Grabbing the headlines regularly is the power of prayer. An Arizona Journal reported that “intercessory prayer” produced measurable improvement in the medical outcome of critically ill patients. Prayer heals. Prayer works miracles. Prayer is the key to Heaven. Prayer is an indispensable means of attaining salvation for ourselves, our families, and our deceased loved ones. Fervent and submissive prayer moves the heart of God to mercy. Blessed John Paul II told us there is no apostolic action without prayer.
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the highest act of worship and the highest form of prayer. The Mass is the greatest act of selfless love. “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.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1032)
The Mass is the most efficacious prayer of relieving and releasing the souls in purgatory. On one occasion, while St. Bernard was celebrating Mass in a church near the Three Fountains of St. Paul in Rome, he saw a ladder stretching from earth to Heaven, and on it angels descending and ascending. They took souls from Purgatory and led them into Paradise. A painting of this is hung over the same altar where he offered Masses for the suffering souls.
Today many are discovering how the Eucharist for the deceased also heals the living as they come into a deeper relationship with Jesus and the deceased.
Dr. Ken McCall had more than 1,000 cases of emotional and physical healing occurring with his clients primarily through the Eucharist offered for the deceased.
We know how terrible the pain of Purgatory is through the writings of the Doctors of the Church and Church Fathers. The primary pain of the soul in purgatory is “loss.” Once the soul sees the face of God for one brief moment the eyes of the soul can never close without inexpressible pain. The soul realizes the beauty and loveableness of God and what joy it is to be with Him. The soul sees clearly God’s Providence in all things. However, the soul is unable to be with God. The soul experiences an insatiable hunger and thirst for God and it cries out, God! God! I must be with God!
It is our duty to pray especially for the souls of our family, friends, and benefactors. Pray especially for our priests, and consecrated religious. We tend to “canonize” our clergy and loved ones immediately after their death. Fr. Frederick Faber tells us, “We are apt to leave off too soon praying for our parents, friends, or relatives, imagining with a foolish enlightened esteem for the holiness of their lives, that they are freed from Purgatory much sooner than they really are.”
Let us be their advocate by our prayers, sacrifices, sufferings and almsgiving this Lent 2012 and turn their pain into everlasting joy.
I invite you in a special way to make your Lenten Journey the best ever for the release of the holy souls in purgatory. Do you realize how many fresh intercessors you will have at Easter by helping to bring about their release? After Christmas, the second greatest number of souls are released at Easter.
Let us leave no soul behind in purgatory. Here are a few suggestions to give “Paradise” to our loved ones and friends for Easter.
Who do you miss the most? Who do you wish you could have done more for?Who hurt you? Who are your enemies? Who needs healing in your families?Have a Mass offered for them! The Mass heals the living and the deceased.
Offer Gregorian Masses for your deceased loved ones. Gregorian Masses are a series of 30 Masses celebrated on thirty consecutive days for the repose of one deceased soul. Gregorian Masses derive their name from Pope St. Gregory the Great who was the first to popularize this practice. St. Gregory relates in his Dialogues how, when he finished the series of 30 Masses for a departed monk, the monk appeared to tell he gained entry into Heaven on completion of the Gregorian Masses. Arrange to have these in your Will.
The Eastern Catholic Church does not celebrate All Souls Day on November 2, but “All Souls Saturdays” during Lent! The Saturdays of Lent are given over to “All Souls” where the Eastern Church remembers them five times where they commemorate them by having a liturgy for souls of all deceased loved ones and the reading out of their names.
These names are put in a book called the “Scroll of the Deceased.” So when we celebrate in this very penitential period they are also praying for those whom Christ has called to Himself. Let us join our Byzantine brothers and sisters during this Great Lent and remember our loved ones on “All Souls Saturdays.” We can offer our Mass and indulgences, The Way of the Cross, or the Rosary. We can sit before the Blessed Sacrament or Eucharistic Adoration on the Saturdays of Lent.
Saturdays are dedicated to Our Lady. Mary stood by when her Son died for the redemption of souls. Through her life she had constantly before her mind the work He had come to accomplish. Now she sees those souls red with the Divine Blood by which they were purchased. The love of her heart embraces also purgatory. She is the loving Mother of the souls in purgatory.
She, too, has gone through a fire of tribulation by which she is known as the “Comforter of the Afflicted.” Her life was a sea of sorrow, poverty, exile and persecution in the tragic separation on the Cross. All these sufferings were a real purgatory for her. We can practice the Five First Saturdays during Lent in Reparation to her Immaculate Heart as she requested at Fatima.
A beautiful legend says that when Jesus was bleeding to death on the Cross, an angel asked Him to whom the last drop of His Heart’s blood should belong, and He answered: “To my beloved Mother, that she may the more easily endure her sorrow.” “Not so, my Son,” Mary is said to have answered, “Grant it to the souls in Purgatory, that they may be free from pain on at least one day of the year.”
Ite ad Joseph—Go to Joseph!
Join the Pious Union of St. Joseph dedicated to the suffering and dying. Do you need a conversion in your family, are your children away from the Church, do you want peace of mind, do you need a job, and yes, do you want to sell your home? Go to Joseph and pray for the holy souls in honor of him. St. Joseph is the patron of a “Happy Death”---which means to die in the state of grace (not in the state of New York or Illinois)! We must petition God through St. Joseph for all your loved ones to receive this final blessing from God.
I also recommend the Holy Cloak Novena that comes from the Pious Union of St. Joseph. It is an very powerful novena that you can say during the month of March.
Just think of the power and privilege God has given to us to help Him in releasing souls from Purgatory. St. Thomas Aquinas said, “Of all prayers, the most meritorious, the most acceptable to God are prayers for the dead, because they imply all the works of charity, both corporal an spiritual.”
We are the souls only resource. We alone are their deliverers; for we alone can suffer with merit and release them. Heaven encourages them, we deliver them.
Bishop Fulton Sheen noted, “As we enter Heaven we will see them, so many of them coming towards us and thanking us. We will ask, who they are, and they will say a poor soul you prayed for in Purgatory.”
We have this great power given to us to expiate sins by enduring, suffering, praying for the deceased, and imitating Our Lord. When we emulate Him by fasting, by abstaining, by praying, and by persevering, we are able to bring our souls and others into the sweet smelling grace of Our Lord’s mercy and forgiveness which is the goal of the Great Lent.