The Souls in Purgatory NEED Us: A Personal Experience

Before I give you all the official Church teaching on the souls in purgatory. I must tell you why this subject is close to my heart. I KNOW  personally, the agony of a soul who is desperate for my prayers. I have learned through personal experience, that souls in purgatory, although they cannot pray for themselves,  press in on the most sensitive of their relatives for prayer.

 My Ukrainian grandmother, who had been in Canada for barely 15 years, died accidentally under extreme duress as a young mother of three boys when her husband was at war. Since this occurred in the 1940’s, she was denied a Christian burial in the Catholic church. When my grandfather returned from the war,  the young family left the Catholic Church and my grandfather remarried a Protestant Presbyterian. In turn, I was raised in this church with no knowledge of any Catholic roots until I converted. My father pleaded with me to reconsider; his childhood memories of how the  Church handled immigrants were horrific.

It took years before I understood that the emotional weight I carried like a rock in my chest was not mine but I what I felt was actually my grandmother’s guilt, shame and sense of unforgiven sin in my own emotions.  I heard her negative words interiorly and again the words I heard seemed to condemn ME.  These spiritual, emotional and even physical burdens were simply the only way my grandmother could get my attention.  After two years of interceding for her, a priest ( who in fact is the official exorcist of my diocese) was finally led by God to give this poor soul absolution in the name of the Church.
Instantly, I mean immediately, I was free and my grandmother was filled with joy as she literally flew into the arms of Christ. I still could burst out into songs of praise every time I think of my grandmother and in thanksgiving for the new joy which replaces the burdens I carried for years.
To use a modern phrase, the  bottom line is that the Holy Souls in Purgatory are not able to pray for themselves or do anything at all to relieve their suffering. Period. The fact alone is enough to call us to pray because they rely on our prayers and efforts to help them.
The truth is we are all connected in the Body of Christ. The communion of saints, of all souls is real, a fact, My grandmother affected me, and I am still  connected to her just as St. Paul tells us in his letters. So I would say that praying for the dead, especially for those we have known, is a not simply a requirement of Christian charity but essential to our own spiritual health and well-being.
Purgatory is part of Catholic doctrine today and always has been from the earliest days of the Church. In addition  the Old Testament mentions the practice:
“It is a holy and wholesome thing to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins.” (II Macab. XII., 46). 
In the modern world, when many have come to doubt the Church’s teaching on Purgatory, the need for such prayers has only increased. The Church devotes the month of November to prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and participation in the Mass of All Souls Day is a good way to begin the month.

Although they cannot pray for themselves, souls in purgatory pray for us, especially for those who pray for them. St. John Vianney said:

“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.”

St. Theresa of Avila (Spain) said that she always obtained the favours, which she asked from God, through the intercession of the Souls in Purgatory. 

 Our Lady of Medjugorje on July 21, 1982 spoke these words in a message to the world,

Concerning Purgatory; “There are many souls in Purgatory. There are also persons who have been consecrated to God – some priests, some Religious. Pray for their intentions, at least the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be seven times each, and the Creed. I recommend it to you. There is a large number of souls who have been in Purgatory for a long time because no one prays for them.” 

 Saintly Padre Pio expressed his thought on Purgatory by simply saying,

“Holy Souls are eager for the prayers of the faithful which can gain indulgences for them. Their intercession is powerful. Pray unceasingly. We must empty Purgatory.”

Prayer for the dead is one of the greatest acts of charity we can perform. Our prayers help them during their time in Purgatory, so that they can enter more quickly into the fullness of heaven. These prayers are especially suited for offering a novena on behalf of the dead, or for praying during those seasons of the year (November, in the Western Church; Lent, in the Eastern Church) designated by the Church as times of fervent prayer for the faithful departed.

 Faithful Departed here is a link for many more prayers for the month of November

Prayer for Mercy on the Souls in Purgatory
While we know that all who are in Purgatory will enter into Heaven, we are still bound by charity to try to lessen the suffering of the Holy Souls through our prayers and deeds. While our first responsibility is to those people we have known, it is important to remember in our prayers those souls who are most forsaken.

The Heroic act of Charity : O my God, in union with the merits of Jesus and Mary, I offer Thee for the Souls in Purgatory, all my Satisfactory Works, as well as those which may be applied to me by others during my life and after my death. And to be more agreeable to the Divine Heart of Jesus and more helpful to the departed I place them all in the hands of the merciful Virgin Mary.

Saint Gertrude’s Purgatory prayer-  “releases 1000 souls”
Eternal Father, I offer Thee the most precious blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my home, and within my family. Amen. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus “

12 thoughts on “The Souls in Purgatory NEED Us: A Personal Experience

  1. Thank you for sharing your personal experience with aiding souls in purgatory. We live very close to a cemetery, and always pray for the dead when we pass by. During this Octave of All Souls, we take this responsibility seriously.


  2. Thanks for posting this Melanie. I also say a prayer every time I pass a cemetery but have to admit it is sometimes with less purpose than it could be. You’ve refreshed my reason for doing so.

    I also connected with your statement about your Grandmother being an outcast. I am so sorry to hear that. What I’ve dealt with is not comparable in any way to what she experienced, but I would like to add that in some ways, I have felt a fraction of that outcastedness (Is that a word?) while going through the divorce and annulment process. My tribunal judge was particularly cruel, and the process has left me feeling drained and condemned rather than hopeful or absolved. I think it’s important to remember that, while the teachings and beliefs we hold close are sound, the people implementing them sometimes make mistakes. We are all human and all subject to wrong thinking at times. So many people turn away from the church, not because of its beliefs, but because of those imposing their beliefs over Christ’s teachings. It is a good reminder to us that others are watching all we say and do. We also must tread so carefully so as to draw others to our Lord rather than turn others away.

    I am so glad you were guided back to the faith and that now your Grandmother and family can be at peace.


  3. I’m not Catholic, and I do not believe in a place called pergutory. The bible says, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. I believe in salvation. God sent His son Jesus to die on the cross to save us from our sins. There is only Heaven or hell. If yoh are saved you go to paradise when you die. If you die lost you go to hell. There is no praying you out of pergutory or hell. There is no chance to be saved afger you’re dead. Your soul has already gone on to where it will spend eternity. Jesus mother, Mary is not a saviour of sins. No reason to pray to her. She cant help you. She can’t answer your prayers. Only God can do that.Jesus is on the right hand of the Father making intercession for us to the Father. No need praying to Mary she is the mother of Jesus but not the saviour. We can approach the throne of God in prayer. We can pray directly to God who hears and answers our prayers. Mary can’t answer our prayers.


  4. God created a perfect place/ Heaven, can you really say that your mindset right now is perfect enough for heaven? Not mine! The sad part is the majority of souls who have no one to pray for them are non Catholics. Even when our own children do something wrong and they apologize they still must pay for their mistakes, by being grounded or some other form of punishment. We are made in the likeness of God The Father. Jesus gave us his mother at the cross, he didn’t just talk to fill space in the bible, “Mother behold your son” Jesus always speaking of us all.

    The Catholic Church holds that “all who die in God’s grace and friendship but still imperfectly purified” undergo the process of purification which the Church calls purgatory, “so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven”. It bases its teaching also on the practice of praying for the dead, in use within the Church ever since the Church began, and mentioned in the deuterocanonical book 2 Maccabees 12:46

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