How do people in purgatory benefit by our prayers?


#1

If people who go to purgatory are already judged, and will get to heaven after they are cleansed, then what is the role of prayer for them? I often hear that we should pray for the poor souls in purgatory. If no one prays for them, what happens?


#2

While we know (and the Holy Souls in Purgatory know) that the pains of Purgatory will end and all who are in Purgatory will enter into Heaven, we are still bound by charity to try to lessen the suffering of the Holy Souls through our prayers and deeds. While our first responsibility, of course, is to those people we have known, not everyone who ends up in Purgatory has someone to pray for him. Therefore, it is important to remember in our prayers those souls who are most forsaken. If no one prays for them, then they spend more time there. I highly recommend having masses said for the souls in purgatory, or joining some purgatorial society, such as FOSS.


#3

Purgatory is what we call the state of being where a soul is purged of all imperfection prior to entering heaven. It is obvious that when we die we are in various states of imperfection and need, indeed desire, to be purged of anything that stands between us and the Holiness into which we wish to enter.
There are three parts to the one Church; the church militant, the church suffering, and the church triumphant. This composes the communion of saints. Did you know that you are called to be a saint? As family we pray for each other. The saints can intercede for us as can the souls in purgatory. However, the souls in purgatory cannot pray for themselves. We pray for the holy souls in purgatory that their purgation will end soon. We offer any merits from our sacrafices here on earth for them rather than for ourselves. This is an act of mercy and love in following the example of Jesus.
I hope this helps a bit.
Bill


#4

Good question, and one to which I doubt we can ever know the full answer. But if the intent of purgatory is to complete the sanctification of the person, then perhaps the very example of others praying for that person’s release from suffering helps that sanctification. Something like (seasonal reference!) the way the people all helped out George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life” and his reaction to their help.


#5

If nobody prays for them they suffer the full duration of their time of purification. Our prayers and sacrifices for the poor souls lessen their penalty because we take the burden on ourselves.

Punishment is paying a debt of pain for illicit pleasure. Venial sins that we commit really are just pleasures that we took when we should not have. The pains that we avoided on earth by our little sins are compensated for afterwards. However, if we pray and make offerings for the poor souls while we’re on earth, we take away that pain.

It’s very much the same as praying for people on earth. We take away their burdens and bring them relief from the grace of God.

The best thing we can do is gain as many plenary indulgences as we can. There are some very easy ones – these take away the full sentence of purgatory (if we have the right disposition).

Plus, plenary indulgences take away our own purgatory.


#6

This has always bothered me: if the souls in purgatory in fact desire to be fully purged of any imperfection (even though it hurts), why would we pray that they be “let off” before their purging was complete? In the same vein, why would we want to receive indulgences rather than the penance/purgation that we need to be cleansed?


#7

We pray that they get “let off” because without our prayers, they pay the justice in full without the help of the community of Faith.

Yes, the souls want to be purified. But God’s justice is so severe and so exacting, that the punishment can take a long time.

Part of the suffering of the souls in purgatory is the intense desire they have of being with God and of seeing God in heaven. They know that they’ll get there, but the delay is excruciating in pain. They suffer it patiently, without sin at all.

But we can release them sooner. They won’t be only partly purified. We will take on the pain of their impurities. It’s the miracle of grace. How can we measure what the penalty for a venial sin is? It’s all a part of God’s perfect justice – all things are weighed. How much responsiblitity did you have, how strong was the temptation that God allowed, how much knowledge did you have when you sinned, etc.

When the sentence is given, the soul sees how long the purification will be. They gladly accept this and rejoice at salvation and purification.

But I will suggest that if you ever try to doing a very hard penance of some kind for a period of time, you will have the experience that the souls feel. When you start the penance, you will be happy to do it for God. But if it’s a long enough time, the pain will be something very hard to take.


#8

I understand the whole need for purification. I struggle understanding the need for extended periods of pain and suffering, if we were truly sorry for our sins, and were forgiven by Jesus through the sacrament of confession.


#9

I find the story in David helps. The Bible says that David was forgiven for his sin, BUT he must surely pay with the death of his son.

Also, there is nothing in Catholic teaching that officially declares a period of “time” is spent in purgatory at all. It may be instataneous.

I found this article (cited below) from the Newman Apologetics Resource helpful in understanding the doctrine of purgatory better

Purgatory, Holy Fire

Furthermore, we’ve got to clarify the fact that it is not to make up for Christ’s unfinished work. I’ve already said that, but that, too, is a common misconception that continually needs clarification. There’s nothing inadequate about the work of Christ. It’s finished, but it needs to be applied.


#10

From the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima we learn:

*On May 13, 1917, Lucy asked Our Lady about two friends of hers that had died recently.

Lucy asked “Is Maria das Neves already in Heaven? (this girl had died at about age 16).

Our Lady replied “Yes, she is”.

Then Lucy asked about her other friend who had died at about age 18 or 20: “And Amelia?”

Our Lady answered, **“she will be in Purgatory until the end of the world.” ***

We ignore this message at our own risk …


#11

Respectfully, this is a private revelation. One can choose never to investigate any of these words and never put themselves at risk if they faithfully follow Christ and the Church.

Your words imply to me that one is putting one’s soul at risk by not looking into private, approved revelations? Could you please clarify?


#12

On what basis would you ignore the message of Fatima?

To say it’s a “private revelation” and then not investigate it on that basis would indicate that you think it is totally irrelevant or of no use to you.

But that doesn’t follow. When the Church says it is a private revelation, that does not mean it is false.

If the words that Mary spoke at Fatima are true – then we all certainly run a major risk in ignoring them.

If we decide that they are “false”, then we really need to have a good reason to think that.

If her words conflict with Catholic doctrine, then that’s a different matter.

This topic is not one of “salvation”. Of course, a person who doesn’t know about Fatima or is not interested, still has the fullness of the Catholic Faith through official teachings. It will not affect one’s salvation because Fatima does not contain any “new doctrines” that a person needs to be saved.

But this topic is on purgatory. A condition of purification that the saved may have to endure.

That part is not revealed in Catholic doctrine. But it remains a reality.

The risk that we take in ignoring the Blessed Mother’s words are not that we will not be saved, but that we might have to undergo more purification than we thought. We might realize that our venial sins have to be atoned more fully on earth – and we’ll work harder at that.

As I said, the Church gives us an incredibly simple (not necessarily easy) way to remit all pains of purgatory.

We can gain plenary indulgences every week, or even every day (if we have the right disposition).

Those indulgences are like gold. People who ignore them, because they think purgatory is not painful, are running a risk that they might regret.

My message for us is – get as many plenary indugences as you can. For yourself and other souls in purgatory. They not only help in remitting sins, but they bring us closer to God.


#13

On what basis would I ignore? Time. One only has so much time to look into things and I look into things that the Holy Spirit leads me to look into. And I don’t call it ignoring a subject if I don’t research every approved appartion but doing what the spirit has led me to do.

No. And nowhere in my message did I even imply that.

Nor did I say it was nor come close to saying that.

We do not run the risk of hell, which was what I was asking. I do not see anything in purgatory as “risky”.

Why would I decide that and where did I even imply that. I trust the judgement of the Church. Private revelations do not add to the deposit of faith nor improve of complete Christ’s definitive revelations.

They are meant for us to live the message of Christ more completely, but again, one can never hear or investigate these messages, still have the complete message of Christ.

Correct. But again, I never addressed this at all. And as I trust the judgement of the Catholic Church, I would not ever even imply that the Fatima message is false.

AH. And this was my question. You seemed to imply otherwise and I wished for you to clarify. Thank you for doing so, and forgive me for not understanding what you were saying in the first place. I would guess the difference is that I do not see anything “risky” about purgatory, but only see purgatory as a neccessary process in order to be completely holy.

But this topic is on purgatory. A condition of purification that the saved may have to endure.

That part is not revealed in Catholic doctrine. But it remains a reality.

The risk that we take in ignoring the Blessed Mother’s words are not that we will not be saved, but that we might have to undergo more purification than we thought. We might realize that our venial sins have to be atoned more fully on earth – and we’ll work harder at that.

As I said, the Church gives us an incredibly simple (not necessarily easy) way to remit all pains of purgatory.

We can gain plenary indulgences every week, or even every day (if we have the right disposition).

Those indulgences are like gold. People who ignore them, because they think purgatory is not painful, are running a risk that they might regret.

My message for us is – get as many plenary indugences as you can. For yourself and other souls in purgatory. They not only help in remitting sins, but they bring us closer to God

Respectfully, I never said anything about indulgences nor that purgatory is not painful.

And I don’t think anyone who undergoes purgatory, will ever regret a second of that cleansing, but will welcome it no matter how painful or long it may be.

I think we just have a different view of “risk”. I see things risky as those things that endanger my immortal soul, and do not see things as risky with a process that purifies it no matter how painful or long it may be.

God Bless,
Maria


#14

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