Deacon David O’Connor, diocesan director for the Department of Catholic Cemeteries, leads the Stations of the Cross March 8 in Jesus, Bread of Life Cemetery and Mausoleum, Mount Laurel. Craig Pittelli photos

Deacon David O’Connor, diocesan director for the Department of Catholic Cemeteries, leads the Stations of the Cross March 8 in Jesus, Bread of Life Cemetery and Mausoleum, Mount Laurel. Craig Pittelli photos

Editor’s Note: Stations of the Cross for the Souls in Purgatory are taking place on the Fridays of Lent, beginning promptly at 3 p.m., in Jesus, Bread of Life Cemetery and Mausoleum, Mount Laurel. Following is a reflection from Deacon David O’Connor, diocesan director for the Department of Catholic Cemeteries.

By Deacon David O’Connor | Special Contributor

The beautiful Catholic tradition of walking the Way of the Cross and praying for the souls of purgatory in the sacredness of a Catholic cemetery is alive. On March 8 alone, more than 60 families of those resting in peace at Jesus Bread of Life Cemetery came together in this wonderful blessed tradition.

During the Stations of the Cross in the mausoleum, which is the length of a football field, the Stations are lined along the corridors of the massive hallways. The Stations are individually draped in long robes of purple. Each participant is given a prayer book and joins in procession. Incense is used at every station as these beautiful prayers rise up to heaven. The spiritual hymn “Were You There” is sung at the end of every Station in the acoustically rich hallowed halls. Families of the dearly departed are filled with deep spiritual emotion as the movement of the Holy Spirit is known to be ever present and palpable.

Photo Gallery: Mausoleum's Stations of the Cross

Pope John Paul II has said that praying for the souls in purgatory is “the highest act of supernatural charity.” The souls in purgatory hold a place of high esteem in the Catholic faith. These are our relatives and friends who have gone before us, and before living the beatific vision, they must spend a time of purification. They depend on us to shorten their stay in purgatory and speed up their entrance into heaven.

 When we lose a family member, one of the things that hurts the most is what we could not do for them in their pain in their last days. However, there is a gift in purgatory – not just one for the soul that is being purified, but a gift for us who are left behind because we now have the opportunity to do something for those we loved.

To be able to pray for the souls of Purgatory so that they may speed through the purification process is a grace unlike any other. By praying and making sacrifices for the holy souls, we have the power and privilege to relieve their pain.

“It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins,” reads the Book of Maccabees. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective.” This is amazing! Prayer is reciprocal!

The glorious church, saints in heaven, pray for us and the souls in purgatory. The souls in purgatory, soon to become saints, pray for us! What an incredible Body of Christ!

For more information, contact mguzma@dioceseoftrenton.org. Jesus, Bread of Life Cemetery and Mausoleum is located at 3055 Fostertown Road, Mount Laurel.