November, the month traditionally dedicated to praying intentionally for the dead. This presents us with the opportunity to reflect on a beautiful Catholic teaching, the teaching on Purgatory, which is really the mercy of God in action. If there was no such thing as purgatory, there would be only two options for us after death: heaven and hell. And if you have to be perfect to enter the presence of God, we would all be in trouble! Thank God we have the possibility of Purgatory.
According to St Catherine of Genoa, who was a mystic who wrote about Purgatory extensively, Purgatory isn’t something to be afraid of. It’s not all that bad. St Catherine writes: “believe no happiness can be found worthy to be compared with that of a soul in Purgatory except that of the saints in Paradise. And day by day this happiness grows as God flows into these souls, more and more as the hindrance to His entrance is consumed. Sin’s rust is the hindrance, and the fire burns the rust away so that more and more the soul opens itself up to the divine inflowing.”
While it’s true that the souls in Purgatory are on their way to union with God, they depend on our prayers. There is suffering involved in their purification and this is why Catholics pray for the dead. We should assist the Holy Souls with our prayers. And we should all be interested in this because most likely we will be among those holy souls some day!
Below, please find some helpful links on the subject. And while you peruse them, thank God we are Catholics. We know a whole lot on about a vitally important subject: “What happens after death?”
- How to Pray for Those in Purgatory
- Reflection on the Significance of Praying for the Dead
- All You Need to Know about All Saints’ and Souls’ Day
- Catholic Burial and Cremation
- What Happens in Purgatory?
- Is Purgatory Needed for Saints?
- Plenary Indulgence by Praying at a Cemetery in November
What is St. Gertrude’s Prayer?
Pious tradition holds that Jesus promised St. Gertrude that a thousand souls would be released from purgatory each time the following prayer is said devoutly:
“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, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.”