Our Sacred Duty
VIII. UTILITY OF PRAYER FOR THE DEPARTED
(Source: Catholic Encyclopedia, subject Purgatory)
"It is the traditional faith of Catholics that the souls in purgatory are not separated from the Church, and that the love which is the bond of union between the Church's members should embrace those who have departed this life in God's grace. Hence, since our prayers and our sacrifices can help those who are still waiting in purgatory, the saints have not hesitated to warn us that we have a real duty toward those who are still in purgatorial expiation. Holy Church through the Congregation of Indulgences, 18 December 1885, has bestowed a special blessing on the so-called "heroic act" in virtue of which "a member of the Church militant offers to God for the souls in purgatory all the satisfactory works which he will perform during his lifetime, and also all the suffrages which may accrue to him after his death".
The practice of devotion to the dead is also consoling to humanity and eminently worthy of a religion which seconds all the purest feelings of the human heart. "Sweet", says Cardinal Wiseman, "is the consolation of the dying man, who, conscious of imperfection, believes that there are others to make intercession for him, when his own time for merit has expired; soothing to the afflicted survivors the thought that they possess powerful means of relieving their friend. In the first moments of grief, this sentiment will often overpower religious prejudice, cast down the unbeliever on his knees beside the remains of his friend and snatch from him an unconscious prayer for rest; it is an impulse of nature which for the moment, aided by the analogies of revealed truth, seizes at once upon this consoling belief. But it is only a flitting and melancholy light, while the Catholic feeling, cheering though with solemn dimness, resembles the unfailing lamp, which the piety of the ancients is said to have hung before the sepulchres of their dead."
Try as I might, I could not alter or improve on the above text. We are now informed that assisting the souls in purgatory is our duty, how can we best perform this duty? The above mentioned "Heroic Act" is considered the highest form of charity possible. Keep in mind, God will not be outdone in charity - you offer all for them, He will give back to you tenfold. Exchange your own acts of satisfaction for heaven itself! The next two days of this novena will focus on this Act of Charity, leading up to the formula prayer, or "act" itself on day 9.
O Lord God almighty, I beseech Thee, by the precious blood which gushed forth from the side of Thy divine Son Jesus, in the sight of, and to the extreme pain of His most holy Mother, deliver the souls in purgatory, and especially that one amongst them all which was the most devout to her; that it may soon attain unto Thy glory, there to praise Thee in her, and her in Thee, world without end. Amen+
Our Father, Hail Mary...
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, let eternal light shine upon them, may they rest in peace. Amen+
Reflection on the End of Man
Lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven! (Matthew 11:20)