I have a practice when someone I know dies. If I am very confident that they are going to Heaven (based on their life of virtue and faithfulness to Christ), then I will pray for them for 1 year. After the 1-year anniversary of their death, I then begin to ask for their prayers. This is just my own personal practice, and I’m not claiming any knowledge of how long souls remain in purgatory, but this practice, I think, helps me to both pray for the soul, and then ask for its intercession.
I bring this up because today is the 1st anniversary of the death of Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, the co-founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. I had the good fortune to meet Fr. Groeschel once, when I appeared on his EWTN television show to promote one of my books. Although at this point he had been involved in an accident in which a car hit him, and he was in his late 70’s, he was as sharp as anyone you’ll meet.
We did the show live on a Sunday night, and afterwards we drove back to where he lived (an old garage off of a retreat house), and he appeared exhausted. I was with my then 14yo daughter (who was celebrating her birthday that day), and I said my goodbyes, for I knew Father had a plane to catch early the next morning (he was leaving at 4am). But before I left, Father insisted that my daughter and I come back in a few minutes after he had a chance to rest. He wanted to spend some time with us, especially my daughter, for he knew it was her birthday. I reluctantly agreed (I didn’t want to impose on him), and came back about 10 minutes later.
When I returned he was a new man, with plenty of energy. Although he had lots to do before leaving the next morning, and it was already about 10pm, he sat down with my daughter and I and wanted to hear all about us. He talked to my daughter like a loving grandfather, and he gave her a signed book that he thought she would enjoy (it was “A Priest Forever: The Life of Eugene Hamilton“). I was amazed at how he could focus, even in his busy life, on the person in front of him and treat her as if she were the only person who mattered. I have met a lot of Catholic “celebrities,” and I find that trait is rare even among them, although it is a sure sign of someone who has conformed themselves to Christ.
As we were driving back home the next day, I said to my daughter, “Take care of that book. One day you’ll be able to tell people that you got it from a Saint.” I still believe that to be true.
Fr. Benedict Groeschel, pray for us!
Note: Below is the show that I appeared on with Fr. Groeschel. At the end he accidentally called me “Doctor,” and I always consider that better than any university’s honorary doctorate!