All her life, my friend competed to prove to her father that she was her father’s daughter. When her father died, she still felt that she didn’t do enough to make her father take pride in her.
She asked me once, “Do you think my father loved me?”
I replied, “Of course! He just didn’t know how to express it.”
One day, I got up at the usual hour to bring my grandson to school. Returning to the house, I felt unusually sluggish and drowsy so I decided to go back to bed and take a catnap.
There before me stood the father of my friend dressed in an intricately embroidered barong tagalog talking on the phone to my friend. At that moment, I caught a whiff of fresh cologne, his favorite scent. The eerie part was that I saw my friend holding the phone while she carried on a conversation with her father. It was like watching a movie. She asked, “Daddy, did I make you proud? I always felt that you never loved me as much as my other siblings.” Her father laughed and replied, “You made my heart swell with pride. You always did the right thing and made decisions that I would have chosen myself. Stop worrying. You will be fine, you will do well.”
I got up from bed and dialed my friend’s number. When I heard her speak, I exclaimed, “Don’t say anything. I need to tell you something before my memory escapes me.” I related my dream to her and she was dumbfounded. “What time did this happen?” she asked. “Must have been about 15 minutes ago,” I replied. “Oh, my goodness!” she screamed. “I was just praying to my father, feeling very insecure about whether I was a good daughter and he gave me his answer through you!”
Oh, well. I was glad there was a reason for my sluggishness.
Our dearly departed have a way of staying close to us. My friend’s father did not ask for prayers but that didn’t stop her from continuing to pray for him. Once, I received an article about a privileged person, Maria Simma, who had a personal encounter with several souls in purgatory (check the website http://www.michaeljournal.org/simma.htm for the complete article with photos of Maria Simma).
Purgatory is similar to the last leg of a journey with Heaven as the final destination. Although the souls in Purgatory experience pain, it is more a pain of longing. But take note: the pain is real and can get very intense although there is this assurance, a certainty, that someday, these souls will finally reach Heaven. The soul in this article asked for prayers (the Rosary, and the Stations of the Cross) with the Holy Mass as the most effective offerings. The souls in Purgatory are totally helpless and can no longer do anything for themselves. If the living do not attend Masses or pray or offer sacrifices for them, they are totally abandoned.
This soul spoke about the opportunity that is given to each of us here on earth. “For as long as we are living on earth, we can repair the evil we have done…” We can earn merits. But this stops the moment we die.
The soul spoke further.
“We must not judge on appearances. Sins against charity, against the love of one’s neighbor, hardness of heart, all these will bring us to purgatory.” (Other sins against charity are our rejection of certain people we do not like, our refusal to make peace, to forgive, and the bitterness we store inside).
When I shared this article with some more friends, they all had the same reaction.
Bitterness can take a lot of forms (resentment, bad temper, irritability, tantrums, sullenness, anger, and hostility). It is a heavy burden that wears down the soul and eventually breaks the spirit.
What’s the greatest weapon against evil? Humility. Those who have a good heart towards everyone drives the evil away. Another interesting point was that a soul in Purgatory sees very clearly on the day of his funeral if we really prayed for him, or if we simply went there to see and be seen. Tears and flowers won’t do any good for them, only holy mass, rosary and daily prayers.
The article also mentioned that our Lady comes often to console the souls and to tell them they have done many good things. She encourages them. On particular days – Christmas Day, All Saints Day, Good Friday, the Feast of the Assumption, and the Ascension of Jesus – our Lady comes to deliver the souls from Purgatory.
All Saints Day? Christmas Day? Those dates are marked on our calendar as occasions still to come. Let’s get down on our knees and PUSH (pray until something happens) for our dearly departed. When our time comes, we know that a great army of prayer warriors will do the same on our behalf.