Yesterday I received a notice, via email broadcast, of the death of a fellow Catholic. The author of the announcement started by saying (I'll change/obscure details to protect privacy), "At time of death, she heard those words that we all long to hear, "well done good and faithful servant...come and share your master's happiness." Sooo.... does this author have knowledge that the rest of us mere mortals lack? I'm not trying to be snarky, but for all his good intentions, the author stated as a matter of fact that this woman had immediately entered heaven at the moment of her death. I'm sure the author meant well, but he wrote what he had no way of knowing to be true.
I also know that this woman was a very sincere and dedicated Catholic who no doubt frequented the Sacraments during her final illness. However, as we all know, the least attachment to venial sin will - barring unusual circumstances - necessitate a time of purification in the place called Purgatory. Very few of us will go straight to heaven. To be honest, knowing my own nature, I can be fairly assured that if I were to pass at this time, a purgatorial pit-stop for me would be in order before I were to proceed any further. The Church does acknowledge the existence of Purgatory by dogma.
With that in mind, I saw in this announcement no requests for prayers for her eternal repose. Yes, there was a prayer offered for her in one of the tributes, but the context indicates that this tribute was offered while she was still alive. This fellow Catholic has passed beyond the Church Militant. Perhaps she is among the Church Triumphant, but if not, she is among the Church Suffering. We know that our prayers, Masses and other offerings are efficacious towards alleviating the pains of Purgatory and even in expediting the work to be done in Purgatory so that those so enclosed may attain heaven.
So please pray for this lady and her eternal repose - as well as for all the dead. Should in fact they not require our prayers, know that these prayers can still redound to the benefit of other souls still languishing in Purgatory. Perhaps you might wish to direct the prayers for the poor folks who have no one to pray for them.
Let perpetual light shine upon her, and may all souls through the mercy of God rest in peace.
It's not what the Pope says, it is what he does.
7 minutes ago