After many months of work, I am happy to announce the proximate publication of my latest book, “Dying to Live – Reflections on Life after Death”. As you will see by clicking on the title, the book has been written primarily for people who don’t know what awaits them when they die.
It begins by arguing from reason and experience, and then progresses to the Catholic Church’s teaching on the question, which should fill everyone with hope. The book should be out in the next few weeks, and you can order it online at the link above, or obtain it from a bookshop. We all think this book can do a lot of good and I ask your prayers for that intention.
I trust that you will get some helpful insights from reading the book and I thank you for your support.
One of the most consoling truths of our faith is the reality of the Communion of Saints – the Church triumphant in heaven, the Church suffering in purgatory, and the Church militant on earth, all helping one another. In this meditation we use texts from Scripture, the Catechism, St Bernard, St Thomas More, St Therese of Lisieux and St Josemaria to consider how:
The saints in heaven “fix the Church more firmly in holiness” by their example and prayer for us
We should have as the goal of our life to be with them for all eternity
The souls in purgatory suffer greatly and are exceedingly happy, relying on our prayer for them and interceding for us before God
In the Church militant, we are helped by the prayers of all in this Communion and we should feel responsible to help the others by our struggle for holiness and our prayers and works.
Purgatory is a reality but because we cannot see the souls being purified there we tend to forget them. In this meditation we pray about the importance of having great devotion to the holy souls. Using texts of Scripture, the Catechism, Pope Benedict XVI, St Thomas More, St Josemaria, St Augustine and others, we consider that:
It is difficult to go straight to heaven when we die because the soul must be perfectly purified
The souls in purgatory suffer greatly from the pain of fire and from not being able to be with the God they love so much
At the same time they are exceedingly happy
From the earliest days, the Church has prayed for those who have died
Our devotion to the souls in Purgatory helps them and makes it easier for us to avoid going there ourselves
Pope Francis called the Communion of Saints one of the most consoling truths of our faith. Indeed it is. In this meditation we use texts of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, St Bernard, St Therese of Lisieux, St Josemaria, Pope Francis and Kimberly Hahn to pray about this union of the saints in heaven, the souls in purgatory and the faithful on earth, all helping one another on the way to heaven. We consider how:
The Communion of Saints is both communion in holy things and communion of holy persons.
We should endeavour to grow in holiness and increase our desire to be one day with the saints in heaven.
We should pray much for the souls in purgatory.
We should pray for those on earth and help them to come close to God so that they too may be one day in heaven.
By our good deeds we contribute to the Communion of Saints and by our sins we withdraw from it.
One day God will call each of us through the gateway of death into the next life where, after a particular judgment, we will enter into heaven, either immediately or through the purification of purgatory, or we will go to eternal damnation in hell. Meditating on these realities helps us to focus our lives so that we can be found worthy of heaven when we die. In this meditation we use the Scriptures, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the writings of saints to consider:
Death is not the end but the beginning of eternal life
In the particular judgment we will see our life as God sees us and we can prepare for it by being sincere here on earth
Hell is a reality and we should do everything possible to avoid going there
If our soul is not completely pure when we die we will be purified in the fire of God’s love in purgatory
We should pray very much for the souls in purgatory
Our goal is the supreme, definitive happiness of heaven, where we will see God face to face.
Some 150,000 people die each day and it is likely that most of them go to purgatory, where they are purified before entering heaven. They suffer greatly at the same time as they are very happy, since they are assured of heaven. We can help them by our prayers and good works. In this meditation we use texts from Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Churchand St Thomas More to consider how:
the soul must be completely purified before it can enter heaven
the souls in purgatory suffer the pain of being deprived of the sight of God and of fire
most of the souls in purgatory probably have no one to pray for them
we can help them by offering our Masses, prayers, good works and indulgences for them
if we have devotion to the holy souls, they will pray for us and perhaps we can avoid going to purgatory ourselves
In this meditation we continue our journey through the Last Things, praying today about hell. Hell is a reality and if we pray about it from time to time we are most unlikely to end up there. But God needs us to help others avoid hell too. In this meditation we use texts from Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the writings of saints like St John Vianney to consider:
Christ’s teaching on hell
God’s mercy and desire to save all souls
That those who go to hell choose it by failing to repent of their serious sins
The vision of hell seen by the three children at Fatima
In the moment of our death we will undergo a particular judgment which will decide whether we go to hell, purgatory or immediately to heaven. The judge will be Jesus himself, the Son of Man and his judgment will be just as well as merciful. In this meditation we consider how:
we should not care about how others judge us
pride colours our judgment about ourselves
in the particular judgment we will be judged on how we made use of the many gifts God has given us
we can prepare for the judgment by being very sincere in our prayer, our daily examination of conscience and in spiritual direction
In the month of November we pray especially for the souls in purgatory, but we should pray for them always. They are forgotten by many here on earth but we can be their good friends by praying and offering Masses and good works for them. In this meditation we consider:
Why some souls go to purgatory
How our prayers and suffrages can help them
The two principal pains these souls undergo and their great happiness
What we can learn from apparitions of two souls in purgatory, one to St Margaret Mary Alacoque and another related in the book Hungry Souls by Gerard van den Aardweg