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November 17th, 2013

November – The Month Of The Holy Souls In Purgatory

The Month Of The Holy Souls In Purgatory

Eternal rest grant to 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.

The month of November is dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory. The Church commemorates all her faithful children who have departed from this life, but have not yet attained the joys of heaven. St.Paul warns us that we must not be ignorant concerning the dead, nor sorrowful, “even as others who have no hope … For the Lord Himself shall come down from heaven … and the dead who are in Christ shall rise.”

The Church has always taught us to pray for those who have gone into eternity. Even in the Old Testament prayers and alms were offered for the souls of the dead by those who thought “well and religiously concerning the resurrection.” It was believed that “they who had fallen asleep with godliness had great grace laid up for them” and that “it is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.” We know that a defiled soul cannot enter into heaven.

November is the month of Holy Souls in Purgatory, those faithful Christians who have died and gone before us but who still must atone for their sins. The time they spend in Purgatory cleanses them so that they may enter Heaven free from all effects of sin. Praying for the dead, especially for those we have known, is a requirement of Christian charity. Our own prayers and sacrifices can be offered up to relieve their suffering.

How long will a soul stay in Purgatory?

Purgatory is not eternal. Its duration varies according to the sentence pronounced at each particular judgment. It may be prolonged for centuries in the case of the more guilty souls, or of those who, being excluded from the Catholic communion, are deprived of the suffrages of the Church, although by the divine mercy they have escaped hell. But the end of the world, which will be also the end of time, will close for ever the place of temporary expiation.

God will know how to reconcile His justice and His goodness in the purification of the last members of the human race, and to supply by the intensity of the expiatory suffering what may be wanting in duration. But, whereas a favourable sentence at the particular judgment admits of eternal beatitude being suspended and postponed, and leaves the bodies of the elect to the same fate as those of the reprobate; at the universal judgment, every sentence, whether for heaven or for hell, will be absolute, and will be executed immediately and completely.

How can we help the souls in Purgatory?

Having entered into the night “wherein no man can work,” the Suffering Church cannot ripen to its final blessedness by any efforts of its own, but only through the help of others—through the intercessory prayers and sacrifices (suffragia) of those living members of the Body of Christ who being still in this world are able in the grace of Christ to perform expiatory works.

The Church has from the earliest times faithfully guarded the words of Scripture that it is a holy and a wholesome thing to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins. [2 Macab. 12, 43] The suppliant cry of her liturgy: “Eternal rest give to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them,” can be heard already in the Acts of the martyrdom of SS. Perpetua and Felicitas (A.D. 203) and is represented in numerous sepulchral inscriptions of the most ancient period, while theologians and Fathers of the Church, beginning with Tertullian, have supplied its substantial proof.

The Catholic is jealous to expiate and suffer for the “poor souls,” especially by offering the Eucharistic Sacrifice, wherein Christ’s infinite expiation on the Cross is sacramentally represented, and stimulating and joining itself with the expiatory works of the faithful, passes to the Church Suffering according to the measure determined by God’s wisdom and mercy.

3 Things about Purgatory

How to obtain indulgence?

By the practice of Indulgences, the Church places at the charitable disposal of the faithful the inexhaustible treasure accumulated, from age to age, by the superabundant satisfactions of the saints, added to those of the martyrs, and united to those of our Blessed Lady and the infinite residue of our Lord’s sufferings. These remissions of punishment she grants to the living by her own direct power; but she nearly always approves of and permits their application to the dead by way of suffrage, that is to say, in the manner in which, as we have seen, each of the faithful may offer to God who accepts it, for another, the suffrage or succour of his own satisfactions.

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 to 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.

A partial indulgence, applicable only to the souls in purgatory, can be obtained when the Eternal Rest (Requiem aeternam) is prayed. This is a good prayer to recite especially during the month of November: Eternal rest grant to 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.

O Lord, who art ever merciful and bounteous with Thy gifts, look down upon the suffering souls in purgatory. Remember not their offenses and negligences, but be mindful of Thy loving mercy, which is from all eternity. Cleanse them of their sins and fulfill their ardent desires that they may be made worthy to behold Thee face to face in Thy glory. May they soon be united with Thee and hear those blessed words which will call them to their heavenly home: “Come, blessed of My Father, take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

Want to know more about Purgatory?

Biblical Evidence for Purgatory – 25 Bible Passages

The Purgatory – Part 01

The Purgatory – Part 02

The Purgatory – Part 03

The Purgatory – Part 04

October 26th, 2013

Sufferings Are For Our Purification, A Preconditioning

Sufferings Are For Our Purification

St. Alphonsa was one who endured sufferings and made it a festival of joy within the cloisters of a convent. Padre Pio, the poor friar had only the pains of stigmata and harsh life of scorns and ridicule. They enjoyed the season of happiness passing through the narrow way of dryness. Those who stone from a hidden place; attack and false judgments on our personality even from those whom we have never seen at all; the helplessness of the one who is on verdict at the crossroads… Are these all the moments you make me purify, dear Lord?

“Accept whatever befalls you, and in times of humiliation be patient. For gold is tested in the fire, and those found acceptable, in the furnace of humiliation” (Sirach 2:4-5). Dear friends, suffering is a state before our purification; it is like a ‘pre-conditioning.’

Saul’s life was one of arrogance and pride. Rest of Paul’s life was of realization and return. God comes in search of him on his journey to Damascus. There is a lightning in the desert. Saul’s external eyes are forcefully closed; and the internal ones open.

The term in between those sufferings are the road to goodness and moral life. Suffering is that wheat corn falls on the ground and dies; an individuality that fades away into a zero. From there comes the plants of goodness. A leaf, then two, three; thus it is the birth of a new wheat plant life.

Two women who crossed the red sea of sin

Bible shows us two women who cross the red sea of sin taking bath in the great holiness of Jesus Christ. One of them reached at the feet of Jesus having the tender mind of an attacked prey. Great crowd of people with stones were behind her; the cry of the just ones! For her, a mere word between life and death. The word of Christ, just a word. It would naturally judge her to death or life.

He did not speak a word. A little while later, He opened his eyes, looked at the angry crowd and said; “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (Jn. 8:7). Woman closed her eyes and waited for her death. Yes, this public judgment is the unbearable suffering. Stones fall aside… not on her but to the bare ground. What remains is the big pile of stones, beside the woman and Christ; His consoling words. Just a loving correction not to sin anymore…

A dinner at Simon’s house; a woman of bad reputation is in the picture. For her too, his words were similar, ‘your sins are forgiven.’ Music is hidden in the holes of a flute. Pearls are the result of an age-old pain from the part of sea shells.

Sufferings to stay with the Lord

Job was a just man in front of God; among the few ones in the Bible whom God called ‘just.’ His life was very transparent. God was even surer than Job that he will stay with the Lord, in any amount of suffering. Job is a challenge in front of Satan; one who comes to the play ground from the side of God. If Job is defeated, God is defeated. Job’s victory will be God’s victory. We read in the book of Job; Job took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes. Then his wife said to him, “Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as any foolish woman would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?” St. Paul is of the opinion that sufferings make us perfect.

“It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father.” (Heb. 2:10).

God, sometimes for us is like a blanket which we search for only in the heavy summer of perils and conveniently forget in our good days. Oh… God, we ask you sorry. 

A good Friday before Easter is not a possibility, but a sure reality and necessity. Good Fridays of suffering are the conditions for resurrection in holiness. Suffering is a process of cleansing from both exterior and interior malice – Just like fasting takes away unwanted fat from our bodies. The unwanted waste is burned in the fire of suffering. “I will turn my hand against you; I will smelt away your dross as with lye and remove all your alloy” (Is.1:25). How fruitful is obedient suffering! It would be one of the reasons why fasting and penance opens us to the fullness of virtues.

Suffering that strengthens

The Word of God testifies that suffering is an awareness program; God’s plan to strengthen me. Suffering teaches us how to fly alone. Mother bird after taking the small ones on her shoulder leaves them in between. Later on their way down she takes them again. But the small bird may not know the purpose of this trial on its fall.

It is very vividly given in the book of Deuteronomy in a poetic language; “He sustained him in a desert land, in a howling wilderness waste; he shielded him, cared for him, guarded him as the apple of his eye. As an eagle stirs up its nest, and hovers over its young; as it spreads its wings, takes them up, and bears them aloft on its pinions” (Deut. 32:10-13).

– – – written by Santimon Jacob

October 20th, 2013

God Is With You – The Everlasting Relief Provider

God Is With You

“God always has something for you – A key for every problem: A relief for every sorrow: A plan for every tomorrow”

When I read the above mentioned quotes, I felt some relief and happiness in my mind. In our daily life, we are facing so many problems in our professional life or family life or social life. Whatever may be the problem, it will create negative feeling in our thoughts. Human beings are emotional in nature. So we cannot separate emotions from people.

When problems are beyond the controlling limit of a man, he/she may feel loneliness or depression or sorrow. At that moment, nothing in this world can provide you the ultimate relief. Only the spiritual power our loving God is with you, the everlasting relief provider. If God is for us, who can be against us?

One day, one of my colleagues told me “You know, I am working in a good company, deal with problematic issues daily along with good salary and other benefits. In the midst of all this, lot of tension prevails and i have no peace of mind”. I am sure, most of us are experiencing a similar situation. How can we overcome this situation?

Certain people may find the solution through drinking alcohol or enjoying life in the most sinful manner. It will provide you happiness, but that happiness won’t last throughout your life. Because, God is with us every moment even when you are doing a sinful act. You may get bail or relief from jail or others, but the ultimate relief provider is counting your acts. How can you prove yourself before our loving God?

Now, one question may arise in our mind: From where can we find the everlasting relief or happiness or peace? “Happy are those whose lives are faultless, who live according to the law of the Lord. Happy are those who follow His commands, who obey him with all their heart. They never do wrong; they walk in the LORD’S ways” (PSALMS 119:1-3) 

So we should pray to our Loving God “You are all I want, O Lord; I promise to obey your laws. I ask you with all my heart to have mercy on me, as you have promised”. Believe in Almighty, He can cure our mind; He has a plan for us; He is the one and only relief provider for our sorrow. Amen.

– – – written by Anuja Dhanoj, Thiruvananthapurm, Kerala, India

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