Our Duty of Mercy

The Holy Souls in Purgatory cry out in their suffering for our help, and November is their month. On Nov. 2, the Church commemorates All Souls Day for all the faithful departed who are undergoing purification for their sins in purgatory. She then invites us to remember them throughout the month of November, mindful that they cannot help themselves.

For us, the faithful on earth, the most important aspect of this work of mercy for the Holy Souls is our ability to help release them from purgatory by having Masses said for their intention as well as through offering personal prayers and sacrifices on their behalf. For this reason, the Marian Fathers maintain the Holy Souls Sodality, in which the Marians and their Sodality members join together to offer daily Mass, prayers, and sacrifices on behalf of those in purgatory.

Sodality Members, Marians Share Tips
Members of the Sodality feel a special vocation to pray on behalf of the Holy Souls every day, and many intensify their efforts during the November remembrance. Sodality member Mary Poehailis prays the Stations of the Cross and the Rosary for the souls. In addition, Mary says that at Holy Communion, she remembers the Poor Souls in prayer.

She tries to do something for the souls in purgatory every day of the month, with the highlight being a novena offered on their behalf.

Father Dan Cambra, MIC, spiritual director of the Sodality, says, "Every day, I offer any pain or anxiety I endure in union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the Poor Souls in Purgatory, especially the most neglected; for an increase in priestly, diaconal, and religious vocations, particularly for our Marian community; and for the conversion of sinners."

Father Dan also says that during November, as circumstances allow, he tries to visit a cemetery each day to pray for all those buried there.

Donald Tappe, another Sodality member, prays daily for the souls in purgatory, including praying the Rosary: "I pray for my parents, grandparents, and an uncle. They were good to us, and the best I can do for them is to keep them in my prayers. I can't think of a better way to pay them back than to pray for their souls."

'Pay Attention to Nature'
One tip recommended for the November remembrance by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, is to "pay attention to what's going on in nature, and let that consideration move your thoughts to the suffering of the souls in purgatory.

"In other words," Fr. Michael adds, "as November progresses and the days become shorter and colder, as the landscape becomes barren and desolate, we can allow the somber atmosphere to gather our minds and hearts to focus on the suffering of the souls in purgatory. They also experience a kind of dark-cold barrenness and desolation that far surpasses what we endure on earth, and we should try to be mindful of their plight."

How the Marian Helpers can remember those in purgatory? Marian Father Founder, Blessed Stanislaus Papczynski, wrote, "It is the greatest charity to pray earnestly to God for the freedom of the souls remaining in purgatory."

Blessed Stanislaus would often cite 2 Maccabees 12:43 as a scriptural basis for our duty to assist the Holy Souls: "[Judas] also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of 2,000 drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering [for the dead]. In doing this, he acted well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection."

Blessed Stanislaus was always greatly amazed at how so many Christians did not begin to feel the entreaty of these souls who cry aloud the words, "Pity me, pity me, O you, my friends'" (Job 19:21).

Father Founder taught that the souls in purgatory suffered terribly as they tried to requite God's justice. Therefore, he admonished all of us to offer our illnesses, pains, labors, persecutions, mortifications, and other pious works in sacrifice for them.

In this spirit, the Marians invite you to join them in their November remembrance for the Holy Souls. For more information, visit prayforsouls.org.

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