First means of comforting the souls in Purgatory: Prayer
– Simple means –
After having studied the reasons, which urge us to relieve the souls in Purgatory, let us now examine the most efficient means we have of assisting them. The first one is prayer; it is accessible to everyone, young or old, rich or poor. No one can invoke a reasonable excuse for abstaining from prayer. You are too ill to fast? You cannot practice charity? Then pray, pray often for your dead brothers and sisters. Pray in the morning and at night. Who is unable to practice this charity, praying to relieve sorrow? Who cannot find in his heart the slightest compassion for the souls in Purgatory? Who among us, mourning a loved one, a friend or a family member in pain, would not plead for God’s intervention? Let us pray for our unfortunate brothers and sisters. Not only is this simple and easy to do but it is also consoling and agreeable. It is so easy to speak to those we love and to tend to them!
Make a resolution to never let a day go by without praying for your deceased relatives. Offer up in their favour the pain caused by distractions or by the aridity of your heart during this holy exercise. Repeat these short invocations, Sweet Jesus, be their Conciliator! Lord, grant them eternal rest! My God, may they rest in peace!
– Efficient means –
Prayer is the golden key which opens Heaven, said St. Augustine. Most powerful, it springs from the heart of man, rises on the wings of Angels to the throne of God and goes straight to his Heart. It embraces it, softens it and silences Divine Justice, allowing only Divine Love to flow from that perfect Heart. Conquered by prayer, Divine Justice gives way to forgiveness. Robed with forgiveness, prayer descends from the throne of God to Purgatory, where it quenches the thirst of those poor souls who are awaiting their hour of liberation. It douses the flames of purification forever breaking the bonds of captivity, liberating them and calling them to eternal happiness. Prayer for the dead knows no boundaries, obstacles, distances or duration: Heaven opens up before it and Purgatory closes behind it. It obtains everything. It triumphs over everything. St. Thomas assures us that God welcomes the prayers for the dead with more fervour than He does for the living.
The Lord confirmed this with St. Gertrude in these words, My Mercy will accept a step, a piece of straw, a word, a greeting, a prayer for sinners and for the just, as long as there is good intent. Let us make constant acts of love for God; those inner actions have an immeasurable value, as Father Faber says in his book, Everything for Jesus! Every act of love deserves eternal life. Thus it is easy to think and say, My God and my Father, I love you … I want to love you more. Such acts of love procure relief and assistance for the souls in Purgatory. Hence, we reap spiritual and temporal graces and our reward will be eternal. There is no more pious and holy mission than that of praying for the dead, says St. Augustine.
The Church consecrated the psalm “De Profondis” as a special prayer and encourages us to recite it often for their intention. The words of that psalm are like many voices which express vividly the pain, resignation, love and hope of the poor souls who are burning in the depths of Purgatory. Let us make the firm resolution of reciting it at the end of our prayer.
– Example –
On her death-bed, St. Monica called for her son Augustine. My child, she said, I am dying in peace. I have obtained from God what I have hoped for all my life. Yes, my child, I am dying in peace. Dear Augustine! When I have taken my last breath, do not forget in your prayers at the foot of the Cross the one who was twice your mother. Remember the soul of Monica.
Overwhelmed, Augustine could only answer with tears and his mother died in the joy of Christ. For the last twenty years of his life, he never ceased praying and celebrating Masses for the repose of the one whom he had so loved. He did even more. He asked all the priests he knew and all those who would read his works during the centuries to come to remember his mother Monica. That multitude of prayers would certainly open the gates of Heaven to her!
Prayers for the deceased have a powerful effect. A most revealing example is that which is reported in the Acts of Martyrdom of St. Perpetua. This African martyr died for Christ during the third century.
While Perpetua was in prison, she had a vision, she saw her young brother Dinocrates, who had died seven years earlier, appear in a gloomy field and approach a cistern, filled with water. That cistern was too high for him and unable to reach the water, he looked at his sister imploringly. Perpetua understood that her brother was suffering in atonement for sins he committed during his lifetime. She proceeded to offer prayers and sacrifices for that young soul.
A short while later, Perpetua was granted another vision. She once again saw Dinocrates, but this time he was most joyful. He was scooping buckets of water from the cistern, which had been lowered for him. The gloom in which he had been seen was replaced by a bright light, which radiated all around him. He had been delivered from his torments by his sister’s prayers. The image of this vision is expressed by the Church when it asks God to grant to the souls of the deceased “that place of refreshment, light and peace”.
Let us follow St. Augustine’s example. Let us pray unceasingly for the souls of our dear loved ones. If our mother has died, let us never forget her! Even if she is already in Heaven, our prayers will be beneficial to her as she intercedes for our intentions before the throne of God.
Let Us Pray
Lord Jesus, You who said, Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it will be opened. I beg you, through the merits of Your Holy Wounds, have mercy on those poor souls who languish in Purgatory. Do not reject my prayers. Oh tender and loving Saviour. Hear my pleas and open the gates of Heaven to my unfortunate friends and relatives. May the light that never dies shine upon them! May they rest in eternal 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.