happiness and may the light, which never dies, shine upon them! May they rest in peace!
Let Us Pray
Lord, hear the prayers we will offer up to you every day of this month for the consolation of our deceased brothers and sisters and grant them a place of refreshing light and peace! Hear also the prayers which those souls will offer up to you for our intention that we might ultimately obtain, through their intercession, the graces for which we pray for.