By Scott P. Richert, Catholicism Expert
A number of spiritual practices that were very common in the past have been neglected in recent decades. As belief in the doctrine of Purgatory has waned, fewer people pray for the Holy Souls—those who died in a state of grace, but without having fully atoned for their sins. And far fewer people engage in the practice of “offering it up”—offering up our daily sufferings, toil, and stress for the good of these souls in Purgatory.Continue Reading Below Pope Benedict XVI referred to this practice in his weekly Angelus address on Sunday, November 4, 2007:Truthfully, the Church invites us to pray for the dead every day, offering also our sufferings and difficulties that they, once completely purified, might be admitted to enjoy the light and peace of the Lord for all eternity.(It’s no coincidence that Pope Benedict discussed this in November, the Month of the Holy Souls in Purgatory—it’s a good month to make a daily effort to establish the habit of “offering it up.”)
We Benefit, Too, by Helping the Holy Souls
When we offer up our daily sufferings, we benefit, too, because we learn better to cope with the challenges of our daily life. Whenever we find ourselves in a bad situation, we should remind ourselves that we’re offering it up for the Holy Souls, because the merit of our offering increases when we cope with the situation with Christian charity, humility, and patience.
A Great Practice to Teach Your Children
Children, too, can learn to “offer it up,” and they’re often eager to do so, especially if they can offer up the trials of childhood for a beloved grandparent or other relative or friend who has died.Continue Reading BelowIt’s a good way to remind them that, as Christians, we believe in life after death and that, in a very real sense, the souls of the dead are still with us. That’s what the “Communion of Saints” that we refer to in the Apostles’ Creed (and every other Christian creed) means.
How Do You “Offer It Up”?
In the most general sense, any prayer or intention to “offer it up” is sufficient. Simply stop at a moment of stress, or as you enter into a situation that you know will be stressful, make the Sign of the Cross, and say something like, “O Jesus, I offer up my struggles and sacrifices today for the relief of the Holy Souls in Purgatory.”A better way, though, is to memorize a Morning Offering (or to keep a copy of it near your bed), and to say it when you first wake up. Traditionally, the Morning Offering, along with the Our Father and the Act of Faith, the Act of Hope, and the Act of Charity, were the centerpieces of Catholic morning prayers. In the Morning Offering, we dedicate our entire day to God, and we promise to offer up our sufferings throughout the day for the souls in Purgatory.