“Well, thanks be to God, he is no longer suffering!”  “Undoubtedly, now he is in a much better place!”   “He is home safe!”    “Heaven is definitely, where he is now!”    All of these pious platitudes are often expressed at the death of a loved one and often on the very day of his funeral and burial!

My response to these seemingly “Compassionate” expressions would be:  How do we know he is no longer suffering?  Also, what source of certitude do  we have that he is in heaven and in this better place?   “Home safe?”  Who told you or did you actually see him?

Only the Holy Father, the Pope, has a right to officially canonize somebody after he is died and buried. Furthermore, the process of canonization does not take place upon the person’s burial but after a long and tedious study to see if he really lived heroic virtue. Moreover, 3 miracles, after he has died must be attributed to his intercession.

Following are three common errors often committed regarding our deceased brothers and sisters, who we must love and be concerned about and concerned about for their entrance into heaven.  Then, we will offer three concrete acts of charity we can do towards our deceased loved ones!

First,  UNOFFICIAL CANONIZATION PROCESS!   No priest or deacon or even Bishop can claim with certitude that an adult who has died is definitely in heaven.   We must trust in God’s infinite mercy and always be buoyed up by the virtue of hope. However, to proclaim officially that this deceased person is in heaven is a grave error.  Why?  If he is in heaven, then no need to pray for him after his death; the prayers will only be wasted.   Nobody will pray for him!

Second, OMIT PRAYING FOR HIM.    Listen to this!  St. Pope Gregory the Great, had a friend that died.  The Pope offered not only one Mass, nor a week, but a full month of Masses (30 Masses) for His friend, who , after the Masses were offered appeared to the Saintly Pope revealing that he was now in heaven, but only after the Holy Pope had offered 30 Masses  for him.  This is the origin of the “Gregorian Masses”    (30 consecutive Masses) offered for the deceased!

Third,  FALSE COMPASSION: USE OF PIOUS PLATITUDES!  Hearing sayings such as “He is no longer suffering!’  Or  “He is in a better place now!”  Furthermore, “He is in heaven with the angels and saints!”   None of us knows where he is!   We are not the Pope, nor God, nor a canonized mystic, that his secret insights to the destiny of the dead!   These sayings of “False compassion” also will prevent prayers, sacrifices, and Masses from being offered for the dead person.   And if he indeed is in Purgatory, he may detained there much longer than if frequent, fervent and trusting prayers were offered for the relief of his immortal soul!

What then can we do to alleviate the souls of our departed brothers and sisters?

First, PRAY!  Once we have died, we can no longer merit!  However, while we are living we can still merit by prayer, by sacrifices, by acts of charity and by receiving the Sacraments—especially the Most Holy Eucharist--- with fervent dispositions.   We can never go wrong by praying at any time and in any place for the souls in Purgatory.  Their sufferings are most intense but our prayers are an allaying balm of refreshment preparing them for final union with the Most Blessed Trinity in Heaven.

Second, MASSES!  By far, the most efficacious means and prayer to alleviate the pains of the souls in Purgatory is the offering of the most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the purification of the stains of the souls still detained in Purgatory.

St. Nicholas of Tolentino, often depicted celebrating Mass, can be seen consecrating the Precious Blood, and below him is seen a vision of Purgatory.  The Precious Body and Blood Jesus purify the sins of the soul in Purgatory and grant him release from this temporary state of Purification and access to heaven.   One of the primary reasons why St. Nicholas wanted to become a priest was precisely this: to offer as many Masses as possible for the souls in Purgatory to give them wings to fly to heaven!   These souls in Purgatory who have merited from your prayers and sacrifices will be eternally grateful for your charity towards  and in turn will pray for you!

Third, INDULGENCES!   The Church, being mother and teacher, and having an infinite resource of spiritual treasures, offers us many opportunities to receive INDULGENCES!   What are the conditions?   Here they are! Confession, Sacramental Communion, the Rosary in front of the Blessed Sacrament, or the Rosary in family, or reading the Bible prayerfully at least a half an hour, praying for the intentions of the Holy Father, and last but not least, being detached from sin, even the affection to venial sin!   If all of these conditions are carried out, and the Communion is offered for  a soul in Purgatory , then a Plenary Indulgence can be applied to that soul and  be granted freedom from Purgatory!

The Film “The Greatest Miracle” which refers to Holy Mass, shows an elderly pious and holy woman “Cata”, receiving Holy Communion.  Her Guardian Angel points out that this woman has a very pure soul. Upon receiving Holy Communion,  Purgatory is open, the Guardian Angel descends into Purgatory and takes a soul to Heaven, where the angels and saints and God Himself receive that soul!

Indeed, we can become the “Divine Firemen” to pray, sacrifice and offer Masses so as to liberate those poor and dependent souls—dependent upon God’s mercy and our love--- and bring them safe to the Lord.  “The Lord is my Shepherd there is nothing I shall want.”

Finally, the saints have pointed out that especially on Marian Feast days--- The Assumption, Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Mount Carmel—many souls are alleviated of their sufferings and many are taken on these days to heaven! Mary, Mother of God, Mother of mercy, pray for our beloved deceased love ones and bring them safely to heaven!