What is the merit of praying for the souls of the faithful in purgatory compared to for the living?
”Our suffrages or offerings for the dead are more agreeable to God than our prayers and good works for the living, for the Poor Souls are closer to God, stand in greater need and cannot help themselves.”
Thomas Nelson, I am sure is giving a personal opinion on the matter. Purgatory is clearly believed by the Church. However, many aspects of Purgatory of this belief have never been defined by the Church.
Thomas Nelson’s comments do not seem to flow logically, at the very least. The Holy Souls in Purgatory although not yet in Heaven and in need of purification are saved and will eventually get to heaven. They can not shorten their duration in purgatory save from the prayers of the members of the Church Militant, offering prayers and sacrifices on their behalf.
The Church even encourages this, however there will be more joy in Heaven over the conversion of one sinner than upon ninety-nine just who need not penance. Prayers for this are more meritorious in the eyes of God than prayers for the Holy Souls in purgatory and produce more glory and joy for God!
6 And coming home, call together his friends and neighbours, saying to them: Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost?
7 I say to you, that even so there shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance, more than upon ninety-nine just who need not penance.
8 Or what woman having ten groats; if she lose one groat, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently until she find it? - Luke 15:6-8
The Church truly believes in purgatory, but prayers and offering of sacrifices for the conversions of sinners adds directly to the greater glory of God in Heaven. It in omnibus glorificetur Deus.
Nevertheless, Holy Mother Church still encourages her children to pray for the dead who sleep in Christ, especially those of our immediate families, which is our primary and familial responsibilities.
Both St. Faustina and Our Lady of Fatima pleads that we pray for the conversion of sinners. “The prayer most pleasing to Me is prayer for the conversion of sinners. “
Our Blessed Lord told Saint Faustina: “Call upon My mercy on behalf of sinners; I desire their salvation. When you say this prayer, with a contrite heart and with faith on behalf of some sinner, I will give them the grace of conversion. This is the prayer: “O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of Mercy for us, I trust in You” (Diary of St. Faustina, 186-187).
Jesus also told St. Faustina: “The loss of each soul plunges Me into mortal sadness. You always console Me when you pray for sinners. The prayer most pleasing to Me is prayer for the conversion of sinners. Know, My daughter, that this prayer is always heard and answered” (Diary, 1397). The Divine Mercy Chaplet is another powerful prayer for the conversion of sinners.
It is hard to have a family member or other loved one in need of conversion, and sadly this is widespread among Catholic families today. The saints have had to deal with this, too. One of the most famous instances of conversion is that of St. Augustine of Hippo, through the prayers of his holy mother, St. Monica. Year in and year out, she persevered in prayer for the conversion of her loved one and lived to see the answer to her prayers.
At Fatima, Our Lady asked for prayer and sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. On July 13, 1917, she said, “Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them.” The previous year, the Angel of Portugal had taught the three children a prayer which “beg[s] the conversion of poor sinners.”
“Love is the link binding us to Christ; it is love that gives value to our prayer and makes it fruitful for the salvation of our brothers and sisters” (Sr. Lucia of Fatima). - Prayer for Conversion of a Loved One
For further information about this particular subject matter, the following may be of interest to some: