I am a planner. I love a good plan. My spiritual well-being deserves the best strategy, especially the final perseverance of my soul. So, here’s my idea, I want a squad of saints meeting me at the pearly gates. In addition to the “big guns,” which I refer to as my #SaintPosse made up of named and canonized holy men and women, I wish also to be met by the little “s” saint squad. For the record, my posse primarily consists of Venerable Patrick Peyton (the Rosary priest), Saint Faustina, Saint Thérèse, Padre Pio, and Fathers Solanus Casey and Stanley Rother, both Blesseds.
The little “s” saints are those holy souls released from the purification of Purgatory, and now in heaven but not necessarily recognized by name as saints by the Catholic Church. I pray for the “Church Suffering,” the precious souls in Purgatory, every day and in various ways. For instance, if you are ever in a car with me, you’ll find a grow very quiet as I pass a cemetery, that is because I am reciting, “Jesus, Mary, Joseph, I love you, save souls,” for all those souls buried within. I also have a daily devotional book dedicated to the Holy Souls, and over the years, I’ve come to add names of the dearly departed to pray, along with the reflections. Last but not least, I also include the Divine Mercy Chaplet devotion in my spiritual repertoire—more on that in a minute.
The Catholic Church is rich in her devotions. Remembering the Holy Souls is one that benefits all souls and is one way we live out the Spiritual Work of Mercy—praying for the living and the dead. Susan Tassone writes:
Escorts to Heavens
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” — Psalm 122:1. St. John Macias worked for the sick in Peru and, no matter how tired he was, prayed three Rosaries on his knees every night for the poor souls in purgatory. On his deathbed, St. John the Evangelist appeared to him and said that through his prayers St. John Macias had released one million four hundred thousand souls from purgatory. When he died, thousands upon thousands of souls poured from heaven to greet him. (Day by Day for the Holy Souls in Purgatory: 365 Reflections)
Back to my grand plan for entering heaven. I’m working on having as many holy intercessors as possible upon my death, not only pouring from heaven to not only greet me but also escort me. The goal is to accumulate a saint squad so numerous that Peter loses track of me, and I can easily sneak by and slip through the gates into heaven. Okay, that’s not exactly how it works; however, there is no denying the effectiveness of our prayers for the dead, and many saints have recorded the benefits to not only those souls but to ours as well.
Saint Josemaría Escrivá had much to say about having a special friendship with the holy souls.
Out of charity, out of justice, and out of excusable selfishness—they have such power with God! —remember them often in your sacrifices and in your prayers. May you be able to say when you speak of them, “My good friends the souls in purgatory.” (The Way)
The Divine Mercy Chaplet offers the perfect formula from Jesus Himself for praying for the dearly departed. I’ll leave these with this powerful exchange between Jesus and St. Faustina:
This prayer will serve to appease My wrath. You will recite it for nine days, on the beads of the rosary, in the following manner: First of all, you will say one OUR FATHER and HAIL MARY and the I BELIEVE IN GOD. Then on the OUR FATHER beads you will say the following words: “Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.” On the HAIL MARY beads you will say the following words: “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion have mercy on us and on the whole world.” In conclusion, three times you will recite these words: “Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” (St. Faustina Diary, 476)
Copyright 2023 Allison Gingras
This article first appeared at CatholicMom.com