Dear Friends of the Jesuits,
Apart from the happiness of the saints in heaven, I think there is no joy comparable to that of the souls in purgatory,”
- St. Catherine of Genoa (1448-1510)mystic and author of the 'Treatise on Purgatory'
But how can purgatory be joyful? If you search for a definition of purgatory, you’ll find words such as limbo, agony, and suffering. When I was younger, our parish priest called purgatory a “sad heaven,” while my grade school teacher called it a “holy hell.” It is comforting for me to think of purgatory as a state where souls are awaiting the loving embrace of God, rather than somewhere that souls are waiting with trepidation for a descent into hell.
One thing is certain – our faith teaches us that the holy souls need our help and prayerful support to realize the eternal presence of God in heaven. All Souls’ Day is commemorated on the day after All Saints’ Day to remind us that, after celebrating those who are now with God in heaven, we have to work at helping those in purgatory realize their reward.
Once again this year, the Jesuits ask you to send us the names of those for whom you wish special prayers during November, the month of the Holy Souls. The Jesuits’ prayers, along with yours, are the only way to help those souls who are waiting in the “sad heaven.” They are in need of our help and worthy of our prayers.
“It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they
may be loosed from sins.” (Macc. 12:46).
Barry J. Leidl