In memoria aeterna erunt justi: Remembering the Holy Souls

One of the curiosities of the Roman Calendar (or more properly, the calendar of the Roman Rite) is the dedication of the month of November to the Holy Souls in Purgatory.  For many of us, these souls are also known as the Poor Souls in Purgatory–“poor” because of the sufferings they endure as the result of the temporal punishment due to their sins that needs expiation.  Why this is curious is the fact that all the other months in the Roman Calendar are dedicated either to Our Lord, Our Lady or St. Joseph. 

This is a fitting tribute as the Souls in Purgatory are oftentimes the forgotten members of the Church.  The Church Suffering–as they have been traditionally known–are in great need of our prayers and suffrages to relieve them of the pains and sufferings of Purgatory.  Theirs is a mental and spiritual pain that tradition tells us is very intense.  In our own way, we can recall times of anguish, sorrow, worry that have beset our souls.  Similarly, the Holy Souls are beset until such “time” as they have done sufficient penance for their sins–a great mystery.

We mustn’t be unaware of our friends and family in Purgatory.  We must pray for their souls, have Masses offered, visit the graves of our loved ones, and offer our novenas and rosaries for their relief–especially during this month of November.  In turn, we should also pray to the souls in Purgatory!  Like the saints in heaven, they can intercede for us before God and ask Him to hear our prayers.  They cannot merit their own release, but they can indeed pray for all of us.  This is a powerful army just waiting for us to speak to them.  All the more reason for the fact that we can honestly and intellectually reason that many (if not most) of our friends and family may be there. 

I recall many years ago the great pro-life leader, Joe Scheidler, telling me why it is important to pray outside an abortion mill.  I paraphrase: “Even if it is you alone praying the rosary, you are with a child, a human person, a soul that God has created for eternal life, at his death.  God will know that (and perhaps mysteriously that person too).”  Likewise the example of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta remembering the poorest of the poor is a model for us in caring for our fellow human beings.

Being alone is possibly the greatest sadness for a human person.  Let us not leave alone the Holy Souls in Purgatory.  Pray for your family, your friends, and for all of the souls in Purgatory.  And when you think of it this month, pray for the person who has no one to pray for him.  Like the heroic pro-life witnesses or the Missionaries of Charity, be present to the most forgotten soul in Purgatory.  In that you will have a true friend for life; one who, in turn, will intercede before the Throne of Mercy for you so that one day you and he may reach that place “where every tear will be wiped away, and where Lazarus is poor no longer.”

This article, In memoria aeterna erunt justi: Remembering the Holy Souls is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
Do not repost the entire article without written permission. Reasonable excerpts may be reposted so long as it is linked to this page.

John M. DeJak

John M. DeJak is an attorney and Latin teacher and works in academic administration. He writes from Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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