September & October, 2008
Dear Prayer Warriors,
A Continuing Journey
Those who've died in a state of grace are not truly "dead"; they are our beloved in Heaven or in Purgatory (on their way to Heaven) and will forever be, world without end, part of the Communion of Saints -- the Church Triumphant (the Saints in Heaven, whether or not they are beatified or canonized), the Church Suffering (the holy souls in Purgatory), and the Church Militant (the faithful on earth).
Because we can't know, aside from those the Church has beatified or canonized, who is already in Heaven, who is in Purgatory for a time, or who is damned, we pray for the dead for the rest of our lives -- assuming they are in Purgatory, while hoping they are in Heaven and not damned. We also ask those who've died to pray for us. While those whom the Church has deemed to be of the Church Triumphant (the canonized Saints) are in Heaven for certain and are, therefore, in no need of our prayers for them, we've always asked for them to pray for us. As to the Church Suffering in Purgatory, St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that they are not able to know our prayers; however, it is piously believed, and taught by St. Alphonsus Liguori, that God can make our prayers known to them -- not directly, as they are deprived of the Beatific Vision until they enter Heaven, but by infusing this knowledge into their souls. St. Robert Bellarmine teaches that because the Church Suffering is so close to God -- much closer than we are and having the great consolation of knowing they are saved -- their prayers for us are very effective. So, as you pray for your dead loved ones, ask them to pray for you, too!
As to the damned, there is no hope; no prayer can help them and we can't pray formally for those in Hell. The problem, of course, is that we can't know who is damned, and so we pray generally for "all the faithful departed." For those who've died outside of visible Communion with Christ's Church or for those Catholics who've died seemingly without repentance and in scandal, public prayer cannot be offered, but we can most certainly still pray privately with the hope that they've died in a state of grace (i.e., those who are denied a Catholic funeral can't be prayed for liturgically or publicly, but they can most definitely be prayed for -- and should be prayed for -- privately). Priests can even offer Masses for such people privately, without naming them.
Masses for the dead have infinite value for the souls of the departed. They also have great value for those who survive in that it is comforting to know that Masses are being offered for one's departed loved ones. So, while the bereaved can arrange such Masses, others, even non-Catholics, can arrange with a priest to have such Masses said, too, which would be a great gift of comfort to survivors.
St. Catherine of Genoa, a mystic of the 15th century, wrote that the 'fire' of purgatory is God's love 'burning' the soul so that, at last, the soul is wholly aflame. It is the pain of wanting to be made totally worthy of One who is seen as infinitely lovable, the pain of desire for union that is now absolutely assured, but not yet fully tasted"
"What is more Profitable and Meritorious--to have Masses Celebrated for Ourselves during Life, or after Death?"
"Many Catholics are solicitous to have a number of Masses celebrated after their death for the repose of their souls. For this purpose they save money and devise a portion of their estate in their last will and testament. This is good and praise worthy, and persons intending this should by no means be dissuaded from doing so; yet it is more profitable and meritorious to have these Masses celebrated during life. St. Leonard of Port Maurice exhorts us most earnestly to have Masses celebrated for ourselves during life-time rather than after our death; and he declares that one Mass before our death is much more profitable to us than many after it. He gives the following reasons: First, if we have a Mass said for us during life-time, we are the cause of its celebration and can assist at it, which latter is impossible after our death. Secondly, if a Mass is celebrated for us during life-time, and we are perhaps in the state of sin, we may hope to receive from God's mercy, in virtue of this Mass, the grace to perceive our sinful state, to be moved to true contrition, and to reconcile ourselves with God by a sincere confession. True, God is not obliged to grant us this grace; for whosoever remains consciously in the state of mortal sin, is not capable of gaining supernatural merit. But as God is infinitely merciful, He usually grants to sinners who perform a good action the grace of true contrition for their sins. This grace or efficacy of Holy Mass cannot be obtained after death. For if we die in state of sin, even thousands of Masses would not transfer us into the state of grace; we remain forever enemies of God and children of wrath.
Thirdly, Holy Mass can obtain for us the grace of a happy death, because in virtue of its being offered for us God will assist us with special aid to triumph over the enemy of our souls in that decisive hour. Fourthly, if Masses are said for us before our death, their merit will accrue to us after it, and we shall thereby either be preserved entirely from Purgatory, or our punishment will be mitigated and lessened. For by every Holy Mass we pay to God a great Part of our indebtedness; and if we hear it with special devotion we moreover blot out many venial sins, so that we many reasonably hope to escape a great part of our punishment after death. But if we defer these Masses until after our death, we shall be obliged to wait for their celebration in case we are in Purgatory, and this waiting is most distressing and painful. Hence it is better that the benefits accruing to us from Holy Mass be obtained in advance, than to wait for them in the torments of Purgatory."
News from the Central Office
Here is another email we received from a Friend of the Poor Souls:
Dear Brother and Sister in Christ and Mary,
I received an email sent out by one of your Prayer Warriors. I just had to write to you to tell you that I love the Holy Souls. I began praying for the Holy Souls after my first pilgrimage to Medjugorje in 2004. (I had prayed for my deceased family members and people I knew sporadically prior to that)Each and every day upon waking, I offer my day to the Sacred Hearts of the Most Blessed Trinity and Immaculate Heart of Mary for the greater glory of God the Father. Then there is a list of people I include with petitions. One of these petitions if "for the Holy souls in Purgatory, especially those I know, those in my family, and those who have no one to pray for them." I also offer this as one of the intentions during mass and while saying the rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet. To me the Holy Souls are very important in my life to pray for. This devotion to offer prayers, masses, pilgrimages, my suffering, etc. for them is my honor and I do so with humility.
One day, while having a Pet Scan to determine if I had cancer, I was inside the scanner. Spontaneously and repetitively, I kept asking Jesus, through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and all the heavenly angels and Saints, to please send me a Holy Soul or Souls from Purgatory so they may tell me what they need or want me to do for them so they may be released from Purgatory. I kept getting the feeling that I was being called to do this.
Please pray for me that if it is God's will, a Holy Soul or Souls will come to me to tell me what they need and want me to do for them to be released into the waiting and loving arms of Jesus. This is a burning desire from within. I will patiently await a response to my prayer.
Please send me some more information. It would be greatly appreciated.
God bless – Your sister in Christ – Jo Ann
Friends of the Poor Souls
Established September 15, 2004
Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows
Robert & Mary Ann Luetkemeyer, Coordinators
For more information