Why was this group started?

This Sodality is being set forth by the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary as a fulfillment of our founder St. Stanislaus Papczynski's charism and in gratitude for his beatification (2007) and that of Blessed George (1987).

In his Rule of Life (1687 and 1694-5), St. Stanislaus defined a key Marian commitment: "With utmost zeal, piety, and fervor assist the souls of the faithful departed subject to expiatory pains — especially the souls of soldiers and those who died of pestilence."

The Sodality underscores the commitment of the Marian Fathers and the Association of Marian Helpers in their concern for Holy Souls detained in purgatory, and it seeks to hasten their admission to the Beatific Vision+ of God in heaven.

+BEATIFIC VISION: The contemplation of God in heavenly glory, a gift of God which is a constitutive element of the happiness (or beatitude) of heaven (1028, 1720). Catechism of the Catholic Church, Glossary

What is a Sodality?

A Sodality is an organization, or a part thereof, with like-minded associates, who in relationship with each other work toward a particular goal.

What makes this Sodality special?

As children of God, who among us would not rush to the aid of a hurting family member? Yet too often the axiom "buried and forgotten" is proven to be true of the departed. Our Holy Souls Sodality is making a fresh effort toward correcting such an attitude by embracing prayer for the faithful departed as a work of mercy that has been encouraged by our Lord Himself through revelations to saints throughout the ages.

Our Holy Souls Sodality exists in the heart of the Association of Marian Helpers as an affiliate of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. From their beginning in 1670 the Marian Fathers have had as their second founding purpose ("charism") the offering of earnest, humble petitions for the release of souls from purgatory.

What is purgatory?

Purgatory is the state of those who die in God's friendship, assured of their eternal salvation, but who still have need of purification1 to enter into the happiness of heaven.

Saint Catherine of Genoa says that, although purgatory is incomparably painful because we see all the horror of our own sins, yet it is incomparably joyful because God is with us there, and we are learning to endure His truth, His light (cf. Treatise on Purgatory). It is also joyful because all those in purgatory have already passed the particular judgment2 and are assured of their eventual entrance into heaven.

1PUNISHMENT, TEMPORAL: Purification of the unhealthy attachment to creatures, which is a consequence of sin that perdures even after death. We must be purified either during our earthly life through prayer and a conversion which comes from fervent charity, or after death in purgatory (1472). Catechism of the Catholic Church, Glossary

2JUDGMENT: The eternal retribution received by each soul at the moment of death, in accordance with that person's faith and works ("the particular judgment") (1021-1022). The "Last Judgment" is God's triumph over the revolt of evil, after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world. Preceded by the resurrection of the dead, it will coincide with the second coming of Christ in glory at the end of time, disclose good and evil, and reveal the meaning of salvation history and the providence of God by which justice has triumphed over evil (677-679, 1021, 1038).
Catechism of the Catholic Church, Glossary

On "The Particular Judgment," the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ. The New Testament speaks of judgment primarily in its aspect of the final encounter with Christ in his second coming, but also repeatedly affirms that each will be rewarded immediately after death in accordance with his works and faith. The parable of the poor man Lazarus and the words of Christ on the cross to the good thief, as well as other New Testament texts speak of a final destiny of the soul—a destiny which can be different for some and for others.

Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven—through a purification or immediately, —or immediate and everlasting damnation.
At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love.

How do we know purgatory exists?

The existence of purgatory logically follows from two facts: our imperfection on earth and our perfection in heaven.

Of the "Final Purification, or Purgatory," the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:
The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned#. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:
As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.
CCC 1031 #PUNISHMENT, ETERNAL: The penalty for unrepented mortal sin, separating the sinner from communion with God for all eternity; the condemnation of the unrepentant sinner to hell.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, Glossary

The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire." The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.
Catechism of the Catholic Church1035

Who are the Holy Souls?

The Holy Souls are those detained in purgatory, but on the threshold of heaven, where everlasting happiness will be given to the righteous.

Why do the Holy Souls need our help?

The Church teaches that the Holy Souls in Purgatory cannot pray for themselves. In purgatory, where Divine Justice purifies souls, the burning pain of waiting can be extinguished by suffrages — that is, the prayers and sacrifices of the living.

What can we do to help the Holy Souls?

We can offer our sacrifices, prayers, corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and almsgiving for the release of the Holy Souls.

God allows us this opportunity to be merciful and to cooperate with His plan for the salvation for all souls. The Catechism of the Catholic Church further explains:
This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin." From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:
Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.
CCC 1032

Can the Holy Souls help us?

The Church's most respected authorities have explained that, although the Souls in Purgatory cannot pray for themselves, they can intercede for the living. Saint Alphonsus stated:
They are unable to pray or merit anything for themselves, yet, when they pray for others, they are heard by God.

Saint John Vianney, the Cure d'Ars, wrote:
If one knew what we may obtain from God by the intercession of the Poor Souls, they would not be so much abandoned. Let us pray a great deal for them; they will pray for us.

The Church teaches:
We believe that the multitude of those gathered around Jesus and Mary in Paradise forms the Church of heaven, where in eternal blessedness they see God as he is and where they are also, to various degrees, associated with the holy angels in the divine governance exercised by Christ in glory, by interceding for us and helping our weakness by their fraternal concern" (Paul VI, CPG § 29).

CCC 1053

How do I become a Patron of the Holy Souls Sodality?

By becoming a Patron, you make a deeper commitment to the welfare of the Holy Souls in Purgatory as your spiritual work of mercy. You pledge to offer sacrifices, good works, and prayers on their behalf in order to relieve their suffering and release them from purgatory.

As a Patron:
  • Your financial offerings help the Marian Fathers to educate the faithful on the urgent need to assist the Holy Souls in Purgatory. The suggested minimum gift is $5 per month or $60 per year.
  • Your intentions will be remembered in the daily Mass offered for the Holy Souls and Patrons by a Marian priest from the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass.
  • You will receive “For Heaven’s Sake,” a monthly newsletter, with testimonials, prayers, and ideas to help promote praying for the Holy Souls.
  • You will receive the gratitude of the Holy Souls and the benefit of their prayers through the Mystical Body of Christ.

Join Online … by completing our online form.
Join by Phone … in US & Canada by calling 1-800-462-7426.

Please address any other correspondence to the address below or email: [email protected]

Holy Souls Sodality
2 Prospect Hill
Stockbridge, MA 01263-0001