“As we enter Heaven, we will see them, so many of them, coming toward us and thanking us. We will ask who they are, and they will say: ‘A poor soul you prayed for in purgatory.’” ~Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.
Four years ago, I wrote names of family, friends and other people who had passed away on individual popsicle sticks and placed them in a jar. Since then, (almost) every morning during our homeschool prayer time, each child gets to pick one stick and then we pray the Eternal Rest prayer for each selected person. I wanted our children to get into the habit of praying for the souls in Purgatory so that they can always remember to do so as they grow up.
Since we started our “Holy Souls popsicle sticks”, we’ve had various miracles happen. Some people we chose happened to be on the day of their birthday or the day they passed and some occurred with other instances that are too providential to be considered a coincidence.
One occasion was in February, 2021, when my son chose a popsicle stick for a friend’s husband who passed away one year ago. We hadn’t chosen a popsicle stick the day before (on the actual anniversary of his passing) because my youngest daughter was fussy. So the next day, he chose two sticks and one was my friend’s husband’s name. Knowing his anniversary was the day before, I told my friend that we prayed for her husband and how we picked two names, since we couldn’t the day before. My friend said that seconds before receiving my text, she was holding a popsicle stick in her hand, as her daughter needed a popsicle stick for school. That is what I call a “God wink!” To this day, I still get chills when I think about this!
Why is Purgatory necessary?
St. John says in Revelation 21:27 that “nothing unclean will enter [Heaven.]”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church 1030-1031 states, “all who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.”
When our loved ones pass away, it is heart-wrenching to imagine they did not immediately enter Heaven. The truth is we don’t know if they’re in Heaven, Purgatory or Hell. We have a duty to pray for their souls regardless of how wonderful they were, how much we loved them, how much they loved us or how it might pain us to think they may be suffering in Purgatory.
Plus, praying for Holy Souls in Purgatory is the seventh Spiritual Work of Mercy, which states we must “pray for the living and the dead,” which includes those in Purgatory who are undergoing purification before they can enter Heaven.
2 Macabees 12:46 reads, “It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they might be loosed from sins,” and St. Padre Pio said “we must empty Purgatory with our prayers.”
Remember, souls in Purgatory can’t pray for themselves, but we can pray for them and they can pray for us! Pray for your loved ones regularly. Don’t leave your loved ones in Purgatory! If they are already in Heaven, Praise God! Prayers are never wasted. It is also a good idea to pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory who have no one to pray for them.
“Souls in purgatory unite great joy with great suffering … No peace is comparable to that of the souls in purgatory, except that of the saints in heaven.” ~St. Catherine of Genoa.
As painful as Purgatory is, it is a beautiful gift from God, as these souls will one day enter Heaven and be with God for eternity. It is our responsibility to help them get to Heaven faster.
Holy Souls Popsicle Stick Instructions:
1. Gather the following:
-Pen or fine tip permanent marker.
-Two glass or plastic jars/cups.
2. Write individuals on popsicle sticks or family names. i.e.. John Smith or The Smith Family.
3. Place the popsicle sticks in one jar/cup.
4. You and each child picks one stick.
5. Pray for each person picked.
Here is the prayer you can say and include their name(s):
“Eternal rest grant unto (insert name or names), O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon (her, him, them.) May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”
6. Place the “prayed for” sticks in the second jar/cup.
7. Repeat each day!
8. Add names when necessary.
“If, during life, we have been kind to the suffering souls in purgatory, God will see that help be not denied us after death.” ~ St. Paul of the Cross
Christina Frye is a lifelong Rhode Islander, wife, mother and founder of Catholic Mom Rhode Island, www.CatholicMomRI.com.