Mary and the Holy Souls in St. Faustina's Diary

by Fr. Dan Cambra, MIC

Happy May — the month we celebrate Mother's Day (May 10 this year) and the month dedicated to our spiritual mother, Mary, "the handmade of the Lord" (Lk 1:38).

It is often said that we are to model ourselves on the best qualities of our parents. When it comes to our spiritual mother, where to begin!

I suggest we endeavor to imitate Our Lady's great prayerful obedience to doing God's will. Among God's will is that we come to the aid of the souls in Purgatory through our "prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice," and through "almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1032).

Saint Faustina testifies that Our Blessed Mother, following God's will, takes great care to bring comfort for the suffering souls as they are being purified in Purgatory. Recall the story St. Faustina shares in her Diary of the time her guardian angel led her on a visit to Purgatory.

I saw my Guardian Angel, who ordered me to follow him. In a moment I was in a misty place full of fire in which there was a great crowd of suffering souls. They were praying fervently, but to no avail, for themselves; only we can come to their aid. The flames which were burning them did not touch me at all. My Guardian Angel did not leave me for an instant. I asked these souls what their greatest suffering was. They answered me in one voice that their greatest torment was longing for God. I saw Our Lady visiting the souls in Purgatory. The souls call her "The Star of the Sea." She brings them refreshment. I wanted to talk with them some more, but my Guardian Angel beckoned me to leave. We went out of that prison of suffering. [I heard an interior voice] which said, "My mercy does not want this, but justice demands it." Since that time, I am in closer communion with the suffering souls (20).

I love this image of Mary. It's an especially powerful image today, as the world confronts so much fear and suffering surrounding the coronavirus. We can find comfort and inspiration in this glimpse we get of Mary's hidden life of work and concern for souls.

We see her drawing lifegiving water from her deep well of faith, trust in God, and compassion for those in greatest need. We see her in all her maternal, protective glory, providing sweet relief to the suffering souls and reminding us that God wishes to unite our hearts with the humble, broken, and needy.
Mary reminds us that, even in our hectic lives, the order of charity demands that we show concern for the suffering souls. If Mary, our spiritual mother, is concerned with the souls in Purgatory, we should be as well. If she brings them comfort, we, too, should bring them comfort.

We can follow the advice of another devotee of Mother Mary, St. John Chrysostom, who said, "Not by weeping, but by prayer and almsgiving are the dead relieved."

Indeed, we can unite with the suffering souls in Purgatory by offering our plenary indulgences, our Holy Communions, our Rosaries, and our own physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering for their behalf. Whenever we pass a cemetery, we can pray the Eternal Rest prayer for the suffering souls:

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
And let the perpetual light shine upon them.
And may the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Further, on behalf of the suffering souls in Purgatory, we can give forms of assistance to those here on Earth who suffer from scarcity.

This May, by Mary's example, let's continue to do our part to bring "refreshment" to the souls in Purgatory. By uniting with the suffering souls, we cultivate the greatest of all loves, that of our love for God and our desire to be with Him for all of eternity.
Also, since Our Blessed Mother has such concern for the souls suffering in Purgatory, let's recommend our faithfully departed friends and relatives to her sincere prayers and intercession.