Purgatory and Praying for Faithful Departed Souls

Hello there!

I want to start out this month’s reflection with a question. Why do people wash their hands? Parents tell their kids to wash their hands before a meal or after playing outside. Hospitals have hand sanitizers everywhereso people can constantly wash their hands. Restaurants have signs that tell you to wash your hands. During this time of the pandemic, it is especially critical that you wash your hands. The practice of handwashing has health benefits. When you wash your hands, you wash away germs and bacteria that may cause illnesses. It not only keeps you healthy but also helps prevent illnesses from spreading.

In the spiritual life, we also need washing because we want to be clean in God’s presence. The Sacrament of Confession is one form of washing that cleans us from spiritual dirt, a.k.a., sins. But the Sacrament of Confession is only available to those who are living. What about those who have died? Is there still a chance for them to be washed? Yes, there is, and it’s called Purgatory. “Purgatory” is from the Latin word “purgare”, which means “to make clean” or “to purify.” Thus, we can call it a spiritual washing. Purgatory is a place (though not physical) where faithful souls can go to be washed clean after they have died if they still have some minor faults or some repayment they need to do for their sins. In other words, they go there to be washed because they still have some small dirt attached to them. The bad news is Purgatory cannot cleanse mortal sins. The good news is Purgatory is temporary. After time in Purgatory, the Holy Souls can go to Heaven to enjoy the eternal blessedness of God.

According to saints whom God allowed to see Purgatory, souls in there do suffer. Yet I think it is a good form of suffering because through the suffering souls are cleansed and can enjoy the presence of God. It is like a saying we have in English, “No pain, no gain.” No pain of being purified, no gain of God’s Heaven.

Can we help them? We certainly can. That is the wonder of the mystery of the Communion of Saints. It is a big phrase, but don’t worry. “Communion of Saints” simply means that the saints in Heaven, the faithful souls in Purgatory, and us here on Earth are connected and can share with one another our spiritual goods. Imagine that you are standing in the checkout line in a grocery store. The person in front of you is paying for their grocery, but unfortunately, they are a few dollars short of the total payment. You step up and help the person by offering those few dollars so that they can make the purchase. We can help the souls in Purgatory in a similar manner. We can offer our prayers and sacrifices to God to implore God’s mercy on them. With God’s mercy, they can exit Purgatory sooner to enjoy the eternal happiness with God. It is a huge act of charity toward them, and it is a spiritual work of mercy: praying for the living and the dead.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  

There are many souls in Purgatory who still need that little bit of help from us to reach Heaven. The Church has designated the month of November for us to do just that. So, let us use the time of this month to pray and sacrifice for these souls, so that they can quickly be in Heaven with God.

Các hoạt động của Dòng trong 3 tháng tới:
1. November 7th, 2020: Priestly Ordination of Br. Anthony Viet Nguyen, CSsR, and Br. Joakim Loc Nguyen, CSsR
2. December 31, 2020: Diaconate Ordination of Brs. Vincent Quan Nguyen, CSsR, John the Baptist Hai Dang Khong, CSsR, Joseph Truong Nguyen, CSsR, Francis Xavier Loi Nguyen, CSsR

Please keep these men in your prayers. 

Bao Tran, CSsR

November Reflection

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