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by Susan Tassone

Scripture tells us that, "For charity delivers from death and keeps you from entering the darkness"; and that "Water extinguishes a blazing fire:  so almsgiving atones for sin." Our Lord says: "But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you.”

How can we doubt the merit of our spiritual alms when we release our friends and loved  ones suffering in purgatory to obtain for them eternal happiness? 

When we pay their debts and deliver them from the prison of purgatory, we give them the  object of their desire: to enjoy the Presence of God. That's Heaven!

St. Thomas Aquinas said:  "Of all prayers, the most meritorious, the most acceptable to God are prayers for the dead, because they imply all the works of charity, both corporal and spiritual."

We should not be afraid of exercising charity toward the souls in purgatory. St. Ambrose said, "Whatever we offer in charity for the dead is changed into merit for ourselves, and we shall receive a hundredfold after death."

When we work for the souls in purgatory, we work for ourselves.  We lay up treasure of  which God will give us the benefit in the days of trial.  We are insuring a favorable welcome for our own souls when our last hour draws near.

Our Lord tells us:  "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of  these my brethren, you did it to me." It is pleasing to Him if we deliver a soul from purgatory as if we delivered Himself, and opened the gate of Heaven to Him.

Who is  like God? No one is so good as God Whose mercy is unfathomable and infinite. Therefore, our Divine Savior will do much more for us than we have done for the faithful  departed. 

He Who is goodness and mercy itself will open for us His treasures and make us partakers of His infinite merits, and the debt we owe will be paid to the last farthing. Nothing will delay our entrance into Heaven.

In the  life of St. Gertrude, we learned that from her earliest years she offered her prayers and good works for the benefit of the suffering souls. This practice was so pleasing to God that He often showed her the souls who were in most need of her help.

At the  hour of St. Gertrude’s death, the devil tried to persuade her that she  had lost all the merit of her good works and would have to expiate her faults by a long period in purgatory. She was in such a state of distress that Our Lord, taking pity, appeared before her. "Oh, Lord," she said, "in  what a deplorable position am I! Death approaches, and I am deprived of the merit of my good works which I have applied to the souls in purgatory; how can I ever pay the debt I owe to your justice?" 

Our Lord replied: "Fear not, My child, by your charity to the dead, you have increased the sum of your merits, and not only do you possess enough to expiate your slight faults, but you have earned a high degree of glory. My mercy will reward your devotion to the  holy souls, and you will soon be with me in Paradise, to be rewarded a hundredfold for all you have done for them."

During  this great Month of the Deceased, that should stimulate our devotion to the holy souls.  Heaven is the home of gratitude. The souls released through our Masses, Rosaries, Stations, and indulgences will be forever attached to us by bonds of eternal gratitude. They earnestly desire to repay us. The purgatorial souls will always remember us and their powerful intercession will insure our eternal salvation.

[Note: An indulgence is granted the Christian faithful who devoutly visit a cemetery and pray, if only mentally, for the dead. This indulgence is applicable only to the souls in purgatory. It is a plenary one from November 1- 8 and can be gained on each one of these days. On the other days of the year this indulgence is a partial one.]  

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