Hungry Souls (a bit of a review)

I can’t remember where I first saw a reference to the book, Hungry Souls – Supernatural Visits, Messages and Warnings from Purgatory. I saw it mentioned in a few places and what I read was enough to make me decide I wanted to read it.

I was surprised by the quality of the (physical) book. Being published by TAN, I didn’t expect much by way of paper and binding quality. This book is as well made as any Ignatius book I own. I noticed that St. Benedict Press is also listed as a Publisher. I don’t know the story there, whether it is co-published by both or if there is some sort of cooperation or partnership between the two publishers, but the result is a solid, well-bound, and nicely printed book.

This is a fairly short book ~ it took only a few hours to read. The book has 157 pages starting with an Introduction (called “Purgatory and the Paranormal”) followed by 18 short chapters, an epilogue (called “A Poor Soul Appears in 1870”) and the last 20 pages cover the author, notes and a bibliography. The listed suggested retail is $16.95. I think that Amazon’s current price, $11.53, is a fair price for the size of the book.

The author relates many stories of those who had a special devotion and duty toward the Holy Souls. There have been many throughout history who have been visited by some of these souls. The Holy Souls come to request Masses, prayers and sacrifices to aid them in their purification. These stories serve to satisfy curiosity of such things (who doesn’t love a good “ghost story”?) but also to inspire a compassion for the Church Suffering. Almost as soon as I picked up the book, a desire to relieve the suffering of these souls came upon me in a new way.

These reports took my understanding of Purgatory and those who suffer there to a deeper level, I think. I have focused so much on what a mercy it is to have a place or state where we can be fully purified before we fully embrace the Beatific Vision that I almost “forgot” how much these souls suffer. Of course, I knew it was real suffering, and I prayed for the Holy Souls at each Mass and sporadically at other times. Still, I chose to focus on the beauty and mercy of it all instead of their suffering. Maybe it’s just easier to focus on the positive than think of these souls suffering. Embracing the beauty of Purgatory is good, of course, but I didn’t have enough compassion or mercy for these suffering souls, some of whom are likely to be my own family members ~ known or unknown. I’ve not done enough for them but I am inspired to do more.

The most disturbing thing I read in this book was the mention of young children in Purgatory. Some of them very young! I am inclined to choose to disbelieve it, but if I’ve accepted the witnesses as credible in the other things they’ve said, I can’t see a way to do that. I think that this not only disturbs me because of my motherly instincts, which make me more than uneasy at the thought of any child suffering, but also because if a 7 year old needs time in Purgatory, how poorly will it go for me at the end of my life?! And this is another blessing from reading this book: I hope to more seriously attempt to amend my life and avoid Purgatory if possible (or only need a short time of purification.) I want to pray more seriously and discipline my self more rigorously in order to detach myself from the world and from sin.

The photos from the Museum of the Holy Souls and other places were interesting and worth looking through once.

Dr. Van den Aardweg included a chapter called “Holy Soul, or Demonic Imposter”. I found this short chapter to be very interesting and helpful. It served as a good reminder that demons will attempt to deceive and destroy in any way possible, even to “impersonate the dead” ~ especially if the living attempt to initiate contact.

This book also helped me with something I’ve had a bit of a hard time wrapping my head around. It seems that there are a lot of people who experience “hauntings” or “ghosts”. Years ago, I had a “theory” about this sort of thing, but it seems I’d forgotten it over time. Eventually, my initial instinct to such reports was to say it’s “bull” because we know that at death we either go to Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory. There was no room for “ghosts”, I thought. In m mind (in recent years) if a “haunting” wasn’t “bull” then the next logical explanation was that it was demonic. After reading this book, I have come back around to thinking about my original theory, for it is one presented in this book. I still believe that some of these things that people experience either originate in the imagination or in the demonic. I don’t believe all of it does, however.

As I was reading this book, I was reminded of something that happened in our family several years ago when our 2 oldest were still at home and still in school. The boys came to me one evening and were quite wound up about something. They had seen a “ghost” outside of our house. This ghost was seen, through an upstairs bedroom window, wandering around the vehicles in our driveway. The oldest had also seen this ghost a bit “closer”.   On a previous evening, I had sent the oldest to take out the trash and he saw it while outside, too. It was raggedy-looking and pretty scary, apparently. They were adamant that it was NOT a living person snooping around. This person they saw was not solid, they said.

Without taking time to think it through and not wanting to blow off what they were telling me as some sort of “imagination” (this was not my experience with them before… plus it was both of them!) I told them that since this person showed himself to them that it may be someone in Purgatory who really needed their prayers. I recommended that they pray a rosary for the liberation of the one they’d seen. They went upstairs and prayed a rosary for this intention. The “ghost” was never seen again.

By the way, my children still believe our house is “haunted” (though they are not frightened) because of experiences they say they continue to have. I used to tease them about it, but now that I’ve been reminded of the experience of my sons and have read this book, I am more inclined to wonder if there may be something to it, but in the understanding that some of this may be the “cries of the poor”.   I will be praying more for the Holy Souls and I am encouraging my children to do the same, especially if/when they think they experience something “paranormal” or out of the ordinary.  ( I wonder how many of you now think I’m a crackpot and will unsubscribe me from your reader?😀 )

Many of the stories and teachings related here are from Saints. St Catherine of Genoa, St Faustina, St Padre Pio, as well as Blessed Stanislaus Papczynsk. Many others come from “ordinary” souls (though they seem mighty saintly to me!) who have had an extraordinary mission to the Holy Souls. Stories from the saints lend credibility to the information presented. Stories from the “regular” folks remind me that even plain, ol’, ordinary me can help.

The book also has a couple of chapters supporting the history of the doctrine of Purgatory. They are well written, but not overkill.

Since, as of this morning, you can’t “look inside” the book on Amazon, here are the chapter titles:

  1. The Near-Death Experience – and Beyond
  2. Purgatory’s Pains and Joys
  3. Holy Soul, or Demonic Impostor
  4. Apparitions of Damned Souls
  5. Evidence for Purgatory in Early Christian History
  6. The Church Fathers and later Saints on Purgatory
  7. The Fire of Purgatory According to Catherine of Genoa
  8. The Exhibits of the Museum of Purgatory
  9. The Burned-In Hand of Czestochowa
  10. Other Examples of Burn Marks
  11. How the Poor Souls Appear, and to Whom
  12. Blessed Stanislaus Papczynski: An Extraordinary Friend to the Suffering Souls
  13. The Modern-Day Apparitions to Eugenie von der Leyen
  14. A Deceased Sister Visits St. Faustina
  15. Ursula Hibbeln: The Simple Woman Who Helped Many Souls
  16. Two Apparitions to Padre Pio
  17. The Bohemian Widow Who Saw the Dead
  18. How We can Help the Holy Souls

I really like this book and I would recommend it to you.

Many years ago, when I realized how poor my own catechesis was, I took to studying the Church like crazy. I read up on Purgatory and came away with a decent understanding of it, I think. At least as a doctrine. After reading this book, it is so much more than a logical, merciful doctrine to me. I think more often and more tenderly on those who suffer in Purgatory and I have a great desire to help them. As the doctrine of Purgatory has become, ummm, more “obscure” in the everyday life of the average Christian, I believe that there are many Holy Souls who have no one to pray for them. Hopefully this book will help inspire many of us to do more for them.

About becomewhatyouare

Catholic, Middle-Aged, Knitting-Addicted, Wife, Homeschooler, Mom of 6, Mom-in-Law to 1, Mother of 11 little saints, Grandma to 1, Godmother to 12, Foster Mom to 5, Army mom, Happily living in Texas!
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17 Responses to Hungry Souls (a bit of a review)

  1. KC says:

    That sounds like a good one to read. Purgatory is such a difficult thing to understand beyond the basic doctrine.

  2. Debbie says:

    Yes, I believe in purgatory and have read much on it.. I am compelled to pray for the Holy Souls. I remember when my Grandfather died, my grandmother looked in my eyes and said don’t assume he is in heaven.

    • Our priest says this is the biggest disservice we can do to our departed loved ones ~ to assume they are in heaven. He is right. The thing is… if our loved one IS in heaven, God wastes no prayers. Someone will benefit!

  3. MamaMidwife says:

    Had me lol at the “complete wackjob” comment.🙂

    I don’t think you are nuts. Purgatory makes perfect sense to me, but is one of the hardest doctrines to defend to my protestant friends.

    I think along with it being a disservice to assume someone is in heaven…..I think we do that because we feel guilty “judging them” by assuming they are *not* in heaven and are in purgatory. I know I have felt that way when praying for specific people (my dad for instance, who honestly and logically IS in purgatory, still I feel bad assuming he’s not in heaven; like how do *I* know what the state of his soul was?).

    This book sounds wonderful. I may just have to work on trying to pick up a copy. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Lisa Sweet says:

    We have had a controversy in our family about the whole “ghost” issue, also. My thoughts are in line with yours. We go to heaven, hell or purgatory. Souls do not get “stuck” between worlds because they have “unfinished business”. Souls from purgatory, though, may visit us looking for prayer, or whatever. Also, demonic forces wreak their own havoc. I would be interested in hearing/reading more about this topic. My kids, unfortunately, are on the receiving end of a lot of “ghost” talk by misinformed people and they end up scared.

    • Absolutely! Any departed Soul that is recognized on this side, if it is not a demonic impostor, is here by God’s permission, with a purpose (to ask for prayer, Masses, sacrifices…) and it will be temporary and they don’t come when we call! I am fortunate to not be dealing with fear.

  5. Sarah Oldham says:

    I think this is an excellent review (one I wish I had taken the time to write – I know I only briefly touched on it when I mentioned the book on my blog). Your review got me to thinking, too, that I am not praying enough for the souls in Purgatory. I will renew the efforts! I like how you personalized it by saying what you believe to be true about ghosts etc.. I always felt the same way and that book, which at first I thought would scare me, actually became a comfort. Your review is fantastic.

  6. catholicfoodie says:

    Excellent review! Thank you so much. You have helped me to make my decision… I will purchase this book.

    I, too, have a great devotion to the Holy Souls. And I want to learn more and to grow in my devotion. I am very much aware of the fact that I will one day be dead… and hopefully among the “Faithful Departed.” Though I don’t want to “aim low,” I will still praise the Lord mightily if I end up joining the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

    God bless you for spreading the word!

  7. Janet E Marsh says:

    I have not read this book, but, I am going to purchase it very soon.

    Will tell you what I think and do. I pray for the Holy Souls every day. Everything I do is intended for the Holy Souls.

    Also, if you need anything pray to the Holy Souls as they will never let you down. I am in the habit of begging the Holy Souls for all my favors even to the fact that if I need to be up at a special time in the morning [I can’t trust the alarm clock] They will wake me up at the exact time I need to be up. This is not a joke, I always say a prayer to the Holy Souls and beg them for the favor, presto, it is granted. They have never let me down.

    I have loved and prayed for the Holy Souls since I was 14 years old and I am now 77. You see? Cultivate a devotion to the Holy Souls and you will never be sorry.

    Janet

    P.S. Once I told my Priest that I was afraid I might go to Hell as a Saint once said that if we mortals knew how many went to hell we would faint dead away. He told me that since I had a devotion to the Holy Souls, they would take care of me and pray unceasingly for me to attain Heaven. What a wonderful thought!

  8. Rebecca says:

    I have this book and I have to say that it’s deepened my devotion to the Souls in Purgatory. I try to have a Mass said for them at least every month. I highly recommend this book!!!!

  9. Marita Bolling says:

    Hi, I’m a Catholic Mum, and grandma, in Australia. Was looking for a review of Hungry Souls to send to our Serra group members and came across yours. It was great. Thanks! And I enjoyed all the comments that followed. I’m not into blogging etc. Not sure if this is even going to get to you – so I won’t keep writing! I take it you wouldn’t mind if I used some bits of your review in my newsletter. ? God Bless, Marita
    P.S. My thoughts were the same as yours – Wonderful book, and now I am praying a lot more for the Holy souls and asking them for help as well.

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