A Day of Prayer for Deceased Parents and Relatives


#1

It should seem unnecessary to urge you to pray fervently for those to whom you owe so much. Nature, reason, religion all loudly claim your suffrages in their behalf.

Hope is alternatively the support and torture of the human heart. None have such assured ground for hope as the souls in Purgatory, and none at the same time experience so intensely the opposite effects of this potent sentiment. The object of their hope is God Himself as the recompense of the just; and if the assurance of having their present sufferings so gloriously rewarded imparted to the Saints and unutterable joy in the midst of trials and adversities, how much more consoled and fortified must not the Holy Souls feel, even in their prison of dolours, from the thought that God will shortly assuage their sufferings and rewards them with unspeakable delights! Why do we not in the trials of life also raise our eyes to Heaven, and accustom ourselves to bear patiently our crosses, which, if so borne, shall be rewarded with eternal glory in Paradise?

One great advantage arising from the thought of Purgatory is that it inspires with a spirit of penance and self-denial; for it reminds us that Divine Justice, though severe, is not blind, and never punishes the same fault twice, since if expiation is made in this world, it will not be required in the next. Knowing that justice so inflexible and unrelenting in Purgatory is easily disarmed here on earth, we naturally feel an earnest desire to escape the terrible fire of Purgatory, which can only punish sins unexpiated, and consequently we take care to leave few stains to be cleansed away hereafter.

God in His infinite goodness affords us the opportunity of paying the debt contracted by a deliberate act by means of a voluntary satisfaction, and only chastises us in the other world because we have not had the courage to punish ourselves in this. Our interest, therefore, lies in forestalling His judgments and justice by self-imposed penances. for however severe they may be, they fall far short of those of Purgatory. This thought fills the soul with a holy courage to embrace mortification and penance generously, saying: ‘Better settle now my accounts with God; better take advantage of His mercy to satisfy His justice; better pay my debts now whilst I can do so easily. This is my resolve and firm determination.’

Another advantage arising from the thought of Purgatory is that it renders us more patient and courageous in bearing the trials and sufferings of this life, and teaches us to look upon them as means given us by God in His Divine mercy to make up for what is wanting in our penances, and thus escape the terrible expiation of our penances. Happy are they that understand this truth; not only will they receive the crosses Divine Providence sends them with resignation, but even with joy and gratitude, regarding them as signal marks of the goodness of Our Lord, as golden coins with which to pay a portion of their debts. No matter what may be the nature and duration of their sufferings, they learn to endure them peacefully always remembering that thereby they acquire great merit. ‘But,’ says Fenelon, ‘human nature seeks to escape Purgatory both here and hereafter, with this result: that it renders useless our satisfaction here below, and we have after death still to endure the pains of Purgatory. Were we now, like the Holy Souls, to remain peaceful and patient in the hands of God, we should be purified by the fire of His love.’

Let us not forget that the trials and sufferings of this life are a real Purgatory, and that the soul weighed down by the cross is as truly purified as are the souls in Purgatory by its cleansing flames. But if we repine and murmur against God by impatience, we only render ourselves more guilty in His sight, and abuse the precious gift of suffering He bestows upon us to expiate sin. Let us then, suffer as the Saints suffered, as the souls in Purgatory suffer, and our sufferings will have the double advantage of purifying us and enabling us to gain merit.

The habitual remembrance of Purgatory keeps us the fervour of the just, rendering them more watchful over themselves, more attentive in the fulfilment of all their duties towards God, their neighbour, and themselves, more careful in the performance of the most trifling actions, in purifying their intention, and always acting for the greater glory of God.

Finally, the thought of Purgatory inspires us with charity for the Holy Souls detained there. The remembrance of their sufferings fills us with tender compassion for them, which quickly manifests itself in giving them aid and relief, in praying for them, in offering acts of self-denial in their favour, and making use of all the means at our disposal to relieve them. Their interests become ours in a certain manner; their sufferings, if I may so speak, become ours; the agony of their separation from God creates within us a holy impatience to open for them the gates of their heavenly country. Thus do we, even unconsciously to ourselves, practise the virtue of charity in the most perfect and heroic degree, and, whilst thinking we are only working for others, enrich ourselves with abundant merits; whilst paying the debts of the souls to whom we are devoted, we are the same time discharge our own, since charity is the most excellent of all virtues, making up before God for all the rest. Therefore, those who practise it towards the dead, far from losing, gain by it, God in a wonderful manner rewarding those who help His friends."

Taken from Thirty Days’ Devotion to the Holy Souls ~ Forget Me Nots From Many Gardens