image of souls being purified by flames in purgatory
Throughout November the Church remembers our Faithful Departed. The need and duty of prayer for the departed souls has been acknowledged by the Church at all times. It is recommended in the Scriptures of the Old Testament: "It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins." (2 Macch. 12, 46). This duty has found expression not only in public and private prayers but especially in the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the repose of souls.
Throughout November the Church prays for all who are in the purifying fires of Purgatory, waiting for the day when they will join the company of the saints in heaven. The celebration of Mass is the highest means the Church can provide for charity for the dead, but we can also relieve their sufferings through our prayers, sufferings and penances. We can also help the Poor Souls by doing acts and prayers that have indulgences attached to them. There are many indulgences, applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory, that can be obtained during the month of November.
An indulgence is "the remission before God of the temporal punishment due for sins already forgiven as far as their guilt is concerned." To obtain this remission there are proper dispositions and certain conditions predetermined by the Church that must be met by the faithful. The remission is acquired through the intervention of the Church, who has the power to loose and bind granted through Jesus Christ. "As minister of the Redemption, authoritatively dispenses and applies the treasury of the satisfaction won by Christ and the Saints" (Enchiridion of Indulgences).
Joy of the Blessed Virgin in the Resurrection of Jesus.
Arise, make haste, my beloved, the winter
of my sufferings has disappeared. Cant. 2:10 and 11.
The Lord does not leave long the Blessed Virgin into the deep affliction, which He had plunged her. Three days after His death, Jesus Christ rose full of glory; and, according to a pious tradition, before showing Himself to His apostles, He hastened to console His august Mother.
What transports of joy, what gladness thrills experienced this heart (of Mary) so tender, so loving, at the appearance of Jesus, the Conqueror of Death and Hell, manifesting Himself in all the glory of His triumph! Nor the joy of the widow of Nain, when the Savior resurrected her only son; nor the joy of the patriarch Jacob, who, hearing that Joseph was still alive, exclaimed: «I have nothing more to wish for, since my son is still alive»; neither are comparable to the delicious transports of the heart of Mary, formerly drenched in bitterness. Arise, my beloved, said the Lord, make haste, the time of frost is past, it is already far:you shared my pains also share my joy and triumph. Rejoice and leap for joy, because Him whom you have merited to carry in your chaste womb is risen, as He had predicted.
A different resurrection is also a big joy to the Blessed Virgin: it is our spiritual resurrection. Yes, what gladdens the heart of this tender Mother, is seeing a sinner getting out of the grave of his sins. But nothing is more capable of making us to want this resurrection of our souls, to make it lasting and permanent, that the consideration of the goodness of the Lord.
For a tender Mother, it is a sad spectacle to see expiring before her eyes, a unique Son. How many tears she spilled on his lifeless remains! Alas! it had to be much more painful still for Mary, when the body of her Divine Son was laid in her arms!
The Church represents our holy confessors of the faith, each with the instrument of their punishment: Saint Paul with a sword, St. Andrew with his cross, St. Catherine with her wheel. Only Jesus was the instrument of martyrdom for Mary. She is offered to our compassionate reverence, there, holding death in her arms what she held dearest in the world.
Let us listen now this tender Mother; she cries out to us with an accent that can reach the most insensitive hearts. O you that are traveling on this earth, stop at least for a moment, and see if among all those who are afflicted, it is a pain like mine. Let us pay to Mary all the duties that real children must have to a Mother so deeply afflicted.
It was not enough that Mary had seen her divine Son scourged, crowned with thorns, nailed to the cross; she had to see Him die and they had to be separated for ever. Jesus expiring handles himself to tell His mother about that harsh and cruel separation. He does it with all the discretion of the most careful charity. He knew all too well the shot He was going to inflict on the most loving of all hearts! A few days before His Passion, He told His dear Apostles, that He would not leave them like orphans; He does not want either that His poor mother be at once a widow and with no child: «Woman, He said, pointing to the beloved disciple, here is your son; and you, here is your Mother. »
That was enough Mary understood it. The love of Jesus strongly touches her maternal heart; but also the sacrifice that the filial affection of Jesus vainly sought to conceal, it shows itself to her in its full extent. The sword of Simeon penetrated to the bottom of her soul. That sword breaks with difficulty all the more strong ties they (Mary and Jesus) had, like something quite heavenly. That sword inundates with such a great pain as the sea to Mary. The presence of Jesus was to Mary like what is a dam that is opposed to the fury of the ocean. When Jesus expired the waves of sorrow overflowed and overwhelmed Mary from all sides.
Let us sympathize with the desolation of the Blessed Virgin; let us admire the truly heroic submission with which she surrendered herself to the greatest of sacrifices.