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Praying with the Saints | Catholic Life

Praying with the Saints

The Catholic Company provided me with a copy of Praying with the Saints for the Holy Souls in Purgatory by Susan Tassone in exchange for this review. If you want to send me anything half-decent I would probably post about that too. Unless it was by a hyper-conservative, in which case I would probably just rant about it. But the rant would include a few links back to you, and you’d get more click-throughs, so I guess you should send me all sorts of things that I will hate. Or not. In any case, the Catholic Company sent this book to me with the little catch that I post about it, and I am now willing to send it to you with no catch other than that you give me your mailing address so I can stalk you.

November is the month of the Holy Souls. We start off on November 1st by thanking God for all the Saints that have gone before us and are now interceding for us in heaven, and then on the 2nd is the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed (the Feast of All Souls). This is the one day each year that we not only pray to those remembered, we actually get to pray for them as well. And then, we are to continue to pray for in particular for the rest of the month.

I love All Saints and All Souls, but somehow I never seem to pray enough for the dead. And this is a big problem because the Church teaches that praying for the dead is a spiritual work of mercy.

This is where Tassone and Praying with the Saints for the Holy Souls in Purgatory comes in to save the day. The book is only 116 pages plus the appendix and is extremely easy to read, but it takes only a few pages to light a fire of urgency regarding our duty to the Holy Souls in purgatory. It was enough to get me to pause reading occasionally in order to pray for those in purgatory RIGHT NOW.

Tassone includes many quotes from scripture, the writings of the Saints, and the Magisterium. The short quotes not only provide easy bits of wisdom, they also serve to provide many different perspectives. Tassone’s style is in some ways the opposite of my own. But she has clearly devoted much time to reading what the Church as a whole says about this topic and condensing the most important information into “sound bites” short enough for even a Twitter-style mind to handle. If you like stories, passion, and books that read like a series of blog-posts, then this may be the book of your dreams (assuming, of course, that you dream about things like how to pray more!).

The one thing that bothered me about the book was that it felt as if Tassone may have been so concerned with getting people to pray for the Holy Souls that she focused too much on fear, fire, and quid pro quo. I have no objection to such things being included in the book since they are all a legitimate part of Catholic Tradition. And yet I wish that people would be more motivated to pray for the Holy Souls because they love Christ and want his work completed to perfection promptly than because they are concerned about the torment which they themselves will face in purgatory some day.

What I liked best about the book was actually the appendix with the novena prayers for the Holy Souls. Tassone did a great job of not only making one feel the need to pray immediately, but also providing great resources.

If you would like a copy of the book please comment indicating your interest and willingness to at least skim part of the book during the month of November. I will mail it out to the winner on November 1st. I asked Josh to choose a number (without seeing the comments) and he chose #5. I skipped over Tara Meghan’s since I didn’t think she wanted to be included, so that made Elizabeth the winner! Thanks very much to everyone who commented. I plan to give away every book I review on this blog, so do check back later.

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12 Responses to “Praying with the Saints”

  1. Tara Meghan 30. Oct, 2010 at 6:34 pm #

    This is verrrry interesting. I have just started to become much more directed toward a strong prayer life, and am really drawn to the “communion of saints” and praying for the dead in particular. Also, I’ve been having extremely reclusive and contemplative plans for November, although I didn’t realize that the whole month was dedicated to Holy Souls.

    But I don’t think that’s my book. I need to get going with the Rosary. First things first!

  2. Jason Hamlin 31. Oct, 2010 at 8:37 am #

    Being married to a Protestant has always made talks of purgatory and prayers for the dead interesting to say the least. If I win I’ll do better than skim, I’ll read it and share with my wife…and see what conversations follow! Thanks Rae!

  3. Elisa 31. Oct, 2010 at 9:23 am #

    Hey Rae! What the heck…I will enter. I only pray occasionally for the deceased when they remind me in Mass. But I would like to find out why we should, because I’m a convert (almost 10 years!!! but I’m still learning lots). So I’m up for it. I’ll read it and pass it on like you did.

  4. Jane 31. Oct, 2010 at 9:33 am #

    Back in high school, I was the scary chick sitting in the back of the van reading the three-inch thick TAN book called PURGATORY. 😉 I’m up for a refresher course! (I’ve also got Hungry Souls on my amazon wishlist.)

    One thing that troubles me about the purgatory visions, though, is that very very seldom do these souls request prayers for *others*. In one vision, for example, a nun saw her father repeatedly, and she had the whole convent praying for him, but he’d still show up and berate her for not doing more for his soul. Apparently he was in purgatory for being something of a jerk in real life, but regardless, this is a pre-saint. This soul was going to enter Heaven and yet never once did he say, “You know, I was a jerk many times in my life, but at least I have you praying for me. But there’s a woman who’s suffering terribly and has no one to pray for her — could you please pray for {firstname lastname}?”

    Over and over, I’d read variants of the same story, and always the soul seemed concerned primarily with itself and its own pain. And that bothered me. These are pre-saints. They’re going to enter Heaven. So why no apparent concern for one another?

    Just my rambling thoughts. You did say to leave a comment. 😉

  5. Teresa Bobe 31. Oct, 2010 at 11:21 am #

    Grwoing up my grandmother on all Souls Day used to set up and altar on her dresser. All the relatives who died she used to put their pictures on it. I do the same hopefully one of my grandkids will take up this tradition. It also is a good way to teach family history.

  6. That Married Couple 31. Oct, 2010 at 1:53 pm #

    Interesting. I don’t really know much about how to pray for the souls in purgatory, and have really wondered about this since my mother-in-law passed away. How long do I keep praying for her before I assume she gets to Heaven? I’m not sure if the book would answer something like this, but I’d like to read it.

  7. Jordan McKinnon 31. Oct, 2010 at 2:41 pm #

    “And yet I wish that people would be more motivated to pray for the Holy Souls because they love Christ and want his work completed to perfection promptly than because they are concerned about the torment which they themselves will face in purgatory some day.”

    …Isn’t contemporary prayer designed to be one part worship and one part self-serving, looking at avoiding pain/suffering for ourselves? What does love have to do with it when we can keep our confessions long and our prayers self-focused and short?

    Your remark on folks and motivation struck me.

    –Reviewer accountability aside: Would you recommend this book be purchased, or borrowed from a library?

    • Rae 31. Oct, 2010 at 6:54 pm #

      It depends upon how you intend to use the book. I would say that it could be borrowed, except that the prayers in the back are really great to keep on hand.

  8. alice culbreth 31. Oct, 2010 at 4:37 pm #

    I would love to read the book in its entirety and offer a review. Seems it might have been a good book to recommend to parents today. We had a family catechesis session about All Hallows Eve, All Saints and All Souls, how the three are interconnected, why we pray for the souls of the dead, and even discussed how the three days are celebrated as a festival in many countries (le dia de los muertos, as example). If I have a chance to read the entire book and think it’s a good fit in our library, I wouldn’t hesitate to add it to our recommended reading list….or even sell copies at church. :)

    God bless. Peace and prayers!

  9. catholicmutt 31. Oct, 2010 at 5:39 pm #

    I’d definitely be interested. I’m with you, sometimes I forget to pray for the holy souls in Purgatory, and I could use the reminder. It’d fit in well with some thoughts I’ve been having about the communion of saints.

  10. Rae 31. Oct, 2010 at 6:53 pm #

    Thanks everyone! I told Josh that maybe I shouldn’t give away books in the future because your comments made me feel really badly about not having one to give to each of you!

  11. mary 01. Nov, 2010 at 6:55 pm #

    My dad is always reminding me to pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. He probably wants me to get into the practice now, so i can pray for him when he is there.

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