"O, my Jesus. Forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of Hell. Lead all souls to Heaven – especially those in most need of Thy Mercy."We would all like to think that upon our deaths we will immediately enter into Heaven. We all imagine ourselves to be "good" persons and deserving of a place in God's Kingdom. Very few people these days even believe in Hell.
– Prayer of Our Lady of Fatima
If there were only a Heaven and a Hell, then very very few of us would make it into Heaven. Only the saints would be invited to sit at the table and share in the Supper of the Lamb.
But, Holy Mother Church tells us that there is another way for us to enter into Heaven. It is not an easy way. It is through Purgatory.
Purgatory is a place of fire and burning, but unlike in Hell the souls there are full of hope. They are going through a purification by fire, where their sins are being burned away; leaving them eventually in a state of pure white holiness so that they can be received by the saints into Heaven.
I imagine that Purgatory must be a very busy place these days. The false teachings of the past few decades have led astray Christians by the boatload. There have never been so many deceased souls who led their lives full of good intentions, but which were deceived into turning away from the face of God.
This is bad news for them, but can be good news for us. All those souls in Purgatory are still part of the body of the Church. They are called either the Church Suffering, or more fittingly the Church Penitent. If they are to progress in their journey towards Heaven they must spend their time in prayer asking for forgiveness.
And they are assisted by our prayers for them. We – the living here on earth – are the Church Militant.
I just learned something interesting, that at the same time we are praying for them and guiding them towards Heaven, they in turn are praying for us so that we won't imitate them in the error of their ways.
Just think of the multitude of souls praying in Purgatory for us right now so that we can avoid the sins of the "sexual revolution". This is a cause of great hope for us, even as the clouds gather and the skies darken.
I imagine though that there are some stubborn souls in Purgatory who refuse to recognize their sins and to pray for forgiveness. How long will it be before they find themselves – instead of on the path to Heaven – on the path to Hell; not through the condemnation of God, but through their own choosing.
We can pray for those souls and ask the angels and saints looking over them to apply the fires of salvation in such a way so as to melt their hardened hearts. Then it is up to those souls to realize that the piercing pain that they are experiencing is a loving, healing pain and not the cruel pain of torture. It is a form of spiritual surgery which requires time to heal, followed by a period of spiritual rehabilitation through the exercise of prayer.
Imagine the extreme gratitude of those suffering souls, in knowing that they have allies among the Church Militant (us) who are praying for them. In turn they will pray for us from their privileged position in the afterworld. And they can show us the error of their ways so that we don't fall into the same snares and traps of the devil.
We all have loved ones who have passed away that we sometimes wonder about with regards to their fate in the afterlife. They may be relatives or friends; or perhaps it was some famous person that we admired.
We can comfort and console them in their spiritual sickness through our prayers. And give them the strength to bear the pains of redemption; and to never lose hope in God's promise of an eternal life in Heaven.
Mother Mary, comforter of souls in Purgatory, pray for us.