Plenary Indulgences: Nov 1-8

A partial indulgence can be obtained by devoutly visiting a cemetery and praying for the departed, even if the prayer is only mental.

One can gain a plenary indulgence visiting a cemetery each day between November 1 and November 8. These indulgences are applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory.

A plenary indulgence, again applicable only the Souls in Purgatory, is also granted when the faithful piously visit a church or a public oratory on November 2. In visiting the church or oratory, it is required, that one Our Father and the Creed be recited.

To be able to gain an indulgence, one must have the intention to gain them for a holy soul (in other words say this), and perform the works at the time and in the manner prescribed.

To attain a plenary indulgence, four conditions must accompany the prescribed act (e.g. visiting a graveyard):

  1. the faithful must receive the sacrament of confession, either eight days before or after the pious act is performed,
  2. receive Holy Communion on that day
  3. and recite prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father (one Our Father and one Hail Mary is the minimum, but any other additional prayers may be added).
  4. All attachment to sin, even venial sin, must be absent. In other words you must have a detestation of sin.  If one’s disposition is less than perfect or if some of the above conditions are not fulfilled, the indulgence becomes partial.

One must also remember that one can acquire only one plenary indulgence a day.


November the Month of the Holy Souls

Two gravestones in Saint Mary and Saint James Cemetery in Rockford, Illinois. (Photo © Scott P. Richert)

As the weather grows colder and the leaves fall, andThanksgiving and Christmas approach, it is natural that our thoughts turn to those whom we have loved who are no longer with us.

How appropriate, then, that the Catholic Church offers us November, which begins with All Saints Day and All Souls Day, as the Month of the Holy Souls in Purgatory–those who have died in grace, yet who failed in this life to make satisfaction for all of their sins.

In recent years, perhaps no Catholic doctrine has been more misunderstood by Catholics themselves than the doctrine ofPurgatory. Consequently, we tend to downplay it, even seem a little embarrassed by it, and it is the Holy Souls who suffer because of our discomfort with the doctrine.

Purgatory is not, as many people think, one last trial; all of those who make it to Purgatory will one day be in Heaven. Purgatory is where those who have died in grace, but who have not fully atoned for the temporal punishments resulting from their sins, go to finish their atonement before entering Heaven. A soul in Purgatory may suffer, but he ultimately has the assurance that he will enter Heaven when his punishment is complete. Catholics believe Purgatory is an expression of God’s love, His desire to cleanse our souls of all that might keep us from experiencing the fullness of joy in Heaven.

As Christians, we don’t travel through this world alone. Our salvation is wrapped up with the salvation of others, and charity requires us to come to their aid. The same is true of the Holy Souls. In their time in Purgatory, they can pray for us, and we should pray for them that they may be freed from the punishment for their sins and enter into Heaven.

We should pray for the dead throughout the year, especially on the anniversary of their death, but in this Month of the Holy Souls, we should devote some time every day to prayer for the dead. We should start with those closest to us–our mother andfather, for instance–but we should also offer prayers for all the souls, and especially for those most forsaken.

We believe that those Holy Souls for whom we pray will continue to pray for us after they have been released from Purgatory. If we live Christian lives, we too will likely find ourselves in Purgatory someday, and our acts of charity toward the Holy Souls there now will ensure that they remember us before the throne of God when we are most in need of prayers. It’s a comforting thought, and one that should encourage us, especially in this month of November, to offer our prayers for the Holy Souls.

With special thanks to

How to Help The Holy Souls in Purgatory

  • Courtesy of Susan Tassone

– Courtesy of Susan Tassone

Susan Tassone won’t admit it, but she is one of the experts on the souls in purgatory.

Her credentials speak for her. She has written six books on the subject, among them one co-written with Father Benedict Groeschel of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. Cardinal Ivan Dias, former prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, wrote the foreword to her latest book, which has an imprimatur, Praying With the Saints for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. She has recently begun her seventh book.

This week, beginning today, Monday, Oct. 24, Tassone will be Johnnette Benkovic’s guest on her EWTN television show Women of Grace. Tassone will be sharing some new insights about Pope St. Gregory the Great and his connection to the holy souls and purgatory. On Nov. 2, All Souls’ Day, she will be Father Mitch Pacwa’s guest on EWTN Live.

She recently spoke about what we can do to help the souls in purgatory.

What is the best devotion to help the souls in purgatory?

The holy sacrifice of the Mass is the chief source of devotion for the holy souls.

So, the most powerful means to relieve or release a soul from purgatory is through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. You’ll find that in the Catechism. It says it in 1032: “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.”

In Praying With the Saints for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, I have Pope Benedict XVI’s writings that point to having Masses offered for the souls in purgatory. [One extensive quote is from Sacramentum Caritatis (Sacrament of Charity).]

After the Mass, the next most powerful way to help the souls is the Rosary, the most powerful Marian prayer on earth — in her approved apparitions, Mary says pray the Rosary for peace in the world, in your hearts, in your family — and the Stations of the Cross, because they’re indulgenced. You have to be in the state of grace to help the souls in purgatory. 

When we pray for the souls, we’ve got to remember we’re giving them paradise, the face of God, when we get them out sooner from purgatory. Our prayers are shortening this horrible suffering of being without God. They then show us their gratitude in the same proportion to their joy.

You recommend Gregorian Masses be offered for souls. What are they, how did they come about, and why are they important?

Gregorian Masses are absolutely the best way to help souls out of purgatory. The background behind them is a fascinating story. 
Pope St. Gregory was a sickly man and had a physician who took care of him throughout his life. The physician, named “Justus,” was also a Benedictine monk in Rome, where the Church of St. Gregory remains today. When Justus was dying, St. Gregory told Justus’ blood brother to take care of him because he also was a physician. While taking care of him, the brother found three gold coins in Justus’ cell. Benedictines took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

The brother told the monks, and they told St. Gregory. He was really upset because he expected the monks to take the vow seriously. Because Justus violated the vow of poverty, Gregory would not allow any of the monks to visit him during his last illness and console or pray with him. Justus was crushed. He wept and was repentant for keeping the coins.

Gregory knew he was in purgatory. He ordered 30 Masses to be said for the soul of Justus. Why 30? Why not 40 or 50 Masses?

The reason is: Gregory was bringing back the tradition from the Old Testament — Israelites mourning for the dead 30 days, such as for Moses and Aaron. 

After the 30th Mass, Justus appeared to his blood brother and said he was released from purgatory. The brother had no idea Masses were being said for Justus. He ran to the monastery and told the monks, who told St. Gregory, who already knew because he already had a private revelation that Justus was released from purgatory.

Word spread all over Rome. People came to the monastery to have Masses said for their loved ones — then priests from France and Spain, and then priests from all over came to Rome to offer Masses at that altar for their loved ones. That altar still exists to this day in the Church of Sts. Andrew and Gregory in Rome. These first Gregorian Masses were offered at this altar.

The altar has three panels, all in relief carvings and engraved in Latin saying St. Gregory had freed the soul of this monk by 30 Masses. The middle panel shows our suffering Lord appearing to Gregory at the altar. The third panel says, in Latin, that St. Gregory is offering Masses in this room to release souls from purgatory. It’s strikingly beautiful. I will show pictures of the altar on Father Pacwa’s show.

Is there a guarantee a soul gets released after the 30 Masses?

Although the practice is approved by the Church, there is no official guarantee. Still, it is a custom that underscores the power of the holy Mass.

A parish normally will not be able to offer 30 consecutive Masses for the same soul. Where can we get Gregorian Masses said?

You can see where on my website,

Why do we need constant reminders to have Masses said for the dead and offer prayers for them? Why pray for the holy souls?

Because God’s justice demands expiation of their sins. Christ told St. Faustina that his mercy didn’t want to send a soul to purgatory, but his justice demands it (Diary 1226, 20).

He places in our hand the means to assist them. We are their only resource. We have an obligation to pray for our loved ones.

Can we say that one goes straight to heaven? Can we say that soul was totally pure and holy and in line with God’s will to go to heaven at once?

We don’t know what the state of the soul was at the hour of death, and we tend to canonize everybody. Only God knows the state of the soul, if it is totally in line with his will. He’s all-holy and majestic and pure.

But we’re given this great power and privilege to release souls from purgatory. Only we are the deliverers. Christ turns to the Church militant. Heaven encourages us. For whatever reason, we’ve been given this great honor and privilege. We’re responsible to pray for our dead.

But what happens if the soul then gets to heaven and you continue to have Masses and prayers offered?

The common answer is that God will apply those Masses to other souls in purgatory or to the most in need or souls in your family. But there’s more: If the soul is already in heaven, and you continue to have Masses said for them and continue to pray for them, what they get is a term we get from Thomas Aquinas — “accidental glory.”

The soul gets an increase in its intimacy with God and an increase in its intercessory power. So the lesson is this: Never stop praying for your dead, no matter how long they’ve been gone. You continue to push them up higher. The prayers are never wasted. God is never outdone in generosity.

Why do you often point out the importance of having Masses offered while the person is alive, including Masses for yourself?

I asked Father Edward McNamara, well-known professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum in Rome about that.

There are three main reasons why Masses should be offered for loved ones while alive. First, it’s an infinite gift. It never stops giving. A living person is still capable of growing in sanctifying grace, so the effect of this incredible grace is they may willingly receive it to be more Christ-like. You have to respond. When you have Masses offered for loved ones and you pray, they respond to the grace.

Second, if it’s offered as intercession for a person in the state of actual mortal sin, it may supply the grace necessary for conversion.

Third, it also fits in the sanctity of healing people.

Who do you miss the most? Who do you wish you could have done more for? Who helped you spiritually and temporally? Who had a major impact on your life? Your enemies or those who hurt you: Have Masses said for them. Have Masses said for yourself. Mass heals the living and deceased. Pray for the living now, for their eternity.

Purgatory points to the seriousness of sin and points out we have to pray and do penance in our own lives.

The Catechism says, in 958, “Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective.” They can’t help themselves, but they can pray for us. So, the more we pray for them, the more effective their intercession is for us. 

Why are they called poor souls and holy souls?

They’re called poor because their poverty is the loss of the sight of God. They’re called poor because they can no longer merit; they can’t help themselves. They rely totally on us. We’re their only resource.

Nothing is done alone. The Church Militant reaches out to the Church Suffering and joins them to the Church Triumphant.

And they’re called the holy souls because they can no longer sin. They know they’re saved. They know heaven is awaiting them.

Can you tell us about the new book you’re working on?

This next book takes it into the deeper level mining purgatory. We will be talking about the will of God. It will be a comprehensive prayer book for souls in purgatory, along with thoughts on purgatory and nine reflections on purgatory from saints like Aquinas to Gregory to Catherine of Genoa; and it will include writings of Blessed John Paul II on purgatory.

How can we avoid purgatory?

St. John of the Cross said, “God provides.” So avoid sin. Pray the Rosary. Go to monthly confession. Accept trials. Forgive. The more you pray on earth — constant, fervent prayer throughout life — the closer you will be to getting out of purgatory if you go there.

Do the souls in purgatory help us in this regard?

Because of their great love for us, they’re not only anxious for leaving purgatory, they’re most concerned about our salvation, especially the salvation of their loved ones. They can intercede for us while in purgatory. Their prayers help us recognize our sins and help us understand the malice of sins. And so they reproach us through inspirations of the Holy Spirit. They want us to become holy and saints here. They don’t want us to go to the true purgatory.

Do you have any other advice? Perhaps for educating children that seems especially appropriate with Halloween and All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day coming up?

Pray for the dying. Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for them. Your prayer can give a soul the grace of final repentance. Join the Pious Union of St. Joseph for the Dying.

Nov. 1-8 you can receive a plenary indulgence when you visit a cemetery on those days and apply it to a soul in purgatory.

Remember the children. Teach them the meaning of All Souls’ Day. Take them to the cemeteries. Teach them to sprinkle holy water on the graves. Plant the seed of reverence for the dead, and, in due time, this will assure us of their aid.

We need to learn from purgatory, avoid purgatory and empty purgatory.

Read more:

St Therese of Lisieux on Purgatory


St Therese of Lisieux on Purgatory

The common teaching within the Church is that Purgatory can hardly be avoided. While still only a novice, the saint commented about this with one of the sisters,  Sr. Maria Philomena, who believed in the near impossibility of going to heaven without passing through purgatory:

You do not have enough trust. You have too much fear before the good God. I can assure you that He is grieved over this. You should not fear Purgatory because of the suffering there, but should instead ask that you not deserve to go there in order to please God, Who so reluctantly imposes this punishment. As soon as you try to please Him in everything and have an unshakable trust He purifies you every moment in His love and He lets no sin remain. And then you can be sure that you will not have to go to Purgatory.5

She even said that we would offend God if we didn’t trust enough that we would get to heaven right after dying. When she found out that her novices talked occasionally that they would probably have to expect to be in Purgatory, she corrected them saying: “Oh! How you grieve me! You do a great injury to God in believing you’re going to Purgatory. When we love, we can’t go there.”6 Now, this is a new doctrine, but only for those who don’t know God, who are not childlike, who don’t trust. It is so correct to see things this way. It is true that God will judge us at one point, but He is always and first our Father Who… suffers when He has to punish His child and sees its suffering. The child should do His will just out of love, and not to avoid punishment. And this really means that God does not want Purgatory! He allows that His children suffer, but only as if He had to look away.7

If St. Therese is correct that one does not need to be in Purgatory because God Himself does not want this and would love to help us, the thought that Purgatory can be avoided is suddenly not so far-fetched anymore. But first there is the problem of the . aforementioned opinion which says that only few will avoid Purgatory. This is confirmed by great saints and mystics like St. John of the Cross who says, “Only a small number of souls achieve perfect love”8 (perfect love is necessary to go straight to heaven). St. Teresa of Avila also had the experience that only few will be able to avoid Purgatory.9 St. John Vianney said, “It is definite that only a few chosen ones do not go to Purgatory and the suffering there that one must. endure, exceeds our imagination.”10

One also has to take into consideration that even practicing Christians are convinced that even the good and faithful and those consecrated to God will have to be exposed to purification in Purgatory for a certain amount of time. The reason for this is always the same: “It is not easy to avoid Purgatory. No one is a saint, and I will certainly have to spend some time there myself.” They add to this that “God is just” or “we certainly deserve this.”

Therefore, it is even more amazing what St. Therese has to say. Once she encouraged her novice, Sr. Marie de la Trinire to have the faith that it was possible even for her to get to heaven right away. She wondered “If I fail even in: the smallest things, “ may I still hope to get straight to heaven?” St Therese, who knew well the weaknesses of her novice, replied: “Yes! God is so good. He will know how He can come and get you. But despite this, try to be faithful, so that He does not wait in vain for your love.”11

God is Father rather than Judge.

Once St. Therese had a confrontation regarding this topic with Sr. Marie Febronia, who not only was sixty-seven years old but also was sub-prioress. She had heard that St. Therese encouraged the novices to believe that they could go straight to heaven. She did not like this as she considered this kind of confidence presumptuous, and thus she reproached St Therese. St Therese tried lovingly and calmly to explain to Sr. Febronia her point of view but with no success as Sr. Febronia clung to belief. For St. Therese God was more Father than Judge, and she took the liberty of finally responding, “My sister, if you look for the justice of God you will get it. The soul will receive from God exactly what she desires.”

The year had not passed when, in January 1892, Sr. M. Febronia together with other sisters fell prey to the flu and died. Three months later Sr. Therese had a dream which she related to her Mother Prioress and which was then documented: “O my Mother, my Sr. M Febronia came to me last night and asked that we should pray for het:. She is in Purgatory, surely because she had trusted too little in the mercy of the good Lord. Through her imploring behavior and her profound looks, it seemed she wanted to say, You were right. I am now delivered up to the full justice of God but it is my fault. If I had listened to you I would not be here now.”12

St. Therese’s “doctrine” in 7 key words

1. Purgatory became a rule rather than the exception.

An infinite number of souls who suffer in Purgatory and for whom the Church prays daily after consecration did not need to go there. If we think in human terms,God does not wish for us to need Purgatory. God does not put us here on earth, where we are tested and are suffering after the fall, only to let us suffer again–andmuch worse–in Purgatory. Everyone receives enough graces in order to go straight to God after passing the trials on earth. However, Purgatory is an emergency entry to Heaven for those who have wasted their time. However, what God considered theexception became the rule, and the rule–to go straight to heaven–became the exception.

2. To cope with the “inevitable” is a grave error.

Since God does not really want Purgatory, He does not want it for me either! But then I also have to not want it! Nobody would expose themselves to the danger of Purgatory by living a mediocre and–as is the case so often today–a sinful life. If they only thought of the intense sufferings in Purgatory. In this regard, the mystics unanimously say that the least suffering in Purgatory is much greater than thegreatest suffering here on earth! The reason for this is that once in Purgatory, one does not go through the time of God’s Mercy but of God’s Justice. Here, the Lord’s word applies: “1 tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the very last copper’ (Lk 12:59). The many who carelessly say, “I will probably spend some time there,” are gravely wrong. Nobody just spends some time there, one has to suffer there like one has never suffered nor could have suffered while on earth. One often even suffers a long time there also. If the Poor Souls in Purgatory had known on earth what to expect in eternity, Purgatory would have remained empty.

3. Purgatory is a waste of time.

   This is what St. Therese says, “I know that of myself I would not merit even to enter that place of expiation since only holy souls can have entrance there. But I also know that the Fire of Love is more sanctifying than is the tire of Purgatory. I know that Jesus cannot desire useless sufferings for us, and that He would not inspire the longings I feel unless He wanted to grant them.”13 It is true that Purgatory is a wonderful grace, for if needed, without the purification in Purgatory we would not goto Heaven, and the work of art which God intended and created us to be would not be completed. But St. Therese is right: at the moment of our death we already have our place in Heaven. Afterwards, there is no growing in grace anymore. Whoever does not go through Purgatory does not miss anything.

4. We need a more positive image of God.

We already know that St. Therese told her novices that they offended God when they thought they would go to Purgatory. That is a very shocking statement: for if this is correct millions of Christians are offending God or at least hurt Him. And yetthis is the case. They are focused only on themselves, thinking–not without reason–that they deserve Purgatory. They do not notice God Who is by their side and would love to help them so much. The fact that we fear Purgatory so much also has to do with a rather negative image that we have of God. We, Christians of the 20th Century, were like so many, raised with the image of a strict God, anxious to punish us as often as we deserve it. This thinking goes back to heresies like Jansenism. Quietism, or Calvinism. 14

5. Love banishes fear

The question of whether Heaven will follow right after death is a question of trust. God does not need our merits in order to take us straight to Him but He needs all of our trust. Or the other way around–it is not -our sins that can prevent God from giving us this grace but rather our lack of trust. Therefore, we must draw the conclusion that everything depends solely on trust. There is no trust without perfect love. And vice versa, there is no love without trust.

And this is exactly what the Apostle John writes in his first letter, “In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love” (1 Jn. 4:17-18).

This text enlightens our topic very much. Judgment Day is the day of our death. Whoever achieves perfect love at the moment of their death sees God as so merciful and generous that they cannot believe in punishment in Purgatory. We are dealing with the same kind of grace in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. St. Thomas Aquinas teaches us that this Sacrament has as its real fruit the wiping out of punishment due to our sins.15 After those who have received the Sacrament of theAnointing of the Sick, others present often notice that the sick enter a period ofgrowing peace and trust, together with a great surrender to the Will of God, and evenserenity and desire for Heaven. This also applies to those who up to that point did not believe or even lived in mortal sin. Even these people, as the great theologians of the scholastics say–for example, St. Albert the Great or St. Bonaventure–go straight to Heaven without having to go through Purgatory first. This shows the wonderful grace coming from the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.16

6. The last will be the first.

While many Christians do receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick,experience tells us that they do not go straight to Heaven. The mystics often relatethat many priests and religious suffer a long time and have to wait for their release. However, all of them or almost all of them have received the Sacrament of theAnointing. What is the reason for this? The answer is certainly that they did not receive the Sacrament with the necessary repentance or surrender to the Will of God,or that they did not want to change their flaws and vices a long time before their death.

St. Therese of Lisieux tells us that she heard that sometimes great saints with many merits come before the Judgment of God, but have to go to Purgatory because our justice before God is often unclean. That is why she recommends to give
immediately away all the merits of our good deeds, and that it is better to appear before God empty-handed.17 She recommends to her oldest sister and godmother Marie, to be given Heaven free of charge by God.18

While on the one hand the first ones don’t always get to Heaven first, on the other hand there are enough examples that the last ones become the first ones. Therese refers in her writings to the Lord’s mercy towards the good thief,19 and wishes that the story from the “desert fathers,” about how a great sinner called Paesie died out of love and is being taken straight to heaven, should be added to her autobiography, “Souls will understand immediately, for it is a striking example of what I’m trying to say.”20 

When our great hour comes, as St. Therese writes to Abbe Roulland, missionary in China, if only we trust, the Blessed Virgin will obtain “the grace of making an act of perfect love” should we have “some trace of human weakness” and so will we reach heaven immediately after death.21

7. St. Therese’s teaching, a great message for the third millennium

One can rightfully say that Therese is turning all common opinions on Purgatory upside down.22 She wants to appear before God empty-handed and explains why it can be easier for sinners who have nothing to rely upon, to reach Heaven than the great saints with all their merits.. She emphasizes that trust alone is enough, that merits are no guarantee but often an obstacle for the straight way to Heaven, and that sins do not need to be an obstacle. After a ‘messed-up’ life, God can still take one straight to Heaven if the dying person only has trust. And how easy it can be to trust if there are no merits but only one’s misery! Through trust she shows the shorter wayto Heaven to the small and humble. And so many can and will go that way. Shewrites about this to her sister Marie: “… what pleases Him (God) is that He sees me loving my littleness and my poverty, the blind hope that I have in His mercy… That is my only treasure, dear Godmother, why should this treasure not be yours?…”23

As has been said, she has made sanctity available for everyone through her little way, and this is also true for the straight way to Heaven… This will no longer be an exception. Once those who are smart enough to gather from the treasures of our new Doctor of the Church will walk this way easily, especially those who want to be part of the legion of little souls which St. Therese asked God for at the end of her manuscript B, “I beg You to cast Your Divine Glance upon a great number of littlesouls. I beg You to choose a legion of little Victims worthy of Your LOVE!”24 Yes, by listening to her wonderful message there will be many, many souls… and with that, Purgatory stops being the unavoidable detour to Heaven!


    St. Therese of the Child Jesus gave us a lot to think about. There are yet many new thoughts to be understood in terms of theology. For us, however, the most important, even existentially significant of everything she wrote is the message on Purgatory. The question of what happens to us after death should move us deeply. Let us just remember Sr. Febronia and her suffering in Purgatory; her silent message from the next world should move us. “It seemed,” says Therese, “as if she wanted to say: If I had listened to you I would not be here now.” This is actually shocking when you think about it. One has to admit that Sr. Febronia entered the next world through the wrong door. And with her, thousands and millions who would have managed to avoid Purgatory. And why did they not achieve this? The simple reason is that nobody showed them the correct way. Considering this, one does understand that Therese is a true gift to the Church. God gave her to us as leader and comforter for the apocalyptic days in which we very obviously live. Her message concerning Purgatory is a true grace of God’ s merciful love for the moment of our death. One can apply the urgent exhortation of our LORD: “‘He who has ears to hear. let him hear” (Lk. 8:8).

Father Dr. Hubert van Dijk, ORC

With thanks to

Padre Pio and the Holy Souls


Padre Pio and The Holy Souls

Padre Pio, as we shall see shortly, had a very particular relationship with the Holy Souls; indeed they were his frequent visitors – so much so that at one time he said:

“I see so many souls from Purgatory that they don’t frighten me any more.”

And on another occasion when questioned further on the matter, he replied:

“More souls of the dead than of the living climb this mountain to attend my Masses and seek my prayers.”

Padre Pio was one who offered his pains, prayers and sufferings for the release of those in a state of purification, and those souls never ceased to thank him for this.

We must be truly grateful to Padre Pio for lifting the veil which separates this world from the next for a few instants and thereby helping us to understand and remember their REAL presence within the Church.

On November 29, 1910, writing to Padre Benedetto, his spiritual director, Padre Pio explains that the attacks of the devil are implacable, and that he wishes to be set free from this trial. But he asks permission to offer himself as a victim for sinners and for the souls in Purgatory.

“Now, my dear father; I want to ask your permission for something. For some time I have felt the need to offer myself to the Lord as a victim for poor sinners and for the souls in Purgatory. The desire has been growing continually in my heart, so that it has now become what I would call a strong passion. I have, in fact, made this offering to the Lord several times, beseeching Him to pour upon me the punishment prepared for sinners and for the souls in Purgatory, even increasing them a hundredfold for me, as long as He converts and saves sinners and quickly admits to Paradise the souls in Purgatory. But I should now like to make this offering to the Lord in obedience to you. It seems to me that Jesus really wants this. I am sure that you will have no difficulty in granting me this permission.”

In a letter of 1 December 1910, he answered:

“Make the offering of which you speak and it will be. most acceptable to the Lord. Extend your own arms also on your cross, and by offering to the Father the sacrifice of yourself in union with the most loving Saviour, suffer, groan and pray for the wicked ones of the earth and for the poor souls in the next life who are so deserving of our compassion in their patient and unspeakable sufferings.”

Once he had been given permission to become a victim, and once he had willingly offered himself, the apparitions of the deceased souls to Padre Pio became innumerable. From his own words we can see that these apparitions were very frequent indeed, so that after a while he wasn’t even upset by them.

During his early years in San Giovanni Rotondo, he was in charge of the young students for the priesthood. He often spoke to them of the pains and sufferings of the souls in Purgatory and of our duty to help them with our prayers, mortifications, and other meritorious works. To encourage prayers and good works for the Holy Souls, Padre Pio would often relate to the seminarians his own personal experiences with deceased souls, telling them that these souls came to him to seek his prayers.

Indeed, as we know, nothing out of the ordinary had happened at all, for souls of the dead were frequent visitors to him during the fifty-two years he spent at San Giovanni Rotondo.

Need we say more? If we wish to follow Padre Pia’s example, I’m sure he would say to you, our internet visitor:

“Do as I have done. Pray, pray always for the souls of the dear departed.”

In conclusion, let us remember that we can form God’s stairway for the Poor Souls in Purgatory through our prayers and pious actions offered for their intentions.

Can the Holy Souls (the Church Suffering) help us on earth,(the Church Militant)?

If you ask St. Padre Pio or his spiritual director they would say most definitely, they can and do. Pope Pius IX confirms this as well, when talking to a newly appointed bishop who did not feel up to the job, saying:

“Your diocese is very small in comparison with the universal Church which I carry on my shoulders. Your cares will be light in comparison to mine. I, too, suffered from a grave defect of memory, but I promised to say a fervent prayer daily for the Holy Souls who in return have obtained for me an excellent memory. Do likewise, dear father, and you will soon have cause to rejoice.”

In the years following his death, his reputation for sanctity and miracles grew steadily, and became established in the Church, all over the world and among all kinds of people.

With special thanks to

St Josemaria Escriva on Purgatory

In the Catholic Church, the month of November is illuminated in a special way by the mystery of the communion of saints, which refers to the union between Christians and the mutual help we can give one another. The communion of saints explicitly links those of us still on earth, those who are already sure of Heaven but are being purified of the remains of sin in Purgatory before they come to God (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1030), and those who intercede for us before the Blessed Trinity, in whom they rejoice for ever. Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1024).

St Josemaría had a special friendship with the Holy Souls, and used to say, “The Holy Souls in Purgatory are my good friends.”

The Holy Souls in Purgatory. Out of charity, out of justice, and out of excusable selfishness — they have such power with God! — remember them often in your sacrifices and in your prayers. May you be able to say when you speak of them, “My good friends the souls in purgatory.”
The Way, 571

Purgatory shows God’s great mercy and washes away the defects of those who long to become one with Him.
Furrow, 889

If you live the “life of childhood”, you should have the sweet tooth of a child, a “spiritual sweet tooth!” Like those “of your age”, think of the good things your Mother keeps. And do so many times a day. It just takes a moment… Mary… Jesus… the Tabernacle… Communion… Love… suffering… the Holy Souls in Purgatory… those who are fighting: the Pope, the priests… the faithful… your soul… the souls of people in your family… the Guardian Angels… sinners…
The Way, 898

You shouldn’t want to do things to gain merit, nor out of fear of the punishments of purgatory. From now on, and always, you should make the effort to do everything, even the smallest things, to please Jesus.
The Forge, 1041

In the face of suffering and persecution, a certain soul with supernatural sense said, “I prefer to take a beating down here rather than get it in Purgatory.”
The Forge, 1046

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