Your help is still needed
The month of November is almost upon us, and after celebrating the Feast of All Saints on 1st November, the Church immediately draws our attention to the Holy Souls in Purgatory on 2nd November known as All Souls Day. The souls in Purgatory are those who have died in God’s grace but who at the moment of death still had imperfections to be purified before they can enter Heaven, and so for the remainder of the month, we step up our efforts to pray for their release from Purgatory, since having passed from this life they can no longer merit or help themselves.
We all have an obligation to help each other, and the greater the need a person has, the greater the obligation we have to help them. Now who could be more in need than the souls in Purgatory? Since early Christianity, it has been held that the most effective way of helping them is through the offering of Holy Mass for their release. St Monica, the mother of St Augustine, as she lay dying in 387 asked her sons “only one thing: that you remember me at the altar of the Lord, wherever you shall be.” St Thomas Aquinas (1225-74) said that the offering of Holy Mass was the most definitive way of helping the Holy Souls. In addition we can offer up Holy Communion for them, say prayers for them, especially the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross, and offer up our daily work and any acts of charity.
The Holy Souls sometimes appear asking for Masses. St Padre Pio (1887-1968) had many visits from the Holy Souls asking him to celebrate Mass for them. In 1922 he told the story of how one snowy winter’s evening, he was sitting by the fireplace in the friary praying, when an old man came and sat down next to him. Padre Pio wondered how he had got in since the doors were locked and so asked him, “Who are you and what do you want?” The man said his name was Pietro di Mauro and that he had died in the friary on 18th September 1908 when it was a poorhouse. He had fallen asleep holding a lighted cigarette, which set the mattress on fire causing him to suffocate and die. “I’m still in Purgatory” he said “and I need one Mass to be released. God has permitted me to come and ask for your help.” Padre Pio promised to celebrate Mass for him the next morning and then walked him to the door which was both closed and locked. Padre Pio said the Mass for him, and a few days later went with another friar to the Town Hall to look at the records for 1908. There they found that a man named Pietro di Mauro had indeed died on 18th September that year of suffocation and burns at the friary, which at that time was a poorhouse.
Maria Simma (1915-2004) was an Austrian mystic who received many visits from the souls in Purgatory. She first experienced a visit from Purgatory in 1940 when she was just twenty five years old. A man appeared to her and said, “Please have three Holy Masses said for my intentions and then I will be delivered.” He immediately disappeared and Maria said that it was then she realised he was a poor soul. Very soon more souls would come to her asking for help, and over the years it turned into a great number. Maria said that the greatest complaint of the Holy Souls is that family and loved ones almost completely forget them and give them almost no spiritual help. Very few Masses and prayers are said for them and yet that is what they need the most. No longer possessing physical bodies, the Holy Souls cannot do penance or make sacrifices themselves, so they rely totally on our help.
Don’t forget the Mass on the First Friday of each month is offered for our deceased relatives and friends whose names are recorded in the Book of Remembrance. If you wish to add names, please fill in one of the sheets at the back of the church. If we remember the dead now, they will one day be in a position to do the same for us. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7).
Fr Paul Gillham, IC