Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Please Help Faithful Departed Priests!

Except for the Blessed Mother's "fiat", which resulted in the Word becoming flesh in her womb through the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:38), there is no greater privilege on earth than to stand in the place of Jesus Christ and repeat the words that change bread and wine into His Body and Blood.

There is also no greater responsibility before God. The men who are chosen by Him to be His priests are responsible for offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, for absolving the repentant of their sins in the name of the Holy Trinity, and for feeding the spiritually needy and hungry with the Bread of Life. During their lives as priests, they are called to be shepherds of souls and are responsible for the salvation of those entrusted to them. St. Padre Pio said, "...we priests have more responsibilities before God, and when we appear before Him it is with fear and trembling."

If all of us will have to give an accounting to God at judgment, including for every idle word (Matt 12:36), imagine what priests, even the holiest, will have to answer for--because the obligations of their vocation are so much greater. They deserve all the spiritual support Catholics can give them during life and after death. In today's world, all priests face many serious spiritual challenges. In his day, St. Alphonsus Liguori said, "For every one demon which attacks a layman, one thousand attack the priest." Can you imagine that the ratio would be any less today?

St. Pio knew more than most people about purgatory and the souls who wait for their release. He obtained permission from his spiritual director to offer himself as victim for sinners and for souls in purgatory. He suffered the wounds of Christ in his own body for fifty years along with countless other sufferings. Despite overflow crowds at his Masses, he said, "More souls of the dead from purgatory than of the living...attend my Masses and seek my prayers."

The existence of purgatory and the need for souls to be perfectly pure before seeing God in the Beatific Vision is a dogma of the Catholic faith. A dogma is something we are expected to believe as Catholics. Unfortunately, many Catholics no longer believe this dogma, or do not take it seriously. At many funerals the faithful departed are unofficially "canonized". It is comforting for the bereaved to believe their loved ones are already enjoying heavenly bliss, but the truth is we do not know if that is the case. The Catholic Church takes very seriously the process of canonization. It is a long, exacting process. St. Pio said, "...we must always pray. If they no longer need prayers, they are applied to other souls."

When priests who have dedicated their lives to God's service depart this world for their eternal home, it is an appropriate tribute and justice that those who have spiritually benefited from their ministry help hasten their entrance into heaven .

In this Year of the Priest, hopefully the faithful departed priests will not be forgotten. Those who value and practice their Catholic faith are indebted to countless priests. (Actually, the whole world is indebted to Catholic priests--but most people are unaware of it because they don't know about or believe in the value of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.)

A fitting and most beneficial offering for faithful departed priests, (who made the Holy Eucharist available for Catholics), is to have Masses offered for their souls. The Gregorian Masses (30 consecutive days) are especially beneficial because they provide Masses quickly for the relief of the soul of one priest--they could be an offering of one person, a few, or several.


When Masses are not readily available in parishes, a good place to send for Masses--single. triduum (3), novena (9), or Gregorian (30 consecutive) is http://www.spiritualtreaury.org/ . The Masses will be offered by missionary priests--your donation helps the departed soul or souls, helps provide for the temporal needs of the missionary priests, helps make their evangelization and ministry possible, and benefits the people they are able to minister to because of donations. As if that weren't enough, God will bless you for your generosity!


Following is a list of other possible offerings for faithful departed priests (for all priests, a particular priest, or a specific group of priests)--make the intention before the offering:

Attending Mass and offering your Mass and Holy Communion

Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament

Offering the Precious Blood of Jesus--the St. Gertrude prayer or in your own words

Offering the Holy Rosary and other prayers

Offering of indulgenced prayers, including the indulgence--there are special indulgences for the Year of the Priest (see Annus Sacerdotalis link).

Offering alms, fasting, mortifications, good works, joys, sufferings

Offering any short prayer in your own words--a lifting up of your mind and heart to God on their behalf

To help faithful departed priests is an act of mercy, and most Christians know what Jesus said about mercy--"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." (Matt. 5:7). Every soul's day will come to be judged by God. Hopefully, others will be merciful to us when we are in need and unable to help ourselves, the exact situation in which the souls in purgatory find themselves. Like St. Pio said, "...we must always pray."

Only God knows how many priest souls are in purgatory and dependent on our generosity. To Venerable Concepcion Cabrera de Armida, Conchita, Jesus said:

"...I am not able according to the laws established by Me, I WHO CAN DO EVERYTHING, to diminish their purgatory, if the militant Church does not apply my infinite merits to them."

"...I am eager and yearning because souls on earth are able to do what I am not able to do in heaven."

"The mission of faithful souls lasts, to free priests from that place of purification, to gain for Me the joy of seeing them finally in the bosom of my glory. This will be an act of charity for them and a joy that they will give Me."

Knowing that helping His priests who are in purgatory makes Jesus happy should be enough reason for anyone who loves Him to offer up what they can to hasten their release from purgatory and entrance into heaven.

Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest, Mother of all priests, and our Mother, help us respond generously to the Holy Spirit's request, through the voice of His Church, to offer up to God Eucharistic adoration for priests. Amen.

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