In the home I grew up, when someone that mattered passed on, there’d be a couple of Eternal Rests, and a shrug and moving on with life. The realm of the Holy Souls was not one we lingered at. It was worlds removed from the life of Self we led.
One still night, decades ago, everything changed. I was home alone in my sitting room, reading a book on messages during an apparition, when I chanced upon a section on the Holy Souls and their need of our prayers. As line by line swam before my eyes, the agony of the Poor Souls buried their arrows in my heart and I was moved to a depth of pity I never thought was possible.
Suddenly, I was shocked out of my skin by a violent rattle of the windows. Gasping, I put down the book and looked around. Slowly, I became aware of a growing wreath of darkness and evil around me. That rattle earlier could have been explained by any number of scientific and logical reasons, but the menacing venom that encircled me told me the rattle on the windows was beyond science.
I shivered like a leaf, my heart raced in terror. I wondered if I had the strength to run up the stairs to the relative security of my bedroom and plunge beneath the covers, get away from the dark, invisible feral fangs that were reaching out for me. Never in my life before, had I been so terrified of something I could not see but only sense.
It was then, that I became aware of the heat. A slow, deep, yet gentle heat that began in my neck, and tendrilled down my back. An unseen cloak of warmth placed around me and drawn close to my body. As I sat in mute awareness of what was happening, my thoughts turned to the blackness I had sensed, and I was stunned to realize that my fear was rapidly dissipating. I moved my chair to right beneath the fan that was turned on at full blast. I tied up my hair.
But the heat on my neck remained.
And soon, the fear was gone.
I put it to the test. I stretched and looked towards the dark kitchen that seemed so terrifying mere moments before. I scanned the room and its shadows. Not a whit of residual fear or anxiety.
The snaking terror had left.
The warmth on my neck remained.
In a silver instant, I knew that hell had come to stop me from praying for the Holy Souls. It didn’t want my heart beating for anything, anyone else. It wanted me to remain chained to an idolatrous worship that starved me to the point I was too malnourished to love others, least of all those who had gone to their eternal rest. I didn’t understand much that night, but I knew with a deep certainly that if evil had come to wrench me away just as my heart was being opened to showing earthly Mercy to those who had gone on, then, I had to answer the summons to free souls from Purgatory. I had to echo, in deed, Padre Pio’s words ~ Pray unceasingly. We must empty Purgatory.
A firm resolve sank into my heart, and eased its roots into my soul. On that night was born the prayer that has never left me since – the prayers for the release of Souls to Saintdom.