It has been a custom for most Catholics to book and also attend mass on the 2nd of November every year with the intention of praying for their loved ones who have died before them.
Even with this yearly ritual, most Catholics don’t know the significance of these practice and how to go about it well. Tell us go down memory lane about PURGATORY.
The word purgatory was gotten the Latin word Purgare which means purify. The word also takes its root from the word urge which means something sudden. Therefore, souls in Purgatory usually pass through a sudden purification.
The Roman Catholic tradition of purgatory as a transitional condition has a history that dates back, even before Jesus Christ, to the worldwide practice of caring for the dead and praying for them and to the belief, found also in Judaism, which is considered the precursor of Christianity, that prayer for the dead contributed to their after life purification. The same practice appears in other traditions, such as the medieval Chinese Buddhist practice of making offerings on behalf of the dead, who are said to suffer numerous trials.
The Catholic church found specific Old Testament support in after-life purification in 2 Maccabees 12:42–45 part of the Catholic biblical canon but regarded as apocryphal by Protestants. And according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church praying for the dead was adopted by Christians from the beginning a practice that presupposes that the dead are thereby assisted between death and their entry into their final abode.
Purgatory in the Catholic doctrine
At the Second Council of Lyon in 1274, the Catholic Church defined, for the first time, its teaching on purgatory, in two points:
- Some souls are purified after death;
- Such souls benefit from the prayers and pious duties that the living does for them.
A century and a half later, the Council of Florence repeated the same two points in practically the same words, again excluding certain elements of the purgatory of popular imagination, in particular fire and place.
The Council has likewise defined that if those truly penitent have departed in the love of God, before they have made satisfaction by the worthy fruits of penance for sins of commission and omission, the souls of these are cleansed after death by purgatorial punishments; and so that they may be released from punishments of this kind, the suffrage’s of the living faithful are of advantage to them, namely, the sacrifices of Masses, prayers, and alms-giving, and other works of piety, which are customarily performed by the faithful for other faithful according to the institutions of the Church.
The Council of Trent repeated the same two points and moreover in its 4 December 1563 Decree Concerning Purgatory.
The souls in Purgatory
The church teaches that all who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.
The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.
By virtue of the “communion of saints,” the Church commends the dead to God’s mercy and offers her prayers, especially the holy sacrifice of the Eucharist, on their behalf.
Purgatory according to the church is not a place but a condition or a state where souls stay for a while to be purified for their sins.
Who are those that go to purgatory?
The soul in purgatory are those who lived on this earth like us and fought for their salvation with fear and trembling but due to one reason or the other did not meet up perfection.
These souls can be given a special grace to attain perfection in a state or condition called purgatory.
Can one imagine how Purgatory looks like?
Saint Maria Faustina kowalska in her vision with Christ who composed the nine days novena prayer gave us an insight on how Purgatory looks like and how their torment in the eight day prayer it goes thus;
“Today bring to Me the souls who are in the prison of Purgatory, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. Let the torrents of My Blood cool down their scorching flames. All these souls are greatly loved by Me. They are making retribution to My justice. It is in your power to bring them relief. Draw all the indulgences from the treasury of My Church and offer them on their behalf. Oh, if you only knew the torments they suffer, you would continually offer for them the alms of the spirit and pay off their debt to My justice.”
From the above revelation from Christ, one can deduced that the following:
- The souls in purgatory are actually in a scorching flames.
- The souls in purgatory also enjoys God’s love there because their relief there is the torrent of Christ Blood that cools their scorching flames there.
- We have a big role to play for the release of the souls in purgatory: this can be achieved just like Christ have said above that it is in our power to offer for them the alms o the spirit to pay their debt to His justice. These debt can be paid by our good works on earth not theirs anymore.
The Church recommends the following for the speedily release of souls in purgatory;
- Booking of masses especially on the Feast of All Souls i.e 2nd November every year.
- Obtain indulgences: Indulgences reduce or cancel the temporal punishment that we incur through sin. There are many ways to obtain indulgences through pious actions, and we can apply their merits to the dead. Examples include If you visit a church or oratory on All Souls Day and there recite the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostle’s Creed, you can earn a plenary (full) indulgence applicable only to the souls in purgatory.
- Prayers: prayers is an important aspect of we can not neglect when it comes to praying for the dead. The church recommend the following prayers for the souls in purgatory;
- Stations of the Cross
- The Divine Mercy Chaplet
- The Novena to the Holy Souls and Litany
- The Eternal rest prayer i.e “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. And let the perpetual light shine upon them. And may the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”
- Ejaculatory prayers
- Penance: penance and self-denial for the intention of the dead are also strongly advised and encouraged by the church.
Finally, we offer One Our Father, One Hail Mary and One Glory Be and the Eternal rest prayer for all the faithful departed especially for Late Sister Rose David who started the Sunday Rice (Catholic Catechism) who encouraged me after my first post but was not there to see the second post till date.
May God bless you all richly.