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 by Susan Tassone

Born in Florence, Italy, in 1515, St. Philip Neri -- one of the most memorable of those raised to the altar -- came from a poor family and was influenced by Dominicans. 


But the point here today: this Saint was vibrant with the most tender love for the poor suffering souls in purgatory. 


He prayed constantly for them, and bestowed on them the merits of his good works. He was particularly anxious to help those souls who during life had been under his spiritual care. He considered he owed more to them because, as a priest, he had labored for the salvation of their souls. He was often made aware of their release.


Many dead appeared to Father Philip in the hope that they would be delivered through his intercession from purgatory -- and indeed he never failed to pray for them. The saint was all the more anxious to pray for the dead, as they often obtained great graces for him.


One member of St. Neri's order (the Congregation of the Oratorians) pleaded unceasingly for the dead and like St. Philip Neri was often made aware of their entry into Heaven -- to the point where he kept an alms-box that he called "box of the souls." 


The souls of the faithful departed were not ungrateful to him. He received numerous graces that he attributed to their intercession. He had the gift of discovering hidden sins, knowing the future, and escaping the snares of the enemy. We can do this also!


The purgatory practice of the "box of souls" was very common among  religious orders. Take Padre Pio, a Franciscan. At the friary of San Giovanni Rotondo, this saint often made use of the "Purgatory Box" located on a landing in the cloister. It contained a list of one hundred sins from which souls in purgatory were being cleansed and was titled:  "A Short and Easy Way to Pray for the Souls in Purgatory." 


When passing by, St. Pio would select a disk and recite an "Eternal Rest" for those souls being purged of the indicated sin. How important it is to always keep them in mind! 


As families, we, too, could have a place in our homes for a "Purgatory Box" to remember to pray for the souls and teach our children and grandchildren to remember the souls every day.  A shoe box, perhaps, or a bowl?


Thus, parents will form kind and merciful hearts. 


You will have planted seeds of reverence and in due time this will manifest itself and will assure you of their suffrages. 


What joy we should feel when we think that the souls delivered by our prayers are interceding for us at the foot of Godís throne, giving Him thanks for us, praising Him, and loving Him. Their intercession is most powerful! And this is the month, especially, to do so. 


If we succeed in bringing a soul into Heaven we have procured more glory to God than we could give Him ourselves.  


For the love of God, for the sake of Jesus, Mary, and the good St. Joseph, let us be generous to these suffering souls and remember that when we obtain their deliverance it is no ordinary alms we give them, but God Himself! Not a God hidden or seen from a distance, but God seen face to face and possessed forever. 


Besides the help we procure for the souls of the departed, Jesus tells us, "as long as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to Me." He has promised that for every sacrifice we make He will reward us a hundred-fold in eternity. The promise of Heaven is ours.

[Susan Tassone's books are available here]

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