Why Help the Poor Souls?

Down here on earth, we Catholics are called the Church Militant - fighting for God, His truth, the salvation and conversion of sinners, and most especially the salvation of our own souls. As time passes on, soldiers of this army die. Those who stayed faithful to Christ save their souls. A few go straight to Heaven to join the Church Triumphant. Most, however, did not serve God as perfectly, and did not make up on earth for all the sins they committed in life. The Bible says "every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgement." (St. Matthew 13:36) This means that, because God is perfect, before we can enter into Heaven, we must be perfect also. So, even every venial sin must be washed off our soul. The place of this cleansing, or 'purging', is called Purgatory. Here the Poor Souls endure the same torments of hell in order to be cleansed of their sins. The Holy Souls in Purgatory are called the Church Suffering. Many souls must stay in Purgatory for years, even centuries, suffering unearthly tortures. Their only consolation is that they are not tied to this place forever, someday they will get out.

The Poor Souls cannot do anything to help themselves get out of Purgatory. Once they enter into Purgatory there is no getting out until every debt is paid. However, there is one way their time can be shortened, and that is through the Church Militant. By praying and sacrificing, offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and other good works for them, we soldiers of the Church Militant can help the Poor Souls in Purgatory. Our offerings for the Poor Souls can help relieve them of their pain, shorten their stay, or even deliver them from Purgatory altogether. For if we want mercy from God, we must show mercy to others, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (St. Matthew 5:7). Christ also tells us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us (St. Matthew 7:12). If we were suffering in Purgatory, we would definitely hope someone would help and pray for us. If we wish the prayers of the Church Militant to help us when we are in Purgatory, then we must pray now, while we are on earth, for the poor souls suffering there. Those people who do not pray for others while alive, cannot benefit from the prayers of those on earth when they are in Purgatory. But most of all, it is a great act of Charity. God told us to love one another. What better way to practice charity than by relieving other souls you don’t even know from the fires of Purgatory?

When the souls in Purgatory are released, they go straight to Heaven. They then become apart of the Church Triumphant - the souls in Heaven. Here the souls who were once suffering in Purgatory will remember your act of charity in helping them out of Purgatory. In their gratitude, they will certainly pray for you, as you have prayed for them. When you die and stand before God, all the sins you ever committed will be laid before you. You will have to make up for every single one. Then when God turns to Our Lady and asks her, “Well, what good things did this soul do?” It will be a great help if Our Lady can open a door and all of the souls that you helped deliver from Purgatory come rushing out to help you save your soul. They will come to testify to the merit that you deserve because you helped them.

God definitely likes it when we help the Poor Souls in Purgatory. Many times He has told the Saints to pray for them. He has shown the Saints Purgatory to increase their fervor, and so that they will tell other people of what they have seen. The Church has also given the Poor Souls a feast day, November 2nd, and even dedicated the whole month of November to them. Obviously, God wants us to help them. Remember that even though we have never been to or seen anything from Purgatory - it is real. It is just as much of a place as your bedroom, your house, or your parish Church. And those who dwell in Purgatory are just as real. They lived a life here on earth, too. The Poor Souls were just ordinary people like us trying to save their soul and get to Heaven, but they didn’t quite make it and have just a little more to go. You can give them that extra boost!