Is Anybody There?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Monday, November 01, 2010

November - Set Aside by the Catholic Church As A Special Time to Pray for the Souls In Purgatory

While most of us think that November 2nd, All Souls Day, is the only day set aside in November to pray for the souls in Purgatory, it just isn't true. Many diferent religious orders, like the Franciscans, also have a day set aside in the month to pray for those members of their order who are in purgatory.
But there is more.
While we should be praying for them all year round, the Catholic Church has long declared the entire month of November as a special time to pray for those who have died & are undergoing their final purification before entering Heaven.
1st a little reminder of what the Catholic Church Teaches about Purgatory:
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. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:
As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.
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." 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
." Catechism of the Catholic Church
In his catechesis at the general audience on 9 August 1999, Pope John Paul II talked about Purgatory. In that talk he reminded us that Purgatory isn't so much a place, as we in the Latin Church have often viewed it, but the state of final purification which is how the Eastern Catholic & Eastern Orthodox tend to view it. (Most Eastern Churchs also do not use the word Purgatory either.) But regardless of whether it is an actual place or not, the important thing is the fact that these souls have need of purification to enter into the happiness of heaven & are in that state of purification. & it is our moral duties as members of the Church Millitant to pray for them to aid those in the Church Suffering to join the Church Triumphant in Heaven.
The Catholic Church provides us with many ways to help those souls to acheive that complete purification. Obviously having Masses said for those souls is 1 of the best ways. & no, the Church didn't institute that idea just as a way to make money. While a stipend is requested, Church law makes it clear that if a person cannot afford the stipend, the request cannot be refused. The purpose of a stipend was to help provide for the cost of the materials (bread & wine) as well as meet the needs of the priests. In the old days most priests did not receive a salary & depended on the stipends for even basic expenses. This is still true in many places for missionary priests. Aid for the Church in Need has a program set up to enable you to have Masses said. The Salesians of Don Bosco are another.
But the Church has also provides many other ways to help the souls in purgatory through prayer & devotions. 2 of the most well known are the Rosary & the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
Another is the prayer given to St. Gertrude the Great: "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." According to St. Gertrude every time that prayer is said, 1000 souls are released from Purgatory. While the Catholic Church has approved the prayer, it has never said that 1000 is the actual number, rather the number should be taken to symbolize a large multitude. The Catholic Church has also extended that grace to apply to those of us still living as well.
In fact, part of our prayers should be for the living, especially those who are nearing death. The Pious Union of St. Joseph for the Suffering and Dying is an association that was founded by Blessed Fr. Louis Guanella*. As you may remember, 1 of St. Joseph's roles is as patron of a happy death. He was declared thus by the Church owing to the fact that he died in the presence of Mary & Jesus. The Pius Union was canonically recognized on 12 February 1914, & was declared a "Primary Confraternity" by Pope St. Pius X.
Pope St Pius wrote: "We desire to make known how much we appreciate this most praiseworthy Association and we wish our name to be the first inscribed among the members of the same, exhorting all our dear Brothers in the priesthood not to forget the dying each day in the Divine Sacrifice. We, likewise, exhort all the faithful, and especially Religious, to accustom themselves to raise up special prayers to God and to St. Joseph in favor of the dying."
The Pius Union provides us with many resources to pray for the dying. Please go to their website for more.
Another excellent resource of info on prayers & devotions is Susan Tassone. Her mission is to be a passionate champion for the holy souls in purgatory. She travels arround speaking to encourage people to grow in the practice of praying for those souls. I had the privledge of meeting her recently when she spoke at St. Mary's Catholic Church in E DBQ. & I can assure you that she has a deep & sincere love for those souls. She has also written many excellent books with a wide variety of resources to help us help those souls. You can go to her website to find out more. As a start I highly recommend her book Praying With the Saints for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. The book provides an excellent overview of the devotions, prayers, & practices of the Communion of Saints over the ages that have been offered up on behalf of souls in purgatory, the “Church Suffering.” She also looks at the saints’ ardent desire to intercede for the holy souls that impelled them to pray ceaselessly for their eternal rest. The cover alone is a very inspiring piece of art that summarizes what is in the book.
This is only a start. As I said there are many resources out there for us to use. But what ever we chose, Masses, Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, etc, the important point is that we are to pray for those souls. In fact, it is 1 of the 7 Spiritual Works of Mercy that the Catholic Church says all of us are required to do as a part of living our faith out every day.
So, let us take every opportunity we can this November (& the rest of the year) to help our brothers & sisters who are undergoing the final purification to quickly reach their final reward of eternal life & the Beatific Vision. & also to pray for the living who are in the process of dying so that they will be prepared to die in a state of grace & thus avoid hell & attain Heaven as well.
* A miracle was approved by Papa Benedetto last Summer & the date for his canonization as a saint will be determined early in 2011.



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