A distinctive mark of all human beings is that we are created with a unique image and intention. The imagery reflects God, our heavenly Father, who made us soul and body. The matter and form of our creation were done by design or divine intention because we were created to be in communion with God. The gift of this union continued through the word made flesh, Jesus Christ, who, as God the Son, reveals the Father’s love for us through Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension to heaven.
Our responsibility as children of God is to actively participate in God’s love toward one another as revealed through Jesus Christ. The divine elements of faith known as the sacraments of the Catholic Church serve as spiritual, credal and moral pathways to strengthen and mature our relationship with Jesus Christ. The Church teaches that our relationship with God requires an honest and unimpeded profession of faith in Jesus Christ and his Church. This means a public act of faith following the order of the Apostles Creed to believe, follow and actively live the teachings of the Catholic Church with joy and grace.
The Gift of God’s Mercy
When our physical time on earth ends, regardless of the circumstance, God will evaluate the state of our soul-particular judgment through his infinite mercy to determine how much we loved him and our neighbor before ourselves in his divine way. Suppose, for whatever reason, we did not wholly live out our baptismal promises due to the inclination to sin-concupiscence. We died before we could seek forgiveness through the sacrament of reconciliation. In that case, the Lord provides us with further spiritual care.
The doctrine of purgatory (1 Cor 3:15; 1 Pet 1:7) is a state, not a place where the soul continues to be purified from any sins committed that were not addressed through the sacrament of confession. Our Lord provides the state of purgatory where our soul can continue to make reparation for any sins before the final journey to heaven. (CCC 1031, cf. Rev 21:27).
Why a Confraternity for Holy Souls?
St. John reminds us: Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure (1 Jn 3:2-3). The reflection from St. John affirms the practice of praying for the dead, as revealed in 2 Macc 12:45-47, which details the soldiers praying for the souls of their fellow brothers who had fallen in battle.
We must affirm the state of the soul of our brothers and sisters who have passed and need our intercessory prayers. The establishment of the Confraternity for Holy Souls as an official apostolate of the Archdiocese of Detroit reminds us of the vital need to offer our prayers of intercession for all who have died and await God’s mercy to join him in heaven. Another essential facet of the Confraternity for Holy Souls is to remind ourselves of the need for God’s mercy and sanctification (Mt 12:32; 1 Cor 3:11-15) and last to recognize that we cannot enter heaven until all our sins have been addressed. As stated in Archbishop Allen Vigneron’s pastoral note, ‘A Call to Prayer’:
The aim of the Confraternity for Holy Souls is 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, I hope that the Church of Detroit will develop an active community of intercessors praying regularly for the souls in purgatory.
When we pray for the souls in purgatory, we petition our Lord to intercede and prepare them to enter their eternal reward with God the Father in heaven.
St. John Paul II reminds us that purgatory is not a place but a condition of existence.
According to Old Testament religious law, what is destined for God must be perfect. As a result, physical integrity is also specifically required for the realities which come into contact with God at the sacrificial level, such as animals (Lv 22:22), or at an institutional level in the case of priests or ministers of worship. (Lv 21:17-23)
The hope for the Confraternity for Holy Souls is first to bring awareness to a pastoral need that our loved ones are always in need of prayer, especially those that may not yet have the opportunity to experience the beatific vision of our Lord. In the end, it is our hope that every soul receives the opportunity to see God face to face.
Interested in bringing a local chapter to your parish? Register for our first workshop to learn more!