About sandra dipasqua

graphic designer

Souls in Purgatory

St. Thomas speculates that those who are in purgatory are more perfect than we insofar as they are not able to sin, but they are less perfect than we insofar as the punishment which they are suffering is concerned.14 In this latter respect, they are not in a state of prayer for us, but rather in a state which requires us to pray for them. But nothing stops them from praising, thanking, adoring, petitioning and the like but Thomas does not develop this notion of their prayer life.

Are the souls in purgatory capable of praying for us? 

St. Thomas had taught: “The dead by nature of their case do not know things which take place in this world, especially the interior thoughts of the heart”. . . .15 It would not make sense therefore to think that they could “hear” our prayers and supplicate for us. Also, since they can no longer merit for us, therefore it would mean that we can pray for them but not the reverse. 

By the time of the Jesuit theologians Francisco Suarez (1548-1617) and St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), it became popular among the laity to request prayers from the souls in purgatory. And by the time of the eighteenth century, St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) is teaching that the Church does not officially pray to them because it is not known if they hear us or not but a Catholic can piously believe that “God makes our prayers known to them.”16 Thomas in this context had taught that since the blessed see the Word, he can give them ideas about what is going on in the world but those in purgatory do not see the Word “by which they are able to know what we think or say.”17 So it follows that “we do not implore their assistance by prayer. . . .” But, using Thomas’s other principles, it is not contradictory for God to give infused ideas to souls in purgatory if he chooses just as it is possible for God to permit a soul in purgatory to appear before others on earth to entreat them for prayers and Masses to be said for them.18

Suarez opines that the souls in purgatory are holy and near to God and love us in a general way because they know the dangers we are in and how great then is our need of Divine help and grace.19St. Robert Bellarmine in his work adds to that idea and maintains that the souls in purgatory have a great love of God and their union with him makes their prayers more powerful since they are superior to us in love of God and intimacy of union with him.20 From Thomas’s perspective, even though Aquinas taught that no one can merit for others once dead, his theology of prayer could be applied here in favor of praying to the poor souls without necessarily agreeing with all that Bellarmine asserts: 

Nevertheless, God sometimes hears sinners, when, to wit, they ask for something acceptable to God. For God dispenses his goods not only to the righteousness but also to sinners (Matth. V. 45) …, not indeed on account of their merits, but of his loving kindness.21

So, one could say that the prayers of the souls in purgatory may obtain from God a favorable answer of our prayers to them because of the mercy of God both to them and us. It might also be possible that some souls in purgatory could favorably answer our prayers because of their previous merits here on earth. In any case, while the Magisterium remained silent on this question other than tolerating the practice of the people, the new Catechism clearly teaches: 

958 Communion with the dead. “In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the very earliest days of the Christian religion, has honored with great respect the memory of the dead; and ‘because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins’ she offers her suffrages for them.” Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective. 

With this last sentence, there can be no mistaking that the Church has approved both the practice of the faithful in this regard and, at least, the conclusions of Suarez and Bellarmine without granting or denying their reasoning. This last sentence of the Catechism does not indicate that any individual soul can necessarily intercede for us, nor does the number in question tell us anything about how the souls would know what to pray for but it does clearly state that they intercede for us and their efforts can succeed. This conclusion leaves theologians free to speculate (and disagree) on the “how” and “what” transpires in purgatory for them to help us. 

How poor are the poor souls? 

It would seem that in addition to the mysterious sufferings of purgatory, there are its joys as well. First and foremost, no matter what the duration, each soul knows with certitude that he or she is saved. This must be very consoling and give a kind of strength to endure whatever sufferings the soul has to endure. Second, the entire ensemble of gifts which exists in a newly baptized soul exists in purgatory. What this means is that the “poor” souls also possess sanctifying grace, the indwelling of the Holy Trinity, faith, hope, charity, (possibly the infused moral virtues according to Thomists) the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the characters of certain sacraments. Since one can petition God during this period of suffering, though without meriting anything (according to Aquinas), this is a great period for meditation and contemplation still being informed by divine love and possibly infused as well. Therefore, since there are purifying acts of the soul, then the virtue of charity must elicit joy which co-exists with the sorrow for having been negligent in one’s relationship to God while on earth. Third, it would seem reasonable to assume that since all the members of the Church in purgatory are united by infused divine love, they will encourage one another in their sufferings. This too can be a source of consolation. Finally, as one sees himself becoming more rectified interiorly, this must produce joy knowing that at some interval one will be ready to hurl oneself into the abyss of the all-loving God. Perhaps that is the greatest suffering which goes on in purgatory which some mystics have experienced here on earth: a overwhelming desire to be “dissolved” in the Triune God and still not yet being worthy to possess Them in such completeness. 

If a soul is brought to heaven from purgatory in part because of the prayers and sacrifices made by a member of the Church on earth, then it follows that such a soul will always be in deep gratitude toward and will also watch over that person with his prayers. For this and other reasons, it becomes evident that part of the growth in one’s spiritual life on earth must include these persons in purgatory in our prayer life. When one is tempted to give up on prayer in general, one necessarily abandons these souls as well. It seems as if this ability or power to help loved ones after death by sacrifices, prayers, Masses and indulgences, is the Triune God’s way, therefore, to keep us from falling away from Them provided we continue to have faith in God’s Word on these matters. 

Let’s not forget The Forgotten Souls in Purgatory.
Pray for them.

This item 1210 digitally provided courtesy of CatholicCulture.org.

Image taken from Dominican Friars Foundation.

The Epiphany

The pope said that all pastoral activities “will be fruitless unless we put Jesus at their center and fall down in worship before him.”

“Like the Magi, let us fall down and entrust ourselves to God in the wonder of worship. Let us worship God, not ourselves; let us worship God and not the false idols that seduce by the allure of prestige and power … let us love God and not bow down before passing things and evil thoughts, seductive yet hollow and empty.”—Pope Francis

The Three Kings


Caspar is sometimes identified as the King of Tarsus and is represented as an old man with white hair and beard. He wears a green cloak and crown and is the first to kneel in adoration of the Christ child. Caspar is often associated with the gift of gold (though this is sometimes Melchior).


Melchior is the middle-aged King of Arabia and brings the gift of frankincense from his homeland. He is portrayed with brown hair and beard, wearing a gold cloak


Balthasar is the young black King of Ethiopia and wears a purple/blue cloak. Balthasar is traditionally associated with the gift of myrrh.

Why Jesus Loved Friendship, from The New York Times, Dec. 23, 2022

In a Byzantine fresco, the apostles gather for Jesus’ washing of their feet.Credit…Art Resource, NY

By Peter Wehner

Mr. Wehner is a senior fellow at the Trinity Forum.

The enduring significance of Christmas is that it represents perhaps the most distinctive feature of the Christian faith — the concept of the incarnation, the belief that God took human form in Jesus. Theologians refer to the “hypostatic union” of Jesus, meaning the mysterious fusion of his divinity and his humanity.

The humanity of Jesus manifests itself in his moments of grief, agony, anger, frustration, joy and compassion. But one particular aspect of that humanity that has long intrigued me is his professed friendship with the rest of us.

In the New Testament, this point is made emphatically in the 15th chapter of the Gospel of John. The context is Jesus’ discourse with his disciples, in which he tells them that as God the father has loved him, so he loves them. His command to his disciples is that they love one another. Jesus then says this: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my father I have made known to you.”

John Swinton, an ordained minister of the Church of Scotland and a professor at the University of Aberdeen, calls this shift from servant to friend a “profound act of renaming.”

I understand why the relationship between an all-powerful deity and less than all-powerful human beings — between the creator and the created, the perfect and the imperfect — would be defined by the latter’s awe, reverence and obedience. But a relationship between God and us — between God and me, between God and you — that is defined by true friendship is startling. Why would a divine, transcendent entity, referred to in the Scriptures as the everlasting God, the Lord Most High, not only condescend to become human but also initiate a relationship with us that is defined by mutual affection, intimacy and self-revelation? So I reached out to ministers and theologians to ask: What does it mean for Jesus to call us his friends?

The thread of friendship can be traced back to the Old Testament, to the book of Isaiah, where the prophet conveys God’s description of Abraham as “my friend.” The concept of God as a friend is not foreign to the Hebrew Scripture, then, though it seems to have been limited to Abraham and, in a somewhat different way, to Moses, “as if they have an especially intimate relationship with God in distinction from others,” in the words of the Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman III. “But there is an intensification and expansion of intimacy as we move to John 15.”

Several people I heard from mentioned how revolutionary this concept of friendship was, pointing out that it would have been almost unheard-of for an ancient king, let alone God, to refer to his subjects as friends in the way Jesus did. An earthly king would certainly not have walked and lived among them in the way Jesus did. In ancient times people of unequal wealth and status were very unlikely to be friends. But Jesus shattered those expectations and the hierarchical relationship between God and human beings.

“Jesus is elevating his listeners,” the philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff told me, “treating them as on a level with him.” Jesus is recognizing the intrinsic worth of human beings, who are not only made in the divine image but also are his confidants and companions.

Scott Dudley, senior pastor at Bellevue Presbyterian Church in Bellevue, Wash., pointed out to me that the exchange in John revealed God’s radical love and grace. “You would expect God to befriend worthy people, educated people, brave people, or, at bare minimum, moral people,” he told me. But instead, Jesus chose to be his followers the uneducated (several fishermen), the reviled (Matthew, a tax collector for the hated Roman regime), a person who would deny him (Peter) and even betray him (Judas). Access to the divine is no longer the province of a special caste of influential, privileged people. And what Jesus did in the process is profoundly alter the understanding of the power dynamic between God and mortals.

“Power cannot generate love,” Pastor Dudley told me. “Power can generate obedience, fear, awe, grudging submission — but not love. The God who comes to us in Jesus doesn’t want grudging submission; he wants us to love him and be loved by him. He wants relationship, including friendship, and so he came in vulnerability, not in power.”

The concept of a vulnerable God, meek and lowly in heart, was almost unfathomable to many at the time, and for many people it still is. But a vulnerable God is an essential part of the Christian story. We see it in Jesus’ life, from his birth in a manger to his weeping over the death of his friend Lazarus to the anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane, where he was betrayed on the night before his crucifixion. Jesus was accompanied by three of his closest friends — Peter, John and James — whom he asked to stay awake and pray with him. (They failed, with Jesus finding them sleeping, “exhausted from sorrow.”)

Renée Notkin, a co-pastor of Union Church in Seattle, in explaining the friendship verses in John, told me that Jesus’ words “Love one another as I have loved you” are essential to understanding what Jesus meant. Among other things, a proper understanding of friendship radically changes our perspective on how we are to live in community.

“Our witness is not right doctrine; it is our relational orientation,” Pastor Notkin told me. “As friends of Jesus, we love one another — and that includes people different from us. In fact, no one can be an ‘other’, because in Christ we belong to one another.” We are called to love one another, honor one another, welcome one another, encourage one another and bear one another’s burdens. “Instead of being people who stink with judgment and criticism,” she told me, “we are to be an aroma of blessing, hope, joy, peace and love.”

John Swinton contrasts friendship as understood in contemporary Western society with what Jesus had in mind: “The friendship modeled by Jesus is for ‘the outsider,’ the socially marginalized, the stigmatized, the outcast, the prostitute, the sinner.”

“If the church claims to be the community of the friends of Jesus,” he adds, “it must engage in Christ-like friendships toward allpeople, particularly those who have been and are marginalized. The gift of friendship shows and reminds people that they are valued and indeed valuable individuals. That is a gift the church must offer all people.”

The theologian Curtis Chang told me that in the lives of Christians, friendship with Jesus doesn’t replace the call to be obedient to him or his authority. Mr. Chang compared it to an employer-employee relationship that has moved to a deeper level of trust and shared knowledge. In this reading, we must still submit to the authority of our employer, but the relationship has expanded to include much more than just that. Jesus does not relinquish his role as Lord and teacher; he has added new dimensions to it.

“In true friendship, there is mutuality,” Shirley Hoogstra, president of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, told me. “When Jesus called his disciples his friends, he both elevated them and brought them closer.” Their worlds merged.

When Jesus told his disciples he would call them friends rather than servants, he was expressing in words what he showed during his life, which is that God is seeking above all else to be in a meaningful relationship with us. Jesus modeled what it means to take us into his confidence, to self-disclose, to encourage and correct us, to weep with us, to love us, even to die for us.

Those are the qualities — more than God’s power, more than his perfection — that ultimately won the affections of my heart as a person of the Christian faith. It is the knowledge that we can be seen and known by God, and that we can see and know God. That we need him, but that also, in some essential way, he needs us.

But the friendship Jesus speaks of comes with a condition attached. In articulating what Gail R. O’Day calls his “theology of friendship,” Jesus says if we are his friends, we will do what he commands, and several times in John 15 he is specific about what that means: Love each other as I have loved you. There are countless ways to love others, based on our talents and life circumstances, but the command is clear enough. We are not only to experience love; we are to extend it to others.

So often throughout history, and certainly in the present day, Christians have fallen short, far short, of Jesus’ command; in so many cases the Christian faith has been shorn of love. When that happens, Christianity becomes a religion characterized by hard edges and judgmentalism, by brittleness and moral arrogance, by mercilessness and gracelessness. Those who claim to be followers of Jesus but behave in this way become not his friends but his enemies.

For 2,000 years, despite the failures, there has always been at least a remnant who patterned their lives in the way Jesus asked them to — men and women whose lives have been touched and transformed by the grace and love of God. I know such people. For me, when my own faith was jumbled, uncertain and abstract, when I had more questions than answers, when God seemed a million miles away, they have been reflections of the divine.

These people have shared in the joys of my life and helped sustain me through times of grief and loss. They have loved me, as Jesus loved them. They are friends of Jesus; they are also friends of mine. And that has made all the difference.

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.” 

In 1854, Pope Pius IX’s solemn declaration, “Ineffabilis Deus,” clarified with finality the long-held belief of the Church that Mary was conceived free from original sin. Mary was granted this extraordinary privilege because of Her unique role in history as the Mother of God. That is, she received the gift of salvation in Christ from the very moment of her conception. 

Even though Mary is unique in all humanity for being born without sin, she is held up by the Church as a model for all humanity in Her holiness and Her purity in her willingness to accept the Plan of God for her. 

Every person is called to recognize and respond to God’s call to their own vocation in order to carry out God’s plan for their life and fulfill the mission prepared for them since before the beginning of time. Mary’s “Let it be done to me according to Thy Word,” in response of the Angel Gabriel’s greeting, is the response required of all Christians to God’s Plan. 

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is a time to celebrate the great joy of God’s gift to humanity in Mary, and to recognize with greater clarity, the truth that each and every human being has been created by God to fulfill a particular mission that he and only he can fulfill. 

“The word of the Lord came to me thus: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” (Jeremiah 1:5-6)

Mary’s holy and immaculate conception, by Francisco RiziMuseo del Prado, 17th-century, Oil on canvas.

Novena: The Power of Prayer, ebook.

by Barbara Calamari and Sandra DiPasqua

Catholics consider the very first novena to have been created by Jesus Christ himself. Before Christ rose into heaven he instruct-ed his apostles to spend nine days praying for divine guidance as they awaited the arrival of the Holy Spirit. After the apostles spent this allotted time in prayer, the Holy Spirit appeared to them in the form of tongues of fire coming from the sky. These tongues rested on each apostle, giving them the gift of many languages and the burning desire to spread the story of Jesus Christ. It is thought that the nine—day tradition of prayer comes from this first novena. The novena of the Holy Spirit was written in the Middle Ages to commemorate this event, and so it is presented as the last and most important novena in this book.

Invoking the saints for help in healing illnesses and stopping plagues became very common by the first millennium. As the cult of saints grew from early times to the Middle Ages, their legends and relics became more revered. Because it was thought that these people lived the most Christ—like lives, they were honored for their sanctity and their bodies were considered more than human, inviolable by death and invested with divine healing powers. That is why the bodies of many of these early saints were cut up and distributed to churches in various loca-tions to be venerated and used in blessings. It was thought to be a physical way for the average person to share in the divine presence. In seventeenth—century Spain the Christmas novena was instituted. For nine days preceding Christmas Day, each symbolizing a month the infant Jesus spent in the womb, a spe-cial novena was said. Many towns in France and southern Italy began doing nine—day novenas in preparation for their local saint’s feast day. It became customary to invoke the saint for a requested favor that would be granted in this time of celebra-tion. Fearing that novenas would be used in superstition, the Church began to recognize them only in the mid—1800s. Of the many novenas, only thirty—two are officially recom-mended, mainly in honor of a feast day. Personal novenas for individualized intentions continue to be a very private form of prayer.

If you would like this ebook please email me at sandra@sandradipasqua and I will send you a copy.

Forgotten Souls in Purgatory

O Lord God Almighty, I pray Thee, by the Precious Blood which Thy Divine Son Jesus shed in the garden, deliver the souls in purgatory, and especially that soul amongst them all who is most destitute of spiritual aid; and vouchsafe to bring it to Thy glory, there to praise and bless Thee for ever. Amen.


Ancient & Modern Saints

For more than two thousand years, the Christian saints have had great influence worldwide. Now, this inspiring collection of biographies reveals the legendary stories, little-known facts, and inspiring beliefs of some of the best loved saints. Full color throughout, each profile includes a biography with patronage and feast dates, along with prayers both to and about the saint.

Please download the ebook below. We would love to hear from you.

Reflections on Our Blessed Mother Mary

Mother of God

The early Church Fathers received and reflected on Paul’s interpretation of the importance of the role of Mary in salvation. St. Ignatius of Antioch, who was a disciple of the Apostle John, wrote a letter to the Ephesians as he was being carried off to Rome to be martyred around the year 100 A.D. In it he says, “For our God, Jesus the Christ, was conceived by Mary according to God’s plan, both from the seed of David and of the Holy Spirit.” St. Ignatius points out not only that Jesus was conceived by Mary, but that this conception was “according to God’s plan.” God’s eternal plan for salvation included Mary as the mother of Jesus Christ.

In the following paragraph, St. Ignatius says “the virginity of Mary, her giving birth, and the death of the Lord are three mysteries to be loudly proclaimed”. Ignatius considered Mary’s virginity and motherhood to be in the same category as the death of out Lord! Why is Mary’s virginity and motherhood so important to St. Ignatius? The salvation worked by Jesus Christ required him to pay an infinite debt on behalf of man, and that requires Him to be true God and true man. Jesus, as God, could pay an infinite debt by His death because He has infinite worth, and Jesus, as a man, could pay that debt on behalf of humanity because He was a true man. But if Mary didn’t conceive virginally, Jesus was not true God, and if Mary wasn’t Jesus’ mother, Jesus was not a true man. Therefore, for humanity to be saved according to God’s plan, Mary must be the Mother of God.

The concept of Mary being the mother of Jesus who was true God and true man carried into the later centuries with the Greek word Θεοτόκος, which means “God-bearer” or “mother of God.” One of its earliest uses was int he prayer dated as early as the middle of the 2nd century, the “Sub Tuum Praesidium” (which is still prayed by Catholics today!):

We fly to thy patronage,

Despise not our petitions in our necessities,

But deliver us always from all dangers,

O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.

Great saints, theologians, and bishops continued to use the term. St. Alexander, bishop of Alexandria and a key figure at the Council of Nicaea, wrote in 320 A.D. that Jesus Christ “bore a body not in appearance but in truth, derived from the Mother of God.” And St. Athanasius in 373 A.D. reflected upon “the Word begotten of the Father on high” who “inexpressibly, inexplicably, incomprehensibly and eternally, is he that is born in time here blow, of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.” And the term “Mother of God” became canonized in the doctrinal vocabulary of all Christians at the Council of Ephesus in 431 when it stated that Jesus was “according to his divinity, born of the Father before all ages, and in these last days, according to his humanity, born of the Virgin Mary for us and for our salvation . . . A union was made of the two natures . . . In accord with this understanding of the unconfused union we confess that the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God.”

from: Catholic East Texas