It’s April fools day but for many there is no joke as they fight for their lives in hospitals all over the world.
Pope Francis mentioned before that our church is like a field hospital and maybe many of us at the time didn’t know what a field hospital even was!
Now we have them all over the world to fight the Coronavirus.
As I saw these images I was struck by another field hospital no less serious, no less painful and yet a million times more hopeful! Purgatory!!
Traditionally images and references to purgatory didn’t make it sound much better than hell and if this image is anything to go by I can see why!!
Yet it does portray some spiritual realities such as the terrible sufferings in purgatory as souls are being purified before entering into heaven.
At times these images underlay the love of God and overplay the suffering which doesn’t help!
If we take the current coronavirus as an example we can understand. I’m no medic but from what I understand the virus attacks the lungs and gets really deep inside them. As a result it is very hard to get it out and so expert care, expert medication and expert equipment is needed not to mention the suffering that the patients will endure during the process.
Yet if it works it will be considered worth it and as a tremendous success and within a few weeks the recovered patients will laugh about it all and praise the doctors who saved their lives.
Purgatory is very similar!
Sinful and unholy behaviours and attitudes damage our souls and if repeated over many years and left untreated our spiritual souls can be as black as soot!
Think of a smoker and how years of smoking damages their lungs. Look away now if you are squeamish…
Sin is no different and years and years of lying, cheating, unrestricted sex, anger, hatred, jealousy with no prayer life, no confession and no church can leave your spiritual soul all but dead!
Just as common sense tells us that we should look after our bodies and minds, common sense also tells us to look after our souls!
And so many people die with their souls in different states and before they can enjoy heaven (if they don’t choose hell) their souls need to be purified and restored to full and perfect health!
This purification process happens in stages a bit like oil at a refinery and is EXTREMELY painful.
Unlike with the coronavirus when patients don’t know if they will be healed or not, the soul in purgatory is 100% sure of perfect healing and thus giving it perfect hope.
Nonetheless souls can be there for years and years and that is why they need our prayers.
Our prayers provide heaven with more healing graces for them just as money can provide more ventilators and medications for those suffering with the virus.
Now you may wonder what the point is praying for them except that one day you and I may be among then but it doesn’t stop there!
The souls in purgatory can actually help us a lot!
Countless testimonies exist of miraculous healings and breakthroughs after praying to these souls. It really is a case of heaven and earth cooperating perfectly.
Not to mention the life long prayers you’ll get when these souls pass into heaven!
And so we shouldn’t take the attitude
“I don’t have time to pray for souls in purgatory because I’m already praying for so many other things and things that seem far more important ”
Rather we should strike up a bargain with the Holy Souls!! For example:
“Right guys, you need my prayers and I need help! Here’s the deal. I’ll offer today’s mass and divine mercy for you and in return I ask you to help my sick mother, my son to get a job….”
You’ll make friends for eternity and you’ll be very surprised at the efficiency of these prayers.
With so many deaths all over the world now and perhaps with many souls unprepared for death, I suspect purgatory has never been more in need of our mercy and prayers.
Of course the smart thing to do would be to set out to avoid purgatory by listening to the wisdom of the church in relation to prayer and spiritual transformation but sadly for many this is too late while others wouldn’t listen or take it seriously anyway.
And so with that in mind I suggest today but also right throughout this period that we pray for the souls in purgatory and that we do our best to make other people aware of this need less one day we find ourselves there and with no one to pray for us.
Padre Pio like many of the saints had a great love and mercy for the holy souls.
With his intercession may as many as possible be released and relieved and may they pour out blessings of healing on our suffering world.
P.S. Some older blogs I wrote on purgatory at :
Pray for souls
Life in Purgatory