Catholic Faith Corner

Living in the Light
of Jesus Christ

Sea of Galilee at Sunrise

Catholic Faith Corner

Living in the Light
of Jesus Christ

(Holy) Poor Souls and Saints: The Next World

The day after I flew home from a conference in Chicago, I googled my name. (That sometimes proves interesting.) That night a shocking notice appeared—an obituary for Kathleen Glavich! Did our plane go down? Am I in twilight zone? Am I dreaming? I didn’t feel dead. I clicked on the notice and it took me to the text. A Kathleen Edith Glavich had died a few days earlier. My middle name is Ann. Whew! I’m not ready to go yet. Still have books to write on the back burner. Someday my obituary really will appear. In this week when we remember the poor souls and the blessed saints, I wonder which group I will land in. Unless I am martyred, I will probably end up in purgatory, hoping that my friends and some strangers will be praying that my purification is over quickly.

My friend and consultant Monsignor Moriarity was adamant that the Poor Souls be called Holy Souls. They had run the race on earth successfully and so escaped eternal damnation. They were good people, holy people, who just needed to become a little more worthy of seeing God face-to-face. Their earthly prayers and penances hadn’t been sufficient to atone for their mistakes, their lack of love.

Thanks to divine providence, we are all bonded in God’s family in such a way that we who are still on earth can help out our brothers and sisters in purgatory. We can pray for their release. After a family member or friend dies, we have Masses said for them and we pray for them. But there are other people in purgatory who might not be as fortunate as they are. So it is a good practice to pray for certain groups: those who have no one to pray for them, those who died an early, unexpected death, first responders, priests and sisters, ancestors, those who committed suicide, and those for whom no one prays.

As for the people who are enjoying heaven free from pain and sorrow, we do not pray for them but to them. Just as we ask our friends on earth to pray for us, we can pray to friends in heaven—first and foremost, Our Blessed Mother. They then intercede for us before the throne of God. We can especially pray to those saints who are our patrons, such as the saints for whom we are named. St. Therese of Lisieux promised to let fall a shower of roses on those who prayed to her for help. I’ve heard stories confirming that she keeps her promise.

By now there are millions of saints in heaven; we know only a few that have been canonized, that is, officially declared in heaven by the church. Pope John Paul II, now a canonized saint himself, canonized so many people that someone quipped, “He wanted to make sure he had a lot of friends when he got to heaven.”

The lives of the saints are intriguing. No two are alike. They come from different centuries and countries and have different personalities and lifestyles. They looked different and prayed differently. The one fundamental thing they had in common was a passion for God. He was the center of their lives.

In some distant year someone might be praying to you on All Saints Day or for you on All Souls Day. Keep your eye on the grand prize and persevere. Remember we were born for another world. I look forward to meeting Kathleen Edith Glavich someday, but not real soon.

Have the prayers of a saint you prayed to ever brought about what you requested?

A lovely rendition of the classic hymn “For all the Saints” . . .



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Jesus depends on us to spread the Good News of God’s love, offering the world hope and joy. Mary Kathleen, a Sister of Notre Dame from Chardon, Ohio, responds through writing, speaking, giving retreats, and teaching. Her motto, adopted from Eddie Doherty’s gravesite, is “All my words for the Word.”

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