The Blessed Souls in Purgatory

by Catherine Doherty

The Church dedicates the entire month of November to the souls in purgatory. Why a whole month? And why do we Catholics call them “the poor souls?” How can a soul assured of the golden, blinding glory of the Lord be poor?

It can’t. It is rich with joy, for it will see God. It is also rich with pain, for now it knows fully what mortal sin is, what venial sin looks like, what faults and imperfections do to souls when the white light of God’s justice falls upon them on their final judgment day.

They know, too, the price that was paid for those sins. And their pain, their waiting, is indeed rich with love of him who paid that price out of love for them. For they saw him face to face, and now they hunger for him with a hunger beyond all imaginable hunger, and that hunger makes up their pains.

The thirty short days that make up November are given to us to enrich the rich souls in purgatory. For in their immense wealth, they lack but one thing—the ability to shorten their exile from glory, from God.

Unbelievable as this is, we whose souls are yet imprisoned in the clothing of flesh can give them—the rich ones, the sure ones—the alms of our prayers.

We can give more. We can see to it that Masses are offered for their release. One Mass—how many souls does it set free to soar into the heart of their waiting God?

Idle are speculations before this proof of God’s love for us. Do we ever stop to think about how endless is this love-making of God to the soul of man, his bride?

In life, and after it, until he and she are forever united, the ingenuity of his love pursues her, offering ever-new tokens, new proofs of his infinite and divine love for her.

No. Don’t let us call them “poor souls.” Let us call them holy souls, waiting souls, souls burning with love of God and begging us to hasten their reunion with him whom they have seen once already. The seeing and the delay of being one with him must indeed be purgatory.

From Dear Parents, (1997) pp. 135-136, MH Publications, out of print.