The holy souls in purgatory can be so easily forgotten. It can be more natural to gravitate directly to Jesus, Mary, Joseph and all of the saints. We forget that many of our brothers and sisters are still waiting to enter into full communion with our Lord. The Church gives us the month of November as a special time to focus especially on praying for the holy souls in purgatory.
What is purgatory and Who goes to purgatory?
Purgatory is a place of purification and anybody who needs a bit more help cleansing their soul can be there. The catechism of the Catholic Church sums it up ever so beautifully, “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, as as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (No. 1030). This phrase sums up so beautifully that these souls are assured of eternal salvation but just have to be held in a waiting room until they are ready. It is a given fact that God is truly all merciful. He didn’t say nope, just heaven and hell, either your perfect or not! He knew we may need a bit more tweaking before meeting him face to face.
Purgatory in the Bible
In the bible purgatory is not explicitly mentioned, but purification is mentioned in order to enter into full communion with God. Before Jesus’ time the Jewish people believed and recognized this need and that those who are living aided in this process. If you look more closely within the book of Macabees Judas is known to have prayed for his fallen comrades who passed away stating, “he made atonement for the dead that they might be absolved from their sin”(Maccabees, 2:12). In the new testament Matthew clearly references purgatory when he says that Jesus said, “whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” making it known that some sins can be forgiven in the age to come (Matthew, 12:32).
Why pray for the souls in purgatory?
We know that purgatory exists and have the example in the bible to pray for our brothers and sisters who have passed. We also believe in the communion of saints and how our prayers have a tangible and intangible impact. So essentially we pray for the souls in purgatory to help them pass more quickly over the great divide that separates them from God and repair their sin.
Not only can we help them, but we can actually shorten our time there once we ourselves pass by being generous and offering suffrage and penance for our sins and those who have passed in this life. We hold a great potential to help the holy souls in purgatory, especially offering up our mass, rosary or daily work for them.
Some of our greatest allies can be born from this tapping into the beauty of the communion of saints. The holy souls in purgatory. Out of charity, out of justice,and out of excusable selfishness (they have such power with God!) remember them often in your sacrifices and in your prayers. May you be able to say when you speak of them, ‘My good friends, the souls in purgatory’ (The Way, 571).
Prayer of St. Gertrude for the souls in purgatory
Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.