Talks to Boys and Girls Click for Photo Credit
+ Imprimatur 1931
HIS LOVE FOR US MADE PURGATORY
WHEN November comes, my boys and girls, we think of the Holy Souls in Purgatory. You know how the winds of autumn will sigh and moan these days. Maybe I 'm fanciful, but the desolation and mournfulness so common to many November days goes right to my heart. They seem to re-echo the grief-laden words, "Have pity on me, have pity on me, at least you, my friends, because the hand of the Lord hath touched me." For we know that Holy Church teaches that there is a Purgatory and that the souls therein detained are helped by the prayers of the faithful.
Perhaps you do not realize it yet, but, really, the true Christian's life is a Way of the Cross. We must carry the cross after Jesus, if we wish to get to Heaven. And one of life's heaviest crosses is death. But many would welcome death; if only it meant Heaven without delay; if it meant resting at once in the arms of dear Jesus; if it meant immediately receiving the crown of glory. However, it doesn't always mean that for so many it means Purgatory: be-ing cast into awful fire until the stains that are on the soul have been burnt away. Did I say "being cast"? Oh, no!
The soul that dies in God's love and in His grace and sees upon itself the stains of little sins and the remains of big ones at Christ's judgment seat will throw itself into those cleansing flames. It will see how soiled and ugly it is in the eyes of God and will want to go away and be purified before coming back to rest on the Lord's bosom forever. And that go-ing away to suffer in love and peace is Purgatory.
Must there be a Purgatory? Of course there must! You know that God is infinite Sanctity and Purity itself, and that nothing impure can enter into His sacred presence. And you know, too, that souls blackened with mortal sin unrepented of and unforgiven go to that dreadful place of everlasting fire that we call hell. But all of us commit many little sins and maybe even big sins. We confess some of the little ones and all the big ones and they are wiped away from the soul; but the little sins leave stains and there are still some stains left where the big sins were, just as there's a stain left on your paper no matter how quickly you blot up the drop of ink that fell from your pen. And remember, nothing that is stained shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. Now, wouldn't it be terrible if even the souls from which ugly sin had been blotted out by forgiveness had to go to hell because, being still stained, they could not go to Heaven?
Oh, it would indeed be more than terrible! But God is too good for that. So His love for us made Purgatory, a place between Heaven and hell, where souls not quite pure are kept for a time and made clean in suffering.
Oh, wouldn't it be nice, though, if we could go to Heaven at once after death, without hav-ing to go to Purgatory? Well, maybe we can. Man's sinfulness demands Purgatory, you know, and so man's avoidance of sinfulness will enable him to escape, in whole or in part, its fearful punishments. So it's up to us to be very good; don't you think so? Let's be truly wise in the Holy Ghost.
Here are some ways in which you can lessen the distance between you and our Father in heaven. Avoid every little sin even: then you'll never commit a big one. And do penance by being very obedient and gentle and loving at home and in school; by being helpful and dili-gent, doing every task and getting every lesson as best you can to please God, Who is watching you; by not complaining when you haven't just what you'd like to eat and to wear and to entertain yourself with, and when others do not pay any attention to you, and when you have an ache or a pain somewhere or when you are sick. And remember that careful-ly keeping the Ten Commandments and trying to be pure and blameless always is the best kind of penance and will lessen your Purgatory very much—maybe to nothing, even! Oh, that would be fine! Prayer can do all things. So, of course, it can shorten our Purgato-ry, too. A good, pious morning prayer, and a good, pious evening prayer, and Mass and Holy Communion in the morning, and the rosary and visits to the Blessed Sacrament and many little ejaculatory prayers during the day, and the good intention to do everything for Jesus—oh, that would be making a delightful, easy Purgatory of earth, wouldn't it?
And there would be few stains, if any, to be burnt away in the life to come. St. Cyprian says, "It is one thing to await pardon, another to enter directly into glory. One dies, and is cast into prison, and will not leave it until he pays the last farthing; another dies and straightway receives the reward of his faith and courage." How would you like to die?
One way to shorten your own Purgatory is to pray very much for the souls that are suffer-ing there. It is the best way I know of. And nothing helps them more than to have Holy Mass said for them. St. Jerome says that a soul in Purgatory ceases to suffer during the time the Holy Sacrifice lasts. What a beautiful thought! As praying for the holy souls is the most excellent work of charity you can perform for your neighbor, so to have Masses said for them is the greatest good thing you can do.
Now, every morning during November, be sure to make the I intention to gain all the in-dulgences you can during the day for the poor souls. And then gain many! The rosary es-pecially is a gold mine of indulgences. Then there are the little prayers that have an indul-gence of so and so many days each time. Say them over and over again—also between times! And pray in particular for your dear ones. Oh, be sure that many are crying aloud to you, “Have pity on me, have pity on me, at least you, my friends!” What a shame it would be if you wouldn‟t care!
First Communion DaysBy A Sister of Notre Dame + Imprimatur 1920 JOSEPH
A Sister of Charity was one day visiting the family of a poor child attending the school of which she had the charge. In her hand she carried a basket of provisions, for the family were poor and in want. Up one street and down another trudged the good sister. At last she came to a row of small shops, between two of which was a narrow passage lead-ing into a small square court. Around this court was sheds or rooms, and in each of these dwelt a different family. As Sister Louise came out from the particular room she had come to visit, a women standing in the doorway of the next one spoke to her.
“Sister,” she said, “will you take my Joseph into your school? He‟s gone five, and the inspector has been round.”
As the sister stopped at the open door she had a view of the entire room and family. It was poorer than any of you could imagine. Half the room was occupied by a large bro-ken down bed, the rest by a table and two boxes used for seats. The walls were hidden by various garments hanging on nails. The one window was broken and had a piece of paper stuck over the hole. This was Josephs home, where he slept and played and had his meals. The family were at that moment having their tea, the father seated on a box, the three children upon the bed. Two cups without handles were provided for the father and mother, but the children shared a saucer between them.
“Come here, Joey, let Sister see you,” said the mother.
Joey slid carefully of the bed, placed the empty saucer carefully on the table, and stood beside his mother looking up at the Sister Louise. His legs were bare, his little shirt and trousers ragged, dirty, and torn. His face was surrounded by a thick crop of rough yellow hair, making him look like a copy of shock-headed Peter.
“He‟s a fine boy is Joey,” said the mother, looking with pride on her eldest son, while she tried to rub up his face with the corner of her apron. “He‟s that clever, there‟s nothing he can‟t do.”
“Has he been baptized?” asked Sister Louise.
“O yes, Father John baptized him along with Mrs. Moore‟s Tom.”
“Very well,” Said sister Louise,” “you may send him next Monday, but see that he is washed and tidy.”
So the following week Joseph began his school life. His face had been washed and his little shirt too, but otherwise he looked much the same as when Sister Louise had made his acquaintance.
Joseph thought school a wonderful place, something like heaven, he told his moth-er. It was warm, there was plenty of room to move about, pretty pictures hung on the wall, and, above all, there was music! Joseph loved music; and a lady actually played music while Joseph and the other children marched around the room. Dinner hour came all too quickly, and when the afternoon school was over, he cried because he had to go home.
His teachers became very pleased with him. He tried so hard at all his lessons that he was soon the first in his class. “If only he were clean and tidy,” the teacher would say to Sister Louise, “we could do almost anything with him!”
Each morning as soon as he came into school, Joseph was sent to wash his face and hands; but he could not wash his clothes, which every day became more ragged and dirty. Two or three times Sister had given him a coat our a jersey, but the next day he would come back without it, saying that his father had sold it, as he wanted money to pay for something to drink.
It was the month of November; the children had been told about the poor souls in purgatory, and taught to say some prayers for them. In the school hall too, there was a small box on the alter into which the children sometimes dropped a penny, for they were saving up to have a mass said for the Holy Souls.
Joseph never had a penny to spend, but he had often watched the others drop one in, and wished also that he could do so too.
About this time Joseph became the happy possessor of his first penny. It came about in this way. His hair had become by this time so rough and untidy the Sister Louise asked his mother to let her get it cut. Permission being readily given, Joseph, accompa-nied by a big girl, set off towards the barber‟s shop. It was a bitter cold day, a sharp east wind was blowing, and the people in the streets drew their furs closely around them. Jo-seph had no furs, he had not even a coat, but though he was shivering with the cold, it never occurred to him to complain. The barber looked with pity at the boy‟s scant clothing and at his pinched and hungry-looking little face and when the big girl gave him the usual three pence charge, he took one of the pennies and placed it in the boy‟s hand, saying, “Here, laddie, go and buy yourself a bun, our some sweeties!”
Joseph thanked him, and then with his penny safe in his hand he trotted happily back to school. The door was just about to be locked, but Joseph slipped in and ran in great haste towards the altar. There with a sigh of satisfaction he dropped his penny into the box. Turning round, he saw the Sister near him.
“The barber gave me the penny for sweeties,” he said, “and I buyed a Holy Soul out of purgatory instead.”
Two years went by. Joseph could read and write; he was, as his mother had said, a clever boy, but so ragged and dirty that he always looked the most uncared for in the whole school. But that did not worry Joseph. He loved his school, enjoyed all his lessons, especially his Catechism which taught him to love our Blessed Lord. About this time Jo-seph made his first confession, and then began to prepare for his First Holy Communion. The church was not far from school, and every day Joseph would slip in on his way home, and sometimes remain for along time praying before the Blessed Sacrament. To do this he had each day to resist the temptation to play cards with the other boys on neighboring doorstep. This was a favorite game at that time: the boys would play for sweeties, or nuts, or even for money, and Joseph had often been the winner of these coveted prizes. But Sis-ter did not like the game; she told them it was a dangerous one for little boys, and often led to sin later on, so Joseph had decided that in preparation for his First Holy Commun-ion, he would give up playing, and pay a visit to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament in-stead.
Although Joseph‟s mother and father never went to Mass themselves, they had not quite lost their Faith, and were quite willing that their children should go. Every Sunday Joseph would get up, help to dress his younger brother and sister, and take them to the children‟s Mass; there he would kneel so still, and join so reverently in the prayers and hymns, that Our Lord must have loved him very much.
When the day of his First Holy Communion arrived, Sister told him that although it was into his soul Jesus was coming, still out of respect for Him, his God, he should make himself as clean and tidy as was in his power. This he did, and Sister lent him a large jer-sey and some shoes and socks which made him look quite respectable.
“Jesus will hardly know me,” he said, looking at himself with great satisfaction.
After this, Joseph went to Holy Communion every day. He would take a crust of bread in his pocket for breakfast, and eat it on his way to school from the church.
One day the school doctor came to examine the children. When Joseph came in and the doctor noticed his thin, stunted little body, and his ragged garments, he turned to the Sister saying:
“What a wretched, miserable, little object.”
Joseph heard, and his face flushed. When the doctor had gone, he said, “Sister, Our Lord didn‟t call me a „wretched, miserable, little object,‟ when I went to Holy Communion this morning, did He?”
“No indeed,” replied Sister. “When Jesus saw you coming into church this morning He said, „Here Is my little Joseph. How I love to come into his faithful little heart!‟ ”
Joseph‟s face flushed with pleasure at these words. Looking up into Sister‟s face, he said, “I will always be his faithful little Joseph,” and Sister felt sure that he would.
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The Beauties of the Catholic Church Click to read more about St. Augustine
By: Rev. F.J. Shadler Copyright 1881
Pastor- You were right, Simon, when at our last conference, you said that the Feast of All Saints transported us in spirit to the abode of the blessed. And it was probably the intention of the Church, in instituting this festival, that we should, on one day in the year, thoroughly forget the world and all things earthly, and, as it were, pay in spirit a visit to our beatified brothers and sisters. I have already told you that not all the names of the saints in heaven are contained in the calendar. Now, on this day we have an opportunity of showing our veneration to those whose names are unknown to us, but who, no less than those saints with whose names we are familiar, have fought the good fight, and have been admitted to the beatific vision of God. It would, indeed be deplorable if the majority, or rather all, of our ancestors, and those belonging to us, were not found among the saints in heaven. This day, then, is for us a beautiful Christian family festival, on which the spirit we visit, in the mansions of bliss, the members of our own families; and joy fills our hearts at the thought that those who, perhaps under our own eyes, have borne the heat and burden of the day, have toiled faithfully for heaven, placed their trust in God, and suffered for his sake, now rest from the hardships of this life, and enjoy their eternal inheritance. The occasion may suggest the through that while we still celebrate this feast on earth, at its next recurrence we may perhaps be numbered among the saints, provided we faithfully persevere in the service of God and the observance of his holy law. This day serves likewise, more than any other, to remind us that the saints were men like ourselves, born into this world, with the same proneness to sin. They belonged to the same state, age, and sex as ourselves' they had to sustain the same, perhaps even greater, trials and temptations than we do' they had to conquer the same evil inclinations and passions with ourselves; they encountered the same difficulties with the same divine grace given to us; perhaps their measure was even less; and yet they triumphed and won the crown of immortality. All this we might possibly forget, if we elaborated the feasts of saints of distant lands and foreign nations, or of very remote times; but nothing can bring these truths more vividly to our minds than the thought of our own departed kindred. Finally, this thought that so many among the saints were near and dear to us by state, age, sex, origin, and even family ties, will give us the greatest assurance that by their powerful intercession they will support our prayers. Though death has separated them from the affection for his son, the mother for her child, the husband for his wife, or the friend for his friend; we must with a far greater and purer love than they ever showed during their earthly lives.
Simon- Truly, this festival is calculated to call forth in us most consoling and edifying thoughts.
Pastor- And the more we give ourselves up to them, the greater fruit we shall derive from its celebration. Now, the following was the occasion of the institution of this festival. In Rome there stood a heathen temple originally erected in honor of Jupiter, but afterwards dedicated to all the gods, and hence it received the name of Pantheon. This master-piece of architecture is a half-blobe, its height being almost equal to its breadth; the diameter is one hundred and fifty-eight feet. It has neither pillar nor window, but only a large round opening in the centre at the top, which admits the light. The Emperor Theodosius, in the beginning of the fifth century, demolished all the temples of idols ind the East, while in the West the more remarkable were shut up, but permitted to remain standing as moments of the former magnificence of the empire. When idolatry has been long enough banished to make its revival improbably, these edifices were in some instances purified and converted into churches for the worship of the true God. Pop Boniface IV caused the Pantheon to be cleansed and opened, and in 607 dedicated it in honor of the Blessed Virgin and the martyrs, and, it is said, deposited within it twenty-eight wagon-loads of relics of the martyrs taken from the catacombs. At first the festival of All Saints was observed only in Rome, but through the efforts of Pope Gregory IV, in 834, its observance was extended to the whole Church.
Now let us turn our attention to the COMMEMORATION OF THE FAITHFUL DEPARTED, or All Souls' Day, immediately following the beautiful feast of All Saints. If in spirit we transport ourselves to the abode of the saints, we shall not find among them every one of those who, while on earth, lived for God, and gained for themselves eternal life. A great number of these, on being called hence, were not found sufficiently pure and holy to be admitted at once to the contemplation of the most pure and holy God. They are forced to tarry in the place of purification, until by suffering they shall have attained that perfection which they failed to acquire on earth, and which alone entitles them to the enjoyment of God. For them "night has come in which no man can work"; being no longer in the state of meriting, they are not able in the least to help themselves. Their only recourse is resignation, patience and hope. By the voice of the Church they appeal to us, their brethren, that by our prayers and good works, offered for them, we may shorten the time of their suffering, and hasten the moment of their admission to the rewards of heaven. Affection and piety should powerfully urge us to discharge towards them this religious duty. Those who suffer in purgatory are our fellow-men and fellow-Christians; and some of them are united to us by the tenderest bonds of nature. There we shall meet probably the great number of those who have lived with us, who departed this life under our own eyes, or were consigned to the earth in our presence. For how few, we fear, go hence possessed of such great sanctity that, without further penance, they can be admitted to the joys of the heavenly kingdom? In purgatory are probably many with whom we had frequent intercourse in life, many who, perhaps on our account, omitted many good deeds, or, through our fault, committed many sins, and who therefore, on our account, must atone and suffer for them. And perhaps they are our parents, our nearest relatives, our friends, to whom, in life we were devotedly attached, and to whom, we would have cheerfully rendered any service. Now, during their lives we could have rendered them no service, conferred upon them no favor, and shown them no mark of affection to be compared to the service we can render them now by our intercession for them after death. NEither are the souls suffering in purgatory ungrateful for our help; they will assuredly, by their own prayers, abundantly reward our kind acts, not only when they shall have entered the kingdom of God, and we in turn shall perhaps languish in the place of purification, but even now. For, having died in the grace of friendship of God, there is nothing to prevent their prayers for others, notwithstanding that they can do nothing for themselves. We are reminded of all this by the impressive solemnity of All Souls' day, which many hundred years ago was instituted for this purpose by the Church. And the circumstance that the memorial day of the souls departed immediately follows the feast of All Saints, contributes in no small degree to render this day most salutary and beneficial for them; for the more we had occasion on the preceding day in spirit to contemplate the joys and the happiness of the blessed in heaven, the deeper must be our grief that so many are still deprived of the enjoyment of this happiness, and we must feel ourselves greatly stimulated, by prayer and good works, and the holy sacrifice of the Mass, and the reception of the Most Holy Sacrament, speedily to gain for them the happiness for which they so earnestly long. "It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins" (Mach. xii. 46.) This was the belief and practice even in the Old Testament.
Thomas- The prayers for the dead in the Catholic Church is another of those things on account of which I was much assailed by Protestants during my travels.
Pastor- For the tranquility of your mind let me inform you that, in the very earliest days of Christianity, it was customary to pray for the dead, just as we do to-day. The names of the dead were sent from one church and one monastery to another, and the prayers of the faithful were solicited for them during Mass, the names being read from the diptychs. And this is the origin of the "memorials," or printed cards or pious pictures, asking the prayers of the faithful for a person deceased, which in many localities even to-day, are distributed at funeral services, or sent to those at a distance. St. Chrysostom tells us that during Mass the deacon turned to the people, crying in a loud voice: "Let us also pray for those who have died in Christ"; and he says, moreover, that this was ordained by the apostles
, because they knew well that these would derive great benefit from it. (In cap. 1 Philip Hom. 3) Tertullian, who lived in the age next to that of the apostles, speaking of a pious widow, says: "She prays for the soul of her husband, and begs refreshment for him." (De Monogam., c. 10.)St. Augustine
says "that there can be no doubt that through the prayers and sacrifices of the Church, and alms deeds, God deals more mercifully with the departed than their sins deserve." (Confessions 1.g.) And this saint not only fervently prayed for his holy mother Monica, in order, as he declares, "to obtain the pardon of her sins," but he also beseeches God to inspire all those, for whom with voice or pen he labored, to remember his mother in their prayers. (Serm. 172, Enchirid.) It would take up too much time to quote upon this subject St. Cyprian, St. Cyril, Eusebius, St. Epiphanius, St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, St. Ephrem, and other ancient writers, to prove that the doctrine and practice of the Church regarding purgatory and prayers for the dead are the same to-day that they were in the first ages of the Church. Not only have the schisms preserved the practice of praying for the dead, but even the Jews, though now without temple and without an altar, faithfully cling to the pious custom of their fathers to offer up prayers for their deceased brethren. The doctrine of purgatory, and the practice of praying for the dead, is not only borne out by both the old and New Testament, and the unanimous teachings of all holy writers of every age, but is grounded in the very nature of rational man. The heart necessarily desires to relieve the distress and want of those whom it loves, and it is cruelty to forbid it to gratify this desire. Now, is that love, which made us capable of every sacrifice for those dear to us, suddenly extinguished in our breasts as soon as they close their eyes in death/ Is this temporary separation from those with whom one day we hope to be again united, to deaden and destroy the noblest sentiments and qualities of the soul? If we may pray for our friends while they are with us, why should it be wrong to pray for them when absent? :et those that will, deny themselves the comfort and consolation which we derive from the doctrine of the usefulness of prayer for the dead, by which we still continue to be united with those who "sleep in the Lord." :et us hold fast to the teachings of the Church, and, following her admonition, earnestly and fervently pray for the souls of our brethren in Jesus Christ, languishing in that prison from which there is no deliverance till the last farthing shall have been paid. Let us not forget that "a hard heart shall fare ill at the last day."
A belated All Souls' Day Giveaway!
Enter to win one of 3 copies of the Purgatory book
! A little pamphlet on the views of the Catholic Church regarding Purgatory as well as the history of the views and so forth.
A Blessed Feast of All Saints Day to you and yours!
We have been enjoying our day, since very early this morning which is why our weekly 'Feria Friday
' post has not shown up here. And also because we plan to interrupt that blog series with a special children's sermon for today's great feast, along with a giveaway! Details are below. The next couple of days we will be featuring writings from various antique Catholic books on these great feast days. There are too many to share in just one day! May God send you all many blessings on this day! Anecdotes and Sermonettes for Children's Mass By: Fredrick A Reutur +Imprimatur James Cardinal Gibbons FEAST OF ALL SAINTS Travelers Heavenward Bound
BE GLAD and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven." All the saints whose festival we celebrate today know the truth of these words of our Lord. Who can describe the joys which they feel in that heavenly country? God had wiped all their tears from their eyes; they are free from weeping and sorrow, and all sufferings of this mortal life. Their joy, their happiness lasts forever, so long as God is God. But what must we do in order to be admitted with the saints into heaven? We must overcome the same obstacles and temptations that they met with in their journey to their heavenly home.
I am going to tell you a story which was first told by the old Greeks, about a certain king and his companions, and I want to see if you can find some lessons and warnings in it. This king and his friends traveled over many lands and seas, and met with many dangers. They had left their home sto fight a terrible war in a foreign land. When the war was over they longed to go home again. When they had finally begun their homeward journey they met with other strong enemies and had to fight them. Having conquered them, the companions of the king feasted on the spoils which they had taken. The king, their leader, who was very wise, begged them to go to their ship and sail homeward at once. But they would not listen. Later, while they were feasting, their enemies rushed upon them and wounded some of them very severely. They were now glad enough to escape to their ship. Well, they steered towards home, and after many storms, at last one day they came in sight of a strange land. They went on shore and found the country very beautiful. The sun was always shining, and the natives lived only to eat, drink and sleep. The people of this land lived on the lotus fruit, which made them lazy and careless. The wise leader saw the danger before him; the fruit was very tempting, and if his companions should eat of it they would forget home and friends and duty. Some of them tasted the lotus fruit, and at once they became as sleepy and carefree as the people of the country. Then the leader decided what to do. He had them seized and carried on board their vessel; then every sail was set, and they passed away from the shores of the lotus-easters.
The travelers had other troubles in store for them. They came on day to a wild an rocky shore. The people of this country were fierce giants, called Cyclops. The king and his friends soon found themselves prisoners in the cave of one of the giants who killed and ate a prisoner every day. AT last the travelers managed to blind the giant and escape from the cave to the sea. Joyfully the remainder of the little band got on board their ship and sailed away over the lonely, homeless sea, seeking their native land. AT length they came to the country of the winds, where the king of the winds made them welcome. This king of the winds was very friendly to them, and when they left him to continue their journey he gave them a leather bag, tied with a silver cord, containing all the stormy winds as prisoners. Inly the sweet west wind was left out, that it might carry the travelers home. All went well for nine days. The king trusted no one but himself to the helm. At last they came in sight of home; they saw the green meadows and the waving trees and their homes nestled among them. They were almost safe in the harbor, when the king, tired our from watching, fell asleep. His companions were tempted by curiosity to examine the bag which held the winds. In an evil moment they opened it. Out rushed the angry winds and blew the ship far away from home, out of sight of their native land. Once more they were out on the desolate sea.
Now let us look at the heavenly meaning of the story. The king and the fellow-travelers are ourselves, all mankind. We are sent from our home to a long warfare in a foreign land, that is this world; and we must conquer all our enemies and cross the stormy sea of temptation before we can reach home. All went well with the travelers as long as they remembered their home and their friends. So it is with us, my children. All goes well with us as long as we think of our home in heaven and our friends there - God and the saints and the angels. Our enemies are our sins. If we conquer some sin, we must not sit down at ease, as the travelers did. When we think we are safe, we shall fall. The travelers on their homeward journey met with storms and tempests. You and I, my dear children, have to pass the waves of this troublesome world before we can find our home; and the storms are the troubles and sorrows that will meet us. The land of the lotus-eaters means the land of idleness and sloth, and the fruit of it is forgetfulness. Those who eat it forget their duty, their home and their god.
When I see a child idle in school, careless in church, lazy in work, always thinking of eating and playing, then I know that child has eaten a fatal fruit. You must get away from the land of idleness. Put out to sea - the sea of work and duty.
The travelers fell among the giants. Our bad habits are the giants. The boy who uses bad language is living as a prisoner in a dirty cave with a foul giant. The idle child, the deceitful child, the dishonest child, all are caught in the cave of the giant. But what is the door our of the giant's cave. Repentance. What is the key? Prayer. Use that key now and it will open for you a door of escape. Perhaps we are going on very well for a time, trying to lead good lives and so getting nearer to God and our Home, when some curiosity tempts us to do something which God had forbidden. Curiosity tempted the prodigal son. He was safe at home and loved by his father. He wanted to see more of the world. He wanted to open the bag of world's pleasures, as the travelers longed to open the bag of winds. There are many big girls and boys like him. They think it manly to go away from home. The boy thinks it a fine thing to get into the company of those who swear and tell bad stories. He wants to find out all sorts of things which are not good for him. Like the foolish travelers, he unites the bag, and out rush all the bad passions and temptations and carry him away. And where is he driven to? Far from his Home, to the husks of the swine and the foul rags of sin, and the filthy food of a wicked world.
Oh, my dear boys and girls, don't be curious to find out evil in the world! God will teach you everything which you need to know. Never be curious to look into bad books, or talk about bad things, or go to bad places. Remember what curiosity did for the travelers.
We are all travelers on a journey through life, on which the saints have gone before us, having to overcome the same difficulties. We are going home to Paradise, through many dangers, and difficulties, and temptations. On this journey we must fight, and watch and pray, and, above all, we must have Jesus as our guide. He will give us strength through the Blessed Sacrament to triumph over the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil, and will enable us to follow Him with pure hearts and minds. Labor, struggle and pray with the saints on earth, that you may triumph with them in heaven.
All Saints Day Book Giveaway!
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We are giving away a total of three books today, 2 copies of Anecdotes and Sermonettes for Children's Mass (the sermon above is from this title) and one copy of Catholic Life; or Feasts Fasts and Devotions of the Ecclesiastical Year.
My favorite time of year is upon us; All Saints, All Souls, Advent, the Immaculate Conception, St. Nicholas' Feast Day, St. Lucy's Feast Day and the Nativity of our Blessed Lord! There is nothing like the feasts of the Holy Catholic Church to brighten the dark nights of fall and winter!
Today is a special day as well, its the blessed night before the celebration of all of those who have achieved their reward in Heaven, its the vigil of All Saints! Today's writings are about Vigils and why the Church keeps them. Please do note that fasting and abstinence rules have changed since the late 1800's, when these lovely books were written. Some more excellent sources for reading for today come from from the writings of Dom Gueranger on the Vigil of All Saints
, A story about The Devil by Hillare Belloc
and of course our latest blog posts on superstitions that tend to show up on the Vigil of All Saints found here
.The Beauties of the Catholic ChurchBy: Rev. F.J. Shadler Copyright 1881
The word vigil
is synonymous with watch.
King David, in his Psalms, exhorts us: "In the night lift up your hands to the holy places, and bless ye the Lord" (Psalm cxxxii. 2). And again, speaking of himself, he says: "O rose at midnight to give praise to thee" (Psalm cxviii. 62). The early Christians literally fulfilled these words. They assembled either on the evening before the feast (on which account the day before a feast is also called the eve) or on the morning of the festival itself, before the dawn of day, in order, by watching, singing of the Psalms, meditation, and prayer, to prepare themselves for the feast. In this they followed the example of the apostles, who, after Christ had ascended into heaven, locked themselves up in a room in Jerusalem, and, by united prayer, prepared themselves for the coming of the Holy Ghost. The vigils are therefore usually fast-days
, in order thus to unite several pious practices, according to the words of Tobias: "Prayer is good when combined with fasting and almsgiving." Even in the times of persecutions these nightly vigils were customary among the Christians. Pliny, a governor in the Roman Empire, reports to Emperor Trajan, only about 70 years A.D., that "the Christians are wont on certain days to come together in the morning before dawn to sing praises to Christ as to a divinity." And Tertullian, whom I have already mentioned, while endeavoring to persuade Christian woman not to enter into marriage with pagan men, says: "What pagan husband would suffer his wife to leave her home to attend the nocturnal worship?" Later, about the thirteenth century, these nightly gatherings not only fell into disuse, but were expressly forbidden by the Church, because of the many abuses which had crept into them. Hence the preceding day of certain feasts is appointed as a day of prayer and fasting preparatory to the festival. The name of vigil, or night-watch, is, however, still retained.Catholic Ceremonies and Explanation f the Ecclesiastical YearFrom the French of the Abbe Durand+ Imprimatur 1896Vigils-
The Christians formerly passed the night preceding a solemn feast in prayer in the church; this holy practice bore the name of vigil, or watch. Several motives recommended it to the piety of the faithful. During the night the Word of God was made flesh; during the night He came into the world; during the night He will come again to judge mankind. Grave abuses led to the suppression of these holy meetings for nocturnal prayer, vigil of feasts. That of Christmas by a privilege easily understood, was alone excepted. But the name vigil was always retained for the day that preceded a feast, and most frequently the primitive fast was preserved.
The vigils of primitive institution, and which for this reason enjoy the privilege of never being omitted, are: Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, and Pentecost. Others have been instituted later for certain feasts of the Blessed Virgin and saints. These are: The Assumption, All Saints, Nativity of St. John the Baptist, the feast of the apostles, and the feast of St. Lawrence. All vigils supposed a fast and abstinence.
Ecclesiastical discipline has varied on this question, yielding to the needs of people and time; in America to-day fast and abstinence are practiced on the vigils of Christmas, Easter, PEntecost, the Assumption and All Saints. All other vigils are observed without fast or abstinence, and they are confined to the office which is assigned to them.
According to the way we keep them the vigils render the feast more solemn. By mortification they make us compassionate the trials of the saints during their earthly pilgrimage; they say to us that to be glorified with them it is necessary to share their suffering, and that penitence is the gate of heaven. (Alcuin, De Parasceve.)TO READ MORE ABOUT THE VIGIL OF ALL SAINTS, ALL SAINTS DAY AND ALL SOULS DAY PLEASE VISIT OUR PAGE DEDICATED TO THESE HOLY DAYS
Our Feria Friday
post is a little early this week as we will be away from the computer for All Saints and All Souls Days. Don't forget to enter our November Give A Way
Lives of the Saints
, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. 1894
THE Church teaches us that the souls of the just who have left this world soiled with the stain of venial sin remain for a time in a place of expiation, where they suffer such punishment as may be due to their offences. It is a matter of faith that these suffering souls are relieved by the intercession of the Saints in heaven and by the prayers of the faithful upon earth. To pray for the dead is, then, both an act of charity and of piety. We read in Holy Scripture: "It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins." And when Our Lord inspired St. Odilo, Abbot of Cluny, towards the close of the tenth century, to establish in his Order a general commemoration of all the faithful departed, it was soon adopted by the whole Western Church, and has been continued unceasingly to our day. Let us, then, ever bear in mind the dead and offer up our prayers for them. By showing this mercy to the suffering souls in purgatory, we shall be particularly entitled to be treated with mercy at our departure from this world, and to share more abundantly in the general suffrages of the Church, continually offered for all who have slept in Christ.
This weeks Friday Fare
The Path to Rome -Hillarie Belloc
Well, once there was a Learned Man who had a bargain with the Devil that he should warn the Devil's emissaries of all the good deeds done around him so that they could be upset, and he in turn was to have all those pleasant things of this life which the Devil's allies usually get, to wit a Comfortable Home, Self-Respect, good health, 'enough money for one's rank', and generally what is called 'a happy useful life'--till midnight of All-Hallowe'en in the last year of the nineteenth century.
So this Learned Man did all he was required, and daily would inform the messenger imps of the good being done or prepared in the neighbourhood, and they would upset it; so that the place he lived in from a nice country town became a great Centre of Industry, full of wealth and desirable family mansions and street property, and was called in hell 'Depot B' (Depot A you may guess at). But at last toward the 15th of October 1900, the Learned Man began to shake in his shoes and to dread the judgement; for, you see, he had not the comfortable ignorance of his kind, and was compelled to believe in the Devil willy-nilly, and, as I say, he shook in his shoes.
So he bethought him of a plan to cheat the Devil, and the day before All-Hallowe'en he cut a very small round hole in the floor of his study, just near the fireplace, right through down to the cellar. Then he got a number of things that do great harm (newspapers, legal documents, unpaid bills, and so forth) and made ready for action.
Next morning when the little imps came for orders as usual, after prayers, he took them down into the cellar, and pointing out the hole in the ceiling, he said to them:
'My friends, this little hole is a mystery. It communicates, I believe, with the chapel; but I cannot find the exit. All I know is, that some pious person or angel, or what not, desirous to do good, slips into it every day whatever he thinks may be a cause of evil in the neighbourhood, hoping thus to destroy it' (in proof of which statement he showed them a scattered heap of newspapers on the floor of the cellar beneath the hole). 'And the best thing you can do,' he added, 'is to stay here and take them away as far as they come down and put them back into circulation again. Tut! tut!' he added, picking up a moneylender's threatening letter to a widow, 'it is astonishing how these people interfere with the most sacred rights! Here is a letter actually stolen from the post! Pray see that it is delivered.'
So he left the little imps at work, and fed them from above with all manner of evil-doing things, which they as promptly drew into the cellar, and at intervals flew away with, to put them into circulation again.
That evening, at about half-past eleven, the Devil came to fetch the Learned Man, and found him seated at his fine great desk, writing. The Learned Man got up very affably to receive the Devil, and offered him a chair by the fire, just near the little round hole.
'Pray don't move,' said the Devil; 'I came early on purpose not to disturb you.'
'You are very good,' replied the Learned Man. 'The fact is, I have to finish my report on Lady Grope's Settlement among our Poor in the Bull Ring--it is making some progress. But their condition is heart-breaking, my dear sir; heart-breaking!'
AND THE LEARNED MAN
'I can well believe it,' said the Devil sadly and solemnly, leaning back in his chair, and pressing his hands together like a roof. 'The poor in our great towns, Sir Charles' (for the Learned Man had been made a Baronet), 'the condition, I say, of the--Don't I feel a draught?' he added abruptly. For the Devil can't bear draughts.
'Why,' said the Learned Man, as though ashamed, 'just near your chair thereis a little hole that I have done my best to fill up, but somehow it seemed impossible to fill it... I don't know...'
The Devil hates excuses, and is above all practical, so he just whipped the soul of a lawyer out of his side-pocket, tied a knot in it to stiffen it, and shoved it into the hole.
'There!' said the Devil contentedly; 'if you had taken a piece of rag, or what not, you might yourself... Hulloa!...' He looked down and saw the hole still gaping, and he felt a furious draught coming up again. He wondered a little, and then muttered: 'It's a pity I have on my best things. I never dare crease them, and I have nothing in my pockets to speak of, otherwise I might have brought something bigger.' He felt in his left-hand trouser pocket, and fished out a pedant, crumpled him carefully into a ball, and stuffed him hard into the hole, so that he suffered agonies. Then the Devil watched carefully. The soul of the pedant was at first tugged as if from below, then drawn slowly down, and finally shot off out of sight.
'This is a most extraordinary thing!' said the Devil.
'It is the draught. It is very strong between the joists,' ventured the Learned Man.
'Fiddle-sticks ends!' shouted the Devil. 'It is a trick! But I've never been caught yet, and I never will be.'
He clapped his hands, and a whole host of his followers poured in through the windows with mortgages, Acts of Parliament, legal decisions, declarations of war, charters to universities, patents for medicines, naturalization orders, shares in gold mines, specifications, prospectuses, water companies' reports, publishers' agreements, letters patent, freedoms of cities, and, in a word, all that the Devil controls in the way of hole-stopping rubbish; and the Devil, kneeling on the floor, stuffed them into the hole like a madman. But as fast as he stuffed, the little imps below (who had summoned a number of their kind to their aid also) pulled it through and carted it away. And the Devil, like one possessed, lashed the floor with his tail, and his eyes glared like coals of fire, and the sweat ran down his face, and he breathed hard, and pushed every imaginable thing he had into the hole so swiftly that at last his documents and parchments looked like streaks and flashes. But the loyal little imps, not to be beaten, drew them through into the cellar as fast as machinery, and whirled them to their assistants; and all the poor lost souls who had been pressed into the service were groaning that their one holiday in the year was being filched from them, when, just as the process was going on so fast that it roared like a printing-machine in full blast, the clock in the hall struck twelve.
APPARITION OF ST CHARLES BORROMEO
The Devil suddenly stopped and stood up. 'Out of my house,' said the Learned Man; 'out of my house! I've had enough of you, and I've no time for fiddle-faddle! It's past twelve, and I've won!'
The Devil, though still panting, smiled a diabolical smile, and pulling out his repeater (which he had taken as a perquisite from the body of a member of Parliament), said, 'I suppose you keep Greenwich time?'
'Certainly!' said Sir Charles.
'Well,' said the Devil, 'so much the worse for you to live in Suffolk. You're four minutes fast, so I'll trouble you to come along with me; and I warn you that any words you now say may be used against...'
At this point the Learned Man's patron saint, who thought things had gone far enough, materialized himself and coughed gently. They both looked round, and there was St Charles sitting in the easy chair.
'So far,' murmured the Saint to the Devil suavely, 'so far from being four minutes too early, you are exactly a year too late.' On saying this, the Saint smiled a genial, priestly smile, folded his hands, twiddled his thumbs slowly round and round, and gazed in a fatherly way at the Devil.
'What do you mean?' shouted the Devil.
'What I say,' said St Charles calmly; '1900 is not the last year of the nineteenth century; it is the first year of the twentieth.'
'Oh!' sneered the Devil, 'are you an anti-vaccinationist as well? Now, look here' (and he began counting on his fingers); 'supposing in the year 1 B.C. ...'
'I never argue,' said St Charles.
'Well, all I know is,' answered the Devil with some heat, 'that in this matter as in most others, thank the Lord, I have on my side all the historians and all the scientists, all the universities, all the...'
'And I,' interrupted St Charles, waving his hand like a gentleman (he is a Borromeo), 'I have the Pope!'
At this the Devil gave a great howl, and disappeared in a clap of thunder, and was never seen again till his recent appearance at Brighton.
So the Learned Man was saved; but hardly; for he had to spend five hundred years in Purgatory catechizing such heretics and pagans as got there, and instructing them in the true faith. And with the more muscular he passed a knotty time.
The end of this week brings us the great three days surrounding the Feast of All Saint's Day! Wednesday is the first of those days, called All Hallow's Eve, in the past known as a day of fast and abstinence. All Saint's Day follows on the first, bring a great day of feasting with all the Blessed in Heaven! November 3rd brings us to All Soul's Day where we remember those suffering the flames of Purgatory awaiting their release. It is in honor of this day that we are giving way November's gifts!
A few years ago now, we were given, as a gift, from those lovely people at Mother of Our Savior, the book titled Purgation Manual. My grandfather had passed away and they were so kind to send us this little book. It has been a great comfort over the years and a daily devotion in our family since. We would like to share this wonderful devotion with you! By entering below you have 4 ways to win one of the TEN copies that we are giving away! We pray that you will enjoy this book as much as we have. As always you may purchase your own copy over at Refuge of Sinner's Publishing
, they also just released a couple of other books on the Poor Souls along with many other great titles! Have a most blessed Hallow's Eve, All Saints and All Souls days!
"I saw a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before th throne, and in sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands: and they cried with a loud voice, saying: Salvation to our God!"
A popular secular celebration is upon us, today's Keeping It Catholic Monday
is about the Catholic Holy Days coming up and the traditions of the Church in regarding what is called now a days Halloween. In edition to the wonderful words of Dom Gueranger is a wonderful blog post Hallowe'en- Pegan or Catholic Celebration
October 31st Vigil of All SaintsThe Liturgical Year Vol.14By: Dom Gueranger Imprimatur 1927
LET us prepare our souls for the graces heaven is about to shower upon the earth in return for its homage. To-morrow the Church will be so overflowing with joy, that she will seem to be already in possession of eternal happiness;but to-day she appears in the garb of penance, confessing that she is still an exile. Let us fast and pray with her; for are not we too pilgrims and strangers in this world, where all things are fleeting and hurry on to death? Year by year, as the great solemnity comes round, it has gathered from among our former companions new saints, who bless our tears and smile upon our songs of hope. Year by year the appointed time draws nearer, when we ourselves, seated at the heavenly banquet, shall receive the homage of those who succeed us, and hold out a helping hand to draw them after us to the home of everlasting happiness. Let us learn, from this very hour, to emancipate our souls; let us keep our hearts free, in the midst of the vain solicitudes and false pleasures of a strange land: the exile has no care but his banishment, no joy but that which gives him a foretaste of his fatherland.Feast of All Saints - November 1
TIME is no more; it is the human race eternally saved that is thus presented in vision to the prophet of Patmos. Our life of struggle and suffering on earth is, then, to have an end. Our long-lost race is to fill up the angelic ranks thinned by Satan's revolt; and, uniting in the gratitude of the redeemed of the Lamb, the faithful spirits will sing with us: 'Thanksgiving, honour, and power, and strength to our God for ever and ever!' (Ibid. 12)
And this shall be the end, as the apostle says; (1 Cor. xv. 24) the end of death and suffering; the end of history and of its revolutions, which will then be explained. The old enemy, hurled down with his followers into the abyss, will live on only to witness his own eternal defeat. The Son of man, the Saviour of the world, will have delivered the kingdom of God His Father; and God, the last end of creation and of redemption, will be all in all. (I Cor. xv. 24-28)
Long before the seer of the Apocalypse, Isaias sang: 'I saw the Lord sitting upon the throne high and elevated, and His train filled the temple. And the Seraphim cried one to another, and said: Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God of hosts, all the earth is full of His glory.' (IS. vi. 1-3) The train and fringes of God's vesture are the elect, who are the adornment of the World, the splendour of the Father. For, since the Word has espoused our human nature, that nature is His glory, as He is the glory of God. The bride herself is clothed with the justifications of the saints' and when this glittering robe is perfected, the signal will be give for the end of time. This feast announces the ever-growing nearness of the eternal nuptials; for on it we annually celebrate the progress of the bride's preparation.
Blessed are they that are called to the marriage-supper of the Lamb! (Apoc. xix. 9) Blessed are we all, who have received in Baptism the nuptial robe of holy charity, which entitles us to a seat at the heavenly banquet! LEt us prepare ourselves for the unspeakable destiny reserved for us by love. To this end are directed all the labours of this life: toils, struggles, sufferings for God's sake, all adorn with priceless jewels the garment of grace, the clothing of the elect. Blessed are they that mourn! (St. Matt. v. 5)
They that have gone before us wept as they turned the furrows and cast in the seed; but now their triumphant joy overflows upon us as an anticipated glory in this valley of tears. Without waiting for the dawn of eternity, the present solemnity gives u s to enter by hope into the land of light, whither our fathers have followed Jesus, the divine forerunner. Do not the thors of suffering lose their sharpness at the sight of the eternal joys into which they are to blossom? Does not the happiness of the dear departed cause a heavenly sweetness to mingle with our sorrow? Let us hearken to the chants of deliverance sung by those for whom we weep; 'little and great,' this is the feast of them all, as it will one day be ours. At this season, when cold and darkness prevail, Nature herself, stripping off her last adornments, seems to be preparing the world for the passage of the human race into the heavenly country. Let us, then, sing with the palmist: 'I have rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord. Our feet as yet stand only in thy outer courts; but we see thy building ever going on, O Jerusalem, city of peace, compacted together in concord and love. To thee do the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, praising the name of the Lord; thy vacant seats are being filled up. May all good things be for them that love thee, O Jerusalem; may peace be in thy strength, and abundance in thy towers. For the sake of my brethren and of my neighbours, who are already thy inhabitants, I take pleasure in thee; because of the Lord our God, whose dwelling thou art, I have placed in thee all my desire." (Ps. cxxi)
Around the Year with the Von Trapp Family
By: Maria Von Trapp from 1955
With every passing year I realize more deeply how joyful our religion is. The more one penetrates into what it means to be Catholic, the fuller life becomes.
There is one great art that we are taught from our childhood and for which we cannot be grateful enough, and that is how to celebrate feasts. The little ones grow up hearing again and again: "Today is the feast of St. Joseph" "Next week is the feast of the Annunciation.. the feast of St. John... the feast of the Holy Family... the feast of the Assumption." And these are not words only. Soon the children discover that these days have a truly festive character. Later, when they grow up and learn to use their own missals, they find that Holy Mother Church prepares a feast for us almost every day of the year. Naturally, these feast days are not equally important. Two of them, the anniversaries of Our Lord's Resurrection and of the Descent of the Holy Ghost, are of such magnitude and solemnity that the Church assigns a whole week to them. She wants to teach her children to take time for celebrating. What a necessary lesson for us of the fast-living twentieth century, when time has become money and the most important even in people's lives - their wedding - has been reduced from the ten-day celebration of old to a ten minute formality at the Justice of the Peace!
For Easter and Pentecost the Church permits no other feasts to interfere. This is called "a privileged octave of the first order." There are other great feast days, such as Epiphany and Corpus Christi, Christmas, the Ascension, the fast of the Sacred Heart, and the feasts of the Blessed Mother, which also have an octave, and at last a commemoration of that feast is made each day.
If the first place is given to the feasts of Our Lord, the second is given to those of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Then come the holy angels, and they are followed by the saints who had a share in the plan of the Incarnation, as St. Joseph, St. John the Baptist, Peter and Paul and the other Apostles, whose feasts are always celebrated with special solemnity.
Then we are told to celebrate as a feast of dedication of churches, the anniversaries of the martyrdom of the saints, the commemoration of holy popes, bishops, teachers of the Church, confessors, virgins and all holy women. According to their importance these feasts will be more or less solemnly celebrated; but even a simple feast day is a feast day.
Once in a while there is a day in the calendar when we do not celebrate a feast. This is called a "ferial day." During most seasons these are few and far between, and it is all the more striking, therefore, to come to the six weeks of Lent and find that the Church has prepared a special mass for every ferial day and wishes her children to refrain from celebrating feasts during these weeks of penance. That makes the great Alleluia, which introduces the feast of the Resurrection, all the more jubilant.
Living through this cycle of festive evens every year, one cannot help but learn that one should not just live one's life, or spend one's life, or go through one's life, but celebrate one's life. Whether the days are filled with bliss or mourning, we have learned to live almost each one as a special feast day. As the Introit of many a Mass bids us: "Guadeamus omnes in Domino, diem festum celebrantes." ("Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating this festival day.")
If the time from the First Sunday in Advent until Pentecost seems like one long uninterrupted celebration of the greatest mysteries of our faith, the time from Pentecost to the end of the Church Year appears much more sober.
The second half of the Church year is referred to in Austria as "The Green Meadow," because of the green color of the vestments on the Sundays after Pentecost, whereas, until then, they had been violet, red, or white. If the festive character of the first part of the year is comparable to the mountain chains of the Alps or Andes, the single feasts in the months after Pentecost are like isolated peaks towering above the green meadow.
Feasts of the Green Meadow
Two more weeks until the 2011-2012 Holy Simplicity Planner
starts! Get your copy now in time to get the most use out of your home*school*Liturgical Year planner! Plan next years lessons, yearly goals, daily task sheet and more!
Around the Year with the Trapp Family
All Souls Day
Toward the end of the year, on November 2nd, the Church sets a day aside which is devoted to the suffering souls in Purgatory. Just as we turn to our big sisters and brothers, the saints, to intercede for us at the throne of God, the poor souls are also turning toward us: "Have pity on me, have pity on me, at least you, my friends, because the hand of the Lord has trouched me" (Job 19:21; Office of the Dead). Helpless in themselves, since the purification they are undergoing is passive suffering, they can be helped by us. We canpray for them. We can offer up sacrafices and good works with the desire that God may accept them and, seeing in them the prayer and suffering rise from the Mystical Body of His only Son, hasten the delivery of those souls whom He deems worthy and ready for such help. On the day of "all the faithful departed" the Church reminds her children to listen to the message of the Scriptures in her liturgy and to do some thinking and meditating on Purgatory and the holy souls there. (Continue reading in this blog post
, scroll down to get to the section on All Souls' Day)
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"To relieve the souls of the departed is to perform all the works of mercy in a single act." -St. Francis De Sales
The souls in Purgatory are Saints who love God intensely, but are
prevented from enjoying Him on account of some debts to Divine Justice because
of sin. Their pains are great . Their greatest torment is their unsatisfied
desire of being with God. They have already seen Him at their judgment, and they
now know His perfections in a way far different from anything possible in this
life. If we only thought of this,
how careful we should be not to commit venial sins.
There are many motives to induce us to help the poor souls, such as
the glory that their praises will give to God when they are before His
throne; pity for them - suffering
without being able to help themselves; and our own interest, as charity to them
brings blessings from God, and puts them under an obligation to assist us by
We may relieve them by prayers, indulgences, almsgiving, Holy
Communion, and particularly by the holy Sacrifice of the
One special effect of this devotion to the poor souls is to cause
us to lead a very pure life, because, as we are pleading for those, some of whom
have offended God only slightly, we are constantly reminded of the punishment,
and so it is not likely that we will commit similar
So many reasons, then, urge us to help the poor souls; it was no
wonder that Holy Church should encourage us by her own example. No Mass can be
celebrated, no Divine Office recited, and no grace after meals should be said,
without a prayer for the happy repose of their souls.
"In pains beyond all earthly pains,
Favourites of Jesus! There they lie,
Letting the fire wear out their stains,
And worshipping God's purity."
Example -SS. Monica and Augustine
Augustine - the wayward Augustine - having at last been converted
as the result of a mother's tears and prayers, St. Monica felt that her work on
earth was done, and henceforth she sighed for Heaven. "Son," said she to him, "I
have now no tie to earth. I have nothing more to hope for in this world. One
thing there was for which I did desire to tarry a little longer in this life,
which was that I might see thee a Christian Catholic before I died. My God hath
granted me more than this, in that I see thee now despising earthly felicity,
entirely devoted to His service. Why, therefore, do I tarry here? Lay this body
anywhere, be not concerned about that; only this I beg of you, that wheresoever
you be, you make remembrance of me at the Lord's altar."
From that moment Monica was silent, wholly absorbed in preparing
herself for the advent of her heavenly Bridegroom. Augustine, full of love and
fortitude, remained by his mother; though alternately lost in wondering
admiration, and overcome by sorrow, with his prayers, and ardent love he aided
her in this last painful struggle.
After her happy death, he says: "I let go my tears, which I had
kept in before, that they might flow as much as they pleased, and found rest to
my soul in weeping for her, who so long had wept for me."
To the very day of his death he ceased not to mourn for his mother.
In compliance with her dying request, he daily remembered her in his prayers,
and at the holy altar. "And now," writes St. Augustine thirty years after her
death, "my heart being healed of that wound in which a carnal affection may have
had too great a share, I pour out to Thee, O Lord, in behalf of that servant of
Thine, a far different sort of tears, flowing from a spirit freighted with the
consideration of the perils of every soul that dies in Adam.... Therefore, O God
of my heart, my glory and my life, setting aside her good deeds, for which I
give Thee thanks, I entreat Thee at present for my mother's sins. Hear me now, I
beseech Thee, through that Physician of our souls Who hung upon the Cross, and
Who now intercedeth for us at Thy right hand. I know that mercifully, and from
her heart, she forgave her debtors their trespasses; do Thou likewise forgive
her her debts, if she has contracted any during those many years she lived after
her Baptism. Forgive them, O Lord, forgive them, I beseech Thee .... Let her
therefore rest in peace, together with her husband, her only spouse, whom she
dutifully served that she might be worthy of gaining him to Thee. And do Thou
inspire, O Lord my God, my brothers, my masters, whom I wish to serve with my
voice, heart and writings, that as many as shall read this may remember at Thy
altar Thy handmaid Monica, with Patricius, her husband, by whom Thou broughtest
me into this life. Let them remember with a pious affection those who were my
parents in this transitory life, that so my mother's last request to me on her
death-bed may be more abundantly performed for her by the prayers of many than
by mine alone."