Reminders to seek holiness

Today, 2 Nov 2012, is the feast day of All Souls and yesterday was the solemnity of All Saints. Both days remind us that life has a purpose, and that purpose is complete union with Jesus in Heaven. Yesterday we shared the joy of those who have attained the happiness of Heaven and today we pray in solidarity with those being purified from sin so that they too may enter Heaven.

To help not only the Holy Souls in Purgatory, but all those who want to grow in their union with Jesus, a PDF version of ‘An Unpublished Manuscript on Purgatory’ was uploaded to the Resources page today. Each and every time I re-read this little book I get inspired and encouraged to do more of those things that please God.

The “Manuscript” is the record of interactions between a nun and a deceased member of her religious order. Because the deceased had not lived an exemplary life, her Purgatory was a long one. In His goodness and mercy, God permitted the deceased to visit the nun and to answer many questions about Purgatory and the spiritual life. These interactions took place between 1874 and 1890. Frequently the deceased reminds the nun that the speed of her progress through Purgatory is closely linked to the nun’s progress in holiness. The closer to God the nun is, the more effective her prayers and penances are to the deceased. For these many urgings to grow in holiness alone this Manuscript is worth reading and sharing with others.

Here are a few snippets to whet your appetite for more….

July 16th 1876. “The Holy Eucharist must be as a magnet for you, drawing you always more and more powerfully. This Sacrament must be the main object of your life.”

August 28th 1876. “Have no other desire than to love God always more and more. Try to be ever more closely united to Him. Endeavor to lead each day a more interior life, a life more closely united to your Jesus. This interior union with Jesus is brought about by your sufferings of body and soul, but above all by your longing love for Him. May you indeed conform to God’s plan by this interior life. He insists on it so pleadingly. I cannot tell you now the degree of sanctity and union with Himself to which He will lead you or what graces He has in store for you. I have, of course, spoken of some of these graces. The others are unknown to me. Guard well your actions, your very presence must inspire devotion.”

Un-dated. “I receive far more relief from one of your actions done in union with Jesus, than from a vocal prayer, because what is it that God hears? He hears all that is done with an interior spirit. The more closely a soul is united with God the more readily does He grant all it asks. A soul intimately united with Jesus is the mistress of His Heart. Strive then after this union which Jesus has desired to have with you for so long. You want to please Him? Well, this is the only way. You approach closer to His Heart by great attention to the least manifestation of His holy will. He must be able to twist and turn you as He likes and He must never find any resistance on your part. When you have arrived at that point you will begin to see and understand His goodness. Be really in earnest about working for God alone.”

November 1880. “Seriously reflect how many venial sins one who is careless about her eternal salvation commits in one day. How many minutes does she offer up to God? Does she think of Him seriously at all? Well, there are 365 days in one year, and if there are many such years, that person dies charged with a multitude of venial sins which have not been blotted out because she has not even thought of them. When such a soul appears before God to be judged there is scarcely a spark of love left in that soul when she comes to render an account of her life to Him who demands it back from her. Such all but sterile lives have to be begun all over again, when they reach this place of expiation. Lives lived without love for God will have to be atoned for here in Purgatory with intense sufferings. Whilst on earth, they did not profit by the mercy of God, but lived merely for the sake of the body. Now to regain their first splendour, they have to make satisfaction to the last farthing. This is what happens to indifferent souls. For souls of greater guilt, it is far worse.”

Eternal Rest grant unto all the Holy Souls in Purgatory O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.

My Jesus, Mercy!






My song is of Mercy and Justice

This line taken from the beginning of Psalm 100 (101) is easily applied to the Holy Souls in Purgatory – for whom we pray particularly on this Easter Friday of the Divine Mercy novena. While they wait and suffer, eagerly longing to enter the fulness of heaven, they are in continual praise and adoration of God’s Mercy as they willingly adore and satisfy the requirements of God’s Justice.

Only those souls totally purified of sin can remain in the presence of God. To be in God’s heavenly presence and to be stained with sin is agony. So the Mercy of God prepared a place of purification; the experience we call Purgatory. The good Lord grants us many opportunities on earth to become completely converted to Him before we die, because He knows that any converting we didn’t do in this life will have to be done in the next life. Each one of us is on a different stage on the journey of conversion and each one of us takes a different amount of time to get from one stage to the next.

Think, for example, about how long it has taken you to see the necessity of forgiving your enemies. Some people might take a year to get to that point, others could take 20 years to get there. A further step on the journey of conversion would be willingly praying for your enemies and an even more advanced step would be to love your enemies. See what Jesus said about this to St Gertrude the Great….“I desire my close friends to follow Me by showing greater affection for their enemies than for their benefactors, because they will derive incomparibly more benefit from their enemies.” You need to get to each step before the good Lord can lead you to the next step.

Understanding this will help you comprehend why some souls will spend a few years in Purgatory and others will spend many decades. By the way we live we choose how much of our conversion continuum happens on earth and how much happens in Purgatory. 

That is why it makes perfect sense to me that on Good Friday the Divine Mercy novena asks that we pray for sinners, and on Easter Friday the same novena asks us to pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. In the first we are praying for the conversion of the living and in the latter we are praying for the conversion of the dead. They are two sides of the same coin.

How great the Mercy of God is! He is always seeking ways to reduce the amount of time that souls spend in Purgatory. With this Divine Mercy novena intention the Lord Jesus has created a new day especially dedicated to aiding the Holy Souls in addition to the Feast Day of All Souls (2nd Nov). In my books, today is a day of joy because it is a day set apart for the relief of the Suffering Souls.

The Scripture readings for today’s Mass don’t lend themselves to the novena intentions as much as on the other days. The closest we come to is having Peter and John in prison for healing the lame man (Acts chapter 4). Prisons and Purgatory have a lot in common. In the Gospel we see God’s loving care for the disciples, preparing them breakfast on the beach – even though they seem to be more interested in counting fish. It is a reminder, however, to trust the judgement of Jesus, -not our own – and to trust His judgement particularly with those things that we cannot see (like Purgatory).

So important is this Novena intention for the Holy Souls that Jesus used it to impart quite a bit if teaching. He invites us to ask Him to send torrents of His Blood upon the Holy Souls and reminds us how much we can bring relief these Holy Souls if we pray and offer indulgenced prayers for them. Immensely loved by Jesus, He acutely feels the delay in being united to them even worse than they do. Praying for the Suffering Souls is one way to show Jesus Himself Mercy.

Here are some prayers that you might like to use….

Eternal Father, I offer You the Holy Wounds of Your Son, and His Precious Blood, for the conversion of sinners and for the relief of the souls in Purgatory. Amen.

Eternal Father, by virtue of Your generosity and love, I ask that You accept all my actions, and that You multiply their value in favour of every soul in Purgatory. Amen.

O gentlest Heart of Jesus, ever present in the Blessed Sacrament, ever consumed with burning love for the poor captive souls in Purgatory, have mercy on the soul of Your departed servant ……………….. Be not severe in Your judgment, but let some drops of Your Precious Blood fall on him (or her), and send, O merciful Saviour, Your angels to conduct him (or her) to a place of refreshment, light and peace. Amen.

O Holy Souls in Purgatory, who are the certain heirs of heaven, souls most dear to Jesus as the trophies of His Precious Blood and to Mary, mother of mercy, obtain for me through your intercession the grace to lead a holy life, to die a happy death and to attain to the blessedness of eternity in heaven. Dear sufferings souls, who languish in your prison of pain and long to be delivered in order to praise and glorify God in heaven, by your unfailing pity help me at this time, particularly in ………………… that I may obtain relief and assistance from God. In gratitude for your intercession I offer to God on your behalf the satisfactory merits of all my works and sufferings of this day (week, month, or whatever space of time you wish to designate), Amen.

Jesus, I trust in You.

(P.S. following on from yesterdays blogpost, you might be interested in reading about a near death experience…. )

O Happy Day!

Today, 2 Nov 2011, is the Feast Day of All Souls. What a happy day this is, when we recall the lives and love of those who have preceded us into eternity and assist them with our prayers to hasten their attainment of the joys of heaven! Today, of all the days of November, our prayers assist everyone in Purgatory, even those in the very lowest levels.

The ‘Unpublished Manuscript on Purgatory’ says “On All Souls Day many souls leave the place of expiation and go to Heaven. Also, by a special grace of God on that day only, all the suffering souls, without exception, have a share in the public prayers of the Church, even those who are in the great Purgatory*. Still the relief of each soul is in proportion to its merits. Some receive more, some less, but all feel the benefit of this extraordinary grace. Many of the suffering souls receive this one help only in all the long years they pass here and this by the justice of God.”

In Susan Tassone’s ‘Thirty-Day Devotions for the Holy Souls’ on Day 21 is the following story: “A beautiful legend says that when Jesus was bleeding to death on the Cross, an angel asked Him to whom the last drop of His Heart’s Blood should belong, and He answered: ‘To my beloved Mother, that she may the more easily endure her sorrow.’ ‘Not so, my Son,’ Mary is said to have answered. ‘Grant it to the souls in Purgatory, that they may be free from pain on at least one day of the year.” 

Now these excerpts are both from private revelation, and you are free to take heed of them or ignore them as you wish. For me, it is such a joy to know that today – because of God’s goodness - I can help with prayers those souls who so rarely receive a share in the prayers offered by the whole Church for the Holy Souls. How much the good God longs for His children to enter heaven! Each time our prayers help a soul to gain entry to heaven we bring God and all of the citizens of heaven great joy.

Assisting the Holy Souls is something that God encourages with miracles. Here is one story taken from Chapter 5 of ‘Charity for the Suffering Souls’ by Rev. John A. Nageleisen. 

Christopher Sandoval, the archbishop of Sevilla in Pope Gregory VIII’s time, was once a student at the university of Louvain. From childhood he had formed the habit of saving money to give as alms for the Suffering Souls. It happened that his usual allowance from Spain failed to arrive and he suffered hunger. He was so sad that he couldn’t help the Holy Souls as usual, so he decided to do what was still in his power. He went without a meal and spent the time in church praying for the Suffering Souls. Within moments there was a beautifully dressed youthful traveller at his side who invited him to a meal. At the end of the meal the stranger gave him a purse of money. It held just enough to keep Christopher going until his allowance arrived. Christopher searched everywhere trying to locate this young man, and failed, concluding that he had been visited by a soul from Purgatory in gratitude for his assistance. 

So what can we do to help the Holy Souls?

The Church greatly encourages us to visit cemeteries and pray for the dead. In ‘The Handbook of Indulgences’ No 13 states “An indulgence is granted the Christian faithful who devoutly visit a cemetery and pray, if only mentally, for the dead. This indulgence is applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory. This indulgence is a plenary one from November 1 through November 8 and can be gained on each one of these days. On other days of the year this indulgence is a partial one.”

(Plenary indulgences also require holy communion, confession, an Our Father, a Creed (Apostles, Nicene etc), and a prayer for the Pope’s intentions.)

In a nutshell, (and very simplistically) an indulgence means that the Church adds power to our prayers. Our own unaided prayers might help a Holy Soul like a single chamois cloth, adding an indulgence could make them as effective as an automated car wash.

For the same reason, when I visit a cemetery I take containers of holy water with me with which to sprinkle the gravesites. Holy water is like liquid prayer; when the priest blesses water to make it holy the prayer power of the whole Church is infused into it. Deodatus one of the Desert Fathers said, ‘As the flowers withering in the heat of the sun are refreshed by the rain, so also the souls in Purgatory – these flowers elect of heaven, scorched by the Sun of eternal Justice – are refreshed by the devout application of holy water.’

The best help we can give the Holy Souls is to offer Holy Mass for them, and to offer Holy Communions for them. The next great help is the Office for the Dead, because this is the prayer of the whole Church united to the prayer of Jesus. Following very close behind is the Holy Rosary and the Stations of the Cross. Then come the Chaplet of Mercy, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, almsgiving, acts of self denial and all kinds of other prayers.

Here is a description of the great Purgatory (from the ‘Unpublishd Manuscript on Purgatory.’) It always motivates me to pray for these souls on All Souls Day.

“In the great Purgatory are several stages. In the lowest and most painful, like a temporary hell, are the sinners who have committed terrible crimes during life and whose death surprised them in that state. It was almost a miracle that they were saved, and often by the prayers of holy parents or other pious persons….Next to these come the souls, who though they did not commit great crimes like the others, were indifferent to God…They are in Purgatory for the long years of indifference…..There are in this stage of Purgatory religious of both sexes, who were tepid, neglectful of their duties, indifferent towards Jesus, also priests who did not exercise their sacred ministry with the reverence due to the Sovereign Majesty and who did not instill the love of God sufficiently into the souls confided to their care.”

Let us thank God for all of those happy ones who will enter heaven today, and for all those whose time of Purgatory has been greatly shortened due to All Souls Day.

Eternal Rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. May their souls, and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the Mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

Holy Souls in Purgatory, we will pray for you. Please pray for us in return.