I’ve noticed, over the years, how funerals have become more sophisticated: ornate (rather heavy) caskets, creative flower arrangements, full colour ‘orders of service’ , headstones with photos and fine engraving and even at the wake, superb catering. Families really ‘push the boat out’ to show respect and celebrate the life of their deceased love ones.
Whilst it is right to have a good send-off; the deceased does not benefit from the externals in the slightest and the one and only thing they would appreciate is often neglected… prayer to ease their pains in purgatory, our primary duty to them.
Over the centuries, the holy souls have been given the favour of visiting saints and mystics to deliver this message of neglect. One said “the greatest “complaint” of the souls in Purgatory is how they are almost completely forgotten by their family and loved ones; they rightly complain that they receive no spiritual help from those they themselves helped so much during life. How few prayers are ever offered up for them, even at their funerals.”
It is a sad indictment. It may be that we think they go straight to heaven; that we believe them to be good because we love them and overlook any shortcoming, forgetting that perfection and holiness is required for a soul to enter heaven.
As to the means of their deliverance from purgatory, one holy soul had this to say, “It is the Blood of Jesus Christ that is needed to extinguish the flames by which I am consumed; it is the Holy Sacrifice (of the Mass) which will deliver me from these frightful torments. I implore you to keep your word, and refuse me not that which in justice you owe me.”
I think the message is to never stop having Masses offered and adding our own prayers too for the holy souls; the ancient tradition of Gregorian masses (30 days of consecutive Masses) seems a good start, although some will need many more than that.
We should train the next generation to pray for the dead everyday. Children and grandchildren will be the only ones we could rely on when our time comes.
A Prayer of St Gertrude for the Holy Souls.
Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.