Divine Mercy for the Holy Souls

“… After eight days [after the Feast of Easter] let there be another feast observed with honor, the eighth day itself on which He [Jesus] gave me Thomas, who was hard of belief, full assurance, by showing me the print of the nails, and the wound made in His side by the spear.”
St. Thomas the Apostle, writing in The Apostolic Constitutions (Book 5, Chapter 19)

In 1931, Sister Faustina (now a canonized saint) received a vision of Our Lord. Jesus was clothed in a white robe and His right hand was making a blessing while the left was touching His heart. From that point, two large rays of light were emitted. One was red and the other was pale. St. Faustina stared at Jesus with awe and with great joy. Our Lord then said asked her to paint the image of Him that she saw with the text “Jesus, I trust in You” at the bottom. A promise was made that those who venerate this image would not perish and they would also have victory over their enemies, especially at the hour of death. What followed over the next several years were extensive apparitions from Jesus on Divine Mercy. One request from Our Lord was to establish a feast the first Sunday after Easter, “Yes the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be acts of mercy, and I demand the worship of My mercy through the solemn celebration of the Feast and through the veneration of the image which is painted. By means of this image I shall grant many graces to souls. It is to be a reminder of the demands of My mercy, because even the strongest faith is of no avail without works” (742). On this day, a remarkable event would take place. Our Lord said that “the soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My Mercy” (Diary 1109). In other words, a plenary indulgence may be obtained on the Feast of Divine Mercy. Just imagine. All of your sins that would have led to a lengthy time of expiation in Purgatory can be forgiven. You can skip Purgatory and go straight to Heaven, assuming that you don’t sin from that point onwards. All of your sins up to that point will be forgiven. For those interested in self improvement, this is a great thing to do. An even better thing to do with this indulgence is to transfer it to someone else, more specifically, someone in Purgatory. A partial indulgence given to a holy soul in Purgatory remits part of their sin, shortening their time there by a particular amount (depending on the nature of the indulgence). A plenary indulgence for a holy soul completely remits all of their sins and they immediately enter Heaven. So, instead of applying the plenary indulgence from the Feast of Divine Mercy to yourself, give it to a suffering saint. In order to make a plenary indulgence, three conditions must be met: go to confession, receive communion, and pray for the intentions of the Pope (usually an Our Father and Hail Mary). There is one catch, though. There can be no sin committed, not even a venial one, while attempting to make this indulgence. Doing so would turn the indulgence into a partial one. It’s difficult to make a plenary indulgence. This is why it’s a good idea to perform the conditions close to each other. It may have been a long time since your last confession but this shouldn’t prevent you from receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Our Lord Jesus said, “The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet…. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy” (699). Helping a soul in Purgatory has other benefits. When we pray for them and lessen their time there, they in gratitude will pray for us. Padre Pio said that “if one knew what we may obtain from God by the intercession of the Holy Souls, they would not be so much abandoned.”If our prayers will free a holy soul, they will pray unceasingly in Heaven for our salvation. So on the first Sunday after Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, offer your plenary indulgence for a suffering saint and your future eternal life will be secured.

If You Want To Avoid Purgatory

Many Catholics do not consider the existence of Purgatory. This is due mainly to a poor understanding of this doctrine. It is thought that after death one goes either directly to Heaven or Hell. Those who do understand Purgatory believe that it is very difficult if not impossible to avoid it. Fortunately, Our Lord has provided the means to bypass Purgatory and go straight to Heaven.

The reason why Purgatory exists is that in order to go to Heaven, we must be perfectly free of sin since “nothing unclean will enter it” (Revelation 21:27). Every sin that is committed leaves a stain of sin that remains even after we repent and receive forgiveness from it. The first and most important way to avoid Purgatory is to deal with its primary cause, that is, sin. It is sin that stains our souls and this stain must be removed before we can enter Heaven.

There are two types of sin, venial and mortal. They are mentioned in 1 John 5:17, “all wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly”. The sins that are not deadly are venial. They are minor offenses against God that do not destroy the relationship with Him but can lead to related mortal sins if they continue without repentance. Many people do not consider the consequences of minor (venial) sins. After all, a small lie or distasteful joke won’t prevent you from entering Heaven, right? Even venial sins stain the soul. These stains will keep us in Purgatory until they are fully expiated because “you will not get out until you have paid the last penny” (Matthew 5:25). There are also degrees of venial sins. A sin that occurs due to habit is worse than one that happens due to a moment of weakness. The other sin, mortal, destroys the relationship with God and will lead to eternal separation from Him unless an act of contrition occurs.

Three requirements must be met for a sin to be mortal. The sin must be of a serious nature, the individual needs to be knowledgeable that the sin is serious, and the individual must have the free will to commit the sin. If venial sins cause us to spend some time in Purgatory, mortal sins require a much greater purgatorial expiation. Why is this so severe? Considering that a single mortal sin can cause one to lose their salvation, this would be understandable why a great penance is needed. When sins occurs, it needs to be forgiven. We can confess our sins directly to Jesus or we can confess our sins to Jesus through a priest. Why go to a priest to confess sin? After all, why not save yourself the embarrassment and confess to God privately? Jesus gave priests the authority to forgive sins, “if you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained” (John 20:23).

In addition to having our sins forgiven by confessing to a priest, the priest can advise us how to avoid committing the same sin again in the future. You would not get this sort of guidance through private confession to God. Once sin is forgiven, the stain of that sin remains on the soul. This stain needs to be removed in order to go to Heaven. We can purify our souls while on earth through penance, or we can do it painfully in Purgatory. When sin is confessed to a priest, a penance is given appropriate to the magnitude of the sin. This is another reason why frequent confession is beneficial. The act of penance leads to an indulgence. This is what actually removes the punishment due to sin.

An indulgence can either be partial (only part of the punishment is removed) or plenary (all of the punishment is removed). The majority of indulgences are partial since plenary ones are difficult to obtain. This is because they require the Sacrament of Reconciliation (or confession to a priest), Holy Communion needs to be received, and a prayer for the Pope’s intention (this can be an Our Father and a Hail Mary). No sin can be committed during this process or the indulgence will become partial.

A very good way to avoid Purgatory is to help those who are imprisoned there. The Holy Souls are aware of who prays for them and what role they played in lessening their time in Purgatory. Once they are released into Heaven, they pray constantly for the salvation of their greatest friends who helped them. Your time in Purgatory can be lessened if not eliminated by dedicating yourself to free the suffering saints.

One great thing that can be done for them is to offer the indulgences from all of your prayers with the Heroic Act of Charity. The final sacrament one receives, the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, can eliminate all of the time spent in Purgatory. The best thing that one can do with this sacrament is to offer it to the Holy Souls. Such a great deed would no doubt be repaid in a much greater way than if used for one’s personal needs.