Thursday, November 8, 2018

Reason no. 26 why I remain Catholic: praying for the dead

To pray for the dead is based on Scripture and Tradition. We pray for those who have gone from this world because although they are physically gone, we understand that there is still a communion of souls.

Once a person dies and is in a state of grace, they can go to heaven. If they have rejected God, they go to hell and if they have lived a life of charity and believe in God, but are not in a state of grace when they die, they can enter purgatory.

What is purgatory? 

It is the place people go, who believe in God but need to be purified in order to enter heaven. We are purified in order to prepare ourselves to see God face-to-face but also to undo the damage that we have done through sin. God forgives as soon as we ask Him, with a contrite heart through the Sacrament of Confession, but the consequences of our sinful choices remain. Our fallen state is still there, even if we are forgiven.

Why do we need to be purified? In simple terms, when we are about to "meet the King of Kings" we need to be at our best-perfect. Our sinfulness does not allow us to stand before God so purgatory is the place we go where we can get "cleaned up" and ready for the big event.

How are we purified?

We are purified through Christ's burning and purifying love. We enter into the "anteroom" of heaven and there Jesus Christ purifies us as only the Son of God can. His burning love is like the fire that removes the impurities from gold and silver.

But there is another way we are purified in purgatory that is important to know and a great tradition fo the Catholic Church: praying for the dead. Through our prayers specifically for "the dead" and acts of mercy and charity that we perform for the intention of the "souls in purgatory," we can help to speed up their purification process. No prayer is left unanswered and no act of charity is left unnoticed in the eyes of God.

Through our rosaries, good works, the way of the Cross, pilgrimages, adoration and other devotions we can help a soul or souls be released from purgatory. It is amazing how closely we are connected with those in the next world. We are all in communion as the Church Militant (earth), Church penitent (purgatory) and Church Triumphant (Heaven). We are all in communion through Christ who spans all these places with His love and mercy.

But the greatest thing we can offer up for the holy souls of purgatory is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. If you do not know of this tradition you can simply go to your local parish office and ask that a Mass be said for the soul of a deceased relative/friend. A small donation should be given. No, you are not paying for the Mass, you are simply helping to support the parish who lives off the faithful's donations.

If you want to know more about this beautiful topic of praying for the holy souls in purgatory you can visit 9 truths about purgatory

Photo courtesy of R. Cheaib @pixabay

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