First Reading: Ws 3:1-9; Psalm: 23:1-6 R. 1 or 4; Second Reading: Rom 5:5-11; Gospel: Mt 5: 1-12a
PRAYING FOR THE SOULS IN PURGATORY
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
“Before we enter into God’s kingdom, every trace of sin within us must be eliminated, every imperfection in our souls must be corrected.” Pope St John Paul II (CCC 1030-1032)
Today is a day set aside by the Church to specially pray for the Suffering Church. These are those who have gone before us and are currently in a state of on-going purification due to venial sin. 1John 5:16-17 teaches that there are sins that lead to death and there are sins that do not lead to death. These sins that do not lead to death are venial sins that injure our relationship with God unlike mortal sin that is grave and destroys our union with God. Souls stained by venial sin at death can be saved unlike souls guilty of mortal sin.
But since “nothing unclean shall enter heaven” according to Revelation 21:27; God in his justice and mercy provided a place of purification called Purgatory where souls stained with venial sin are purged. For it will be unjust of God to punish alike in Hell the souls stained with mortal sin with the souls stained with venial sin.
The souls in Purgatory undergo temporal suffering with the hope of heaven. This is unlike Hell where souls undergo eternal torment without any hope of the Beatific Vision. Although there is no word as “Purgatory” in the scriptures; but allusion to this place of purification can be found in the scriptures. In 2 Mac 12:39-44, we read that Judas, a military commander having found that his dead soldiers were wearing pagan amulets decided to make a collection which was sent to Jerusalem for a sacrifice to be offered for their sins. ‘If he had not believed that the dead would be raised, it would have been foolish and useless to pray for them.’ Other scriptural passages that made allusion to Purgatory are: Zech 13:9; 2Tim 1:18; Matt 12:32; 1Cor 3:15; Is 35:8; Ws 7:25.
It is our spiritual responsibility to pray for our departed ones since their realm are unknown to us. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1032) encourages us to pray for the dead and offer Masses for them. We can do so today at Mass. We could also visit their graves to offer some prayers with lighted candles and flowers. Prayers and Masses offered for the souls in purgatory can hasten their purifying time. This is the reason we must not cease in praying for 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. Amen.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord God, we pray today for all our departed brothers and sisters. Save them from the suffering of purgatory and welcome them in your heavenly kingdom. Amen.