Death - Purgatory
( Originally Published 1922 )
We shall all die some day. When we die, our soul will be separated from our body. Though our body will turn to dust, our soul will still live. It will live forever. To go to heaven our soul must be free from every stain of sin. Even venial sin will keep people from heaven. In purgatory souls are cleansed from venial sin and they satisfy for other sins that have been forgiven. Purgatory is a proof of God's mercy and love for us.
Tell me, again, children, about our Lord's death. Tell me about the cross, Mount Calvary, and how they put our Lord to death. What did they do with our Lord's body after they took Him down from the cross ? Which of the stations shows how they buried our Lord ? What does the Thirteenth Station show ?
Of course you have been to funerals. Tell me about some people who have died. Here the children will readily speak about their own dead. Have them tell about deaths in their own family.
What happens to people when they die ? What happens to their body ? When does the soul leave the body? When do good people go to God? When are we going to our true home? Who will be waiting for us there? What is God to us? To whom, then, are we really going when we die? Why does our Heavenly Father want us with Him in heaven? Where did your (indicating the proper child) little brother (or sister) go when he died? To whom did he go then? Apply this to the cases of death mentioned.
What kind of people go to heaven? Where do people go who die in mortal sin? What will they suffer in hell? How long will they be in hell? With whom will they be in hell? What is the only thing that can send people to hell ? What kind of sin is mortal sin? What do people have to know to make a sin mortal? What kind of sin is it if they know that it is very bad? What kind of sin do people commit when they are willing to turn away from God? What kind of sin do they commit if they do something that is not very bad? What kind of sin is it if they commit a fault without thinking?
Why must your soul be free from all sin to go to heaven? With whom shall you be in heaven? Why do you always try to avoid even venial sins ? Where do people go who die in venial sin? What sin is taken away in purgatory? Where is venial sin taken away from those who die in it? When is a soul as pure as an angel? From how many sins must a soul be free to be pure? How are people who die in venial sin cleansed from it? What do the souls suffer in purgatory? Why do they have to suffer in fire? What sins do their sufferings take away from them? Why can nobody go to heaven with venial sin on his soul? When is your soul as pure as an angel? Tell me some one whose soul was as pure as an angel. From what sins was the Blessed Virgin free? Where did the Blessed Virgin go when she died?
Where did St. Joseph go when he died? Why did St. Joseph go straight to heaven? When do people go straight to heaven? From whom are the souls separated in purgatory? When will they see God? How long do the souls have to stay in purgatory? What happens when they are cleansed from sin? Who will have to suffer longer in purgatory? Who will have to stay the shortest time in purgatory? Where will the souls go when they are freed from purgatory ?
When will God forgive people their sins on earth? What do people have to do if they want God to forgive their mortal sins? What Sacra-ment must they receive? For what must they be sorry? What must they promise? What must they do after their sin has been forgiven?
Why do they have to do penance? Who tells them to do penance? Where do they go if they die before they have done enough penance for their sins? Why do people fast and pray so much? For what are they doing penance when they fast and pray? For what are they doing penance when they do good works? What, then, satisfies for sin?
Where can people satisfy for their sins if they die before they have done enough penance? Who knows how long they will have to suffer in purgatory ? What will God do when they have satisfied for their sins? How does purgatory show that God loves us? Who could never go to heaven if there were no purgatory? Why do you think God gave us purgatory? Why did God want to make our souls pure?
What is God to us? Why does God cleanse our souls in purgatory? Who loves the souls in purgatory? Why does God love the souls in purgatory? Whose children are they? Why do you love the souls in purgatory? What Church teaches us about purgatory? Who sent the Catholic Church to teach us? Why does the Catholic Church always teach the truth? Which person of the Blessed Trinity always stays with the Catholic Church?
What can you do to show your love for the souls in purgatory? What good does it do the souls in purgatory when you pray for them? How does that help them? Who wants you to pray for them? Why does God want you to pray for them? How often can you pray for the souls in purgatory? What does God do for them when you pray for them? What does it show when you pray for them? How many of the poor souls do you love? Why do you love them all ? Whose children are they? Tell me some of those you pray for. Here some of the children will mention father, mother, brother, sister. Utilize these cases to impress the teaching upon them. Why did you like to do things for your mother (as the case may be) when she was alive? What did that show when you did nice things for her? How did you feel when you could show your love for her? How can you show your love for her now (speaking to child whose mother is dead — or father, or other loved one) ? How can you help your mother now? Thus refer to different cases mentioned, in this concrete manner. When do you pray for her?
Who wants you to pray for your mother, father, brother, sister, friends, all the souls in purgatory? What does God do for them every time you pray for them? What can you do for all your friends and relatives that are dead? What can you do for all the souls in purgatory ? What will God do for them every time you pray for them? Where are you helping the souls to go when you pray for them? What will they do for you when they go to heaven? Why do you pray to the saints? What do they do for you? Why do the saints pray for you? Why do they love you? Whose children are we all? Why do you pray for the souls in purgatory ?
How are we united with the saints and with the souls in purgatory? Who united us in one big family? Who taught us to love one another? Why did God want us all to pray for one another ? This union of love with the saints and the souls in purgatory is the Communion of Saints mentioned in the Apostles' Creed. When we say, "I believe . . . in the Communion of Saints," it means we believe that the saints in heaven pray for us and we believe that we can help the souls in purgatory by praying for them. Who taught the Apostles the Communion of Saints? What Church teaches us all that the Apostles taught? Now if some one asked you what the Communion of Saints means, what would you say?
What else can you do for the poor souls besides praying for them? What is the best thing that can be done for the poor souls? Who says Mass for the souls in purgatory? Why do people have Masses said for their dead? What does the priest do at funerals? What is the color of the vestments which the priest wears at funeral Masses? What is the color of the vestments at all Masses for the dead ? On what day in the year does the priest always wear black vestments ?
You know the priest blesses the body at funerals. He sprinkles it with holy water, burns incense around it, and prays over it, asking God to bless it. For we know that on the last day we shall have our bodies again and we shall have them forever after that. Then, too, the priest blesses the grave in which our body will rest until the end of the world. Our body belongs to God and so it is something holy. What is better than flowers for dead people? Why are prayers and Masses better than flowers? What is a Requiem Mass ? Of what are the black vestments a sign?
Why do you think they have burning candles around the coffin? These pure lights are a sign of our faith and our love for God. They are also a sign of our hope that our body will rise again at the end of the world. On the gravestones we carve R. I. P., which means : Rest in peace. What do you do when you visit the cemetery? For whom do you pray? Here they may mention the graves of their own dead.
You remember how the early Christians used to bury their dead in the catacombs. These were long underground passages dug out of soft stone. They made places in the sides of these like shelves in a wall. Here they would seal up the bodies with a stone slab or bricks. On the stone they would often write "rest in peace," or "rest with God," or some other little prayer. Many of these carved writings can still be seen in the catacombs at Rome. Then, too, in the catacombs they came together to worship God. The priests and bishops said Mass on the tombs of the martyrs.
Why do you think the bishop consecrates the cemetery? Why does he want to make it holy ground? What will take place there at the end of the world? How long will you pray for your dear ones that are dead? Why does it make you happy to pray for them? When will they be able to show their love for you again?
Why do you think the souls in purgatory love God very much? Where are they sure they will be? What do you think they desire most?
When will there be no more purgatory? Where will the souls in purgatory be at the end of the world? Why did God give us purgatory? What would happen to many people if there were no purgatory? How does purgatory show God's love for us ? How can you help to free souls from purgatory? Why does God want you to pray for the poor souls? What does it show when you pray for them? Who wants us all to love one another?
When is the feast of All Souls? For whom is Mass said on the feast of All Souls? For whom do you pray more than ever on that day? Which is the month of the poor souls? Why is November called the month of the poor souls ? For whom do people have many Masses said during that month? For whom do many good people say the Rosary every day of November? Why do many people go to Mass every morning during November?
Why does the priest always pray for the souls in purgatory when he says Mass? Why do we love the souls in purgatory? Why does God love them? In many places they say the De Profundis every evening. The De Profundis is one of the Psalms in the Bible (Ps. 129). Read it to the children. In those places the church bell is rung and then the people say this Psalm for the souls in purgatory.
Now, how do the people on earth, the souls in purgatory, and the saints in heaven show their love for one another? What is meant by the Communion of Saints? For whom can you pray in purgatory? What can you do for your grand-parents? How can you show your love for those who are dead? Of course we do not know who is in purgatory. Nor do we know when our dear ones go from purgatory. Perhaps they are in heaven praying for us when we are praying for them, thinking that they are in purgatory. But in this case God will accept our prayers for other poor souls. So we keep on praying for our friends and relatives that are dead.
What is a great consolation for us when some one dear to us dies ? Why is it a consolation to be able to pray for him? How do we know that we can help the dead by our prayers? What Church teaches us to pray for the dead? God also wrote in the Bible that it is a holy work to pray for the dead. In the second Book of Machabees (Ch. 12) you can read the story of the brave Judas Machabeus who sent money to the temple to have prayers said for the dead. Why do people sometimes offer money for Masses? For whom can they have Masses said? Of course you know they do not pay for the Mass. It would be a great sin to try to buy or sell the Mass. Good people make offerings to the priest who says Mass to help support him.
Now, who go to purgatory when they die? What kind of sin sends people to purgatory ? What happens if people don't do enough penance for their sins before they die? Only what kind of souls can go to heaven? Where are souls made pure for heaven ? Why did God give us purgatory ? How does purgatory show God's love for us? What can we do for the souls in purgatory? What will they do for us when they go to heaven? How long will they be thankful to us if we pray for them?