Disclaimer

NOTICE: I am a practicing Catholic, active and in good-standing with my local parish, who professes faith and loyalty to the Church. This ministry - my "little work" - is strictly a personal expression of that faith and loyalty, and not an officially recognized ministry in the Diocese of Honolulu.

~ Peter, Ministry & Blog Administrator


Friday, November 2, 2012

Praying for Our Dearly Departed...


It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought
to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.”

~ 2 Maccabees, 12:46

Today, November 2nd, Holy Mother Church celebrates ALL the blessed souls who have passed on to Eternity.  One of my favorite personal devotions concerns the “Poor (or Holy) Souls”; souls who’ve died in God’s grace but must await their entrance into Heaven because of the spiritual effects of un-atoned sins.  The Poor Souls are purified in the fire of God’s Divine Love and languish in a spiritual state known as “Purgatory”.  As they can no longer help themselves through prayer, penance, and good works, the Church encourages us to assist them by offering prayers and sacrifices on their behalf to lessen their time of purification.

It has been speculated, and even confirmed by many Catholic mystics, that the Poor Souls are very aware of their spiritual benefactors and gratefully intercede for those who assisted with their release from Purgatory.  They can be powerful advocates particularly at the hour of death, as there have been many reports of how these purified souls have appeared to their benefactors in the final moments of life both to comfort them during the death process, and to afterwards escort them into Paradise.  One such example was related in the life of Bl. Ana of the Angels (d. 1686), a Dominican nun from Peru, who had a profound devotion to the Poor Souls... and who in her final illness, was gifted by God with a joyous vision of the thousands of souls awaiting her arrival in Paradise; souls who through her fervent prayers, were released from Purgatory. 

A prayer book with a handprint of a Poor Soul from Purgatory singed
into its pages (preserved in the "Purgatory Museum", Rome).

Furthermore, the lives and stories of many other Saints and Blesseds abound with accounts of their personal encounters with the Poor Souls.  One such Saint - St. Lydwina of Schiedam (d. 1433) - was often conducted by her guardian angel into the depths of Purgatory where she saw suffering souls immersed in fire, who begged her for prayers.  The Saint also witnessed the Blessed Virgin frequently visiting the Poor Souls on special Feast Days, accompanied by many angels, to comfort them and to free those who were ready for Heaven. Other Saints who had similar contact with the Poor Souls, or have visited Purgatory, have included St. Catherine of Genoa (d. 1510), St. Catherine de Ricci (d. 1590), St. Faustina Kowalska (d. 1938), St. Juan Macias (d. 1645), St. Lutgardis (d. 1246), St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (d. 1690), St. Maria Maddalena de Pazzi (d. 1607), St. Nicholas of Tolentino (d. 1305), St. Padre Pio (d. 1968), and St. Therese Couderc (d. 1885), just to name a few.

For details on the Church’s ancient teachings on Purgatory, check out the online Catholic Encyclopedia and other resources readily available on the internet. Interestingly, if you google "Purgatory and Judaism", you'll also find that the concept of purification in the afterlife goes way beyond Catholicism... it was even a belief by the original chosen people of God - the Jews - since Biblical times!

How to Best Help the Poor Souls

Listed below are just a few ways that the average layperson can assist in alleviating the sufferings of the Poor Souls:

1.  First, and foremost, attend Masses on their behalf and/or have Masses offered for their relief/release.

2.  Pray for them using traditional Prayers for the Dead (see below), the Holy Rosary, or offer the Stations of the Cross... and sprinkle Holy Water frequently with the intent of granting the Poor Souls relief.

3.  Perform charitable works on their behalf (e.g. visit a sick person, give to charity, or perform volunteer work).

4.  Offer sacrifices or voluntary penances, big or small, on their behalf (fasting is especially effective).

5.  Last, but certainly not the least, encourage others to pray for them.

Maria Simma, a Modern Mystic & Helper of the Poor Souls

Maria Simma (left photo, d. 2004) was an Austrian lay-mystic who had a God-given mission to aid the Poor Souls through her prayers and self-sacrifice. She had frequent contact with the souls in Purgatory, who came to her unexpectedly, and only through the Lord’s permission (not through occult means, like seances).  Maria was also allowed to visit Purgatory and described it as having three levels; the bottom was close to Hell and filled with fire, while the upper-most level was a place of gloom where souls awaited the end of their purification and their imminent entrance into Heaven.  As disconcerting as her description of Purgatory may seem to some, Maria once made this enlightening comment during an interview:

“No soul would want to come back from Purgatory to the earth. They have knowledge which is infinitely beyond ours. They just could not decide to return to the darkness of the earth. Here we see the difference from the suffering that we know on earth. In Purgatory, even if the pain of the soul is just terrible, there is the certitude of living forever with God. It’s an unshakeable certitude. The joy is greater than the pain. There is nothing on earth which could make them want to live here again, where one is never sure of anything.”

My Mom’s Personal Experience

Before ending this post, please allow me  to share a true story that happened to my mother concerning my father (right photo) who died from cancer in October, 2008.  My mother was missing him terribly after he passed away (they were married for 59 years!) and in early 2009 she called me (from California) to share about an experience she had one morning.  My mom relayed that she awoke to see my father standing near her bed surrounded by a soft glow of light.  She told me that she recognized him, but added that he looked much younger as though he was still in his prime years... and he was smiling lovingly at her.  My mom asked him if he was OK, to which my dad replied:

“Yes... you don't have to worry about me.  Peter (me) sent in the paper and I am doing good.”  [my best English translation from the Filipino Tagalog dialect]

My mom said that my father then held up a small piece of paper that he had in his hand, but she didn’t understand what it meant nor could she see clearly what the writing on it said.  Soon afterwards, he faded from view, leaving my mom with a deep sense of peace and closure in regards to his death.

What made this story all the more remarkable for me was the fact that my dad had told my mother about a certain piece of paper.  The fact is... after my father passed away, I enrolled his name in a Perpetual Mass program with the Daughters of St. Paul in Honolulu, and had filled-out a slip of paper for the nuns to process the enrollment with their motherhouse in Rome; I offered the Masses for the repose of my dad’s soul but I never told my mother about it so that’s how I knew she wasn’t just dreaming about the whole thing.

Needless to say, I too felt a sense of relief and gratitude knowing that the Masses had benefited my dad’s soul... and the Lord had generously allowed him to visit my mother to reassure us that he was enjoying peace in the afterlife.  Thanks be to God!  [For those interested in reading another personal experience involving the Poor Souls, click here.]

Powerful Prayers

After reading this blog, my hope is that viewers will take just a few moments to recite the prayers below for the benefit of our faithful departed.  Pray not only for family members who have passed on... but also kindly offer the prayers for those who have no one to pray for them.  God will surely be pleased.  We may not see the effects of our prayers now... but who knows?  Perhaps when our own time comes, we too, will have a special welcoming party made up of family and new friends waiting for us in Paradise.

+ A Traditional Prayer for the Deceased
   Grant unto them, O Lord, eternal rest and let perpetual light shine upon them.  May they rest in peace.  Amen.

+ Prayer of St. Gertrude the Great (as revealed to her by Jesus)
   Eternal Father, I offer Thee the most precious blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus Christ, in union with all the Masses being prayed 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.

“If only you knew with what great longing these holy souls yearn for relief
from their suffering.  Ingratitude has never entered Heaven.”

~ Words of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

2 comments:

  1. Thank you Peter for your ministry. This is a very well done and informative site. Your deceased father's visit is such a blessing for you and your dear mother. God bless you and keep up your holy work!
    A sister in the LORD! Praise God in all things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sister in Christ, for your kind words. My mother's experiences was indeed a consolation for all of us... and encouragement to continue praying for my father's soul, and the rest of the Poor Souls. Yes, let us praise the Lord for his immense goodness and mercy!

      Delete

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