Lent: Experiencing the Reality of Purgatory

by Melanie Jean Juneau | Catholic Stand  |  published on March 11, 2015

The Eastern Orthodox Church designates Lent as a time of prayer for those who have gone before us. I think this observance is an appropriate gesture, especially since I am still dealing with the repercussions of my Ukrainian Orthodox grandmother’s plea for prayer.

My paternal, Ukrainian grandmother, who had been in Canada for barely 15 years, died accidentally under extreme duress as a young mother of three boys while still in her twenties. She became pregnant while her husband was at war. The incident occurred in the 1940’s, and thus she was denied a Christian burial in the Catholic Church. When my grandfather returned from the war, the young family left the Catholic Church and my grandfather remarried a Protestant Presbyterian. In turn, I too was raised in the Presbyterian Church with no knowledge of my Catholic roots until I converted at nineteen. My father pleaded with me to reconsider my conversion; his childhood memories of how the Church handled immigrants were to difficult to forget.

Due to a very personal family experience, I strongly support praying for those on the other side of the veil; an act that is close to my heart. I know personally the agony of a soul who is desperate for my prayers. I have learned through personal experience that souls in purgatory, although they cannot pray for themselves, press on the most sensitive of their relatives for prayer.

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