The Rosary and the Souls in Purgatory
November is an important month to us as Catholics, because the Church dedicates this month to prayer for the souls in Purgatory, causing us to pause, and reflect on those who have gone before us, but also allowing us to better understand the reality of the Communion of Saints. That those who have died, be they in Heaven or Purgatory, are still united and part of the larger Body of Christ, since Christ by His death and Resurrection is the Lord of the living and the dead.
For those who may be unfamiliar with Purgatory it is not as some think a “second chance” after death, but for those who have died in “God’s grace and friendship, but are still imperfectly purified.” (CCC 1030) It is, as the Baltimore Catechism calls it: “God’s Hospital.”
And, it is dedicated for souls who, though will eventually go to Heaven, have not yet reached its heights just yet, and, as a result are unable to pray for themselves. The Church, therefore, reminds us of the importance of praying for these souls, so that, indeed, we can assist them to their and our Heavenly homeland. In fact, according to Gerard J M Van Den Aardweg, author of Hungry Souls: Supernatural Visits, Messages and Warnings from Purgatory Blessed Catherine Emerick, a saint who had visions of Purgatory, believed that “these souls [the souls in Purgatory] receive no direct aid from heaven; everything they obtain comes from the faithful who live in the world.” which is why it is so important and necessary for us to constantly pray for those souls.
While there are a thousand different prayers with which we can do this, there has been a long tradition of praying one of the most treasured prayers we have, that of the Holy Rosary.
The word, itself, “rosary” comes from the Latin, meaning “rose,” and in the words of Susan Tassone, the author of the book, The Rosary for the Holy Souls in Purgatory: “We offer a beautiful rose for each Hail Mary to Our Lady. She presents this Rosary bouquet to her Son, Jesus.” As a result, their gift, as it were, becomes another’s so that, as Susan also says: “She [Our Lady] intercedes for the living and the dead,” which is why: “The Church recommends the Rosary as a prayer to save souls and to obtain peace in the world.”
Not only that, but by praying the Rosary we, ourselves, grow closer in our relationship with God, since the mysteries recall the lives of Jesus and Mary and, literally, unfold before us as though we were right there with them.
In fact, many saints would recommend it above any other prayer and they always treasured it. St. Pio would go so far as to call it his weapon, St. Louis De Montfort was an adamant believer that anyone who prayed it, even the most hardened of sinners would eventually be converted, and even our own Pope and countless Popes before him would always have those beads in their hands.
It was, however, St. Leo XIII, who put it so well, he said: “The Rosary is the most excellent form of prayer and the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life.” It is, he says, “the remedy for all our evils, the root of all our blessings,” for, to him, “there is no more excellent way of praying.”
Therefore, given this powerful prayer and the necessity to which we are called to pray for the souls in Purgatory, it seems only fitting that, indeed, it is the Rosary that would be most appropriate to offer for those holy souls. For, in the words of St. Pio, a man whom, it is believed, prayed 60 rosaries a day: “The holy souls are eager for the prayers of the faithful, which can gain indulgences for them. Their intercession is powerful. Pray unceasingly. We must empty Purgatory.”
For, not only will our prayers help them, but, then we, too, will have a soul in Heaven praying for us, a saint who is interceding on our behalf. In fact, as Susan Tassone reminds: “When we pray the Rosary for the holy souls, we gain fresh intercessors and also increase God’s glory…God has given us the awesome power and the privilege of assisting souls on their journey to paradise.”
Therefore, I would encourage everyone then to offer their Rosary for these souls, especially this month, either in a group or by yourself, knowing that by doing so, you will be in solidarity with others as well, experiencing, in its truest form, what it means to be a part of the Body of Christ, bridging the gap, by prayer, between death and life. So that, in the beautiful words of St. Josemaria Escriva, “May you be able to say when you speak of them, my good friends the souls in purgatory.”