Happy Feast of the Holy Souls!
If you do not know this about me already, I have a real love and devotion for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. I have had this love since I was young – cemeteries held no fear for me but fascination. Who were all these folks whose bones were hidden under the earth? What lives did they live? What regrets did they have? What joys? And most importantly, where were they now?
This love I have is reflected in our Church’s teaching. Did you know there are over 30 Masses for the dead? And numerous saints and writers talk about developing a devotion to them as well.
St. Thomas Aquinas is said to have written that prayers for dead are the most meritorious and most acceptable to God as they encompass both corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
Our prayers for the dead are given without expectation as they can give us nothing in return on this earth. No invites for dinner or birthday cards. Just their love and prayers for our salvation! Pretty good deal.
St. John Chrysostum tells us, “Why should we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers to them.”
But how? Here’s some easy ideas to develop a devotion towards souls in your home:
-As you pass any cemetery pray aloud:
“May the souls of the faithfully departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.”
My family adds the following: “Especially those who have no one to pray for them and those that have been forgotten.”
-As you pass a Catholic cemetery:
“Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord and perpetual light upon their souls and all the souls of the faithfully departed rest in peace. Amen.”
St. Gertrude the Great gave us the prayer that is said to release 1000 souls from purgatory every time it is said:
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, sinners in the universal church those in my own home and within my family. Amen. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
I’ve seen this prayer posted on the bathroom mirror and dashboard of the car of many a Catholic family. As you brush your teeth (in the bathroom) or wait for a red light (in your car) you can say this prayer a few times and gain some new friends. Real friends who will never forget your prayers.
Fr. Martin Jugie who wrote Purgatory and the Means to Avoid It (1949) tells us:
“Here is an easy means of surrounding ourselves in eternity with many grateful friends, whose gratitude will augment our glory in paradise: for we can make all the friends we wish in purgatory.”
How about that? “All the friends we wish….” The number of friends you have on Facebook or ‘likes’ you get from a post or selfie cannot compare to the numbers of souls who will forever remember you and your family with love and prayers if you pray for them!