Dear Benefactors of the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena,
The New Testament affirms for us the truth that each person will be rewarded immediately after death according to what they have done during their earthly life.
When speaking of the Holy Souls, we are referring to the souls of those who have died in the state of God's saving grace and friendship. These souls are guaranteed salvation. However, because after death they are imperfect, they need to undergo a period of perfection that will allow them to gain the holiness needed to enter the joy of heaven (CCC 1020).
God has revealed to us through his Holy Word that nothing unclean, loathsome or false can enter heaven (Rev. 21-27). Consequently, one who believes - who is open to God -- but is in some ways imperfect, requires purification. This is what the Church teaches in the Doctrine on Purgatory (a teaching that must be believed in order to be a true member of the Catholic Church).
St. Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 3:14-15) puts it this way -"the fire will test the quality of each man's work." Therefore, a person who builds his life on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ will be saved. On the other hand, if a person's life work is burnt down in the fire he will be lost. However St. Paul states that even the lost one "though he is saved himself, it will be as one who has gone through fire." For St. Paul, purification means that every trace of attachment to evil must be eliminated and all imperfections of the soul corrected.
The thought of fire is somewhat disdainful to many of us. It would not be so if we would recall that in Sacred Scripture fire also represents The Holy Spirit. The fire which burns and saves can also be seen as Christ himself who is both Judge and Savior.
Pope Benedict XVI, in his Encyclical Spe Salvi, describes this encounter with Christ as an encounter that burns us, transforms us and frees us to become truly ourselves. The Holy Father goes on to say that Christ's gaze, the touch of his heart, heals us through an undeniable and painful transformation "as through fire". However, it is a blessed fire, a pain of love that becomes our Salvation and Joy.
Holy Mother Church teaches that Holy Souls in Purgatory are not separate from God but are immersed in Christ's love. Nor are they separate from the Saints in heaven who already enjoy the life of eternal love, peace and joy with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Holy Mother Church also affirms for us the truth that the Holy Souls are not separated from us who continue the pilgrimage to our Father's House.
United in the Mystical Body of Christ we can then offer prayers and good works on behalf of the Holy Souls. The prayers and good works we offer on their behalf can make an immense difference to these Holy Souls in their growth in virtue. Since they are unable to do anything for themselves, we should do everything we can to help free our brothers and sisters in Christ from whatever imperfections stand in their way to a pure, intimate and loving relationship with God and their neighbors.
We can offer them the merits of our good works (prayers and acts of love). The best sacrifice of all is to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - offer it on behalf of the Holy Souls. A beautiful way to remember your departed loved ones is to sponsor a Mass at the Sanctuary in their name. You can get the information for arranging a single mass by clicking here, or a Novena of Masses by clicking here.
The Church has designated November 2 as a special day of remembrance of the Holy Souls. I suggest that we don't just remember them on that one day. Realizing the power of the Mass to transform Holy Souls into Saints filled with pure unselfish love for God and neighbor - wouldn't it be a great act of charity to make the sacrifice to attend and participate more frequently in daily Mass offering your sacrifice for the purification of Holy Souls. They surely will be grateful and pray for you in return.
Might I make one more suggestion as to help the Holy Souls? Pray the Rosary in response to their call for help. Call upon St. Philomena and the communion of Saints to pray with you and obtain for you the grace to reflect upon the mysteries of the Rosary -- mysteries that reveal to us the kind of person we all must be to be worthy of entering into the Kingdom of Love, Peace and Joy. It is a powerful prayer that can transform us -- the Holy Souls included -- into the person God created us to be.
The peace of Christ be with you always. May St. Philomena pray that you receive the grace to respond - with heartfelt love - to the Holy Souls need for help.
Fr. Robert G. Gibas
Archconfraternity Spiritual Director
For all of the United States of America
Support the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena
The Sanctuary of Saint Philomena is not a parish Church. We do not have parishioners who support this place of worship on a weekly basis. We are completely dependent on the love and generosity of you, the world-wide devotees, to keep the doors of the earthly home of Saint Philomena open.
We pray at the Sanctuary for the devotees of Saint Philomena to recognize and provide the means to pay our monthly utilities of gas and electricity. We also pray for the means to install a lift at the Sanctuary to enable physically challenged pilgrims to experience the entire home of their beloved Saint.
In order to ensure the Sanctuary is able to keep our doors open to you and to continue to offer God continual praise and to be the focal point through which our prayers are received by Saint Philomena and interceded for before God at the Sanctuary, you may donate in the following ways:
- Direct to the Sanctuary:
- By personal check payable to the "Sanctuary of Saint Philomena." For security reasons, please send your donation through registered or express mail to the Sanctuary's address at the bottom of this newsletter.
- Online - Go to our Support Page, Click Here
- By bank transfer to the Sanctuary's Bank account: SANTUARIO SANTA FILOMENA – fil n° 0007 BANK ACCOUNT: n° 1279013 SWIFT CODE: BPMOIT22 IBAN: IT52W0538775790000001279013
- U.S.A. Tax-Deductible Donations may be sent to the new non-profit set up in the United States:
- Online - Go to our Support Page, Click Here
- Postal mail donations can be made to: Saint Philomena Sanctuary Support Fund, Inc. P.O. Box 4114 Bergheim, Texas 78004, U.S.A.