Until I read the booklet, I never really gave much importance to prayers for the dead. And I never gave much thought to the reality of Purgatory because this place has rarely been discussed or paid much attention to. Purgatory is very different than what I imagined it to be, according to the booklet Read me or Rue it, it is a prison of fire in which nearly all souls are plunged after death and in which they suffer the most intense pain.
St. Thomas of Aquinas, the Prince of Theologians, says that the fire of Purgatory is equal in intensity of the fire of Hell, and that the slightest contact with it is more dreadful than all the possible sufferings of this Earth.
St. Augustine, the greatest of the Holy Doctors, teaches that to be purified of their faults prior to being admitted to Heaven, souls after death are subjected to a fire more penetrating, more dreadful than anything we can see, or feel, or conceive in this life.
“Though this fire is destined to cleanse and purify the souls”, adds the Holy Doctor, “still it is more acute than anything we can possibly endure on Earth.”
St. Cyril of Alexandria does not hesitate to say: “that it would be preferable to suffer all the possible formats of Earth until Judgment day, than pass one day in Purgatory.”
Another great Saint says: “Our fire, in comparison with the fire of Purgatory is a refreshing breeze.”
Man, with his weaknesses, would likely suffer and undergo purification in Purgatory after death. If priests and nuns serve their time in Purgatory, what more us ordinary people who give in to various pleasures of the world without much thought on how we offend God with our actions everyday. This should serve as a wake up call to each one of us who live our lives without consequence.
Without realizing it, is our duty to pray for poor souls in Purgatory. Like the living, the dead need our help and prayers to be freed from this suffering. The power of prayer extends even to other world. The simple prayer of St. Gertrude is invoked for poor souls in purgatory and for living sinners. Our Lord told St. Gertrude that the following prayer would release 1000 souls from purgatory each time it is said.
"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."
In return, holy souls pray for their benefactors with a fervour so great, so intense, so constant that God can refuse them nothing.
St. Catherine of Bologna says: “I received many and very great favours from the Saints but still greater favours from the Holy Souls.”
Then they are finally released from their pains and enjoy the beatitude of Heaven, far from forgetting their friends on earth, their gratitude knows no bounds. Prostrate before the Throne of God they never cease to pray for those who helped them. By their prayers they shield their friends from the dangers and protect them from the evils that threaten them.
They will never cease these prayers until they see their benefactors safely in Heaven and will be forever their dearest, sincerest and best friends.
If Catholics only know what powerful protectors they secure by helping the Holy Souls they would not be so remiss in praying for them.
Another great grace that they obtain for their helpers is a short and easy Purgatory, or possibly its complete remission.
Blessed John of Messias, the Dominican lay brother, had a wonderful devotion to the souls in Purgatory. He obtained by his prayers, (chiefly by the recitation of the Rosary), the liberation of one million four hundred thousand souls!
In return they obtained for him the most abundant and extraordinary graces and came at the hour of his death to help and console him and accompany him to Heaven.
This fact is so certain that it is inserted by the Church in the Bull of his Beatification.
The learned Cardinal Baronius, recounts a similar incident.
He was himself called to assist a dying gentleman. Suddenly a host of blessed spirits appeared in the chamber of death, consoled the dying man and chased away the devils who sought by a last desperate effort to cause his ruin.
When asked who they were, they answered that they were eight thousand souls whom he had released from Purgatory by his prayers and good works. They were sent by God, so they said, to take him to Heaven without his passing one moment n Purgatory.
St. Gertrude was fiercely tempted by the devil when she came to die. The evil spirit reserves a dangerous and subtle temptation for our last moments. As he could find no other ruse sufficiently clever with which to assail the Saint, he thought to disturb her beautiful peace of soul by suggesting that she would surely remain long years in the awful fires of Purgatory since, he reminded her, she had made over long ago all her suffrages to other souls. Our Blessed Lord, not content with sending His angels and the thousand of souls she had released, to assist her, came Himself in person to drive Satan away and comfort His dear Saint. He told her that in exchange for all she had done for the Holy Souls He would take her straight to Heaven and would multiply a hundred fold all her merits.
Blessed Henry Suso, of the Dominican Order, made a compact with a fellow religious to the effect that when one of the two died the survivor would offer two Masses each week for his soul and other prayers as well.
It so happened that his companion died first and Blessed Henry commence immediately to offer the promised masses. These he continued to say for a long time. At last quite sure that the soul of his saintly friend had reached Heaven, he ceased offering the masses.
Great was his sorrow and consternation when the soul of the dead Brother appeared to him suffering intensely and chiding him for not celebrating the promised masses.
He replied with deep regret that he had not continued the mass believing that his friend must be enjoying the Beatific Vision and added that he had never remembered him in prayer.
“O dear Brother Henry please give me the masses, for it is the Precious Blood of Jesus that I most need”, cried out the suffering soul.
Blessed Henry began anew and, with redoubled fervour, offered masses and prayers for his friend until he received absolute certitude of his delivery.
Then it was his turn to receive graces and blessings of all kinds from the dear brother he had relieved, and very many times more than he could have expected.
I do hope this blog will change your life the way it changed mine. Please remember to include the souls of Purgatory in your prayers and offer sacrifices for them and fast for them. Let us all help each other for this will certainly find delight in God's eyes.
*Excerpts taken from Read Me or Rue It