I would like to reflect upon a quote from St. John Vianney this evening on the Poor Souls in Purgatory:
"If people only know how great is the power of the souls in Purgatory and how many graces we can obtain from God through their intercession, they would not be so forgotten. Let us pray well for them, so that they may pray for us." -St. John Vianney
Let's allow this statement from the great 19th Century Saint sink in for a minute. He comes to some conclusions in this quote on which I would like to reflect
1. Vianney admits that the poor souls in Purgatory are forgotten. I was recently at a non-Catholic funeral for a relative, and I felt sorry for the relative who had died because in the entire service, not once was there a prayer offered for her soul (this was a Christian Church, which probably presumed that she is already in Heaven). The sad thing is that we can't admit such things. Suppose there was a stain on her soul (as is likely for many): she wouldn't be ready to see God as He is in Heaven. He would have to dim His glory for her, and that would not be just or fair to my relative, or to anybody else entering Heaven with the stain of sin. I pray especially hard for her, as I may be the only one on earth specifically praying for her.
In many cases, however, how often do we remember the souls of the just who have gone before us, marked with the sign of Faith? Do we haphazardly remember their date of death and offer a momentary prayer for them? Do we offer Masses for our loved ones who have died? If we only knew the suffering the souls endure! If we did, we would pray every moment for them to see the glory of God; moreover, we would strive for Heavenly beatitude all the more, glorifying God in all things and asking the Saints for their intercession as an aide to our holiness.
If you are not accustomed to praying for the souls in Purgatory, would you try to offer the following prayer for them and their release from that place of suffering: "Eternal rest, grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls, and the souls of all the Faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen." If you are in the habit of regularly praying for the souls, I invite you to pray to our Lady of Purgatory, that she may bring comfort and consolation through the mercy of God to the souls in Purgatory. Either way, all of the Christian faithful should, at some point in the course of their day, lift up some prayer to the Holy Souls in Purgatory. This is a great act of love that can be shown towards these souls who suffer continuously for the greater glory of God.
2. We pray for them so they may pray for us. Do you not think that those souls who are released to Heaven by our merits and prayers do not have a special care for us? One can imagine, and I think it is true, that if we aid a soul in finally reaching Heaven, they would pray for us in a special way to God for our own sanctification and for God's mercy. We ought to pray for the souls in Purgatory in a selfless manner (not just that they can pray for us); but rather, pray for them because they are suffering. We want to alleviate their suffering, so we pray for them so that they can be rewarded Heaven sooner. It is, however, an added bonus that they pray for us, and some of us, especially myself, need all the help we can get.
Let us take a moment to pray for the Holy Souls, that they may soon reach God's glory manifest to those in Heaven. Our Lady, Consoler of the Souls in Purgatory, Pray for them.
May you remain close to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
April 20th, 2015