Understandably, losing a loved one can feel like the permanent end of the relationship. However, it is comforting and essential to recall that, as Catholics, we believe in the communion of Saints. We profess that belief at Sunday Mass when we pray the creed. It means all the faithful, living and dead, form one body in Christ. Therefore, we are united with the saints in heaven and the suffering souls in purgatory. Our relationships and love continue, and our prayers and acts of penance are efficacious, even essential.
In “A Call to Prayer: A Pastoral Note on Praying for the Souls in Purgatory,” Archbishop Vigneron calls for the entire Archdiocese to pray for the souls in purgatory by forming chapters of a Confraternity for Holy Souls in each Family of Parishes. It is through the work and ministry of these chapters that we hope that our local Church in southeast Michigan will grow into an active community of intercessors praying regularly for the souls in purgatory.
Why do we pray for the deceased?
Every soul should have the opportunity to enter heaven. This is the essential message of the Gospel. Additionally, we learn from Sacred Scripture that our prayers and acts of penance for the deceased are valuable. Judas Maccabaeus prayed for his men killed in battle that the sin they committed would be “blotted out” and took up a collection as a sin offering, “Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be absolved from their sin”
(2 Maccabees 12:38-46).
The doctrine of purgatory, as outlined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to the cleansing of souls in preparation for their final home in heaven (CCC 1031). When we pass over from this life to the next, we hope that we die in grace and friendship with God. However, if we die in grace and friendship but still are imperfectly purified, we are assured salvation but must undergo purification to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven (para 1030). To share in the love that unites the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit, we must be purged of anything in our hearts that would be unworthy of the heart of Jesus.
This is where we come in! The Confraternity for Holy Souls is a new lay apostolate within the Archdiocese of Detroit dedicated to prayerfully interceding in love for the souls in purgatory.
The confraternity aims to develop a better awareness among the faithful of our need to pray for our brothers and sisters who have passed on from this life and who need our prayers in preparation for their final journey of purification and sanctification to enter heaven. “Through the formation of Confraternity chapters in Families of Parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Detroit,” says Archbishop Vigneron in “A Call to Prayer,” “I hope that the Church of Detroit will develop an active community of intercessors praying regularly for the souls in purgatory.”
The Confraternity intends to help the faithful:
Know and understand how to pray for the souls in purgatory.
Know and understand Church teaching on indulgences.
Know and understand the four last things: death, judgment, heaven, and hell)
Establish monthly Holy Hours for the holy souls every first Friday.
The ministry is already bearing fruit!
Five Families of Parishes have already formed confraternities and reported unexpected blessings. I’ll share just a couple of things:
The St. Basil the Great Confraternity in Eastpointe experienced an increase in those willing to pray for deceased parishioners at funeral homes. In addition, the confraternity adopted a section of Sacred Heart Cemetery dedicated to babies and regularly maintains grave sites.
Our Lady of Good Counsel parishioner Victoria shared how her devotion to praying for holy souls led to her praying at parish funeral masses. Victoria prays for the deceased and the conversion of family and friends, asking the Lord that if they were away from Church, he would place on their hearts a desire to return. A chance encounter with a woman revealed that her prayer was answered. The woman shared that after her father’s funeral mass, she knew it was time for her to return to full communion with the Church. She went to confession and has attended Mass ever since. Victoria remembered that she prayed at that funeral mass.
Please consider starting a confraternity in your Family of Parishes.
Learn more at Confraternity for Holy Souls.
Stay tuned for these upcoming events:
A workshop for those interested in starting a confraternity, planned for Fall 2023
The celebration of a Commissioning Mass is scheduled for November 2023