Several years back, I ordered some green scapulars from a Catholic apostolate. Upon reception of the package, not only the green scapulars were in the envelope, but a booklet came with it. I was pretty sure I didn’t order any booklets. I looked at the cover, and the title read Read Me or Rue It by Fr. Paul Sullivan. Intrigued, I started reading it. It’s a very short booklet, with the latter section for prayers. When I was done reading, I was flabbergasted. I don’t even know if that’s the appropriate word. I was surprised, blown away.
The month of November is dedicated to the holy souls in purgatory. And that’s what the booklet is all about, the poor souls. A little Catechism here: According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, purgatory “is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.”
Before reading the booklet, I knew very little about purgatory. From what I remember in our Catechism classes when I was younger was that purgatory was an in-between place; it’s not hell, but it’s not heaven either. I also thought that purgatory was a place where one stays in for eternity. What a totally wrong definition that was.
The holy souls in purgatory are called the Church Suffering. According to the booklet, the sufferings in purgatory are incomparable to the worst sufferings that could be experienced here on earth. We pray for the holy souls because God wants us to and charity urges us to do so. The holy souls cannot help or pray for themselves anymore. We, the Church Militant, can help them and pray for them. It’s also helpful to know that the holy souls in purgatory can pray for us. When you pray for the holy souls, you can be assured that they are praying for you fervently. You can ask for their intercession for your prayer petitions. It is said that the holy souls are not outdone in generosity. We pray for them and help them get to heaven at a sooner time, but the favors they obtain for us surpass the acts we offer for them. This is because the holy souls are very grateful to us for all that we do for them. Their stay in purgatory is shortened and their entry into heaven and to be with God forever is sooner than expected.
So what are some of the ways we could help the holy souls?
The best way to help them is to offer Holy Masses for them. Attend Masses as often as you can for them. If you are a daily Mass goer, include in your intentions the souls in purgatory to every Mass you go to.
Pray the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross for them. Apply the indulgences you have gained to the holy souls.
Sprinkling holy water for them is said to bring relief.
Dealing with an annoying person, or suffering from some sickness or temporary setbacks? Offer up your sufferings for the holy souls.
Do some penance or sacrifice for them, which can be as simple as abstaining from soda for lunch today.
Another helpful prayer is the St. Gertrude prayer, which goes, “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. Amen.” This short prayer can be said often throughout the day, while you’re doing household chores, during lunch break at school or at the workplace, while waiting in line, or while waiting for your computer to boot up.
Read How to Avoid Purgatory and Read Me or Rue It, both by Fr. Paul Sullivan to know more about purgatory. There are several books and resources about purgatory which you can easily look up on the Internet.
Encourage others to pray for the holy souls. You could bring up this topic at your next youth group meeting or campus ministry gathering, or suggest to your parish priest to talk about this to the parishioners.
Let us pray for the holy souls in purgatory not just in November, but as often as we can. You can offer up a short prayer for them as you finish reading this article.
Jessamine is from Asia and is passionate about the Catholic faith, daily Mass, beautiful things, personal finance,classical music,natural health,fashion,among others. She has a Business Administration degree under her belt and is currently working as an analyst. An avid Catholic, she has a devotion to the holy souls in purgatory and the angels and saints such as St. Raphael and her guardian angel. Some of her dreams are to be a successful entrepreneur and to be a world traveler. A volunteer moderator for xt3.com, she was one of the first members who signed up for the social networking site set up for World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney. She also used to be a blogger for the collaborative effort Saint Maria’s Messenger.