The Holy Souls Need You

THE WAY OF THE CROSS FOR THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY

by Susan Tassone

OSV, 2005

66 pages, $6.95

To order: (800) 348-2440

or osv.com

Last Lent is now well behind us, and the next one is half a year ahead, but who ever said the Stations of the Cross were reserved for any part of the liturgical calendar? Surely not Susan Tassone, who here continues her tireless work on behalf of the Church Suffering.

As in her previous publications, Tassone offers a brief history of whatever devotion she focuses on. I, for one, had no idea the practice of going through the Stations may have begun with the Blessed Mother herself.

“St. John brought the Blessed Mother to Ephesus after Jesus’ death,” writes Tassone. “Here Our Lady would spend the last nine years of her earthly life. Her home was rediscovered in 1891 through the study of the revelations of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824), stigmatist, visionary and prophet, who was born in Westphalia, Germany.”

Tassone then goes on to quote Emmerich's Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary: “Behind the house, at a little distance up the hill, the Blessed Virgin had a kind of Way of the Cross. When she was living in Jerusalem, she never failed ever since Our Lord's death, to follow his path to Calvary with tears and compassion.”

Tassone explains how this practice must have helped the Blessed Mother cope with the loss of her Son. I thought: Anyone who's grieving the loss of a loved one — or living with the sense of loss presented by a serious health problem, as I am personally experiencing with spastic cerebral palsy — could benefit by these insights.

Meanwhile, dedicating the Stations of the Cross for the holy souls in purgatory can help us connect with our ancestors. The practice can also help us grow in our understanding of the Communion of Saints, and in learning how to keep in mind those who have died but not yet reached a state of final purification. For most of us, this purgation is, of course, necessary before we are able to live in God's close presence forever.

The meditations at each station are set up by a simple but penetrating prayer. For example, in preparing us to contemplate the First Station, Jesus is Condemned to Death, she writes:

“O my innocent Jesus, to free me from eternal death, you allowed yourself to be condemned by a pagan judge to the death of the cross. Give me a hatred for sin and the grace to live that I may one day obtain from you a merciful sentence. The poor souls in purgatory have already been judged. Through your mercy, they have escaped hell; yet on account of their sins, your justice has caused them to suffer the pains of purgatory. O merciful Jesus, have pity on them. Revoke the sentence of their exile and open to them the gates of heaven.”

These original prayer helps are framed by traditional prayers. Each Station begins with the leader saying, “We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.” Those in attendance respond: “Because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.” And each ends with an Our Father, a Hail Mary and a Glory Be.

Lovely artwork, along with additional prayers for the faithful departed, round out this book's timeless guidance.

The Way of the Cross should be a part of every Catholic's regular prayer repertoire. Tassone's book can help — before, during and after Lent.

Bill Zalot writes from Levittown, Pennsylvania.

Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito says of discerning one’s college choice, ‘There has to be something that tugs at you and makes you want to investigate it further. And then the personal encounter comes in the form of a visit or a chat with a student or alumnus who communicates with the same enthusiasm or energy about the place. And then that love of a place can be a seed which germinates in your own heart through prayer.’

Choose a College With a Discerning Mind and Heart

Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito, assistant professor of theology at the University of Dallas (UD) and subprior (and former vocations director) of the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Dallas, drew from his experience as both a student and now monastic religious to help those discerning understand the parallels between religious and college discernment.