“No prayer is wasted.”
That teaching kept coming back to me as I drafted this post on today’s Feast of All Souls. Yesterday, the Catholic Church celebrated the Feast of All Saints, and hot on its heels is today’s celebration – celebrating those whose souls are in Purgatory.
One of the biblical justifications of Purgatory can be found in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15:
Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, previous stones, wood, hay, straw – the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.
Taken from the NRSV, HarperCollins Study Bible
Furthermore, 2 Maccabees 12:45, a Book of the Bible removed from Protestant bibles a few centuries back, states:
But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious through. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, so that they might be delivered from their sin.
The teaching of this purification process is that the souls in purgatory are unable to pray for themselves. Instead, they must devote their time in purgatory to prayer for each other, and for those of us left on earth.
They are solely reliant on us left behind to pray for their souls!
While I’m not entirely sure today is one of my favorite feast days, it does rank as rather important to me. Yesterday celebrated all the souls in Heaven, already unified together with God. They’ve already received the Ultimate Reward – both canonized saints, and any other soul, known or unknown, who has been unified with God – if you make it to Heaven, you are a saint, whether or not the Catholic Church knows your name!
The souls in hell are just that – in hell. Jesus was pretty clear, if you make it to hell, that’s where you will be staying. At that point, God’s mercy no longer extends to them, because they chose to sever all ties with Him, and they chose to deny any good, positive relationship with Him. The ultimate tough love, perhaps?
But, the souls in Purgatory? Now, I can do something about that!
Through my prayers and going to Church, I can help them get to God!
Unlike the Hollywood version of the western movie, Purgatory, the real Purgatory isn’t a final decision point. If you make it to Purgatory, there’s only one way (literally) up from there – you will make it to Heaven. It might be a while, but you’ll get there.
And, “no prayer is wasted.” So, if I am praying for my deceased grandfather (deceased over 40 years), and he’s already a saint in Heaven, then the prayer being prayed for him gets passed along. I always ask the Lord to extend the prayers to the “oldest soul in Purgatory” or, “to the soul forgotten in Purgatory,” just to ensure they are receiving another hand up to cleanse their soul.
So, join me in praying for the souls of the faithful departed today, whether you make it to Mass or not. Even those that are not Catholic can celebrate their family members who have died! If anything, this feast day is a great day to remember your family and friends who have proceeded you in death.
Prayer for the Poor Souls in Purgatory
V. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord
R. And let the perpetual light shine upon them.
And may the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Translation taken from EWTN
Let me know if you have a soul you would like me to take to Mass in order to pray for them today!