November 4, 2012


XXIII Pentecost Sunday

-Sunday November 4th, 2012-


November is the month dedicated by the Church to the souls in Purgatory.

So, it will be good for us to review the doctrine on Purgatory, its meaning and its existence.

Before we continue, we will have to be mindful of another doctrine, that of the Communion of Saints, a beautiful dogma by which the triumphant church, the suffering church and the militant church are united under one common bond, that of baptism. These three branches of the church help each other and are connected with each other. By this dogma of the Communion of Saints all our good works, our masses, our prayers and offerings are for the benefit of all. Souls in Purgatory will profit from this sacred trade a great deal, as we will see in a moment.

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Now, let us take a much closer view of Purgatory.

Its meaning

Purgatory is a place where those who died with venial sins or without expiating the temporal punishment due to their, already forgiven, sins are punished until their guilt is paid off. The souls there, are burned with a very intense fire, which purifies them before they enter into heaven.

Its Existence

It existence can be proven from many diverse sources.

a) Holy Scripture speaks about it. Both, the Old and New Testament speak about it. In the Old Testament, in the Second book of Maccabees, prayers are offered for the dead. In the gospel Our Lord speaks about those sins which will not be forgiven either in this life or in the next, thus implying that there are other sins which could be forgiven in the next life, i.e., in Purgatory. St. Paul also, at least, implies its existence in one of his epistles.

b) The Oral Tradition speaks about Purgatory very explicitly. The Fathers of the Church very often teach this doctrine which in turn they received, ultimately, from the Apostles themselves. Sts. Augustine and John Chrysostom could be mentioned among some of them.

c) The Councils of the Church speak about Purgatory as well, Councils of Lyons and Trent to mention some among them.

d) The Liturgy of the Church. In the very mass there is a part of it in which the celebrant mentions the name of the faithful departed. This part is known as the Memento of the dead.

e) The testimony of the saints. Many saints either saw these souls of Purgatory or had visions of it many times. Among those who saw these poor souls we can mention Sts. Therese of Avila, Bridget and Philip Neri. Among those who had visions of Purgatory we can mention Sts. Mathilda, Catherine of Genoa, Bridget and Frances of Rome.

f) Finally, Purgatory can also be proven by our own stories and experience. It is very possible that we have heard or even witnessed, at least once, a true story about souls in Purgatory. Or perhaps, our prayers to the poor souls have been answered, something that we personally can testify.

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This month of November, which is dedicated for the poor souls, should be then a month in which we offer special prayers and good works for those souls, to alleviate their sufferings and hasten thus their entrance into heaven. Our Rosaries, our mortifications, our holy communions, etc. all of them could be offered, as I said, for them. They, in turn, will be very grateful and will pray for us. They will become our great benefactors and protectors in the sight of God.