I was born on All Souls’ Day, (November 2nd). This has led to a curiosity with regard to souls and purgatory.
My parents are in their seventies. I have very early memories of seeing my parents cleaning and painting tombs of loved ones in preparation of All Souls’ Day. To this day, even though my parents are no longer young and agile, they continue their loving care of the graves of departed family members. Praying and attending mass for deceased family members was the normal custom of my family and my local community.
As a child, the thought of purgatory was scary. I knew witches, goblins, and vampires were creations of imagination; however, purgatory was a real and scary place. A place people went to suffer for sins committed. A place for “purging”.
As an adult, purgatory still seemed scary. Jesus seems so loving and forgiving in the Good Book; it did not seem possible that purgatory was part of His plan.
Then I read Sister Faustina’s Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul. Jesus told Sister Faustina, “You are the secretary of My mercy; I have chosen you for that office in this and the next life.” The Diary was kept the last four years of her life. She died in 1938 after filling several notebooks of her divine revelations, visits from poor souls in purgatory, and the gift of the Divine Mercy Chaplet which was dictated by Our Lord Jesus Christ. It was through this Diary that I finally understood the meaning of Redemptive Suffering and the depth of Our Lord’s Mercy.
Recently I have read another great book. “Get Us Out of Here“, by NIcky Eltz is a captivating interview with Maria Simma, an Austrian mystic. Ms. Simma, who passed away in 2004, was visited most of her life by holy souls from purgatory. She gives a personal account of details the souls have provided her regarding church traditions, child rearing, guardian angels,….I could not put the book down! Very fascinating to me was the fact that the souls begged for prayers, masses, and for generations to care for their tombs of beloved family members.
I am no longer scared of purgatory. I want to enter God’s Kingdom clean and worthy. I think of it as entering a very clean, immaculate house. If I have trampled in the mud, I will want to hose off my shoes and wipe them clean. It is a sign of respect for the house I am entering.
And besides, if I end up in purgatory, the next stop is Heaven!
In the meantime, I have scheduled masses for my loved ones who have passed away. I pray for the souls in purgatory every day. And I plan on taking over mom and dad’s tomb duties this year. It is time for the next generation to remind the young ones never to forget those who have passed on – they may need our prayers!
1 John 2:16-17
“If you see your brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray to God, who will give him life. This applies to those whose sins do not lead to death. But there is sin which leads to death, and I do not say that you should pray to God about that.”