At funerals all too often you hear: “Well, he is no longer suffering!” And, “Now
he is in a much better place.” And
another common saying: “Now he is in
heaven with the Lord in glory!” Although the persons who have expressed these
common niceties were most probably moved with good will and the best of
intentions, they could be far off the target! Why this straight-forward and
possibly startling remark? It is for this reason: the reality of PURGATORY!
Among the many heresies floating
around in many catholic circles is that everybody goes to heaven and right
away! In other words, simply being a baptized catholic and nothing more is a
sure passport to heaven. No need for any intermediate state of purification;
with death, the gates of heaven are open and the flight is non-stop and one
way! The pearly-gates are opened and the Lord is ready to embrace forever!
Not only is this a false theology,
but it is highly dangerous and damaging for the state of the deceased. Why? If
all are totally convinced that “Uncle Harry” is rejoicing with God, the angels
and saints meriting the fruits of his faith in God and earthly labors, then
what is the purpose and reason for praying for him? No sense in praying for the
saints in heaven, nor the condemned in hell, but only those detained in Purgatory.
|Souls in the fire of Purgatory|
It has been sound and solid Catholic
teaching over the centuries that only those who are perfect in charity, have no
impurities and imperfections on their souls and have done due reparation for
the sins of their past will have access to
their Heavenly abode. The Book of
Revelation expresses this with the utmost clarity: “Nothing impure can enter
the Kingdom of God.” Jesus reiterated this in the Sermon on the Mount, in one
of the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the pure of heart; they will see God.” (Mt.
The point is this: none of us have
the authority to canonize unofficially any person that has passed from this
life to the next life! By doing so in proclaiming that such a person is in a
better place, is no longer suffering, is in the eternal and everlasting hills
of peace and joy is presumptuous, wrong, and simply false-compassion. Worse yet, we are
taking over the role of the Holy Father, the Pope. Only the Pope himself has a
right to canonize or to declare that such a person is definitely in heaven. And there is only one Pope—it is not you nor
is it me!
|Pope Saint Gregory the Great|
Speaking about Popes and Purgatory,
there is a story very apropos of the topic of Purgatory and the importance of
much prayer for the dead. The story can
be found in the life of one of the greatest Popes in the history of the Church.
In fact, rarely does the church add to the name of the Pope “The Great”. The
Pope that we are referring to is POPE SAINT GREGORY THE GREAT! (540-604)
On one occasion the Pope was talking
to one of his friends on the topic of the after-life and the importance to pray
for the dead! The substance of their
talk was the following: whoever died first, then the survivor would make it a point
to pray for the deceased.
It happened that the friend of Pope
Saint Gregory passed away first. Shortly after his death, his friend appeared
to Gregory suffering intensely the pains of Purgatory. He certainly did not seem to be in “a better
place” or was “not suffering” as so many presume today!!! Quite the contrary
his suffering was very intense to put it mildly!
That being the case, Pope Saint
Gregory made a concerted effort to pray for his friend so as to alleviate his
pains and to deliver him as soon as possible from Purgatory!
By far the most powerful prayer in
the universe is the HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS! Therefore, Pope Saint Gregory
the Great, being of course a priest started to offer Masses for the intention
and purification and relief of his dear friend. This the Pope did with the best
What do you think happened? This holy Pope, canonized and known to be
one of the greatest of all Popes in two millennia, offered a Mass, Masses,
weeks of Masses, and finally a whole month of Masses for the delivery of this
one soul—who probably was not such a bad guy according to world criteria. However, it was only after a full month in
which the Pope offered Masses for him every day that he was finally delivered
and had full access to heaven.
True, after the month, the Pope’s
friend appeared to him in glory, thanking him profusely for the many prayers
offered that served to purify him of his sins, diminish his intense suffering
and gain full entry to the Kingdom of Heaven.
GERGORIAN MASS. This is the history and origin of what we call
THE GREGORIAN MASS. This Mass, or
rather a long line of consecutive Masses, is offered for the deceased (it can
also be offered for the living…) for the purpose of purifying the soul of the
deceased, alleviating his intense suffering, and gaining for him access to
heaven as soon as possible. Indeed it is a great act of charity to pray for the
dead. They can no longer merit for themselves and are totally dependent upon
the mercy of God, but also the prayers, sacrifices, fasting, and Masses that
could and should be offered on their behalf.
An Augustinian saint, Saint Nicholas
of Tolentino, is often depicted in art as celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the
Mass. However, the religious art-work displays the saint consecrating the
Chalice—the Precious Blood of Jesus. Then Purgatory can be seen below and the
angels descending into the fiery pit of Purgatory and leading them to their
heavenly abode. It was noted that one of the primary reasons why Saint Nicholas
wanted to become a priest was because he wanted to deliver as many souls from
Purgatory to heaven through the celebration of the most Holy Sacrifice of the
In conclusion, let us pray fervently for
the dead; let us pray fervently and constantly for the souls in Purgatory. Let
us not fall into the modern theological error in believing that everybody goes immediately
to heaven. This is dangerously erroneous and false-compassion as well as
|Our Lady's power to help the souls in Purgatory|
Finally, pray, and pray and pray for
the souls in Purgatory. However, offer the greatest prayer in the universe for
the souls in Purgatory—the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Prayer in the Chaplet of Divine Mercy
connects us directly to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and its power to purify
and save: “Eternal Father, I offer you
the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in
atonement for our sins and those of the whole world…” May Our Lady, Mother of mercy, attain for us
all a quick entrance into Heaven!