Feast of All Souls.
If God allowed me to pass on only three things to others they would
be the Morning Offering, the Divine Mercy and devotion to the Holy
Souls, in that order. That explains my shameless re-run of this All
Souls' Day post.
First, a great quote:
We must not make purgatory into a flaming concentration camp on the
brink of hellâ"or even a âhell for a short time. It is
blasphemous to think of it as a place where a petty God exacts the
last poundâ"or ounceâ"of flesh.... St. Catherine of Genoa, a
mystic of the 15th century, wrote that the âfireâ of purgatory
is Godâs love âburningâ the soul so that, at last, the soul
is wholly aflame. It is the pain of wanting to be made totally
worthy of One who is seen as infinitely lovable, the pain of desire
for union that is now
absolutely assured, but not yet fully tastedâ (Leonard Foley,
O.F.M., Believing in Jesus)
I beg the indulgence [now that is neither a Freudian slip nor a
pun!!] of all our readers to who belong to traditions which do not
believe in prayers for the dead. Given today's feast and the
content, this is going to be a very Catholic message, but we have
many Catholics in our midst, some of whom could well need to hear it.
For Catholics in union with Rome, Purgatory is a defined dogma, a
reality we cannot deny. How it happens, how long the purification
and cleansing lasts, these matters are less clear, but we have not,
as a Church abandoned the concept of Purgatory, nor could we. It is
de Fide, a permanent fixture of Catholic faith. It could be a flash
of brilliance in a twinkling, as is fashionable today to hope, but
it could be otherwise, too. We simply do not know and
our wishes in the matter, however charitable, are not normative!
We also believe that in the cleansing, however brief or long, the
soul has lost all ability to help itself. Help can come only from
our prayers and those of the Church on earth for the Church
Suffering, the Holy Souls. Hence, ANY assistance given them is held
by them in literally eternal gratitude. Their prayers of
intercession, I KNOW, from my own personal experience over years,
are very, very powerful with God. I have never had them refuse me
any good thing. Never.
I often think that their gratitude is even greater these days, when
so many Catholics have abandoned the practice of praying for them
or offering good works or indulgences for them. If you have a heart
for the underdog and neglected, for Heaven's sake (literally!!) take
another look at praying for the Holy Souls who await their final
entry to Heaven. Prayer for them is a work of mercy you can do any
day, at any time. Corporal works of mercy sometimes may be out of
our means or scope, but spiritual ones, never so!
So yes, this day there is a special urgency, but every year, every
day, stop forgetting the Holy Souls if you have been doing so in
the past. They are great friends to have and they need us so badly.
We can make the daily intention to gain all the indulgences we can
that day and offer them for the Souls. What a great good is offered
us to undertake every day.
Now, though you were all forewarned, this part is REALLY Roman
Catholic. A plenary (full) indulgence, applicable only to the Holy
Souls, may be gained by those who under the usual conditions and
having gone to Confession and Communion, visit a cemetery and say
there some prayer of any kind for the Holy Souls. This indulgence
may be gained on the feast itself and daily for 7 days thereafter.
Go for it!
If you have never tried the practice of saying a prayer for those
buried in every cemetery you pass, do so. I confess that I didn't
do that for most of my life, but I do now and it has become a
practice very dear to me. I got my first good example of it when
riding with the late Fr. Ernest Schultz of Saint Leo Abbey, himself
a convert. He used to bless the graves in cemeteries as we drove
past. I never forgot his example, but I am ashamed to say how long
it took for me to follow it regularly.
Last, but not least, a simple prayer, said to have been given to
our own St. Gertrude the Great, OSB! The revelation apparently is
contested by some as unverifiable, but I am willing to hope on the
side of mercy. Jesus is reputed to have told her that 1,000 souls
would be released for each repetition of this prayer, hence it is
sometimes known as the 1,000 Souls Prayer. It is one of my
Eternal Father, I offer You the most precious Blood of Your Divine
Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world
today for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
It is short, sweet and easily memorized!
Love and prayers,