Pray for the Souls in Purgatory
A Reflection by Fred Schaeffer, OFS
On November 2nd, we are reminded of the souls in Purgatory. The Catholic Church calls our attention to the importance and our obligation to pray daily, offer sacrifices, for all those who have died. Nowadays, during wake services and/or church funerals, the priest or clergyman is apt to say that the recently departed went straight to Heaven. Well, that is certainly what we all wish to hear about our dearly beloved, but it probably isn't so. There is a good likelihood that we will all end up in Purgatory first. So, what is Purgatory? The answer is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in paragraphs 1030-1032.
"1030 All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven."
"1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent...."
"1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.”
"609 From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead: Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them."
So, Purgatory is a state of purification, to prepare a soul for union with God. None of us will be ready for that, as God is so sublime, that we do not now know what He is like, except what we have learned from the Saints. God wants every human being to be a part of the "body of Christ" not in some earthly way, but in a deep spiritual reality that cannot be defined until we are made ready for this state in our existence.
Many older Catholics remember the insistence of the Church to pray fervently for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, yes - these souls are Holy, because they will go to Heaven - they are being prepared, purified, so we pray in Psalm 129, "De Profundis" (Text from the Raccolta):
"Out of the depths I have cried unto Thee, O Lord,
Lord, hear my voice.
Let Thine ears be attentive: to the voice of my supplication.
If Thou, O Lord, shalt mark our iniquities: O lord, who can abide it?
For with Thee there is mercy: and by reason of Thy law I have waited on Thee, O Lord.
My soul hath waited on His word: my soul hath hoped in
From the morning watch even unto night: let Israel hope in the Lord.
For with the Lord there is mercy: and with Him is plenteous redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel: from all his iniquities.
Eternal rest give to them, O Lord.
And let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen.
V. Lord hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.
Let us pray.
O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful; grant to the souls of Thy servants departed the remission of all their sins, that by our devout supplications they may obtain that pardon which they have always desired. Who lives and reigns world without end. Amen.
V. Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord.
R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.
V. May they rest in peace.
Please pray for the Souls in Purgatory every day.
Peace and all Good,
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
written 2010, rev. 2018
A Gift of a New
by Fred Schaeffer, OFS 2019
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