Offer Your Indulgences for the Poor Souls in Purgatory!

The Poor Souls in Purgatory suffer intensely, and they desperately need our help! One could quote many a Saint, Doctor of the Church, private revelation, and so on, confirming this fact; but the following consideration will suffice:

St. Teresa of Avila, while yet a pilgrim on earth, was overcome with such an intense longing for God that this constituted for her a veritable torture. Our Lord told her that this thirst for Himself – a manifestation of His intimate union with a soul – would be her Purgatory on earth, comparing her suffering and purification to gold in the furnace! (Perhaps you have read about the very “Purgatorial” sufferings of St. Catherine of Genoa?)

While it is true that Purgatory has varying types and degrees of punishments, the truth remains that there are many souls there who are literally burning with desire to see God face to Face, but who can do nothing to ease their pain. This is up to us. It is such an easy way to practice a very high form of charity! Also, the dividends are enormous… but that is secondary.

If Bl. John Massias released 1.2 million souls from Purgatory, we can at least hope to release a few souls! If St. John Vianney said that an aspiration (i.e. a short prayer, such as “My Jesus, mercy!”) often *saved* a soul, surely our prayers for the poor souls will not be in vain.

As you may know, the Church possesses the Keys to an Infinite Treasury of graces. Consider the Sacred Heart; consider the nature of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. “I am the Door,” said Jesus; yes, and He gave St. Peter (and, by extension, the Church) the Keys.

Indulgences, put simply, are the application of Christ’s merits to a soul; they are a means of repairing the damage done by sin; they remit some or all of the temporal punishment that one is owing to God. Indulgences can be partial or plenary. It is definitely worth doing some more reading on the subject if you are not too familiar with it.

Since praying more seriously for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, my life has changed for the better. If you want to please Christ; if you want to console His aching members; if you want to amass a treasury of merits for Heaven; if you want many holy souls (and Heavenly friends) praying for you, then say many indulgenced prayers, and offer them all to Our Lady. As the Queen of Purgatory, she will distribute our indulgences in the best way possible.

“Father Faber, in his beautiful book “All for Jesus,” enumerates six advantages which accrue to us, from our giving over our Indulgences to the
holy souls in Purgatory.

1. First, it considerably increases our merit, and consequently our claim to glory.
2. Next, it lays the soul that we release under a particular obligation to us, both because of the singular benefit it receives from entering all the sooner into glory, and also because of the tremendous sufferings from which it is delivered.
3. Moreover, it gives us the consolation to think that those, whom we have released from Purgatory, are doing for us in heaven the great work of loving, praising, and glorifying God on our behalf.
4. Again, it adds fresh joy to the Church triumphant, from the fact that to the heavenly hierarchy a new citizen is added who can sin no more, whilst to the Church militant it brings comfort from the gain she has made of a new advocate.
5. Besides, it secures a prompt application of our Indulgences, which, in the possible case that we were in no want of them for ourselves, might remain for many years buried in the treasury of the Church.
6. And last of all, it entitles us to a speedy discharge of our own debt in Purgatory; for, if temporal alms are satisfactory above most other good works, much more will spiritual alms be so. And if he who gives up anything for God receives a hundredfold, we may have a security that, to recompense us for our generosity, He will so deal with us, that we shall need little Purgatory, or He will inspire devout souls to
pray for us.”
(Taken from ‘Indulgences: Their Origin, Nature and Development’ by Alexius M. Lepicier)

“To become a saint it is sufficient to gain all the indulgences possible.”
– St. Alphonsus

Some Powerful Motives to Love God

Reflect on these profound words of St. Crescentia, and strive to make the same resolution as her:

“BY LOVE, I can draw down from Heaven, into my heart, Thee, the Supreme Good, and with Thee I can pass through every wall.

BY LOVE, I can soften the obdurate hearts of sinners; I can break the chains made through sin.

BY LOVE, I can redeem the captives of purgatory.

BY LOVE, I can conquer my evil wishes, my vicious nature, my wicked self-will.

BY LOVE, I can defeat all the attacks and temptations of hell.

BY LOVE, I can endure all hardships and pains.

BY LOVE, I can constantly love God more and more.

Therefore, I will now begin, in all earnestness and fervour, to love God in a very holy manner, so that I may attain the end for which I was created, and that by me He may be praised, loved, and honoured through all eternity.”

To love God is to believe in His love, and to do His Adorable Will. We must submit faithfully to the teachings of the Catholic Church. One cannot love Our Lord, Who is the Head of the Church, if they do not love His Mystical Body.

If faith were alive today, our churches would be filled to the brim. Jesus is truly present in the tabernacle. If we visit Him frequently, we will soon be touched by the flames of His love, as St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi says. If we despise the countless graces that God offers us through His holy Church, it is to be feared that we will meet the same fate as the following individual, who this same saint saw in a vision. It is reported that “she saw the soul of an unhappy man at the moment that he passed from his death bed to the eternal torments. God revealed to her that the chief cause of his damnation was his having held in contempt the treasures of Holy Church, laughing at the indulgences and all the other graces the Church benignly imparts to her faithful.”

Is this not the attitude of many indifferent Christians today? Sadly, this has been my attitude at times. But God has rescued me from the wide gate that leads to perdition.

Whatever we may have done in the past, we must not become discouraged. We must have the same confidence as St. Crescentia. She was no stronger than us; like us, she could do absolutely nothing without God’s grace. But she had faith in God. She relied on Him entirely, and was docile to His inspirations. If I do this; if you do this, our faith will invigorate us and we will find joy and salvation from the Lord.

“I am your Spouse – when will you make up your mind to love Me truly? I am all yours; I come to you to draw you to Myself; I come to you to make you one with Me; I come to you to change you completely into Myself.”

– Jesus to St. Veronica Giuliani

Why Pray for the Souls in Purgatory?

In his classic book on Purgatory, Fr. Schouppe tells us that “It was revealed to St. Bridget that he who delivers a soul from Purgatory has the same merit as if he delivered Jesus Christ Himself from captivity.” (p. 217). These are amazing words; yet how many of us actually offer prayers, alms, sacrifices, or the Holy Mass (the supreme sacrifice!) for the Holy Souls?

Our Lord said to a particular Blessed that the number of souls in Purgatory is “beyond the thought of man.” In other words, throughout the earth’s history, a vast number of souls have died who were neither in a state of unrepented mortal sin, nor in a state sufficiently pure to enter Heaven immediately.

Purgatory makes a lot of sense if you think about it. There is little use in denying it, or in clinging to theology that is at odds with this grand truth – a truth which is confirmed by the Church Fathers, the Saints, Holy Scripture, and countless experiences in the lives of the Saints.

According to the Church and all her Saints, we can easily assist the souls in Purgatory. It is so simple, and in return for our generosity, the Holy Souls, whose prayers are extraordinarily powerful with God, will obtain for us all kinds of favours! (The doctrine of the Communion of Saints should be studied assiduously by those who doubt this.)

Given that Our Lord accepts our acts of charity towards others as acts of charity towards Him, it is extremely profitable, beautiful and loving for us to pray for the souls in Purgatory. “Of all prayers,” writes St. Thomas Aquinas, “the most meritorious, the most acceptable to God are prayers for the dead, because they imply all the works of charity, both corporal and spiritual.”

Only we can help them. Our Lord desires that we pray for them (as does Our Lady). He frequently asked St. Gertrude, Ven. Concepcion Cabrera de Armida, and a host of other privileged souls, to pray for the Holy Souls. We must do the same! How can we let a day go by without helping our dear departed brothers and sisters in Christ, who require so little from us, yet so often receive nothing?! “Do unto others…” (I need not finish this Scripture)

Some things we can do to help the Holy Souls are:
1. Pray for them (especially the Holy Rosary)
2. Offer our indulgences for them (the prayer ‘My Jesus, mercy!’, for example, receives a partial indulgence when recited by one who is in a state of grace)
3. Give alms or make acts of charity on their behalf (i.e. apply to the Holy Souls the merit of our actions)
4. Offer sacrifices for them (e.g. our sufferings, even the slightest)
5. Offer the Mass for the Holy Souls (this is the most powerful means for releasing the Holy Souls. By means of the Mass, the Saints released thousands of souls from Purgatory, according in part to the degree of their fervour and faith.)

If our knowledge of the pains of Purgatory is too vague, it is to be feared that we will forget about the Holy Souls, and we will soon forget to pray for them. Consider, then, these words of Our Lord to Bl. Battista Varani: “There is no difference between the pains of hell and of purgatory, only that the first are eternal, while the latter endure but for a time…” Nevertheless, we must also remember that “… the souls in purgatory remain there willingly, resigned and contented, suffering in peace, and returning thanks to the justice of God.”

Like St. Gertrude, may we pray fervently and frequently for the Holy Souls, and may we encourage others to do the same, so that one day, Our Lord might repeat to us the words He addressed to His dear spouse, Gertrude: “Fear not, My child; by your charity to the dead, you have increased the sum of your merits, and not only do you possess enough to expiate your slight faults, but you have earned a high degree of glory. My mercy will reward your devotion to the holy souls, and you will soon be with me in Paradise, to be rewarded a hundredfold for all you have done for them.”