At the beginning of November, with All Souls' Day on November 2 (and the whole month through—November is known as the Month of the Holy Souls in Purgatory), the Church celebrates our unity with the whole Body of Christ. What a staggering thought!
Let’s dig into this: we are destined to be united with souls from all over the world and all-time in an unending love deeper than anything experienced in family life! For now, the family of God spans Heaven, Earth, and Purgatory, where souls are purified to enter the presence of God. This deep bond with souls we share in Christ is termed the “Communion of Saints.”
The reality of this communion has concrete implications for us. We see the impact of relationships in our lives here on Earth. Friends and family have the power of influencing our thoughts, feelings, lives, futures, and even our physical and mental health. The relationships in the Body of Christ that stretch beyond the bounds of time and space also have their impact on each of us. As Scripture says,
“If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it” (1 Cor 12:26-27.)
It is clear that we are truly united with our brothers and sisters in Christ, whether we have met them or not.
Some suffering members of this Body are currently in Purgatory, preparing for God’s presence. While souls in Purgatory have the joy of knowing they will be in Heaven, they suffer deeply from the pain of desire for it. Having experienced the presence of God after their death, they know the joy that is found in union with Him. Yet, they know they are not ready to enjoy it, so they embrace Purgatory.
There, the longing for God consumes them. It is said that this is the true purifying fire of Purgatory that frees souls from attachments to sin and prepares them for the embrace of the Trinity. Many Saints have commented that we cannot comprehend how painful this suffering is compared to any earthly suffering. (They recommend that we seek to be purified here on Earth instead of in Purgatory.)
Because the souls in Purgatory are in such pain, and cannot help themselves, we can offer them loving assistance through our prayers, good actions, and sacrifices offered for them. Such love for these brothers and sisters of ours both speed their purification and benefit us through our own growth in charity.
While there are many ways of offering this charity, it strikes me that a particularly fitting and powerful offering for them would be a digital fast. The souls in Purgatory, consumed and purified by a desire for God, have something in common with those of us who desire to be purified from our attachments to technology. We long for a healed, whole, real connection with the world, and especially the people, around us. We want to be able to give our first thoughts in the morning to God and others, not our phones. We want to be able to fully enjoy a sunset in front of us, without feeling the need to respond to a text or capture the experience for Instagram. We desire to be more attuned to our own hearts than the beeps of our phones.
In order to tune back into life, we have to push back on the addictive nature of these devices. By embracing the pain that comes with letting go of these habits, we will be able to experience more joy in our day to day lives, the joy that comes with freedom.
Why not offer up the pain of this process of detachment from technology for those suffering the lack of the fullness of life with God? There are many ways to make this fast from technology. You could sign off of an app for a week. You could ask a friend to be your accountability partner for technology use. All devices in the house could be turned off over a weekend. You could set up a few “phone times” in your day to respond to texts and other phone notifications so that your phone does not take over your life.
If pornography is a problem for you, you could commit to going through one of the many online programs aimed at increased healing and freedom from pornography. STRIVE 21 is one of these programs that will guide you in your digital fast while finding freedom.
Whatever you choose, you can offer your fast for the souls in Purgatory out of love and compassion for them. This offering will help take the focus off of yourself, and instead open your heart to others, as you benefit many souls currently in Purgatory. All Souls' Day remembers these souls, and this would be a great time to start this digital fast!
The difficulty involved in making this fast is certainly small compared to the gift of offering a soul release from Purgatory into the eternal happiness of Heaven! While we still have time, let’s make these acts of love with eternal consequences.
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