Why Offer a Mass for a Departed Loved One?
From the earliest times of the Catholic Church, we have had Masses said for departed loved ones. The reason for this is that the Mass is the most efficacious prayer in the world and it directly benefits the soul (or a group of souls) of a loved one for whom the Mass is being offered. The souls in Purgatory cannot pray for themselves so, we members of the Church on Earth (the “Church Militant”), along with the souls in Heaven (the “Church Triumphant”), must intercede on behalf of the souls in Purgatory (the “Church Purifying/Suffering”) by offering indulgences for them. We intercede on their behalf in three ways: we offer works of charity on their behalf; we offer sacrifices on their behalf; or, we offer prayers (ie, suffrages) on their behalf. This communal nature and concern for the well-being of others in the Church is what is called, "the communion of Saints."
Examples of How to Pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory:
Two effective ways to pray for the souls in purgatory are praying the Divine Mercy chaplet for them and remembering them in your Rosary intentions. The Divine Mercy Chaplet and Rosary require a time commitment of approximately 10 and 20 minutes. Even praying these powerful prayers once a week for the Holy Souls isn’t asking that much considering the benefit it brings to your spiritual family members. Finally, one can have a Mass said for the poor souls. Mass stipends are usually $10, the cost of two coffees at Starbucks. This merciful almsgiving is pleasing to God and hardly burdensome to us.
[Source: The Catholic Gentleman]
5 Reasons to Pray for the Souls in Purgatory:
- The pain is real –The suffering of purgatory is likened by the saints to burning in a blazing fire. Some saints have even said that the pain of purgatory is not all that different from the suffering of hell. One of the chief sources of the pain is the fact that salvation has been obtained, and yet one cannot immediately enjoy its consolations. This delay of the enjoyment of heaven leads to a spiritual agony of sorts. The souls in purgatory are suffering in a very real and painful way, a way we cannot fully comprehend. We have the ability to help them and relieve them by our prayers and actions.
- They are our relatives –Many of us have relatives who have died and are likely in purgatory. We should be praying for their souls out of love for them. But even if we have no dead relatives that we know of, the souls in purgatory are still our spiritual brothers and sisters. We are related by Baptism into Christ, and this familial relationship should spur us to act on their behalf.
- You will probably go there –Let’s be honest, most of us are simply not holy enough to bypass purgatory, and the vast majority of us will experience its cleansing fires. If you were suffering intensely, wouldn’t you want someone to offer you relief? Yes, you would. Praying for the Holy Souls, then, is a fulfillment of the Golden Rule given to us by Christ—to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you feel an aversion to praying for the poor souls, then simply remember what you would wish if you were in their position.
- It will bring you joy –Praying for the souls in purgatory is not without its rewards. Can you imagine the joy of meeting brothers and sisters in Christ one day in heaven and realizing that you helped them with your humble prayers? “As we enter Heaven we will see them, so many of them coming towards us and thanking us,” Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said, “We will ask, who they are, and they will say a poor soul you prayed for in Purgatory.” The small sacrifice of time we made in this life will all be worth it when we see the faces of those who benefited from our prayers.
- It isn’t that hard –Praying for the souls in purgatory is quite easy, so easy in fact that we have no excuse for not doing it. A prayer for the Holy Souls can be as simple as the short Requiem Aeternam prayer: “Eternal rest, grant unto him/her O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him/her. May s/he rest in peace. Amen.” We can also add a brief petition to our daily meal prayer: “Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts…And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.” Why wouldn’t we pray these simply prayers daily?
[Source: The Catholic Gentleman]