• Sarah Raad


“Not by weeping, but by prayer and almsgiving are the dead relieved.” (Saint John Chrysostom)

The Purgatory with Figurines

Over the last few days, those souls who have died and gone before me have been firmly fixed in my mind. Over and over again my thoughts turn to those who have died. I think of grandparents who have passed away – both in my family and yours, and parents who are no longer with us. I think of the children gone before their parents and the friends who we shall not see again in this lifetime.

Some of these souls died suddenly – without warning or time to prepare. Others died slowly, over months or years, facing the slow relentless knowledge that this life will end. Others died unexpectedly, over days or weeks, thinking they had one problem but realising it was something else entirely – something fatal… Some died old and some young, some died grateful for the end of their pain, and others died lamenting at the prime of their lives.

And while I pray for these souls – those who died old and young – my mind is drawn back to the Holy Souls of Purgatory. For how many of my dearly loved ones are there, waiting for prayers from you and me so that they can be released into Paradise.

For we grieve for those who have gone before us. I have cried for my grandmother, my grandfathers, my aunts, my uncles, my cousin, my friends, my child, who have already died. I cry for them again today. But as I cry my tears, I wonder, who it is I really cry for…

For if I believe in the Infinite Mercy of God, then surely, I also believe that should these souls have requested it of Him, God would have shown them mercy and they may be even now in Paradise. Would I hold my loved one here in this Valley of Tears because I do not wish to mourn?

It causes me to wonder about myself. What is my purpose?

Saint Therese of Lisieux said… “Holiness consists simply in doing God’s will and being just what God wants.” What wisdom there is in this! Holiness is expressed through our acceptance of our life – whatever it is – so that we can use what we have been given to give glory to God…

In other words, if we wish to imitate Christ, we must suffer, because if we do not share in the suffering of Christ, we cannot share in His glory!

And in doing this, we must follow the advice of the martyr, Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross who told us that we must… “Just take everything as it is and put it into God’s hands and leave it with Him. The you will be able to rest in Him – really rest – and start the next day as a new life.” Padre Pio said pretty much the same thing when he said, “Pray, hope and don’t worry.”

I love seeing this corroboration of the Saints. When the words of the Saints support each other and their message is the same, it provides such clarity in my vision of the Holy Spirit! That is why, for me as a Catholic, the Saints are such a wonderful gift of our God. Because He has made it so that from His chosen few, we receive the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, and this wisdom enables us to see the Spirit a little more clearly. It is through this wisdom of the Spirit that I have come to know Him better. And there is such relief from the torments of my soul in this new knowledge.

For the Spirit is LOVE – perfect LOVE – a LOVE so perfect that it is so far beyond our human conception to ever possibly understand it. For the Holy Spirit is the LOVE between the Father and the Son, which means that Their love for Each Other is so perfect that it is EQUAL to Each of Them. What a mystery is this Holy Trinity! How I long to adore and worship this Holy Trinity, seeking enlightenment about Him for all eternity...

Imagine what it would be to behold such a PERFECT love that the ACTION, EMOTION and DECISION of LOVE is EQUAL to the PERSONS who are expressing it! The action of LOVE is as perfect as the PERSON expressing it…

It is my job to express whatever conception I have of that love myself in my life. For as Saint Teresa of Avila said… “Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion on the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.”

For, as Saint John Chrysostom said, “Not by weeping, but by prayer and almsgiving are the dead relieved.”

And so it shall be that the next time I feel the need to weep for those who have died before me, or to lament the various sorrows of my life, I shall do my best to pray instead… Because it shall be prayer and not tears that will bring the greatest relief.

And so, to achieve relief, I shall follow the advice of the beautiful Saint Padre Pio, “Pray, pray to the Lord with me, because the whole world needs prayer. And every day, when your heart especially feels the loneliness of life, pray. Pray to the Lord, because even God needs our prayers.”

For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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