WE, CHRISTIANS in this largely Catholic country routinely declare, in our prayers at least, faith in life everlasting. So, there is irony when, quite frequently, we remind each other that “life is short,” impliedly an admonition for each to enjoy everything to the hilt before death finally comes.
Also, at least us Catholics, are unusually fond of posting on Facebook such greetings as “Happy birthday in Heaven” to mark the birthdate of a departed member of the family. But really?
With teachings of the Church on Purgatory ever there, it is selfish for the bereaved to assume the departed in Heaven and publicly declare this on Facebook and other forms of social media, implying thus that the loved one no longer needs prayers for deliverance. The bereaved is comforted at the expense of the departed still in need of help.
It would be helpful to remind ourselves that in Medjugorje, the Blessed Mother said most persons land first in Purgatory before ascent to Heaven.
Consider the experiences of saints during their sojourn on Earth. St. Louis Bertrand, a seventeenth-century priest, offered Masses, prayers, and sacrifices for his deceased father until finally he was granted a vision of his entry into Heaven. This happened only after EIGHT YEARS of prayer on his part.
In the twelfth century, it was revealed to famous Irish bishop St. Malachy that his sister was destined to suffer a long time in Purgatory because she had lived a very sinful life before repenting. It was later revealed to Malachy that his prayers eased her sufferings, but did not significantly lessen her time in Purgatory.
In the fifteenth century, the deceased sister of St. Vincent Ferrer appeared to him on her way to Heaven and told him that had it not been for the many Masses he offered on her behalf, her time in Purgatory would have been much longer.
Thus, to this day, daily, I pray for my dear Dad who passed away in February last year. I pray for him any moment of my waking hours that happen to remember him. Of course, there are many other souls I pray for, primarily through the prayer given to St. Gertrude which, each time prayed, allegedly releases about 1,000 souls from Purgatory.
And now for those who mix life everlasting with life being too short, a manifestation of lack of faith in the afterlife.
Recall the experience of Medjugorje visionary Ivanka, one of the visionaries of the Medjugorje apparitions which started in 1981.
Ivanka, whose mother died shortly before the apparitions began. Early in the days of the apparitions, she asked the Blessed Mother about her mother. When the Blessed Mother said her mother was in Heaven, Ivanka asked that she be allowed to see her. And Ivanka’s mother appeared, approached and even embraced her, saying at the same time: “My daughter, I’m so proud of you.”
Before her mother died, she was in and out of the hospital many times. She was suffering and was very sick. But when Ivanka saw her mother with Our Lady, she described her as “radiant in beauty, love and peace.”
Ivanka wanted us to know this, to testify that there is life after this short life on earth. And this life with God is something we should always prepare ourselves for while we are here on earth.
Ivanka knew how important it was for people to really believe there is life after death. Thus, she wrote on her experience as follows:
“From 1985 to today I received the apparition once every year on June 25. But at that last daily apparition I was given the greatest gift, not just for myself but for the entire world.
“And because every single human being is asking is there a life after this life on earth, I am standing before you here today, I am standing before the entire world and I can easily answer that question. Yes, there is a life after this life, because by God and Our Lady I was given this great grace, that I was able to see my late mother during that apparition time and my mom told me: ‘My dear child, I’m proud of you.’
“For 28 years Our Lady has been telling us which road we need to take in our life. She is showing us the way and we have to decide which road we are going to take in our life.”
More about souls in Purgatory. St. Teresa of Avila was once told in a vision that a priest whom she knew had died and that he would remain in Purgatory until a Mass was said for him in the chapel of a new Carmelite house that was to be built.
Teresa hurried to the site and had the workmen begin raising the walls of the chapel immediately, but as this would still take too long, she obtained permission from the bishop for a temporary chapel. Once the chapel was done, Mass was celebrated there, and while receiving communion, Teresa saw a vision of the priest thanking her most graciously as he prepared to ascend to Heaven.
Then there’s St. Catherine of Siena who, while being beside her holy dying father, learned that her father would nevertheless still briefly land in Purgatory. Catherine thus begged God to allow her to expiate through her sufferings the purgatorial stint of her father and her request was granted. Her father died happily while Catherine from then on was intermittently seized with violent pains that she bore to the end of her eartly life.
Our favorite St. Padre Pio, in his lifetime, had encounters with people who had died. One day in the 1920s, he was praying in the choir loft when he heard a crash as a candelabra fell from the main altar. Then Padre Pio saw a figure he assumed to be a young friar. The friar turned to him and said: “I am doing my Purgatory here. I was a student in this friary, so now I have to make amends for the errors I committed while I was here, for my lack of diligence in doing my duty in this church.”
The friar disclosed he had been in Purgatory for sixty years, and after requesting Padre Pio’s prayers, he vanished. Of course, Padre Pio prayed for his deliverance.
Suggestion to readers: Please search in Google St. Gertrude’s prayer for the souls in Purgatory. The 1,000 souls you will release from purgation each time will surely be grateful.