Can the souls in purgatory help us?

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Through our prayers, we can shorten the period of purification of souls in purgatory. Can they intercede for us in return?

By virtue of the communion of saints , that mysterious solidarity which connects all members of the Church even beyond the boundaries of death, we can shorten the period of purification of the souls of our loved ones in purgatory . The Catechism of the Catholic Church specifies that “the thought of praying for the dead, so that they may be delivered from their sins, is a holy and pious thought” (cf 2 M 12:45 ) ( CCC 958). And added: “Our prayer for them can not only help them but also make their intercession on our behalf effective.” This last statement sheds light on the degree of passivity which characterizes the souls in purgatory and allows us to better answer the following question: can the souls in purgatory intercede for us? 

When do they intercede for us?

“The answer is yes,” Don Paul Denizot, rector of the Notre-Dame de Montligeon sanctuary, told Aleteia . It remains to be seen when they do so. The great theologians do not indeed agree on this point. For Saint Thomas Aquinas , they cannot do this while remaining in purgatory. “Those who are in purgatory do not yet enjoy the vision of the Word thanks to which they could know our thoughts and our actions; and this is why we do not implore their help through prayer,” he wrote in Somme Théologique .

For his part, Father Philippe de la Trinité gives the following answer  in The Doctrine of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus on Purgatory  :

“God and the saints of paradise can reward us for what we do for the souls who are in purgatory and, moreover, these souls can themselves repay to us, upon their entry into heaven, what we have already done for the deliver more quickly, or even what we will do later, for the same purpose, if God has released them precisely with a view to these future alms”.

Another is the thought of the holy priest of Ars . “It is certain that these poor souls can do nothing for themselves, but they can do a lot for us. This is so true that there is almost no one who has invoked the souls of purgatory without having obtained the grace requested,” he indicates in his Sermons . In her prayer for the conversion of a soul,  Saint Catherine of Bologna  writes: “I have recourse to the souls in purgatory, so that they present my request to the Eternal Father, and I feel that I owe the success of my prayer to their intercession. »

“Their passivity becomes active only in response to our prayer for them”

In his work  Purgatory, crossing the fire of love  (ed. Emmanuel), Father Jean-Marc Bot gives an enlightened answer to this question: 

“We can easily imagine that the souls in purgatory experience their ordeal in incessant prayer.Their intercession for us is undoubtedly one of the dimensions of this prayer.But it does not have a direct effect, like that of the saints.[…] It is our prayer for them that makes their intercession on our behalf effective.To the extent that we intervene to help them spiritually, they reflect back to us the graces received, like reflectors reflect light.Their passivity only becomes active for us, in the communion of saints, in response to our prayer for them.This way of presenting things resolves the problem addressed by Father Philippe de la Trinité.It makes it possible to reconcile the two theses present, on condition of emphasizing that the initiative belongs to us, and that it consists above all of intervening,  

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