Once during the celebration of Holy Mass in the Church of St. Paul at Tre Fontane near Rome, St. Bernard saw an unending stairway which led up to Heaven. By means of it many angels ascended and descended, carrying from Purgatory to Paradise souls freed by the Sacrifice of Jesus—a Sacrifice renewed by priests on altars all over the world.
Hence on the occasion of the death of a relative, we should place much more importance in having Holy Masses celebrated and hearing them, than in selecting sprays of flowers, finding dark funeral attire, or arranging the funeral cortège. St. John Bosco said that the “Holy Sacrifice of the Mass” is what “benefits the poor souls in Purgatory; in fact, it is the most effective means of relieving those souls in their sufferings, of shortening the time of their exile and of bringing them sooner into the blessed kingdom.”
Many apparitions have been reported about souls in Purgatory who came to ask the offering of Blessed Pio’s Holy Mass for their deliverance from Purgatory. One day he celebrated Holy Mass for the father of one of his fellow friars. At the end of the Holy Sacrifice, Blessed Pio said to the friar, “This morning the soul of your father entered Heaven.” The friar was very happy, but said, “Blessed, my good father died thirty-two years ago.” “My son,” Blessed Pio replied, “before God every debt must be paid!” And it is Holy Mass which obtains for us a treasure of infinite value: the Body and Blood of Jesus, the “unspotted Lamb” (Rev. 5:12).
During a sermon one day, the holy Curé of Ars gave the example of a priest who, celebrating Mass for a deceased friend, after the Consecration prayed as follows, “Holy and Eternal Father, let us make an exchange. You possess the soul of my friend in Purgatory; I have the Body of Your Son in my hands. You liberate my friend for me, and I offer to You Your Son, with all the merits of His Passion and Death.”
From the Jesus Our Eucharistic Love by Fr. Stefano Manelli, FI