During this month of November our Church draws us to remember the Holy Souls in Purgatory. The teaching of our Faith regarding Purgatory is really about the Mercy of God. Our Creator has told us in Sacred Scripture that nothing impure shall come before Him in Heaven ((Rev. 21:27). In His great Mercy He has established a means by which souls can be completely made pure or clean so as to be ready to enter Heaven. Purgatory is a most wonderful gift from God! Without this part of God’s plan many souls would not otherwise be able to enter Heaven.
Here is what our Catechism teaches us about Purgatory (CCC 1030-1032):
“All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.
The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. (Council of Florence -1439; Council of Trent -1563) The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire: (Cf. 1 Cor 3:15; 1 Pet 1:7) ‘As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.’ (St. Gregory the Great, cf. Mt 12:31)
This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin." (2 Maccabees 12:46) From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vi-sion of God. (Cf. Council of Lyons II -1274) The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead: ‘Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.’” (St. John Chrysostom)
During this month of November, let us grow in devotion to helping the souls in Purgatory and in gratitude to our Lord for His great Mercy!
Through the intercession of Mary, the Queen of all hearts, St. Joseph, St. Michael and St. Paul, may our Lord grant that the souls in Purgatory have the time of purification rapidly completed and enter the joy of Heaven!