The Feast of All Souls
Prayer for Mercy for the Souls in Purgatory:
Have mercy, O gentle Jesus, on the souls detained in purgatory. Thou Who for their ransom didst take upon Thyself our human nature and suffer the most cruel death, pity their sighs and the tears shed when they raise their longing eyes toward Thee; and by virtue of Thy Passion, cancel the penalty due to their sins. May Thy Blood, O tender Jesus, Thy Precious Blood, descend into purgatory to solace and refresh those who there languish in captivity. Reach forth Thy hand to them, and lead them into the realms of refreshment, light and peace. Amen.
From the book Alone with God by Fr. J. Heyrmann S.J. here's the meditation for today:
ALL SOULS’ DAY
1. The Martyrology announces this day in the following terms: “This day, the Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed, by which our loving Mother the Church, immediately after she has endeavoured to glorify with appropriate tokens of homage all her children who enjoy the bliss of heaven, seeks to bring by her powerful intercession with her Lord and Bridegroom, aid and comfort to all who still suffer in purgatory, so that soon they may be admitted to the blessed company of those that are in heaven.”
2. Petition: The grace of a more lively realization of our union in Christ, the Communion of Saints: so that with greater fraternal love we may offer prayer and penance for our departed brethren.
I. The Christian’s Death
“The wages of sin is death. But the grace of God, life everlasting in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). When God had made man to His image and likeness, and had called him to be a partaker of His divine nature, “He saw all the things that he had made, and they were very good” (Gen. 1:31). In that plan of God there was no room, there could be no room, for death, no more than for sin, of which death is the wages, that is, the punishment. Punishment, by its very nature, is something painful: hence the fact that man shrinks from death. Even the great Apostle could have wished things were otherwise: “For we also, who are in this tabernacle (our body), do groan, being burdened; because we could not be unclothed, but clothed upon, that that which is mortal, may be swallowed up by life” (2 Cor. 5:4).
Death is separation from whatever is on earth; it is the tearing asunder of two things that were naturally made for each other, the body and the soul. But death is not a goal: it is a passage to something else, a transition from one state to another. A poet compared the transition to the swan’s going to the pond: with little grace and much effort the bird waddles down the bank, but as soon as it is on the surface of the water, it sails away swiftly and majestically and pursues its stately course. The soul’s natural environment is God Himself. “Thou hast made us,” said St. Augustine, “Thou hast made us for thyself, and our hearts find no rest but in Thee.” But to come to God, we must pass through death. Therefore St. Paul, though depressed at the thought of inescapable death, does long for it: “For to me to live is Christ: and to die is gain … I desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ, a thing by far the better” (Phil. 1:21-23). But death is also the soul’s meeting with Him who is All-Holy.
II. The Final Cleansing: Purgatory
In the prayers for the agonizing, the Church thus addresses her dying children: “Depart from this world, Christian soul, in the name of the Lord… Mayest thou this day abide in the Lord’s peace, and may holy Sion be thy dwelling place.” She is aware that in many cases the full debt has not yet been paid, and that every blemish has not yet been wiped from the soul. Her infallible teaching is that such souls, after death, will pass through a stage of final purification: they love God with their whole heart, and they can will nothing but what God wills. God’s peace fills their soul; still they suffer painful pangs of love.
In her remarkable treatise on purgatory St. Catherine of Genoa wrote: “No peace on earth can be compared with the peace of the souls in purgatory, except the peace of the souls in heaven … Nor can any pain or grief on earth be compared with the pain and grief of those souls.”
Some mystics experience on earth something of the weal and woe of that cleansing beyond the grave. Ruysbroeck wrote: “To be wounded by love is the sweetest solace and the most harrowing torture which a soul can bear. To be wounded by love: there is no fuller assurance that the cure is at hand. This spiritual wound causes joy and pain at the same time.”
The Church does not propose any particular teaching about the other sufferings of purgatory, nor about their duration: one thing she tells us: these sufferings shall come to an end.
In Newman’s Dream of Gerontius the Guardian Angel has guided the soul till the gate of purgatory, and bids farewell thus:
Farewell, but not for ever! Brother dear
Be brave and patient on thy bed of sorrow;
Swiftly shall pass night of trial here,
And I will come and wake thee on the morrow.
III. How to Assist the Souls in Purgatory?
For them the time of earning merit is past; but they patiently bear the cleansing of crucifying love. From Holy Writ, from the practice of the Church (from very early times the liturgy of the Mass contained prayers for the faithful departed), from her doctrine, it is clear that God is pleased to accept prayers and sacrifices made for the deliverance of the souls in purgatory. In what measure and in what manner such suffrages benefit those souls is God’s own secret.
The doctrine of purgatory reminds us that God, who is all-holy, demands complete purity from sin; it should encourage us to bear patiently sufferings and trials; we shall consider, and accept, the pains and sufferings connected with death, as a beginning on earth of our purgatory.
(Note: The so-called “heroic act”, by which a person here on earth forgoes all the expiatory value of his prayers and good works in favour of the souls in purgatory, is founded on sound reason, and theologically justifiable. It is a highly praiseworthy act.)
Prayer: O God, Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, grant to the souls of Thy servants remission of all their sins, that our pious prayers may obtain for them the forgiveness that they have constantly longed for, who livest and reignest … (For all the faithful departed).
Deus propitius esto mihi peccatori.
Jesus, Mary, I love Thee; Save Souls!
Jesu mitis et humilis corde, Fac cor nostrum secundum Cor tuum. (ter)
p/s: yay, Deo gratias et Mariae!!!, we did our first western blot nicely today. :)