Heaven, Hell, Purgatory & Limbo
"Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called, and should be the sons of God. Therefore the world knoweth not us, because it knew not Him. Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God; and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know, that, when He shall appear, we shall be like to Him: Because we shall see Him as He is." (1 John 3:1-2)
What is Heaven? The place of perfect happiness in the next world.
"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for those that love Him."
(1 Corinthians 2:9)
Who will go to Heaven? Only those who have Sanctifying Grace in their souls at the moment of death.
"Then shall the king say to them that shall be on His right hand: Come, ye blessed of My Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." (Matthew 25:34)
What is the happiness of Heaven? It will consist in seeing God face to face and possessing Him in divine love.
"We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know in part: But then I shall know even as I am known."
(1 Corinthians 13:12)
Why is the happiness of Heaven perfect? Because God made you for Himself and you can find perfect satisfaction in Him alone.
"Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee." (St. Augustine)
Will everyone have the same happiness in Heaven? No, the happiness of some will be greater than that of others, but everyone will be as happy as he can be.
Why will some have greater happiness than others? Because some will see God more clearly.
"For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will render to every man according to his works."
Why will some see God more clearly? Because they died with more Sanctifying Grace on their souls.
"And every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labor." (1 Corinthians 3:8)
How, then, should you spend your time on Earth? Try to get as much Sanctifying Grace in your soul as you can before you die.
"Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto life everlasting, which the Son of man will give you." (1 Corinthians 3:8) "The night cometh, when no man can work." (John 9:4)
Will there be any sorrow or pain in Heaven? No, nor will there be any sickness, temptation, or sin, but complete, unending joy.
"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes: and death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more."
Will you know your family and friends in Heaven? Yes, and also the Angels and Saints.
"Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners: But you are fellow citizens with the saints, and the domestics of God."
What would keep you from getting into Heaven? Dying with a serious (mortal) sin on your soul.
"And there shall not enter into it any thing defiled, or that worketh abomination or maketh a lie, but they that are written in the book of life of the Lamb." (Apocalypse 21:27)
How often should you pray to get to Heaven? Every day, since getting to Heaven is the purpose of life.
"As the heart panteth after the fountains of water; so my soul panteth after Thee, O God. My soul hath thirsted after the strong living God; when shall I come and appear before the face of God?" (Psalm 41:2-3)
EXPLANATION OF LIMBO
What is Limbo exactly? The residence of those souls excluded from Heaven through no fault of there own; because of the ancient belief that it was situated near the confines of Hell. Theologians distinguished a two-fold Limbo: the Limbo of the Fathers (Limbus patrum) , where the just that died before Christ, were detained until Heaven, which had been closed in punishment for the sin of Adam, was reopened by the Savior, Jesus Christ; and the Limbo of infants (Limbus infantium), where those who die in original sin, but without personal mortal sin, are deprived of the happiness which would come to them in the supernatural order, but not the happiness in the natural order.
What is the chief difference between Heaven and Limbo? The souls in Heaven see God face to face; whereas, those in Limbo do not. Seeing God face to face is called the Beatific Vision. It contains all possible happiness and is unending.
You will never get bored or used to heaven because God is unlimited in every way. Nothing on this earth can completely satisfy you, whether it is money or fame or pleasure, since everything created is limited.
Thinking often of Heaven, putting it before everything else, will give you the correct scale of values, as well as peace of mind in this world.
"The Son of Man shall send His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all scandals, and them that work iniquity. And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 13:41-42)
What is Hell? The place in the next world where the souls of the damned are condemned to suffer forever with the devils.
"If any one abide not in Me, he shall be cast forth as a branch, and shall wither, and they shall gather him up, and cast him into the fire, and he burneth." (John 15:6)
How do you know there is a Hell? The Bible and Tradition (and Jesus too) often speak of the everlasting punishments of Hell.
"Then He shall say to them also that shall be on His left hand: Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. And these shall go into everlasting punishments: But the just, into life everlasting." (Matthew 25:41-46)
Who will go to Hell? Those who die with mortal sin on their souls, that is, without Sanctifying Grace.
"And whosoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the pool of fire." (Apocalypse 20:15)
Does anyone ever get out of Hell? No, Hell is a place of "everlasting punishment." (Matthew 25:46)
"And the smoke of their torments shall ascend up for ever and ever: neither have they rest day nor night." (Apocalypse 14:11)
What are the pains of Hell? Separation from God, torture by fire, regret, and the companionship of the devils.
"Before I go, and return no more, to a land that is dark and covered with the mist of death: a land of misery and darkness, where the shadow of death, and no order, but everlasting horror dwelleth." (Job 10:21-22)
What is the pain of separation from God? To be separated from God, the Source of all love and happiness, will be the greatest pain in Hell.
"The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven, with the angels of His power: In a flame of fire, giving vengeance to them who know not God, and who obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Who shall suffer eternal punishment in destruction, from the face of the Lord, and from the glory of His power." (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)
Is there real fire in Hell? Yes, Jesus often spoke of the "unquenchable fire" of Hell and says that the damned souls will be "salted with fire" (Mark 9:43), which is "everlasting fire" (Matthew 25:41).
"If any one abide not in me, he shall be cast forth as a branch, and shall wither, and they shall gather him up, and cast him into the fire, and he burneth." (John 15:6)
How does the fire of Hell differ from the fire here on earth? The fire in Hell burns without consuming (it does not burn up your body, so the pain never ends) and can torture not only the body but the soul as well.
"Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished." (Mark 9:47)
"Humble thy spirit very much: For the vengeance on the flesh of the ungodly is fire and worms." (Ecclesiasticus 7:19)
What is the pain of regret? The pain of regret means that you will be tortured forever with the thought that you had so many chances to save your soul and be happy with God, but lost Heaven because of mortal sin.
What is the pain of companionship of the devils? Your companions in Hell will be the devils and the other lost souls, who will always hate you and mock you for being such a fool.
"Then He shall say to them also that shall be on His left hand: Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels." (Matthew 25:41)
Are the pains of Hell the same for all? All the souls in Hell will have the same type of punishment, but the degree of suffering will differ according to the number and kind of sins committed.
Think often of Hell and the possibility of your going there. Pray every day that you will not die with mortal sin on your soul. Say the Act of Contrition every night:
"O my God, I am very sorry for having offended Thee, and I hate all of my sins, because I fear the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell, but most of all because my sins offend Thee, my dear God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, do penance, and amend my life. Amen."
Presumption is the sin committed by people who think that a good God will not punish a sinner with the torments of Hell. God, being a just judge, has to reject those who choose to separate themselves from Him by mortal sin.
The horror of Hell helps us understand the evil of mortal sin. Mortal sin is the greatest evil in the universe.
"And the day following Judas [Machabeus] came with his company, to take away the bodies of them that were slain, and to bury them with their kinsmen, in the sepulchres of their fathers. And they found under the coats of the slain some of the donaries of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbiddeth to the Jews: So that all plainly saw, that for this cause they were slain. Then they all blessed the just judgment of the Lord, who had discovered the things that were hidden. And so betaking themselves to prayers, they besought Him, that the sin which had been committed might be forgotten. But the most valiant Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves from sin, forasmuch as they saw before their eyes what had happened, because of the sins of those that were slain. And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, (for if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead), and because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins." (2 Machabees 12:39-46)
What is Purgatory? A place and state of temporary punishment in the next world. Hell, on the other hand, is a place of eternal or everlasting punishment.
What does the word "Purgatory" mean? It means "cleansing" (or "purging"). Purgatory is a place where the soul is cleansed of unforgiven venial sin and/or the "debt" of sins already forgiven but not yet made up for.
"If any one abide not in Me, he shall be cast forth as a branch, and shall wither, and they shall gather him up, and cast him into the fire, and he burneth." (John 15:6)
How do you know there is a Purgatory? The constant teaching and practice of the Catholic Church, based on the Bible and tradition, and even common sense, prove the existence of Purgatory.
How does common sense indicate the existence of Purgatory? Only people with mortal sin go to Hell, and on the other hand, no one can enter Heaven with even the smallest sin. Therefore, there must be a place in the next world where lesser sins can be taken off the soul.
Who will go to Purgatory? People who die with Sanctifying Grace in their souls, but --
who die with venial sin on their souls, or
who have not completed (satisfied for) the punishment still due to their already forgiven sins.
What is meant by the "punishment still due to sin"? This means that, even though God forgives your sins, He still requires that you be punished for them (i.e. "pay" for them), either in this life or in the next.
For example: A boy playing ball in his yard breaks his neighbor's window. He goes and tells the lady he is sorry, and she forgives him but she tells him he will still have to pay for the window.
Do you suffer in Purgatory? Yes. Besides not being allowed to see God face to face, the souls in Purgatory suffer a great deal. "The fire of Purgatory", says St. Augustine, "is more terrible than man can suffer in this life."
How long will you have suffer in Purgatory? That depends on the number and seriousness of the sins to be atoned for.
"My soul hath thirsted after the strong living God; when shall I come and appear before the face of God." (Psalm 41:3)
Where do you go when you leave Purgatory? To Heaven to see God and enjoy Him forever.
"Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not come out from thence till thou repay the last farthing." (Matthew 5:26)
Will Purgatory ever end? Yes, at the Last Judgment. After that all souls will be in either Heaven or Hell forever.
Can you help the souls in Purgatory? You can shorten their stay by having Masses said for them, by praying for them and by doing good works for them.
"Have pity on me, have pity on me, at least you my friends, because the hand of the Lord hath touched me." (Job 19:21)
Does the Bible say anything about praying for the dead (doctrine of Purgatory)? YES! The Bible teaches (a) that some sins are forgiven in the next world; (b) that some souls are saved in the next world "by fire"; (c) that it is useful and beneficial to pray for the dead.
Matt. 12-32: "And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, NEITHER IN THE WORLD TO COME." (Some sins can therefore be forgiven after death.)
I Cor. 3, 13 and 15: "Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 15. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, YET SO AS BY FIRE."
2 Machabees, 12-46: "It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins."
We also read that Judas Machabeus, "sent twelve thousand drachmas of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifices to be offered for the sins of the dead." (2 Machabees 12:43)
(This is one of the Old Testament books omitted from the Protestant Bible).
COMMENT: As nothing defiled can enter Heaven (Apocalypse 21-27), there must necessarily exist a state of cleansing or purgation usually called "purgatory."
How can you avoid Purgatory? Avoid even the smallest faults, do penance for sins already forgiven, gain indulgences and receive the Sacrament of Extreme Unction.
All Souls' Day is the day set aside by the Church for special prayers and Masses for all the souls suffering in Purgatory. It is celebrated every year on November 2.
The souls in Purgatory cannot help themselves. We should help them by our prayers and sacrifices. They, in turn, can and do pray for us.
The souls in Purgatory are known as the Poor Souls
The Church Suffering
PURGATORY AND SUFFRAGES FOR THE DEAD
And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers until he paid the debt.-MATT. xviii. 34.
The servant spoken of in our text owed his master an immense sum, equal to nearly twenty million dollars in our money; and because of his sin the master cast him into prison until he should pay the last farthing. Like this servant of the parable we are all debtors to God in satisfaction for our sins. Every conscious moment of our existence there is recorded in the book of life something to our credit or something against us; and at the end of our days upon earth the Lord will reckon up our debts, and demand a strict account of them. Even those who die in God's favor must nevertheless pay in the fires of purgatory the debt of satisfaction which they owe for their sins.
I. The nature and existence of purgatory, 1. Purgatory is the place and state of expiation for all those who have died in the friendship of God, but without having fully satisfied for their sins. 2. That purgatory really exists is plain, (a) from Holy Scripture: "It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins" (2 Mach. xii. 46); Tobias commanded his son to give an alms to the poor for the liberation of a just man's soul (Tobias iv. 18); the inhabitants of Jabes Galaad fasted seven days for Saul and Jonathan after the latter's death (i Kings xxxi. 13) ; our Lord told the Pharisees that certain sins would not be forgiven either in this world or in the world to come (Matt. xii. 32) ; the Fathers see a reference to purgatory in those passages where our Lord speaks of a prison from which a man shall not be released until he has paid the last farthing (Matt. v. 2; Luke xii. 59). (b) The Church has always taught the doctrine of purgatory, as we know from the practice of praying for the dead, from the early liturgies, Councils, and writings of the Fathers, (c) The doctrine of purgatory is most reasonable, since on the one hand nothing defiled shall enter into heaven (Apoc. xxi. 27), and on the other hand the God of justice will not punish slight faults with eternal penalties, (d) The doctrine of purgatory is most consoling and helpful for the living as well as the dead. 3. The sufferings of the souls in purgatory are severe and consist in the deprivation of the vision and presence of God, and in certain positive afflictions; but they are resigned to God's will, they are certain of their salvation, and they know that their sufferings are not eternal.
II. The souls in purgatory are helped by our suffrages. 1. This is the teaching of Scripture, as we can see from the passages quoted above, and has been constantly taught by the Church from the beginning. 2. That the just on earth can assist the souls in purgatory is certain from the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. All the members of the Church form one society and one mystical body, and hence there is an interchange of good offices between them. The help we give the souls in purgatory mitigates their sufferings and hastens the time of their deliverance. 3. The chief means of suffrage are Masses, prayers, works of satisfaction, the heroic act of charity, and indulgences. 4. The Councils of Florence and Trent have declared that Masses are the principal means of assisting the souls in purgatory. 5. After the Sacrifice of the Mass the most suitable means of helping the holy souls are prayers. 6. Works of satisfaction embrace all our good works inasmuch as being difficult they have a compensatory value for the temporal punishment due to sin; hence the benefit of our fasts, almsdeeds, crosses, etc., can be transferred to the suffering souls. The heroic acts of charity consist in the total transfer to the holy souls of all our satisfactions, whether acquired by our own efforts, or offered for us by others. during our life or after our death. 7. An indulgence is not a permission to commit sin, nor a forgiveness of the guilt of sin; it is the remission outside of the Sacrament of Penance of some of the temporal punishments due to sin. In granting an indulgence the Church draws upon the superabundant merits and satisfactions of Christ and the saints. 8. That the Church has the right to grant indulgences is proved, (a) from the power of loosing given her by Christ (Matt. xvi. 19) ; (b) from the fact that, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, she has exercised this power from the beginning (2 Cor. ii. 10). 9. There are two kinds of indulgence: (a) plenary, or the remission of the entire punishment due to sin; (b) partial, or the remission of only a portion of the temporal punishment due to sin. An indulgence of forty days or seven years means the remission of as much temporal punishment as would have been paid by one of the ancient canonical penances of forty days or seven years duration. 10. The conditions for gaining an indulgence are: (a) the state of grace, at least at the completion of the work, and freedom from those venial faults whose punishment we wish to cancel (for a plenary indulgence freedom from all affection to sin is necessary); (b) the devout fulfilment of the works prescribed by the Church; (c) the intention at least in general of gaining the indulgence. It is a good practice to form the intention every morning of gaining all the indulgences possible on that day. Most indulgences can be applied to the souls in purgatory; when so applied they are offered to God with the request that He may accept them for the benefit of the suffering souls. Such application of indulgences is highly pleasing to God and beneficial to the poor souls.
LESSONS, 1. From a consideration of the sufferings of purgatory we should learn how great is the punishment for venial sin, and should strive to avoid it in future, and do penance now for the sins of the past. 2. Since it is in our power to help the suffering souls, we should be zealous to do for them what we hope others will do for us when we are in need.
by the Very Rev. P.A. Sheehan, D.D.
THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS
One of the most beautiful and divine doctrines of the Catholic Church, dear brethren, is that which is professed under the title of "Communion of Saints." It is, as it were, a loving concession on the part of Almighty God that He suffers us to think of our friends, whom He has called into their rest. He is a jealous God; one condition He is forever insisting upon as necessary to our salvation--that is, that we should give Him our whole beings, every act we perform, every thought we think. But He knows what the human heart is, He who loved so tenderly the Mother who bore Him, and He yields to our weakness, and suffers us to think of, to rejoice with, or to sympathize with, those to whom human affections attached us in this life. I have called it divine. It is nothing less. No one but a loving God could inspire us with the belief that death is in reality no separation, no fierce rending asunder of affections, no violent wrenching of heart from heart and soul from soul. Death makes a change, it is true, but what is that change? It is a change that increases, strengthens, and exalts that love which we have for one another in this world. Our love is proportioned to our veneration and respect; the more our friend is free from human infirmities, the more we are drawn toward him, and this is the blessed change that death effects. It steps in between those friends and takes one, and separates from that one all his imperfections, and changes him into a bright, pure, angelic spirit, but does not destroy him. That friend whom we loved still lives, but is more worthy than ever of our love, and we are not separated. We can reach into eternity, we can add new lustre to our sainted brethren in heaven; even the little mite of our praise and love does help to swell the eternal jubilee of the saints in heaven. And on the other hand, we can reach those saints who are in pain, those blessed souls who have got a glimpse of the spotless sanctity of God and a true idea of their own imperfections and then hurried away from the sight of God and plunged themselves in the purifying flames of purgatory that they may be able for eternity to stand unashamed in company with their brethren. Blessed be God. We can enter even that prison, and give our brethren a respite from pain, we can do, in a milder way, by our prayers, the purifying work of these awful flames, we can shorten the terms of their imprisonment, and at the same time, satisfy their sensitiveness and quiet their apprehension lest they should again carry sin into the presence of God.
There is not in this world anything so beautiful as the deathbed of a holy Catholic. Fortified by the Sacraments of the Church, serene in the consciousness of the possession of God's grace, yet half afraid to meet that God whom its soul longs to possess, picturing to itself the happiness of heaven, it is a recompense well worthy of the repentance of a lifetime. And yet, except with the greatest saints, it clings to the memory, love, and protection of its earthly friends. Behind the veil, it knows well it will be clasped in the arms of Jesus Christ, but it clings to the warm grasp of its earthly friends even till the eyes swim and the earth is gliding from beneath its feet. And its last and best consolation as it glides into the world of spirits is that the prayers of its friends are before it, that already there are voices pleading for it at the judgment seat of the Lamb. And is it not so? Oh yes, dearly beloved. The prayers for the dying are over, the prayers for the dead begin. We intrude into the awful courts of heaven, we interrupt the process of Judgment, we silence the voice of the accuser, by speaking to Jesus the Judge and reminding Him that that soul is His, that He redeemed it, that the marks of His blood are upon it, and by conjuring Him to save that dear soul, to fit it for presence in heaven, but not to deliver it into the hand of His enemy. Even that body that is left us, do we not reverence it, do we not consecrate it? Do we not make these lifeless arms into the sign of our redemption. Do we not sprinkle that body with holy water, because it is holy? Do we not incense it, because it is worthy of all reverence? We will not even allow it to mingle with unhallowed dust, but we bless the very earth into which it will be changed, and then raise over it the sign of our redemption, that nothing unholy might come near it, that the enemy may know that there is nothing in this grave that belongs to him, but a body that was crucified and nailed to the cross with Jesus Christ.
And then we follow the souls of our friends into eternity. From the judgment seat we follow them into their prison, where their angel conducts them, and our prayers, as it were, rain down incessantly on those fires. We pray for them at our public services; we pray for them at our private devotions; we pray for them even at our meals; there is scarcely a day in which the Holy Sacrifice is not offered for these suffering souls; there are many in the Church who have given to God all the merits of their lives, their prayers, fastings, almsdeeds for the souls in purgatory; there are religious Orders in the Church who repeat frequently during the day the De Profundis for the departed. And with all this, dear brethren, if we consider how great are the sufferings of these poor souls, we shall see how really uncharitable we are and how unreasonable it is that we do so very little.
THE REASON FOR PURGATORY
For why do we not speak of purgatory? Apart from the fact that purgatory exists, a belief founded upon the teachings of Scripture and the Church, what is the reason of purgatory, its purpose, its objects? It has a twofold reason--to satisfy the justice of God and the mercy of God. In heaven there is nothing but mercy; in hell there is nothing but justice; in purgatory justice and mercy meet, and the poor souls detained there are the victims of God's great justice and at the same time the objects of His love and clemency. They passed into eternity, faithful to God, united to God. He could not cast them out of His sight forever, but unconsciously they carried with them before the All Holy God some human weaknesses, some human infirmities, and as "nothing defiled can enter into the kingdom of heaven," His mercy provided for them a place of purgatory, where sharp penance would expiate their faults and restore them spotless to His bosom. Heresy rushes into extremes on this as well as on all other dogmas. It condemns a soul without remorse or scruple, it saves souls easily and pleasantly without even the pretense of penance. It believes that for the slightest sin, for the half voluntary thought or the silly word, a merciful God will cast a soul into the flames of hell forever, whereas on the other hand, years of sin may be atoned for by the simple presumption that God has pardoned them. The innocent soul that has never lost the grace of Baptism, but has only yielded to those faults that the judgment angel does not care to record, if suddenly snatched from life by death, is banished from the presence of God forever, whereas the sinner who has been heaping up for himself a measure of wrath for many years is admitted at once, unshriven, impenitent, and unpurified, into the company of the angels and the elect. I do not believe in such very sudden changes. I know the power of God. I would not for the world underrate or depreciate it. But there is a saying of St. Augustine full of much wisdom: "God has created us without ourselves; God will not save us except by our cooperation," and that cooperation, if we have sinned, is the cooperation of penance. The redemption of the world by our divine Lord has not changed the nature of sin. Sin is as hateful in the eyes of God now as it was then, and it is true now as it was when John the Baptist preached: "Except you do penance you shall all likewise perish" (Luke xiii. 5). That penance must be done either in this world or in the next. If we be guilty of mortal sin, it must be atoned for in this life by penance, or it will never be atoned for, though it will be punished in the eternal fires of hell; if it be venial sin, it can be atoned for by penance and prayer in this life, or by the sharp fires of purgatory in the next.
The late Father Faber was accustomed to say that he could never understand why we speak of the poor souls in purgatory. He thought them rich indeed, much to be envied, little to be pitied, They are indeed truly rich, because they are certain of possessing God forever. Compared with us, living as we do in dreadful uncertainty about our salvation, they are to be envied exceedingly. And yet it is also true that they are deserving of our sympathy and pity. They are poor because they are suffering, and the promise of the future scarcely relieves their anguish in the present. A man lies upon his bed, writhing and tossing in fever. His physician gives hopes of his recovery, tells him almost infallibly that he will recover. Yet with that prospect of certain recovery, is he not deserving of our pity and compassion? These poor prisoners that are cut away from all human society in the jails of the country, are they not deserving of pity, even though their term of imprisonment is not eternal, and they will enjoy their liberty all the more for having lost it for a time? So with the blessed souls in purgatory. They are truly deserving of our pity, compassion, and sympathy, because, although they belong to God, yet they are suffering now, suffering bitterly, suffering intensely in the fires of purgatory. If a child were in agony, and if the mother who could relieve it turned aside from it, consoling herself with the reflection that it wouldn't die, would we not call her unfeeling and cruel? Yet we do the very same thing when we refuse or neglect to assist the suffering souls on the pretense that they cannot die because they are saved. Oh dearly beloved! It it very selfish and unfeeling on our parts, it is enough almost to make God abandon us, if we go through life, and never assist these blessed souls, whom we can assist so easily and who need our assistance so much. I do not think that there is one of us who does not feel remorse again and again during life for neglecting the souls in purgatory. There is not one of us who does not start from a long course of selfishness, start with the thought that all that time we were enjoying ourselves, light-hearted and careless, that dear friend, whom we loved in this world and who prized our love, has been crying to us in anguish, has been lifting up his hands to us from the flames, perhaps has long ago turned away from us in despair, and rested all its hopes on the mercy of God rather than upon the cruelty of his friends. There is not a single soul among us to whom voices are not crying every hour of the night and day, in the language of Holy Job, "Have pity on me, have pity on me, at least you, my friends, for the hand of the Lord hath touched me" (Job xlx. 21). If we had faith, we would hear them. And if we had even human hearts, and not hearts icy cold through selfishness and worldliness, we would rest neither by night nor by day from relieving them.
THE SUFFERINGS OF PURGATORY
And let us not deceive ourselves with the delusive hope that the pains of purgatory are very short or very trifling. We do not know what sin is. But if we only look on the cross of Jesus Christ, we must acknowledge that it is of infinite malice in the sight of God. If, therefore. His justice demanded the life of His Son for a single sin, what will not His justice demand of us for our countless sins? And though His Justice saves us from the hell which we deserve. His justice demands from us some slight satisfaction at least. Again mortal sin, being of infinite malice, is punished with infinite torments; how venial sin approaches as nearly to mortal sin as finite things can approach to infinite, and, therefore, that punishment of venial sin in purgatory is everything but infinite. And the doctors of the Church teach us, and teach us with truth, that the pains of purgatory are the pains of hell, but they are not eternal. In purgatory, as in hell, there is the physical pain of fire; in purgatory, as in hell, there is the shame and remorse of sin; and above all there is that pain, infinite, unendurable, the pain of loss, the pain of being separated from God. We cannot understand that, because we have not seen God, but, dear brethren, it is for God we are made. We are in this world always fretting and chafing at our separation from God; all the sorrow of the world, if really resolved, would be found to be separation from God. At death when our souls are freed, they fly straight to the bosom of God, and what a dreadful anguish it must be to be spurned by God, to see Him and not to possess Him, to know and perceive that He is everything our souls can desire and yet be unable to possess Him. To have seen the face of Jesus Christ, to have heard His sweet voice speaking to us words of mercy, and then to be led away from Him with a barrier of fire between us, that is the greatest torture a human soul can suffer, and that is the suffering of the soul in purgatory. Do not make light of it, dear brethren. Do not think little of it. No one but a mother can understand a mother's sorrow for her child, and no soul but that has seen God can understand what it is to lose Him even for a time. But it is a truth of divine faith, and our ignorance of the real nature of that truth, our inability to understand it, does not lessen the anguish of those souls who know it too well. And if we be wise, and wise with the wisdom of charity, we shall act on what faith teaches us, and try to help those blessed souls as if we saw with our own eyes their prison, and heard with our own ears their cries for mercy. The truths of faith are more certain than those things to which our senses testify, and it is truly a Catholic spirit to believe them as thoroughly, and act upon them as fearlessly and unhesitatingly.
O dearly beloved! if we could only behold the joy that lights up the countenances of these blessed souls, when our prayers are heard in heaven, and their angel comes and blows aside from them the flames that torment them, and tells them that years are blotted from their sentences, and that soon they will again behold the face of God, I think we should pray night and day incessantly for them. Oh, it is a truly noble work; there is no charity to be compared with it. It is good to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to visit the sick, but it is the highest office of charity to visit the suffering saints, and restore them to their places as princes of the court of heaven. And when we remember that amongst these suffering saints are some of our own flesh and blood, who loved us in this world, and whom we loved, the father or mother, to whom we owe whatever good we possess, the brother or sister, whose affection was the one joy and support of our youth, it is not charity alone that demands our prayers, but pity and justice and gratitude. And if we neglect them, whatever we may profess to be, we cannot free ourselves from the imputation of being uncharitable, unjust, impious, and ungrateful.
I exhort you, therefore, dear beloved, to pray for the souls in purgatory, to whose special remembrance this day is devoted. Pray for them, that through your prayers not only they may be admitted to the glory of God, but also you may share in the reward which our Lord promised in the words: "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy!"
THE HOLINESS OF THE SOULS IN PURGATORY
Every soul in Purgatory, before coming there, appears before the judgment seat of Christ and there recognizes its state before God, and (as many theologians tell us) makes an act of perfect contrition and fervent love, by which all the guilt of sin still attaching to it is removed. It is, as far as its own intrinsic condition is concerned, ready to appear in the immediate presence of God, and to enjoy the Beatific Vision for ever. O happy souls that die in a state of grace, and are united to God by bonds that no power on earth or Hell can sever!
This act of perfect contrition also implies a detestation of all venial sin, and of anything that interferes with the pure love of God. But it does not remove the debt that still has to be paid. It is rather the very intensity of the act of contrition that will make the soul long to do penance, and cause it to rejoice in being buried in Purgatory until the justice of God is satisfied. How differently I shall then view my sins! How I shall loathe and detest the folly that led me to prefer to the will of God what was hateful in itself, and more hateful still by reason of the Divine prohibition!
These Holy Souls will, however, gain no merit by their act of contrition and love. They will indeed receive the assistance of actual grace in proportion to the degree of sanctifying grace in which they died, but their co-operation with it will not add to their glory in Heaven, or shorten their Purgatory. After death, no redemption; no power to shake off the temporal punishment of a single sin. Pray that you may lose no opportunity of merit while on earth.
by the Rev. R.F. Clarke, S.J.
For Prayers for the Poor Souls in Purgatory...Click Here
How to Avoid Purgatory
By Fr. Paul O'Sullivan
1. CAN WE AVOID PURGATORY?
2. HOW CAN WE AVOID PURGATORY?
3. THE FIRST MEANS: REMOVING THE CAUSE
4. THE SECOND MEANS: PENANCE
5. THE THIRD MEANS: SUFFERING
6. THE FOURTH MEANS: CONFESSION, COMMUNION, HOLY MASS
7. THE FIFTH MEANS: ASKING GOD
8. A SIXTH MEANS: RESIGNATION TO DEATH
9. THE SEVENTH MEANS: EXTREME UNCTION
10. INDULGENCES AND PURGATORY
11. THE THIRD ORDERS
12. THOSE WHO EARNESTLY HELP THE HOLY SOULS MAY WELL HOPE TO AVOID
13. TO AVOID PURGATORY, DO AS FOLLOWS
14. HOW WE CAN HELP THE HOLY SOULS
* THE BROWN SCAPULAR
Our Lord came on earth expressly to give us a perfect Redemption. He gave us a Law of Love, a Religion in every way to suit our human hearts, destined to make us holy and happy. His Commandments, counsels and promises all breathe peace, joy, mercy and love.The idea that nearly all of us shall, notwithstanding, have to pass a period more or less long in the excruciating fires of Purgatory after death seems to be at variance with this all-merciful and all-loving plan of our Divine Lord.It is true that we are weak and fall many times and that God's justice is rigorous and exacting, but it is equally certain that God's mercy and love are above all His works. It is no less certain that Our Lord has given us abundant grace and strength to save us from sin and many (and most efficacious) means of satisfying for any sins that we may have committed. This last fact seems to be almost entirely overlooked, or imperfectly understood by the majority of Catholics. Of course, those who go on deliberately sinning and who make no effort to correct their faults and refuse to use the many wonderful means God offers them for satisfying for sin, condemn themselves to Purgatory. The object of this little book is to show how we can avoid Purgatory by using the means God has so generously offered us, and, secondly, to show that the use of these means is within the reach of every ordinary Christian. The careful perusal of these pages will be a source of much benefit and consolation to all who read them. The author offers them to the loving Heart of Jesus and asks Him to bless
CAN WE AVOID PURGATORY? YES.
Many think that it is practically impossible for the ordinary Christian to avoid Purgatory. Go there we all must--so they say. They laughingly remark: "It will be well for us if we ever get there" Alas! When too late they will recognize how terribly rash their words were. As a consequence of such fatalistic ideas, many make no serious effort to avoid Purgatory, or even to lessen the term they may have to pass there. Thank God all do not hold such gloomy views.
WE SHALL STRIVE IN THE FOLLOWING PAGES TO SHOW
a) How all can notably shorten their period of expiation in Purgatory; b) And how they may even avoid Purgatory altogether. These pages are well worth reading and re-reading. The fact is that a great number of souls go to Purgatory and remain there for long years simply because they had never been told how they could have avoided it. The means we suggest are easy, practical and within the reach of all.
Moreover, far from being irksome, the use of these means will only serve to make our lives on this earth holier and happier and will take away the exaggerated fear of death which terrifies so many. We ask you, Dear Reader, to put this little booklet into the hands of all
your friends. You cannot do them a greater service.
HOW CAN WE AVOID PURGATORY?
The reason why we have to pass through Purgatory after death is that we have committed sins and have not made satisfaction for them. Every individual sin must be expiated--in this life or the next! Not even the slightest shadow of sin or evil can enter the all-holy presence of God. The graver, the more frequent the sins, the longer will be the period of expiation and the more intense the pain. It is not God's fault, nor God's wish, that we go to Purgatory! The fault is all our own. We have sinned and have not made satisfaction. Even after our sin, God, in His infinite goodness, places at our disposal many easy and efficacious means by which we may considerably lessen our term of expiation, or even entirely cancel it. Most Christians, with incomprehensible rashness, neglect these means and so
have to pay their debts in the dreadful prison house of Purgatory. We will briefly enumerate some of the principal means by which we can avoid Purgatory-or at least lessen its severity and duration.
THE FIRST MEANS: REMOVING THE CAUSE
The First Means of avoiding Purgatory is manifestly to remove the cause which sends us there, which is sin.It may not be easy to refrain from all sin, even the smaller sins, but every ordinary Christian can, by the frequent use of the Sacraments, easily
abstain from mortal sin. Secondly, we can all avoid deliberate and grave venial sin. It is an awful thing to offend the good God deliberately. Deliberation intensifies enormously the malice of sin and offends God much more than faults of weakness, or sins committed when we are off our guard. Lastly, we must use our best endeavors to break off bad habits. Habits, like deliberation, add seriously to the malice of sin A deliberate falsehood is very much worse than a hasty lie of excuse, and a lie resulting from the inveterate habit of lying is very much worse than a casual lie. A lady once told us how she had, when younger, the habit of constantly speaking ill of her neighbors. Having heard a sermon on the subject, she made a strong resolution never to do so again, and kept it. That simple, strong resolution changed the whole trend of her life and saved her from thousands of sins, and most surely from a long and painful Purgatory.
Who cannot make a like resolution and keep it?
If a Christian avoids, as he easily can, these three classes of sin, viz., mortal sins, deliberate and grave venial sins, and habits of sin, it will be relatively easy for him to atone for faults of frailty, as we shall presently see.
We would be well advised to pronounce with special emphasis and fervour, every time we say the Our Father, the words:"Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us"These are the very words of God Himself and repeated frequently and
fervently will certainly obtain for us pardon of our sins.
THE SECOND MEANS: PENANCE
The Second Means of avoiding Purgatory is to satisfy for our sins in this life by doing penance. "Do penance or you shall all likewise perish" Do penance, or you will burn long years in Purgatory, is a fact that there is no getting away from. This is a terrifying thought and one that makes the bravest man shudder. Which of us does not tremble when he thinks of those who have been burnt to death in a slow fire? What fear would not be ours if we had to face a similar death? Yet their suffering was of relatively short duration. The incomparably fiercer fire of Purgatory, which we may have to face, may last 20, or 50 or 100 years! Many people have such a horror of penance that they never even dream of practicing it. It is like the fear that children have of ghosts, a very great but a very unfounded fear. Their idea is that penance is something awful They think perhaps of the severe penances of the great Saints and of course are afraid to attempt anything of a like kind.
The Second Means: Penance
God does not ask us, as a rule, to do what is heroic. When He does, He gives us all the strength necessary, as in the case of the Saints. He asks each one to do a little. If we are afraid of doing much, and it is only natural that some should be, let us do at least a little. No one but a coward is afraid to do a little, especially if he gets much in exchange. The easy road to Heaven of Saint Therese, the Little Flower, is to do many little things. God was infinitely pleased with the widow's mite; He will be equally pleased with our little penances. As a result of little mortifications, we can deliver ourselves from the awful fires of Purgatory and amass rich merits for Heaven. To go into the matter further, there is not much difficulty about mortification or penance, notwithstanding the absurd fear that people have of it. Penance is not only easy, it is useful and necessary, and it will bring us very great happiness. Not to do penance is the greatest penance of all. As a matter of fact, every man of the world naturally, spontaneously mortifies himself. The first principle, for instance, of politeness and good breeding
is to sacrifice our whims and tastes for the sake of others. The selfish man is a boor; the generous man is the idol of all. Again, the only way of securing good health is to eschew the most appetising viands when they do us harm and to make use of plain foods when they do us good. Overeating is the cause of the vast majority of sickness and premature deaths.
To take another example. The secret of success is strenuous, methodical, regular work. Now generosity, self-denial, method, regularity are other forms of very genuine but practical mortification. Yet no man can get on without them. To insist on our own likes and dislikes, to do only as we please, is to lead a life bristling with difficulties, in which every duty is a burden, every good act an effort and a labor. Boy scouts and girl scouts are bound to do a kind act every day, even though it costs them a big effort. Christians should surely do more. Daily
acts of self-restraint, of patience with others, of kindness to others, the exact fulfillment of duty are splendid penances and a great aid to
If we are afraid to do much, let us do many little things.
THE THIRD MEANS: SUFFERING
The Third Means of avoiding Purgatory is very easy. It consists in making a virtue of necessity, by bearing patiently what we cannot avoid, and all the more since suffering, borne patiently, becomes easy and light. Suffering, if accepted with calmness and for God's sake, loses all its sting. If received badly, in the spirit of revolt and with repugnance, it is intensified a hundredfold, and becomes almost intolerable.
Everyone in this vale of tears has to face sorrows innumerable and infinite in variety. Crosses light and crosses heavy are the lot of us all. Strange as it may seem, these sorrows, which most of us would gladly dispense with, are in truth God's greatest graces. They are the little share He offers us of His Passion and which He asks us to bear for love of Him and as penance for our sins. Borne in this spirit they will lessen considerably our time in Purgatory and very possibly completely remove it--with this difference, that Purgatory, even a Purgatory of 50 or 100 years, will in no wise increase our merits in Heaven; whereas, every pain and sorrow and disappointment in this life will lessen our suffering in Purgatory, and also bring us more happiness and glory in Heaven. How sad it is that so many Christians, for want of thought, make their sufferings a thousand times worse than they are and lose all the immense merits that they could so easily gain.
Let us suffer with calmness and serenity for the love of God. We shall thus
save ourselves from Purgatory.
THE FOURTH MEANS: CONFESSION, COMMUNION, HOLY MASS
The Fourth Means by which we can lessen our time in Purgatory, or avoid it altogether, is by frequent Confession, Communion and daily assistance at Mass. Confession applies to our souls the Precious Blood of Christ, wipes out our sins, gives us light to see their malice, fills us with horror of sin and, above all, it gives us strength to avoid it. In Holy Communion we receive the God of infinite mercy and love, the God of all sanctity, who comes expressly to pardon our sins and help us to sin no more. He visited the house of Zaccheus once, and in that one visit, Zaccheus obtained complete pardon of all his sins How is it possible that the same God of goodness and sweetness can come, not into our houses, but into our very hearts in Holy Communion and not give us the same and even greater graces. He visited Zaccheus once, He visits us every day if we allow Him. Many, alas, never feel, never grasp the immense joys and consolation of Holy Communion. The Mass is identical with the Sacrifice of Calvary, in its essence, in its value, in the graces it bestows. The Sacrifice of Calvary was sufficient to save all the world, millions and millions of souls, and was also sufficient to save countless other sinful worlds, had they existed. By assisting at Mass, we can apply all these oceans of graces to our own souls, and that not once, but every day.
Let us go to Mass and Holy Communion every day. We can do nothing better. One day with Mass and Communion is worth a hundred days without them.
THE FIFTH MEANS: ASKING GOD
The Fifth Means of avoiding Purgatory is asking God for this grace. Some wise Catholics have a really great, if simple secret, which is well worth learning and using for our own benefit. God promises us in the most solemn and deliberate way (and He cannot fail to do what He promises) that He will give us everything we ask in prayer, if it is good for us. Now two conditions, especially, make prayer infallible, namely perseverance and faith. God cannot refuse such a prayer. These Catholics we speak of pray expressly every day of their lives that
God will free them from Purgatory. In every single prayer they say, in every Mass they hear, in every good act they perform, they have the express intention of asking God first of all and with all their hearts to deliver them from Purgatory. How? That is for God to decide.
It is not easy to see how God can possibly refuse such constant, unceasing prayer. The fact that such prayers are said daily and many times in the day, for 20, 30, 50 years, shows that they are said with undoubting faith and magnificent perseverance. We exhort all our readers to adopt this practice. The more they know and think on Purgatory, the more fervently will they make this prayer.
Every time we say the Hail Mary let us say with all the fervor of our hearts the words: "Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen"
A SIXTH MEANS: RESIGNATION TO DEATH
A Sixth Means of avoiding Purgatory is given us by some great saints: They say that when a sick person becomes aware that he is dying and offers to God his death with perfect resignation, it is very likely that he will go straight to Heaven. Death is the awful punishment of sin, and when we accept it, as of course we ought to do, with submission and resignation, our act pleases God so much that it may satisfy perfectly for all our sins. The idea of Pope St. Pius X was the same when he granted a plenary indulgence at the hour of death to those who say at least after one Holy Communion the following prayer:
"Eternal Father, from this day forward, I accept with a joyful and resigned heart the death it will please You to send me, with all its pains and sufferings"
It will be better still to say this prayer after every Holy Communion we receive. It is for our best interest to accept God's will in everything that happens to us in life and in death. Nothing can be easier when we remember that God always wishes what is best for us. If we do what God does not will, we shall surely suffer.
Each time we repeat the Our Father, let us say with special fervor the words: Thy will be done. In all our troubles, small and great, let us do likewise. Thus everything will gain us merit. By this simple act we change sorrow into joy, the worries of life into gold for Heaven.
THE SEVENTH MEANS: EXTREME UNCTION
The Seventh Means of avoiding Purgatory is Extreme Unction: God Himself has given us a Sacrament, the end of which is to take us directly to Heaven. This Sacrament is Extreme Unction, which according to St. Thomas and St. Albert was instituted especially to obtain for us the grace of a holy and happy death and to prepare us for immediate entrance into Heaven. Many Catholics do not understand this most consoling doctrine, and because they do not understand it, they prepare themselves insufficiently for the reception of Extreme Unction and so lose many of its great graces. Every Sacrament properly received produces its effect. Baptism cleanses us from Original Sin and any other actual sins that may have been committed by adults before receiving the Sacrament. The Sacrament of Holy Orders gives a priest all his tremendous powers. Matrimony makes man and woman husband and wife. In the same way Extreme Unction, if devoutly received, prepares the dying Christian for immediate entrance into Heaven, thus delivering him from Purgatory. How foolish it is, therefore, to put off receiving this Sacrament until very late, when the dying person is too exhausted to receive it with full knowledge of what he is doing and with due fervor and devotion. The moment of death is the supreme moment in our lives. It is the moment which decides our fate for all Eternity.
Let us use every means in our power to secure a happy and holy death, especially by receiving most devoutly, and as soon as possible, Extreme Unction.
INDULGENCES AND PURGATORY
God in His infinite mercy and compassion offers us a most wonderful and easy means for lessening or canceling our Purgatory. Fully aware of our weakness, and knowing, too, how fearful many are of penance, He opens wide the treasury of His Goodness and offers us most
abundant Indulgences in exchange for some small act of devotion. For one recitation of short ejaculatory prayers, He grants 100 or 300 or
more days Indulgence. These we may say hundreds of times in the day. Those who say the little ejaculation: "Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in Thee" one hundred times a day gain 30,000 days Indulgence. Those who say it 1,000 times, as many do, gain 300,000 days Indulgence each day! Nothing can be easier than to acquire the habit of saying this little prayer all day long, countless times each day.
Then, for each Hail Mary of the Rosary, one gains more than 2,000 days Indulgence! Besides an immense number of Partial Indulgences, there are very many Plenary (full, complete) Indulgences which may be gained during life and at the hour of death. These are specially given by the Church to enable us to avoid Purgatory. These Indulgences can be applied to our own souls, and we shall thus directly make satisfaction for our sins. Or, we may apply them to the souls in Purgatory, who will see to it that we do not lose by our generosity.
Let us strive to gain all possible Indulgences.
THE THIRD ORDERS
Among the extraordinary graces which Catholics gain by becoming members of a Third Order is a share in many Masses and prayers.
To mention, for instance, the Third Order of Saint Dominic, Pope Benedict XV, himself a Tertiary, said: "One of the easiest and most effectual ways of reaching a high degree of sanctity is by becoming a Dominican Tertiary" The members of this order receive during life a share every day in thousands of Masses and prayers, and after death, when, alas, so many are neglected by their relatives, those who are members of this Third Order have a share daily in thousands of other Masses and prayers, this for as long as they remain in Purgatory!
Among the many beautiful characteristics of the Order of St. Dominic is its intense devotion and love for the Holy Souls, especially for the souls of its members, friends and benefactors. So true is this that a young Italian nobleman who consulted the Pope as to which religious order he would do well to enter received for answer: "My dear son, you may with much profit join any of the Orders, for in each you will find abundant means of becoming a Saint. After death, however, be a Dominican" The Holy Father meant to imply that the suffrages given after death to their deceased members are, indeed, most abundant in the Dominican Order.
The conditions of becoming a member of this order are so easy and the advantages so many that half the world would become Dominican Tertiaries did they know these advantages.
THOSE WHO EARNESTLY HELP THE HOLY SOULS MAY WELL HOPE TO AVOID PURGATORY
The Holy Souls whom we relieve or release by our Masses and good works pray for us with such indescribable fervour that God cannot refuse to hear their prayers. One of the principal graces they ask for their friends is that these shall have little or no Purgatory. No one knows better than they the awful intensity of the Purgatorial flames; no one, therefore, can pray for us as they do. Let us remember that:
a) God thanks as done to Himself what we do to others. When we relieve or release any of the Holy Souls, we relieve or release, as it were, God Himself. How ready, therefore, will He not be to hear the prayers offered by these souls for us.
b) Our Blessed Lord lays down clearly the great law: "By that measure by which you measure, it will be measured to you again" In proportion, consequently, to our generosity towards the Holy Souls will God's mercy and generosity be towards us. Those who work heart and soul for the relief of the Holy Souls may thus well hope that their Purgatory will be entirely remitted, or notably lessened. On the other hand, those who neglect the Holy Souls may justly fear a severe judgment and a long Purgatory.
Let everyone without fail join the Association of the Holy Souls. All the members of the family should do so. The conditions are very easy. If the Association is not established in your Parish, write to: Association of the Holy Souls, Dominican Nuns of the Perpetual Rosary, Pius XII Monastery, Rua do Rosario 1, 2495 Fatima, Portugal, which is one of the centers of the devotion. St. James the Apostle gives another very effectual method of avoiding or lessening our stay in Purgatory. He says: "He who saves a soul, saves his own, and satisfies for a multitude of sins"
If someone were fortunate enough to save the life of a King's only son, the heir to his throne, from a horrible death, what reward might he not expect to receive from the grateful monarch? No King, however, could be as grateful to and anxious to reward the person who saved his son as God is grateful and ready to reward the person who saves one soul from Hell. All of us may, in a thousand different ways, save not one but many souls from Hell. For instance :
1. We can do so by praying earnestly for them. How often does not a mother save her son's soul by her fervent prayers. We can save souls by giving good advice and also by our good example. How many boys owe their sterling qualities to the wise counsels of a good Father or friend!
2. Another efficacious method of saving souls is by propagating the Faith, viz., Catholic Action. The incredible ignorance, apathy and indifference of Catholics is the evil of the day! It is the bounden duty of Catholics to spread about thousands and thousands of pamphlets of all kinds, full of life, vigor and burning interest, crisp, incisive, clear and strong. Otherwise, these are useless. Each pamphlet or leaflet must carry a message straight to the heart of the reader, rousing him, convincing him, galvanizing him into action.
TO AVOID PURGATORY, DO AS FOLLOWS
1. In every prayer you say, every Mass you hear, every Communion you receive, every good work you perform, have the express intention of imploring God to grant you a holy and happy death and no Purgatory. Surely God will hear a prayer said with such confidence and perseverance.
2. Always wish to do God's will. It is in every sense the best for you. When you do or seek anything that is not God's will, you are sure to
suffer. Say fervently, therefore, each time you recite the Our Father: "Thy will be done"
3. Accept all the sufferings, sorrows, pains and disappointments of life, be they great or small: ill health, loss of goods, the death of your dear ones, heat or cold, rain or sunshine, as coming from God. Bear them calmly and patiently for love of Him and in penance for your sins. Of course one may use all his efforts to ward off trouble and pain, but when one cannot avoid them let him bear them manfully.
Impatience and revolt make sufferings vastly greater and more difficult to bear.
4. Christ's life and actions are so many lessons for us to imitate. The greatest act in His life was His Passion. As He had a Passion, so each
one of us has a passion. Our passion consists in the sufferings and labours of every day. The penance God imposed on man for sin was to gain his bread in the sweat of his brow. Therefore, let us do our work, accept its disappointments and hardships, and bear our pains in union with the Passion of Christ. We gain more merit by a little pain than by years of pleasure.
5. Forgive all injuries and offences, for in proportion as we forgive others, God forgives us.
6. Avoid mortal sins and deliberate venial sins and break off all bad habits. Then it will be relatively easy to satisfy God's justice for sins
of frailty. Above all, avoid sins against charity and against chastity, whether in thought, word or deed, for these sins [and the expiation for
them] are the reason why many souls are detained in Purgatory for long years.
7. If afraid of doing much, do many little things, acts of kindness and charity, give the alms you can, cultivate regularity of life, method in
work, and punctuality in the performance of duty; don't grumble or complain when things are not as you please; don't censure and complain of others; never refuse to do a favor to others when it is possible. These and suchlike little acts are a splendid penance.
8. Do all in your power for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Pray for them constantly, get others to do so, join the Association of the Holy Souls and ask all those you know to do likewise. The Holy Souls will repay you most generously.
9. There is no way more powerful of obtaining from God a most holy and happy death than by weekly Confession, daily Mass and daily Communion.
10. A daily visit to the Blessed Sacrament--it need only be three or four minutes--is an easy way of obtaining the same grace. Kneeling in the presence of Jesus with eyes fixed on the Tabernacle, sure that He is looking at us, let us for a few minutes repeat some little prayer like
these: "My Jesus, mercy." "My Jesus, have pity on me, a sinner" "My Jesus, I love You" "My Jesus, give me a happy death"
HOW WE CAN HELP THE HOLY SOULS
I. The first means is by joining the Association of the Holy Souls. The conditions are easy.
ASSOCIATION OF THE HOLY SOULS
Approved by the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, June, 1936
1. The members are asked to send their full name and address to: Association of the Holy Souls, Dominican Nuns of the Perpetual Rosary, Pius XII Monastery, Rua do Rosario 1, 2495 Fatima, Portugal.
2. The members must offer up a Mass once a week for the Holy Souls (Sunday's Mass can fulfil this obligation).
3. The members pray for and promote devotion to the Holy Souls. (We recommend the booklets Read Me or Rue It and How to Avoid Purgatory.)
4. The members are asked to contribute a yearly alms to the Mass Fund. The alms is used to have Masses said for the Holy Souls every month.
5. A second means of helping the Holy Souls is having Masses offered for them. This is certainly the most efficacious way of relieving them.
6. Those who cannot get many Masses offered, owing to want of means, ought to assist at as many Masses as possible for this intention.
A young man who was earning a very modest salary told the writer: "My wife died a few years ago. I got 10 Masses said for her. I could not possibly do more but heard 1,000 for her dear soul "
7. The recital of the Rosary (with its great indulgences) and the Way of the Cross (which is also richly indulgenced) are excellent means of helping the Holy Souls. St. John Massias, as we saw, released from Purgatory more than a million souls, chiefly by reciting the Rosary and offering its great indulgences for them.
8. Another easy and efficacious way is by the constant repetition of short indulgenced prayers, offering up the indulgences for the Souls in
Purgatory. Many people have the custom of saying 500 or 1,000 times each day the little ejaculation, "Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in Thee" or the one word, "Jesus" These are most consoling devotions and bring oceans of graces to those who practice them and give immense relief to the Holy Souls. Those who say the ejaculations 1,000 times a day gain 300,000 days Indulgence! What a multitude of souls they can thus relieve! What will it not be at the end of a month, a year--or 50 years? And if they do not say the ejaculations, what an immense number of graces and favors they shall have lost. It is quite possible and even easy to say these ejaculations 1,000 times a day. But if one does not say them 1,000 times, let him say them 500 or 200 times.
9. Still another powerful prayer is: "Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, with all the Masses being said all over the world this day, for the Souls in Purgatory." Our Lord showed St. Gertrude a vast number of souls leaving Purgatory and going to Heaven as a result of this prayer which the Saint was accustomed to say frequently during the day.
10. The Heroic Act consists in offering to God in favor of the Souls in Purgatory all the works of satisfaction we practice during life and all the suffrages that will be offered for us after death. If God rewards so abundantly the most trifling alms given to a poor man in His name, what an immense reward will He not give to those who offer all their works of satisfaction in life and death for the souls He loves so dearly. This Act does not prevent priests from offering Mass for the intentions they wish, or lay people from praying for any persons or other intentions they desire. We counsel everyone to make this act.
ALMS HELP THE HOLY SOULS
St. Martin of Tours gave half of his cloak to a poor beggar, only to find out afterwards that it was to Christ he had given it. Our Lord appeared to him and thanked him. Blessed Jordan of the Dominican Order could never refuse an alms when it was asked in the name of God. One day he had forgotten his purse. A poor man implored an alms for the love of God. Rather than refuse him, Jordan, who was then a student, gave him a most precious belt or cincture which he prized dearly. Shortly afterwards, he entered a church and found his cincture encircling the waist of an image of Christ Crucified. He, too, had given his alms to Christ. We all give our alms to Christ.
a) Let us give all the alms we can afford; b) Let us have said all the Masses in our power; c) Let us hear as many more as is possible; d) Let us offer all our pains and sufferings for the relief of the Holy Souls. We shall thus deliver countless souls from Purgatory, who will repay us ten thousand times over.
THE BROWN SCAPULAR
Two wonderful promises of Our Lady of Mount Carmel are available to those who have been enrolled in the Brown Scapular.
The great promise of the Blessed Virgin Mary, given to St. Simon Stock on July 16, 1251, is as follows: "Whoever dies wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire." Our Lady's second Scapular Promise, known as the Sabbatine Privilege (the word "Sabbatine" meaning "Saturday"), was given by the Blessed Virgin Mary to Pope John XXII in the year 1322 and is as follows: "I, the Mother of
Grace, shall descend on the Saturday after their death, and whomsoever I shall find in Purgatory, I shall free."
There are three conditions for obtaining this privilege: 1) the wearing of the Brown Scapular; 2) the practice of chastity according to one's state of life; 3) the daily recitation of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Those who cannot read can abstain from meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays instead of reciting the Little Office. Also, any priest who has diocesan faculties (this includes most priests) has the additional faculty to commute (change) the third requirement into another pious work--for example, the daily Rosary.
Because of the greatness of the Sabbatine privilege, the Carmelite Order suggests that the third requirement not be commuted into anything less than the daily recitation of seven Our Fathers, seven Hail Marys, and seven Glory Be to the Fathers.