The Value of a Soul
Having been through the deaths of several close relatives and friends this year, it made me think of the value of a soul. Although these dear people are gone, their souls live on and the veil between this life and the next feels much thinner.
What was consistent in each case was that everything they held precious in dresser drawers, cupboards and file cabinets meant little in the end. Much of it ended up being given away and paperwork shredded.
What mattered most was that their souls were prepared. Three times this year I was at the bedside of a dying loved one and saw the physical and spiritual peace that came over them when they received the Last Rites of the Church and the Apostolic Pardon. They were also comforted knowing someone was with them to the end. I felt the comfort of Jesus’ promise in the Chaplet of Mercy being said at their bedsides. It was a gift to witness their peaceful passings.
Our Lady’s Reminder
Our Lady reminds us of this at Fatima by revealing the reality of hell, the hope of purgatory and the joy of heaven. These realities were so striking to the three children that they gave their lives as total gifts to God for the sake of others, especially those who have no one to pray for them. They showed us that prayer and penance for the conversion of sinners and salvation of souls was the greatest good they could achieve on earth. The value of a soul for all eternity cannot be measured. And how many there are to pray for.
The Church, too, reminds us of this every year in the month of November when we pray for the souls in purgatory and implore the help of the saints in heaven.
The Work of the Blue Army
The very first issue of Soul Magazine in 1950 (publication of the Blue Army) asked the question: “How many men give thought to their souls, which are essentially themselves? How many think of the soul every day, every hour, knowing that eternity might begin at any moment?”
The work of this apostolate continues in how we live our lives, how we express the joy of our faith, radiate Jesus’ love from within and give a reason for our hope beyond this earthly life. We are asked to make use of our time on earth to become a total gift to God for others.
In order to do that, we must be willing to embrace first our daily crosses and unite them to the Cross of Christ. Without this daily surrender to God, our sufferings mean nothing. They are in vain and do nothing to help ourselves or another soul.
St. Ignatius Brianchaninov’s Thoughts
The Russian-born St. Ignatius Brianchaninov (1807-1867), a monk, Eastern Orthodox bishop and theologian, wrote eloquently about the need to embrace suffering and accept our crosses:
“In order to take our cross upon our shoulders, we must first deny the body its lustful desires, leaving to it only what is necessary for existence. We must recognize our “righteousness” as the cruelest unrighteousness before God, our reasoning as completely unreasonable, and finally, having given ourselves to God with all the strength of our faith, we must commit ourselves to the ceaseless study of the Gospel, and renounce our own will.
“Whoever has made this renunciation of himself is able to accept his own cross. With submission to God, calling out for God’s help to strengthen him in his weakness, he looks without fear or confusion at an approaching sorrow, and prepares himself to bear it magnanimously and courageously. He has hope that through it he will become a partaker of Christ’s sufferings, and attain to the mystical confession of Christ not only with his mind and heart, but also in very deed, by his very life.” (Collected Works, Vol. 1)
It has been said that St. Jacinta helped save tens of thousands of souls by saying “yes” to Mary when she asked if she would stay longer on earth than Francisco to suffer for the sake of souls. Having seen hell, there was nothing she wouldn’t do to help keep someone from going there.
As we honor the souls in purgatory today and throughout the month of November, may we consider the souls who may only get there – and on to eternity in heaven – because we say “yes” to God to bear patiently with all He asks of us today, united with the Cross of Christ. The value of each soul on earth is worth it.
St. Gertrude Prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory
Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.
Barb Ernster is the National Coordinator/Communications Manager/Editor for the World Apostolate of Fatima, USA.