Author and speaker Susan Tassone, 'the purgatory lady,' will invite attendees to consider the power of prayers for deceased
DETROIT — Catholics never forget the dead, and even when our loved ones have passed on, they still can play an active role in our lives — and we in theirs, whether they are in heaven or purgatory.
That's the mission and goal of the Confraternity for Holy Souls, a new lay apostolate in the Archdiocese of Detroit launched in October 2022, which Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron explained in his pastoral note, "A Call to Prayer: A Pastoral Note on Praying for the Souls in Purgatory."
"An essential characteristic of the virtue of love is our devotion to Christian prayer — especially intercessory prayer for all, for the living and the dead," Archbishop Vigneron wrote. "The aim of the Confraternity for Holy Souls is to develop a better awareness among the faithful of our need to pray for our brothers and sisters who have passed on from this life and who need our prayers in preparation for their final journey of purification and sanctification to enter heaven."
The apostolate, led by Fr. Jeffrey Day, vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Archdiocese of Detroit, and Gary Radomski, lay coordinator for the confraternity, currently includes six confraternities throughout the Archdiocese of Detroit, with the hope for more to be formed.
Since its formation, confraternities have been formed at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Plymouth, St. Basil the Great in Eastpointe, St. Faustina in Warren, the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit, St. Michael the Archangel in Livonia and St. Aloysius in Detroit.
“There are no specific rules for the confraternity other than praying for the poor souls, and they all come up with their own ways they want to promote it,” Radomski told Detroit Catholic. Some parishes will attend funerals and pray a rosary, while others are active in their parish’s bereavement groups, Radomski said.
Many Catholics and non-Catholics have a limited understanding of purgatory, Radomski said, which is why it's important to educate people about the importance of praying for and with those who have passed on.
To help further that mission, the Confraternity for Holy Souls is hosting a workshop open to all on Saturday, Sept. 30, at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, titled, “Purgatory, Our Forgotten Family and You.” Fr. Day will celebrate Mass and share an update on the confraternity, and attendees will have an opportunity to hear a presentation by renowned author and speaker Susan Tassone, popularly known as “the purgatory lady.”
Tassone has written 10 books on purgatory and will debut her first children’s book on the subject, "New Friends – Now and Forever," during the seminar. The book will also be on sale following her presentation.
In her presentation, Tassone plans to discuss the truths about purgatory and dispel some of the myths, such as the belief that purgatory is a punishment.
“I want to address what happens to that soul, whether it is in heaven or hell or purgatory, and what happens if it is not in purgatory,” Tassone told Detroit Catholic. “The question is, how do we help (those souls) if they are in purgatory, and how do we avoid purgatory?”
Prayers for a soul, whether in purgatory or in heaven, are never wasted, Tassone said. If a soul is already in heaven, the prayers of the faithful on earth help that soul increase their intimacy with God, which in turn helps that person to become a better intercessor, she said.
If a soul is in purgatory, the only thing they can do is pray and intercede for those on earth, Tassone said.
“The souls in purgatory are helpless; they can’t do anything for themselves because the time of merit is over. They become totally helpless and rely on us,” Tassone explained. “For whatever reason, we’re given the power and the privilege to release and relieve them, so they rely on us because they can’t do anything but one thing: they can pray and intercede for us.
“The lesson is you never stop praying for your dead,” Tassone said. “The more you intercede, the more they are able to help you. No matter where they are (in the purification process), you are definitely helping them, and the one thing that is very important is they are helping you.”
Tassone said while confraternities to pray for the holy souls in purgatory used to be common, they have lost prominence over the last 70 years.
“I am just awed that Archbishop Vigneron has revived it,” Tassone said. “He is a model for all dioceses around the country. He’s the purgatory buster.”
Tassone hopes other dioceses will follow the example of the Archdiocese of Detroit and there will be a revival of the faithful praying for the souls of the dead.
“We are not just doing it for ourselves; we are doing it to build up the Church Triumphant,” Tassone said, referring to the last of the threefold stages of the Christian life in heaven, following the Church Militant (those on earth) and the Church Suffering (those in purgatory). “When you build up the Church Triumphant, you are building up more intercessors in heaven, so it is a win-win situation.”
'Purgatory, Our Forgotten Family and You'
All are invited to a Sept. 30, event at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, starting at 9 a.m. Author and speaker Susan Tassone will explore topics related to the Catholic doctrine of purgatory and offer advice on starting a Confraternity for Holy Souls at a parish near you.
Register here: https://share.hsforms.com/1lkNkbVodQEKZQlVqC5I7RQ48776
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