Today we celebrate All Souls Day. Yes, I said “celebrate.” This day is set aside for us to remember and celebrate God’s mercy. This day is meant for remembering all souls who have departed this life and now reside in Purgatory, where they are in the process of having their venial sins cleansed, as well as experience the temporal punishment for confessed mortal sins. As Catholics, we know that to see the face of God, we must first be purified by the fires of Purgatory, where we are cleansed of our sins; refined like fine gold – Only then may we enter the gates of Heaven and see the face of God.
Praying for all souls, on this dedicated day, can only help them. Need some proof that your prayers actually help those in Purgatory? Okay, here is an excerpt from the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, a 20th century saint from Poland:
One night, a sister who had died two months previously came to me. She was a sister of the first choir. I saw her in a terrible condition, all in flames with her face painfully distorted. This lasted only a short time, and then she disappeared. A shudder went through my soul because I did not know whether she was in purgatory or in hell. Nevertheless, I redoubled my prayers for her…After some time she came back again to me during the night, but already her appearance had changed. There were no longer flames, as there had been before, and her face was radiant, her eyes beaming with joy. She told me that I had a true love for my neighbor, and that many other souls had profited from my prayers. She urged me not to cease praying for the souls in purgatory, and she herself added that she would not remain there much longer. How astounding are the decrees of God!1
Purgatory is a gift of God’s mercy. Think about the alternative: eternity without God! For all that we have done in our lifetimes, God is willing to forgive us, and give us the opportunity to have our souls cleansed in Purgatory. Once cleansed, we may enter heaven for eternity and live with God.
Learn from those who have gone before us. If you have vice in your life today, then take the necessary steps to rid yourself of said vices. Embrace virtue. Perhaps, just perhaps, such an action might minimize your time in Purgatory.
All Souls Deserve Our Prayers
Praying for the dead is a spiritual work of mercy. Your prayers do merit those in Purgatory. Let’s begin by saying this short prayer:
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
1 Kowalska, Maria Faustina. Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska. Stockbridge: Marian Press, Print, 1981, p. 30, notation 58.