Prayers and Practices for the Souls in Purgatory

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In a Crisis, Call on the Holy Souls

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By Chris Sparks (Oct 25, 2018)
In the face of such a terrible crisis in the Church, what can we do? New stories seem to erupt every few days; shocking crimes have been committed by the clergy against those in their care; and God only knows what the new investigations by the different states will turn up.

So what can we do? What ought we do?

Well, among our other remedies for the current crisis, we absolutely need to remember one vital truth: We are members of the Mystical Body of Christ.

That means that we are in a communion of life and love with people across the ages, not just the present generation alive on earth and walking around, souls attached to bodies. We are in communion with all those who are alive in Christ, including the saints of the Old Testament, the saints of the Christian era, and all those men and women awaiting entry into Heaven as they do their time of purification in Purgatory.

So when a great scandal or a crisis hits the Church on earth, we should remember that we're not just stuck with the people who are presently in the Church around us, visibly, obviously. We can ask for help and be assured of receiving it from people from ages past, from God Himself and all His saints.

And more: We can turn to the Holy Souls in Purgatory for help, as well. We can and we should offer up prayers, indulgences, and suffrages of every sort for the Holy Souls, asking them in return to take a hand in the cleanup of the present crisis. We should especially ask God to apply our suffrages to the souls of priests, deacons, bishops, and religious in Purgatory, trusting that they in return will intercede for the present generation of clergy and religious, leading the guilty, the corrupt, the negligent, and the malfeasant to repentance; strengthening the innocent with the grace and fortitude to bear up under the sins of their brethren; and bringing the victims the grace needed to heal, retain their faith, and recover from the terrible evil done to them.

We know that the Holy Souls will be able to help us once they reach Heaven, but they can already begin to help us with their prayers, even while they're in Purgatory. One of the Doctors of the Church, St. Alphonsus, stated:

They [the Holy Souls] are unable to pray or merit anything for themselves, yet, when they pray for others, they are heard by God.

Saint John Vianney, the Cure d'Ars, wrote:

If one knew what we may obtain from God by the intercession of the Poor Souls, they would not be so much abandoned. Let us pray a great deal for them; they will pray for us.

Now, all of this isn't to deny the key role of contacting your bishops and parish priests with your concerns, or to overlook the role of the laity in policing criminal behavior, even amongst the clergy. But it is to call us all to remember that the Church is both human and divine, both this worldly and otherworldly, and so any response to the crisis needs to include both this worldly, ordinary solutions as well as the solutions offered us through grace, prayer, and the supernatural.

So ask the deacons, priests, bishops, and consecrated religious of ages past for their prayers right now, in the midst of this scandal. Ask them to take a strong and active hand in uncovering wickedness and casting out corruption. Ask them for their powerful intercession on behalf of victims, on behalf of everyone whose faith or health has been harmed by these events, and on behalf of the whole Church being rocked in this storm. Ask St. Peter to intercede for the Holy Father; ask the apostles to intercede for the cardinals and the bishops; ask saintly priests, deacons, and religious to intercede for our modern clergy and religious. Talk to the patron saints of your parish, your diocese, your country, and the whole Church. Bring in the full force of Heaven by trusting, loving prayers.

Let us behave as Christians who believe the faith we profess. Let us pray and work while the light lasts, so that this crisis be faced, and overcome.

Chris Sparks is the author of the book How Can You Still Be Catholic? 50 Answers to a Good Question (Marian Press).

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