Today we dedicate our prayers in suffrage for the souls in Purgatory, still being purified of the remains of sin. Our ties with deceased relatives and friends do not end with their death. Priests can celebrate Mass three times on this day for their benefit, and all the faithful can gain special indulgences to expedite their entrance into heaven. During the month of November the Church invites us to pray more insistently and offer suffrages for the souls in Purgatory.
St. John Paul II encouraged us: We feel bound by charity to offer those brothers and sisters who have experienced the fragility proper to human existence the help of our vigilant prayer. May whatever residue of human weakness still remaining in them to delay their happy encounter with God be definitively wiped out.
To enter into eternal life it is necessary that we be purified of all sin. A soul stained by venial faults cannot enter the dwelling place of God; nor the one who practises abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the book of life of the Lamb.[cf Rev 21:27]
St Catherine of Genoa writes: No one is barred from heaven. Whoever wants to enter heaven may do so because God is all-merciful. Our Lord will welcome us into glory with his arms wide open. The Almighty is so pure, however, that if a person is conscious of the least trace of imperfection and at the same time understands that Purgatory is ordained to do away with such impediments, the soul enters this place of purification glad to accept so great a mercy of God. The worst suffering of these suffering souls is to have sinned against divine Goodness and not to have been purified in this life.
This waiting room of heaven is not a lesser hell, but a place of preparation where souls are duly cleansed of the remains of sin before entering heaven.
The inclination to sin we acquire through original sin is increased by personal sin. If one has not sufficiently expiated any specific offences against God during the course of our present life, there is further need for reparation to be accomplished. In the first place, evil dispositions may remain rooted in our soul at the hour of our death. There is, too, the temporal punishment left over from sins forgiven in confession. Furthermore, lack of love and refinement in dealing with our Lord can also defer our union with him. If our transgressions are not eliminated by a constant and generous purification in this life, we will perceive these faults with absolute clarity at the moment of death. Together with a strong desire to be united to God we will possess a tremendous yearning to be free of our evil inclinations. Purgatory at this time is the only possibility of achieving this purification.
In Purgatory the soul experiences very intense suffering due to a kind of flame more painful than anything a man can suffer in this life.[St Augustine, Commentary on the Psalms, 37:3] There is great joy too, though, since heaven comes afterwards. The soul in Purgatory has already won the last battle and is awaiting a more or less imminent encounter with God. The soul in Purgatory can be compared to an adventurer at the edge of the desert. The sun is relentless, the heat suffocating and water is not readily available. On the horizon lies the distant mountain where his treasure lies. In between stretches a vast expanse. He sets out to cross the torrid plain prepared to travel the long distance on foot. On the far off peak fresh breezes blow. There rest and refreshment awaits him. Meanwhile, the asphyxiating heat makes him stumble and fall again and again. The soul in Purgatory differs from the adventurer in that he knows most assuredly that he will eventually arrive at the summit of his distant mountain. No matter how suffocating the torrid heat may be, it cannot definitively separate him from God.
We can help the Holy Souls in Purgatory pass more quickly over the great divide that separates them from God by making reparation for sin. We can thus also shorten our own passage through this waiting room of heaven. If we are generous in our spirit of penance, in the offering of our sufferings and in our love for the sacrament of Confession, with the help of grace we may enter straight away into heaven. This is the case with the saints whose living example we can accept as an open invitation to spur us on. Their example stimulates our own desire to help make up for the effects of personal sin in the lives of countless souls. – Excerpt From: Fernandez, Francis. “In Conversation with God – Volume 7 Part 2: Special Feasts: October – December.”