Ah, summertime, and the living is easy. Vacation. A few days at the beach. An afternoon picnic in the park. And …
Prayers for the suffering souls in purgatory? Absolutely! No week or two off for them. Purgatory is never a day at the beach.
The revelations of St. Alphonsus Liguori and St. Teresa of Ávila tell us most souls are released from purgatory on Christmas Day. OK. Why not give them “Christmas in July!” And June. And August. Why not make these three summer months a time to help them … and, in doing that, help ourselves?
Ourselves? You bet. Do you think it’s even remotely possible that the souls you’ve helped free from purgatory are going to forget the role you played once they’ve entered heaven? Not now, not ever. From that instant you have good, good friends in not just high places — in the highest place ever.
(Actually, they knew what you were doing for them while they were in purgatory and that’s when they started praying — interceding — for you.)
The Sacred Heart, the Precious Blood
This year the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is celebrated on June 8. (It’s a movable feast but always 19 days after Pentecost, on a Friday.) And every year June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart and July to the Precious Blood. Both are really good reminders that souls long for the Precious Blood of that Sacred Heart.
St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that “as the dew refreshes and raises up the withering plants and flowers, so does the Blood of Christ revive and comfort and bring renewed hope to the poor souls in purgatory.”
No access to a computer or smartphone? Ask a friend to print a copy for you. (It’s good to have friends of earth, too!)
The Stations of the Cross
Along with the Mass and rosary, the praying the Stations of the Cross is a powerful, powerful, powerful way to help souls in purgatory and acquire merit for ourselves. (No, the Stations aren’t meant to be limited to cold, dark Lenten Fridays.) As Jesus pointed out to Ven. Sr. Mary Martha Chambon (introducer of the Holy Wounds Chaplet Rosary): “When you offer my holy wounds for sinners, you must not forget to do so for the souls in purgatory, as there are but few who think of their relief.”
It’s not that we don’t care. It’s not that we don’t want to. It’s just that, shrug, we get busy. Out of sight, out of mind. Out of our prayers.
Two suggestions here. The standard Stations of the Cross (or Way of the Cross) or the ancient devotion of praying The Way of the Cross for the Holy Souls. That’s the title of the first book I ever wrote (edited) and I don’t mention it here to make sales.
Please forgive me if it seems like I’m tooting my own horn. I’m not. But I never hesitate to toot horns, bang drums, and shout from the rooftops for the holy souls in purgatory.
Following a practice that goes back many centuries, consider praying the Stations for the holy souls for 33 consecutive days at home or at church. If possible, go to Mass on each of those days in honor of Our Lord’s 33 years on earth. What a marvelous summer devotion this can be.
And remember: In a special way we can offer this practice for the priests and consecrated men and women in purgatory who tend to be forgotten too soon after their deaths.
Take a ‘prayer stroll’
In August, a month devoted to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, try a family “prayer stroll” through your local cemetery to pray for all those buried there. Continually pray the Eternal Rest Prayer on your rosary beads.
Visit the graves of your loved ones and clean their sites in a spirit of prayer and penance. Place or plant flowers near their graves in their honor. Have younger family members sprinkle holy water on the graves. (It’s one of the first sacramentals of the Church. Holy water refreshes the holy souls.)
I did this with my young cousin and he ran around the cemetery sprinkling holy water on the nearby graves, as well! That’s the spirit, and a lesson for the youngest generation.
A day with Mary
Pious legend has it that on the day Mary was assumed into heaven (now marked on Aug. 15) all of purgatory was emptied, and the souls detained there accompanied her in her triumphant entry into paradise.
St. Bernardine of Siena said that through her prayers and the application of her own merits, the Blessed Mother has the power of freeing souls — especially her devotees — from purgatory. And St. Peter Damian attests that every year on the Solemnity of the Assumption, Our Lady liberates thousands of souls.
This summer, join with her, pray with her, for the souls who are longing for their personal, spiritual, “Independence Day.” And let the celestial fireworks begin!