Part 1 out of 9
This E-text was prepared by Juliet Sutherland, Joshua Hutchinson, Charles
Franks, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
Doctrinal, Historical and Poetical,
MRS. J. SADLIER
LO! PURGATORY! DOCTRINE BLEST,
ENGARLANDED WITH LEGENDS WILD,
HISTORIC LORE AND POETRY'S FAIR FLOWERS!
_"Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the just
wait for me, until thou reward me."_
Ps. CXLI 8.
TO THE GRACIOUS MEMORY OF MY DEARLY-BELOVED SON, REV. FRANCIS X.
SADLIER, S.J. WHOSE TENDER DEVOTION TO THE Souls in Purgatory LED HIM
TO TAKE A DEEP AND ACTIVE INTEREST IN THE PROGRESS OF THIS WORK, BUT
WHO WAS NOT PERMITTED TO SEE ITS COMPLETION, BEING CALLED HENCE,
SCARCELY THREE MONTHS AFTER HIS ORDINATION, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MONTH
CONSECRATED TO THOSE Holy Souls, _November 14th, 1885._
R. I. P.
I have written many books and translated many more on a great variety
of subjects, nearly all of which, I thank God now with all my heart,
were more or less religious, at least in their tendency; but the circle
of these my life-long labors seems to me incomplete. One link is
wanting to the chain, and that is a work specially devoted to the souls
in Purgatory. This omission I am anxious to supply while the working
days of my life are still with me, for, a few more years, at most, and
for me "the night cometh when no man can work."
As we advance into the vale of years and journey on the downward slope,
we are happily drawn more and more towards the eternal truths of the
great untried world beyond the grave. Foremost amongst these stands out
more and still more clearly, in all its awful reality, the dread but
consoling doctrine of Purgatory. When we have seen many of our best
beloved relatives, many of our dearest and most devoted friends--those
who started with us in "the freshness of morning" on the road of life,
which then lay so deceitfully fair and bright before them and us--they
who shared our early hopes and aspirations, and whose words and smiles
were the best encouragement of our feeble efforts--when we have seen
them sink, one by one, into the darkness of the grave, leaving the
earth more bleak and dreary year by year for those who remain--then do
we naturally follow them in spirit to those gloomy regions where one or
all may be undergoing that blessed purification which prepares them for
the eternal repose of Heaven.
Of all the divine truths which the Catholic Church proposes to her
children, assuredly none is more acceptable to the pilgrim race of Adam
than that of Purgatory. It is, beyond conception, dear and precious as
one of the links that connect the living with the vanished dead, and
which keeps them fresh in the memory of those who loved them on earth,
and whose dearest joy it is to be able to help them in that shadowy
border-land through which, in pain and sorrow, they must journey before
entering the Land of Promise, which is the City of God, seated on the
When I decided on adding yet another to the many books on Purgatory
already existing even in our own language, I, at the same time,
resolved to make it as different as possible from all the others, and
thus fill up a void of which I have long been sensible in our English
Purgatorial literature. Doctrinal works, books of devotion, e have in
abundance, but it is, unhappily, only the pious, the religiously-
inclined who will read them. Knowing this, and still desirous to
promote devotion to the Holy Souls by making Purgatory more real, more
familiar to the general reader, I thought the very best means I could
take for that end would be to make a book chiefly of legends and of
poetry, with enough of doctrinal and devotional matter to give a
substantial character to the work by placing it on the solid
foundations of Catholic dogma, patristic authority, and that, at the
same time, of the latest divines and theologians of the Church, by
selections from their published writings.
I have divided the work into five parts, viz.: Doctrinal and
Devotional, comprising extracts from Suarez, St. Catherine of Genoa,
St. Augustine, St. Gertrude, St. Francis de Sales, of the earlier and
middle ages; and from Archbishop Gibbons, Very Rev. Faa di Bruno,
Father Faber, Father Muller, C.S.S.R., Father Binet, S.J., Rev. J. J.
Moriarty, and others.
The Second Part consists of Anecdotes and Incidents relating to
Purgatory, and more or less authentic. The Third Part contains
historical matter bearing on the same subject, including Father
Lambing's valuable article on "The Belief in a Middle State of Souls
after Death amongst Pagan Nations." The Fourth Part is made up of
"Thoughts on Purgatory, from Various Authors, Catholic and non-
Catholic," including Cardinals Newman, Wiseman, and Manning; the
Anglican Bishops Jeremy Taylor and Reginald Heber, Dr. Samuel Johnson,
William Hurrell Mallock, Count de Maistre, Chateaubriand.
The Fifth and last part consists of a numerous collection of legends
and poems connected with Purgatory. Many of these are translated from
the French, especially the _Legendes de l'Autre Monde,_ by the
well-known legendist, J. Colin de Plancy. In selecting the legends and
anecdotes, I have endeavored to give only those that were new to most
English readers, thus leaving out many legends that would well bear
reproducing, but were already too well known to excite any fresh
In the poetical section I have represented as many as possible of the
best-known poets, from Dante down, and some poems of rare beauty and
merit were translated from French and Canadian poets by my daughter,
who has also contributed some interesting articles for the historical
portion of the work. As may be supposed, this book is the fruit of much
research. The collection of the material has necessarily been a work of
time, the field from which the gleanings were made being so vast, and
the selections requiring so much care.
As regards the legendary portion of the work, whether prose or poetry,
the reader will, of course, understand that I give the legends
precisely for what they are worth; by no means as representing the
doctrinal belief of Purgatory, but merely as some of the wild flowers
of poetry and romance that have grown, in the long lapse of time, from
the rich soil of faith and piety, amongst the Catholic peoples of every
land--intensified, in this instance, by the natural affection of the
living for their dear departed ones, and the solemn and shadowy mystery
in which the dead are shrouded when once they have passed the portals
of eternity and are lost to mortal sight. Some of these legends, though
exceedingly beautiful, will hardly bear close examination in the light
of Catholic dogma. Of this class is "The Faithful Soul," of Adelaide
Procter, which is merely given here as an old French legend, nearly
connected with Purgatory, and having really nothing in it contrary to
faith, though in a high degree improbable, but yet from its intrinsic
beauty and dramatic character, no less than the subtle charm of Miss
Procter's verse, eminently worthy of a place in this collection. The
same remark applies more or less to some of Colin de Plancy's legends,
notably that of "Robert the Devil's Penance," and others of a similar
kind, as also T. D. McGee's "Penance of Don Diego Rias" and Calderon's
"St. Patrick's Purgatory"--the two last named bearing on the same
subject. Nevertheless, they all come within the scope of my present
work and are, therefore, presented to the reader as weird fragments of
the legendary lore of Purgatory.
Taken altogether, I think this work will help to increase devotion to
the Suffering Souls, and excite a more tender and more sensible feeling
of sympathy for them, at least amongst Catholics, showing, as it does,
the awful reality of those purgative pains awaiting all, with few or no
exceptions, in the after life; the help they may and do receive from
the good offices of the living, and the sacred and solemn' duty it is
for Christians in the present life to remember them and endeavor to
relieve their sufferings by every means in their power. To answer this
purpose I have made the dead ages unite their solemn and authoritative
voice with that of the living, actual present in testimony of the truth
of this great Catholic dogma. The Saints, the Fathers, the Doctors of
the Church in the ages of antiquity, and the prelates and priests of
our own day all speak the same language of undoubting faith, of solemn
conviction regarding Purgatory,--make the same earnest and eloquent
appeal to the faithful on behalf of the dear suffering souls. Even the
heathen nations and tribes of both hemispheres are brought forward as
witnesses to the existence of a middle state in the after life. Nor is
Protestantism itself wanting in this great and overwhelming mass of
evidence, as the reader will perceive that some of its most eminent
divines and secular writers have joined, with no hesitating or
faltering voice, in the grand _Credo_ of the nations and the ages
in regard to Purgatory.
What remains for me to add except the earnest hope that this book may
have the effect it is intended to produce by bringing the faithful
children of the Church to think more and oftener of their departed
brethren who, having passed from the Militant to the Suffering Church,
are forever crying out to the living from their darksome prison--"Have
pity on us, have pity on us, at least you who were our friends, have
pity on us, for the hand of the Lord is heavy upon us!"
TABLE OF CONTENTS
DOCTRINAL AND DEVOTIONAL.
Doctrine of Suarez on Purgatory
St. Catherine of Genoa on Purgatory
Extracts from the Fathers on Purgatory
Verses from the Imitation _Thomas a Kempis._
St. Augustine and his Mother, St. Monica
St. Gertrude and the Holy Souls
St. Joseph's Intercession for the Faithful Departed
St. Francis de Sales on Purgatory
Cardinal Gibbons on Purgatory
Archbishop Hughes on Purgatory
Archbishop Lynch on Purgatory
Purgatory Surveyed _Father Binet, S. J._
Father Faber on Devotion to the Holy Souls
Why the Souls in Purgatory are called "Poor" _Mullcr._
Appeal to all Classes for the Souls in Purgatory _By a Paulist
The Souls in Purgatory _Rev. F. X. Weninger, S. J._
Popular View of Purgatory _Rev. J. J. Moriarty._
Extracts from "Catholic Belief" _Very Rev. Faa Di Bruno, D.D._
Purgatory and the Feast of All Souls _Alban Butkr._
ANECDOTES AND INCIDENTS.
The Fruit of a Mass _Almanac of the Souls in Purgatory_.
Faith of a Pious Lady _Almanac of the Souls in Purgatory_.
Pay what Thou Owest _Ave Maria_.
VIA CRUCIS _Footsteps of Spirits_.
Strange Incidents _Footsteps of Spirits_.
True Story of the "_De Profundis_" _Ave Maria_.
Confidence Rewarded _Almanac of the Souls in Purgatory_
Anecdote of the "_De Profundis_"
Strange Occurrence in a Persian Prison _Life of St. John the
A Swiss Protestant Converted by the Doctrine of Purgatory
_Catechism in Examples_.
The Dead Hand _Ave Maria_.
A Beautiful Example _Almanac of the Souls in Purgatory_.
How to Pay One's Debts _Almanac of the Souls in Purgatory_.
Faith Rewarded _Almanac of the Souls in Purgatory_.
Apparition of a Citizen of Arles _Histoire des Spectres_.
Countess of Strafford _Vie de Monsgr. de la Mothe_.
Marquis de Civrac _Une Commune Vendeenne. 183
Gratitude of the Holy Souls _Ave Maria_.
Strange Incident _Ave Maria_.
Doctrine of Purgatory amongst the Pagan Nations of Antiquity _Rev.
A. A. Lambing_.
Devotion to the Dead amongst American Indians
Superstitious Belief amongst American Indians
Remembrance, of the Dead amongst the Egyptians
Remembrance of the Dead throughout Europe _A. T. Sadlier_. Part
Remembrance of the Dead throughout Europe _A. T. Sadlier_. Part
Prayer for the Dead in the Anglo-Saxon Church _Dr. Lingard_
Singular French Custom _Voix de la Verite_
Devotion to the Holy Souls amongst the Early English _A. T.
Doctrine of Purgatory in the Early Irish Church _Walsh_
Prince Napoleon's Prayer
Helpers of the Holy Souls _Lady G. Fullerton_
The Mass in Relation to the Dead _O'Brien_
Daniel O'Connell, Funeral Oration on _Rev. T. N. Burke, O.P._
Indulgence of the Portiuncula _Almanac of the Souls in
Catherine of Cardona _Almanac of the Souls in Purgatory_.
The Emperor Nicholas Praying for his Mother _Anecdotes
Pius VI., Funeral Oration on _Rev. Arthur O'Leary, O.S.F._
Rev. Arthur O'Leary, O.S.F., Funeral Oration on _Rev. M. D'Arcy_
_De Mortuis_. Our Deceased Prelates. _Archbishop Corrigan_
THOUGHTS OF VARIOUS AUTHORS ON PURGATORY.
Purgatory _Cardinal Newman_
Our Debt to the Dead _Cardinal Manning_
Purgatory _Cardinal Wiseman_
Reply to some Misstatements about Purgatory _Archbishop
Count de Maistre on Purgatory
What the Saints thought of Purgatory
Chateaubriand on Purgatory
Mary and the Faithful Departed _Brother Azarias._
Dr. Johnson on Prayer for the Dead
The Doctrine of Purgatory _Burnett._
Mallock on Purgatory
Boileau-Despreaux and Prayer for the Dead
All Saints and All Souls _Mrs. Sadlier._
Leibnitz on the Mass as a Propitiatory Sacrifice
Extracts from "A Troubled Heart"
Eugenie de Guerin and her Brother Maurice
Passages from the "Via Media" _Newman._
All Souls _From the French._
An Anglican Bishop Praying for the Dead
"Purgatory" of Dante _Mariotti._
Month of November _Mary E. Blake._
Litany of the Departed _Acolytus._
All Souls' Day _Mrs. Sadlier._
Opinions of Various Protestants
Some Thoughts for November
LEGENDARY AND POETICAL.
Authorship of the _Dies Irae_
Hamlet and the Ghost _Shakespeare._
Calderon's "Purgatory of St. Patrick"
The Brig o' Dread _Scott._
Shelley and the Purgatory of St. Patrick
On a Great Funeral _Aubrey de Vere._
_Morte d'Arthur_ _Tennyson._
Guido and his Brother _Collin de Plancy._
Berthold in Purgatory _Collin de Plancy._
Legend of St. Nicholas _Collin de Planey._
Dream of Gerontius _Newman. St. Gregory_
Releases the Soul of Trajan _Mrs. Jameson._
St. Gregory and the Monk Legend of Geoffroid d'lden
The Queen of Purgatory _Faber_.
The Dead Priest before the Altar _Rev. A. J. Ryan_.
Memorials of the Dead _R. R. Madden_.
A Child's "_Requiescat in Pace_" _Eliza Allen Starr_.
The Solitary Soul _Ave Maria_.
Story of the Faithful Soul _Adelaide Procter_.
Generade, the Friend of St. Augustine _De Plancy_
St. Thomas Aquinas and Friar Romanus _De Plancy_.
The Key that Never Turns _Eleanor C. Donnelly_.
A Burial _Thomas Davis_.
Hymn for the Dead _Newman_.
The Two Students _De Plancy_.
The Penance of Don Diego Riaz _McGee_.
The Day of All Souls _Eliza Allen Starr_.
Message of the November Wind _Eleanor C. Donnelly_.
Legend of the Time of Charlemagne
The Dead Mass
The Eve of St. John _Sir Walter Scott_.
Request of a Soul in Purgatory
All Souls' _Marion Muir_.
The Dead _Octave Cremasie_
A REQUIEM _Sir Walter Scott_.
Penance of Robert the Devil _De Plancy_.
All Souls' Eve
Commemoration of All Souls _Harriet M. Skidmore_.
The Memory of the Dead _Faber_.
The Holy Souls.
Author of "Christian Schools and Scholars."
The Palmer's Rosary _Eliza Allen Starr_.
A Lyke Wake Dirge.
All Souls' Day _Lyra Liturgica_.
The Suffering Souls. _E. M. V. Bulger._
"The Voices of the Dead." _M. R. in "The Lamp."_
The Convent Cemetery. _Rev. A. J. Ryan._
One Hour after Death. _Eliza Allen Starr._
A Prayer for the Dead. _T. D. McGee._
The _De Profundis Bell._ _Harriet M. Skidmore._
November. _Anna T. Sadlier._
For the Souls in Purgatory.
All Souls' Eve.
Our Neighbor. _Eliza Allen Starr._
O Holy Church. _Harriet M. Skidmore._
An Incident of the Battle of Bannockburn. _Sir Walter Scott._
Pray for the Martyred Dead.
In Winter. _Eliza Allen Starr._
_Oremus._ _Mary E. Mannix._
Funeral Hymn. _A. T. Sadlier._
_Chant Funebre._ _Nisard._
_Requiescat in Pace._ _Harriet M. Skidmore._
The Feast of All Souls in the Country. _Anna T. Sadlier._
_Requiem AEternum_ _T. D. McGee._
Association of Masses and Stations of the Cross.
Extracts from _The Catholic Review_ of New York.
A Duty of November. _The Texas Monitor._
Purgatorial Association. _Catholic Columbian._
The Holy Face and the Suffering Souls.
When will they Learn its Secret? _Baptist Examiner._
DOCTRINAL AND DEVOTIONAL.
"But now, brethren, if I come to you, speaking with tongues: what shall
I profit you, unless I speak to you either in revelation, or in
knowledge, or in prophecy, or in doctrine?"
--ST. PAUL, I. COR. PURGATORY:
DOCTRINAL AND DEVOTIONAL.
DOCTRINE OF SUAREZ ON PURGATORY.
It is a certain truth of faith that after this life there is a place of
Purgatory. Though the name of Purgatory may not be found in Holy
Scripture, that does not matter, if we can show that the thing meant by
the name can be found there; for often the Church, either because of
new heresies, or that the doctrine of the faith may be set forth more
clearly and shortly, gives new and simple names, in which the mysteries
of the faith are summed up. This is evident in the cases of the Holy
Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Holy Eucharist.
The doctrine of Purgatory is proved by:--the Old Testament, the New
Testament, the Councils of the Church, especially those of Florence and
of Trent, the Fathers and Tradition, and by theological reasons.
WHERE PURGATORY IS.
Nothing is said in Holy Scripture about this place, nor is there any
definition of the Church concerning it. The subject, therefore, comes
within the range of theological discussion. Theologians, however,
suppose Purgatory to be a certain corporeal place, in which souls are
kept till they pay fully the debt which they owe. It is true that they
do not in themselves need a corporeal place, since they are spirits;
but yet, as they are in this world, they must, of necessity, be in some
corporeal place--at any rate, with regard to substantial presence. Thus
we see that God, in His providence, has made definite places for the
Angels, according to the difference of their states. Gehenna is
prepared for the devil and his angels, whereas the empyreal Heaven is
made for the good angels. In this way, it is certain that the souls,
paying their debt, are kept in a corporeal place. This place is not
heaven, for nothing that is defiled enters there; nor is it hell, for
in hell there is no redemption, and from that place no souls can be
PAIN OF LOSS AND SENSE.
The pain of loss is the want of the vision of God and of the whole of
our everlasting beatitude. The pain of sense is the suffering of
punishment specially inflicted over and above the loss of the beatitude
We must assert that the souls in Purgatory suffer the pain of loss,
tempered by hope, and not like the souls in hell, which have no hope.
In the pain of sense we can distinguish two things. There is the sorrow
which follows closely the want or delay of the vision of God, and has
that for its object. There is also another pain, as it were outward,
and this is proportioned to the sensible pain which is caused in us by
fire, or any like action, contrary to nature and hurtful to it. That in
Purgatory this sorrow does follow the loss of God is most certain; for
that loss, or delay, is truly a great evil, and is most keenly felt to
be such by those souls that with all their strength love God and long
to see Him. Therefore, it is impossible for them not to feel the
greatest sorrow about that delay.
* * * * *
We must assert that, besides the pain of loss and the sorrow annexed to
it, there is in Purgatory a proper and peculiar pain of sense. This is
the more common judgment of the scholastics; and seems to be received
by the common judgment and approbation of the Church. Indeed, the
equity of the avenging justice of God requires this. The sinner,
through inordinate delight in creatures and affection for them,
deserves a punishment contrary to that delight; and if in this life he
has not made full satisfaction, he must be punished and freed by some
such pain as this, which we call the pain of sense. Theologians in
common teach this, and distinguish a proper pain of sense from the
sorrow caused by the want of the vision of God. Thus they distinguish
spiritual pains, such as sorrow for the delay of the vision, and
remorse of conscience, from corporeal pains, which come from the fire,
or any other instrument of God. These corporeal pains we comprehend
under the pain of sense.
* * * * *
Whether, besides the fire, other corporeal things, such as water and
snow, are used as instruments for punishing the souls is uncertain.
Bede says that souls in Purgatory were seen to pass from very great
heat to very great cold, and then from cold to heat. St. Anselm
mentions these punishments disjunctively. He says, "or any other kind
of punishments." We cannot, therefore, speak of this with certainty.
THE PAIN OF LOSS.
In this matter we may look at the pain of loss as well as the pain of
sense. It is certain that the pain of loss is very sharp, because of
the greatness of the good for which they wait. True, it is only for a
time; yet it is rightly reckoned, as St. Thomas taught, a greater evil
than any loss in this life. He and other theologians with him mean that
the sorrow also which springs from the apprehension of this evil is
greater than any pain or sorrow here. Hence, they conclude that the
pain of loss in every way exceeds all pains of this life; for they
think, as I have already noted, that this sorrow pertains to the pain
of loss, and therefore they join this pain with privation, that the
punishment may be greater in every way.... The vision of God and the
beatitude of heaven are such that the possession of them, even for a
day, could exceed all goods of this life taken together and possessed
for a long time.... Therefore, even a short delay of such a good is a
very heavy sorrow, far exceeding all the pains of this life. The Holy
Souls well understand and weigh the greatness of this evil; and very
piercing is the pain they feel, because they know that they are
suffering through their own negligence and by their own fault.... There
are, however, certain things which would seem to have power to lessen
1. They are certain of future glory. This hope must bring them much
joy; as St. Paul says, "rejoicing in hope." (Roms. xii. 12.)
2. There is the rightness of their will, by which they are conformed to
the justice of God. Hence, it follows that, in a certain sense, their
pain is voluntary, and thus not so severe.
3. By the love of God they not only bear their punishment, but rejoice
in it, because they see that it is the means of satisfying God and
being brought to Heaven.
4. If they choose, they can turn their thoughts from the pain of delay,
and give them very attentively to the good of hope. This would bring
THE PAIN OF SENSE.
It is the common judgment of theologians, with St. Augustine, St.
Thomas, and St. Bonaventure, that this pain is bitterer than all pain
of this life.... Theologians, in common with St. Thomas and St.
Bonaventure, teach that the pain of Purgatory is not in any way
inflicted by devils. These souls are just and holy. They cannot sin any
more; and, to the last, they have overcome the assaults of the devils.
It would not, therefore, be fitting that such souls should be given
into their power to be tormented by them. Again, when the devils tempt
wayfarers, they do it because they hope to lead them into sin, however
perfect they may be; but they could have no such hope about the souls
in Purgatory, and so would not be likely to tempt them. Besides, they
know that their temptations or harassings would have an effect not
intended by them, and would bring the souls from Purgatory to Heaven
* * * * *
It is the common law that souls in Purgatory, during the whole time
that they are there, cannot come out from the prison, even if they
wish; The constant closing of the prison-doors is a part of the
severity of their punishment. So teach St. John Chrysostom, St.
Athanasius, and St. Augustine.... The reason for this is the law of the
justice of God. The souls of the lost are kept in prison by force and
against their will. The souls in Purgatory stay there willingly, for
they understand the just will of God and submit to it. This law,
however, can be sometimes dispensed with; and so St. Augustine holds it
to be probable that there are often true apparitions of the Holy Souls
by the permission of God.... It is true that, as a rule, these are
apparitions of souls, who, by a special decree of God, are suffering
their Purgatory somewhere in this world.... One thing, however, we must
note in these cases. When such a permission is given, the pain of the
soul is not interrupted. This is not only seen from the visions
themselves, but is what reason requires.
* * * * *
Here occurs the question whether the Holy Souls pray for us and can
gain anything for us by merit of congruity, or, at least, impetrate it
for us, as others prefer to say. Some have said that they do not thus
pray for us, because it is not fitting to their state, in that they are
debtors and, as it were, kept in prison for their debts; and also
because they do not see God, and so do not know what is done here. They
might know such things by special revelations, but revelations of this
kind are not due to their state. But surely their penal state does not
necessarily hinder the Holy Souls from praying for, and impetrating for
us. They are holy and dear to God; and they love us with charity,
remembering us, and knowing, at least in a general way, the dangers in
which we live; they understand also how greatly we need the help of
God: why, then, should they not be able to pray for us, even though in
another way they are paying to God their debt of punishment? For we
also in this life are debtors to God, and yet we pray for others....
Besides, we may well believe that the Holy Angels make revelations to
the souls in Purgatory about their relatives or friends still living on
this earth. They will do this for the consolation of the Holy Souls, or
that they may know what to ask for us in particular cases, or that they
may know of our prayers for them.
ST. CATHARINE OF GENOA ON PURGATORY.
This Holy Soul, while still in the flesh, was placed in the purgatory
of the burning love of God, in whose flames she was purified from every
stain, so that when she passed from this life she might be ready to
enter the presence of God, her most sweet love. By means of that flame
of love she comprehended in her own soul the condition of the souls of
the faithful in Purgatory, where they are purified from the rust and
stain of sins, from which they have not been cleansed in this world.
And as in the purgatory of that divine flame she was united with the
divine love and satisfied with all that was accomplished in her, she
was enabled to comprehend the state of the souls in Purgatory, and thus
discoursed concerning it:
"As far as I can see, the souls in Purgatory can have no choice but be
there; this God has most justly ordained by His divine decree. They
cannot turn towards themselves and say, 'I have committed such and such
sins for which I deserve to remain here;' nor can they say, 'Would that
I had refrained from them, for then I should at this moment be in
Paradise;' nor again, 'This soul will be released before me;' or, 'I
shall be released before her.' They retain no memory of either good or
evil respecting themselves or others which would increase their pain.
They are so contented with the divine inspirations in their regard, and
with doing all that is pleasing to God in that way which he chooses,
that they cannot think of themselves, though they may strive to do so.
They see nothing but the operation of the divine goodness which is so
manifestly bringing them to God that they can reflect neither on their
own profit nor on their hurt. Could they do so, they would not be in
pure charity. They see not that they suffer their pains in consequence
of their sins, nor can they for a moment entertain that thought, for
should they do so it would be an active imperfection, and that cannot
exist in a state where there is no longer the possibility of sin. At
the moment of leaving this life, they see why they are sent to
Purgatory, but never again; otherwise they would still retain something
private, which has no place there. Being established in charity, they
can never deviate therefrom by any defect, and have no will or desire
save the pure will of pure love, and can swerve from it in nothing.
They can neither commit sin nor merit by refraining from it.
* * * * *
"There is no peace to be compared with that of the souls in Purgatory,
save that of the saints in Paradise, and this peace is ever augmented
by the inflowing of God into these souls, which increases in proportion
as the impediments to it are removed. The rust of sin is the
impediment, and this the fire continually consumes, so that the soul in
this state is continually opening itself to admit the divine
communication. As a covered surface can never reflect the sun, not
through any defect in that orb, but simply from the resistance offered
by the covering, so, if the covering be gradually removed, the surface
will by little and little be opened to the sun and will more and more
reflect his light. So it is with the rust of sin, which is the
covering of the soul. In Purgatory the flames incessantly consume it,
and as it disappears the soul reflects more and more perfectly the true
sun, who is God. Its contentment increases as this rust wears away, and
the soul is laid bare to the divine ray; and thus one increases and the
other decreases until the time is accomplished. The pain never
diminishes, although the time does; but, as to the will, so united is
it to God by pure charity, and so satisfied to be under His divine
appointment, that these souls can never say their pains are pains.
"On the other hand, it is true that they suffer torments which no
tongue can describe nor any intelligence comprehend, unless it be
revealed by such a special grace as that which God has vouchsafed to
me, but which I am unable to explain. And this vision which God
revealed to me has never departed from my memory. I will describe it as
far as I am able, and they whose intellects our Lord will deign to open
will understand me.
* * * * *
"The source of all suffering is either original or actual sin. God
created the soul pure, simple, free from every stain, and with a
certain beatific instinct towards Himself. It is drawn aside from Him
by original sin, and when actual sin is afterwards added this withdraws
it still farther, and ever, as it removes from Him, its sinfulness
increases because its communication with God grows less and less.
* * * * *
"Since the souls in Purgatory are freed from the guilt of sin, there is
no barrier between them and God save only the pains they suffer, which
delay the satisfaction of their desire. And when they see how serious
is even the slightest hindrance, which the necessity of justice causes
to check them, a vehement flame kindles within them, which is like that
of hell. They feel no guilt, however, and it is guilt which is the
cause of the malignant will of the condemned in hell, to whom God does
not communicate His goodness; and thus they remain in despair and with
a will forever opposed to the good-will of God.
* * * * *
"The souls in Purgatory are entirely conformed to the will of God;
therefore, they correspond with His goodness, are contented with all
that He ordains, and are entirely purified from the guilt of their
sins. They are pure from sins because they have in this life abhorred
them and confessed them with true contrition; and for this reason God
remits their guilt, so that only the stains of sin remain, and these
must be devoured by the fire. Thus freed from guilt and united to the
will of God, they see Him clearly according to that degree of light
which He allows them, and comprehend how great a good is the fruition
of God, for which all souls were created. Moreover, these souls are in
such close conformity to God and are drawn so powerfully toward Him by
reason of the natural attraction between Him and the soul, that no
illustration or comparison could make this impetuosity understood in
the way in which my spirit conceives it by its interior sense.
Nevertheless, I will use one which occurs to me.
"Let us suppose that in the whole world there were but one loaf to
appease the hunger of every creature, and that the bare sight of it
would satisfy them. Now man, when in health, has by nature the instinct
for food, but if we can suppose him to abstain from it and neither die,
nor yet lose health and strength, his hunger would clearly become
increasingly urgent. In this case, if he knew that nothing but this
loaf would satisfy him, and that until he reached it his hunger could
not be appeased, he would suffer intolerable pain, which would increase
as his distance from the loaf diminished; but if he were sure that he
would never see it, his hell would be as complete as that of the damned
souls, who, hungering after God, have no hope of ever seeing the bread
of life. But the souls in Purgatory have an assured hope of seeing Him
and of being entirely satisfied; and therefore they endure all hunger
and suffer all pain until that moment when they enter into eternal
possession of this bread, which is Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Saviour,
and our Love.
* * * * *
"I will say, furthermore: I see that as far as God is concerned,
Paradise has no gates, but he who will may enter. For God is all mercy,
and His open arms are ever extended to receive us into His glory. But I
see that the divine essence is so pure--purer than the imagination can
conceive--that the soul, finding in itself the slightest imperfection,
would rather cast itself into a thousand hells than appear, so stained,
in the presence of the divine majesty. Knowing, then, that Purgatory
was intended for her cleansing, she throws herself therein, and finds
there that great mercy, the removal of her stains.
"The great importance of Purgatory, neither mind can conceive nor
tongue describe. I see only that its pains are as great as those of
hell; and yet I see that a soul, stained with the slightest fault,
receiving this mercy, counts the pains as nought in comparison with
this hindrance to her love. And I know that the greatest misery of the
souls in Purgatory is to behold in themselves aught that displeases
God, and to discover that, in spite of His goodness, they had consented
to it. And this is because, being in the state of grace, they see the
reality and the importance of the impediments which hinder their
approach to God.
* * * * *
"From that furnace of divine love I see rays of fire dart like burning
lamps towards the soul; and so violent and powerful are they that both
soul and body would be utterly destroyed, if that were possible. These
rays perform a double office; they purify and they annihilate.
"Consider gold: the oftener it is melted the more pure does it become;
continue to melt it and every imperfection is destroyed. This is the
effect of fire on all materials. The soul, however, cannot be
annihilated in God, but in herself she can, and the longer her
purification lasts the more perfectly does she die to herself, until at
length she remains purified in God.
"When gold has been completely freed from dross, no fire, however
great, has any further action on it, for nothing but its imperfections
can be consumed. So it is with the divine fire in the soul. God retains
her in these flames until every stain is burned away, and she is
brought to the highest perfection of which she is capable, each soul in
her own degree. And when this is accomplished, she rests wholly in God.
Nothing of herself remains, and God is her entire being. When He has
thus led her to Himself and purified her, she is no longer passible,
for nothing remains to be consumed. If, when thus refined, she should
again approach the fire she would feel no pain, for to her it has
become the fire of divine love, which is life eternal and which nothing
* * * * *
And thus this blessed Soul, illuminated by the divine ray, said: "Would
that I could utter so strong a cry that it would strike all men with
terror, and say to them: O wretched beings! why are you so blinded by
this world that you make, as you will find at the hour of death, no
provision for the great necessity that will then come upon you?
"You shelter yourselves beneath the hope of the mercy of God, which you
unceasingly exalt, not seeing that it is your resistance to His great
goodness which will be your condemnation. His goodness should constrain
you to His will, not encourage you to persevere in your own. Since His
justice is unfailing, it must needs be in some way fully satisfied.
"Have not the boldness to say: 'I will go to confession and gain a
plenary indulgence, and thus I shall be saved?' Remember that the full
confession and entire contrition which are requisite to gain a plenary
indulgence are not easily attained. Did you know how hardly they are
come by, you would tremble with fear and be more sure of losing than of
EXTRACTS FROM THE FATHERS. 
[Footnote 1: These extracts are purposely different from those quoted
by the learned author of "Purgatory Surveyed," in that portion of his
treatise herein comprised.]
ST. CYPRIAN  writes: "Our predecessors prudently advised that no
brother, departing this life should nominate any churchman his
executor; and should he do it, that no oblation should be made for him,
nor sacrifice offered for his repose; of which we have had a late
example, when no oblation was made, nor prayer, in his name, offered in
the Church." 
[Footnote 1: Ep., xlvi., p. 114.]
[Footnote 2: Cardinal Wiseman commenting upon this passage, says: "It
was considered, therefore, a severe punishment, that prayers and
sacrifices should not be offered up for those who had violated any of
the ecclesiastical laws."--_Lectures on the Catholic Church._
Lecture xi., p. 59.]
ORIGEN, who wrote in the same century as Cyprian, and some two hundred
years after Christ, speaks as follows, in language the most distinct,
upon our doctrine of Purgatory: "When we depart this life, if we take
with us virtues or vices, shall we receive reward for our virtues, and
shall those trespasses be forgiven to us which we knowingly committed;
or shall we be punished for our faults, and not receive the reward of
our virtues? Neither is true: because we shall suffer for our sins and
receive the reward of our virtues. For if on the foundation of Christ
you shall have built not only gold and silver and precious stones, but
also wood and hay and stubble, what do you expect when the soul shall
be separated from the body? Would you enter into Heaven with your wood,
and hay, and stubble, to defile the Kingdom of God; or on account of
those encumbrances remain without, and receive no reward for your gold
and silver and precious stones? Neither is this just. It remains, then,
that you be committed to the fire, which shall consume the light
materials; for our God, to those who can comprehend heavenly things, is
called a _consuming fire_. But this fire consumes not the
creature, but what the creature has himself built--wood, and hay, and
stubble. It is manifest that, in the first place, the fire destroys the
wood of our transgressions, and then returns to us the reward of our
good works." 
[Footnote 1: Homil. xvi al. xii. in Jerem. T. iii. p. 231,232.]
ST. BASIL, or a contemporary author, thus writes, commenting on the
words of Isaiah: "Through the wrath of the Lord is the land burned; the
things which are earthly are made the food of a punishing fire; to the
end, that the soul may receive favor and be benefited." He continues:
"And the people shall be as the fuel of the fire." (_Ibid_.) This
is not a threat of extermination; but it denotes expurgation, 
according to the expression of the Apostles: "If any man's works burn,
he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by
fire." (1 Cor. iii. 15.) 
[Footnote 1: Cardinal Wiseman in commenting upon this passage, says:
"Now, mark well the word purgation here used. For it proves that our
very term of Purgatory is not modern in the Church."--_Lectures on
the Catholic Church_. Lecture xi., p. 60.]
[Footnote 2: Com. in C., ix. Isai. T. I., p. 554.]
The following is from ST. EPHREM, of Edessa: "My brethren, come to me,
and prepare me for my departure, for my strength is wholly gone. Go
along with me in psalms and in your prayers; and please constantly to
make oblations for me. When the thirtieth day  shall be completed,
then remember me: for the dead are helped by the offerings of the
living. If also the sons of Mathathias, who celebrated their feasts in
figures only, could cleanse those from guilt by their offerings who
fell in battle, how much more shall the priests of Christ aid the dead
by their oblations and prayers?" 
[Footnote 1: "The very day," says Cardinal Wiseman, "observed by the
Catholic Church with peculiar solemnity, in praying and observing Mass
for the dead". Archbishop Corrigan, of New York, in announcing to the
clergy of his diocese the death of His Eminence the late Cardinal
McCloskey, speaks as follows: "The reverend rectors are also requested
to have solemn services for the soul of our late beloved chief pastor,
on the _seventh_ and _thirtieth_ day."]
[Footnote 2: In Testament. T. ii., p. 334. p. 371, Edit. Oxen.]
Thus speaks ST. GREGORY of Nyssa: "In the present life, God allows man
to remain subject to what himself has chosen; that, having tasted of
the evil which he desired, and learned by experience how bad an
exchange has been made, he might feel an ardent wish to lay down the
load of those vices and inclinations, which are contrary to reason; and
thus, in this life, being renovated by prayers and the pursuit of
wisdom, or, in the next, being expiated by the purging fire, he might
recover the state of happiness which he had lost.... When he has
quitted his body, and the difference between virtue and vice is known,
he cannot be admitted to approach the Divinity till the purging fire
shall have expiated the stains with which his soul was infected. The
same fire, in others, will cancel the corruption of matter and the
propensity to evil." 
[Footnote 1: Orat. de Defunctis. T. ii., p. 1066, 1067, 1068.]
ST. CYRIL of Jerusalem: "Then" (in the Liturgy of the Church) "we pray
for the holy Fathers and Bishops that are dead; and, in short, for all
those who are departed this life in our communion; believing that the
souls of those, for whom the prayers, are offered, receive very great
relief while this holy and tremendous victim lies upon the altar." 
[Footnote 1: Catech. Mystag., V. N., ix., x., p. 328.]
ST. EPIPHANIUS writes: "There is nothing more opportune, nothing more
to be admired, than the rite which directs the names of the dead to be
mentioned. They are aided by the prayer that is offered for them,
though it may not cancel all their faults. We mention both the just and
sinners, in order that for the latter we may obtain mercy." 
[Footnote 1: Haer. IV. Lib. LXXV., T. i., p. 911.]
ST. AUGUSTINE speaks as follows: "The prayers of the Church, or of good
persons, are heard in favor of those Christians who departed this life
not so bad as to be deemed unworthy of mercy, nor so good as to be
entitled to immediate happiness. So also, at the resurrection of the
dead, there will some be found, to whom mercy will be imparted, having
gone through these pains, to which the spirits of the dead are liable.
Otherwise it would not have been said of some with truth, that their
sin shall not be forgiven, neither in this world nor in the world to
come (Matt. xii., 32) unless some sins were remitted in the next
[Footnote 1: De Civit. Dei., Lib. XX, c. xxiv., p. 492.]
In another passage he comments on the words of St. Paul: "If they had
built _gold_ and _silver_ and _precious stones,_ they would be secure
from both fires; not only from that in which the wicked shall be
punished for ever, but likewise from that fire which will purify
those who shall be saved by fire. But because it is said _he shall be
saved,_ that fire is thought lightly of; though the suffering will be
more grievous than anything man can undergo in this life."
Let us hear ST. JEROME:  "As we believe the torments of the devil,
and of those wicked men who said in their hearts _there is no
God,_ to be eternal, so, in regard to those sinners who have not
denied their faith, and whose works will be proved and purged by fire,
we conclude that the sentence of the Judge will be tempered by mercy."
[Footnote 1: Comment. in c. xv., Isai., T. ii., p. 492.]
St. Jerome thus speaks in his letter to Paula, concerning the death and
burial of her mother, Eustochium: "From henceforward there were no
wailings nor lamentations as are usual amongst men of this world, but
the swarms of those present resounded with psalms in various tongues.
And being removed by the hands of the bishops, and by those placing
their shoulders under the bier, while other pontiffs were carrying
lamps and wax tapers, and others led the choirs of psalmodists, she was
laid in the middle of the church of the cave of the Saviour.... Psalms
resounded in the Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and Syriac tongues, not only
during the three days intervening until she was laid under the church
and near the cave of the Lord, but through the entire week."
ST. AMBROSE has many passages throughout his works, as Dr. Wiseman
remarks. Thus he quotes St. Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians
(iii., 5): "'If any man's works burn he shall suffer loss; but he shall
be saved, yet so as by fire.' He will be saved, the Apostle said,
because his substance shall remain, while his bad doctrine shall
perish. Therefore, he said, yet so as by fife, in order that his
salvation be not understood to be without pain. He shows that he shall
be saved indeed, but he shall undergo the pain of fire, and be thus
purified, not like the unbelieving and wicked man who shall be punished
in everlasting fire." 
[Footnote 1: Comment. in I Ep. ad Cor., T. ii.; in App, p. 122.]
The following is from his funeral oration on the Emperor Theodosius:
"Lately we deplored together his death, and now, while Prince Honorius
is present before our altars, we celebrate the fortieth day. Some
observe the third and the thirtieth, others the seventh and the
fortieth. Give, O Lord, rest to Thy servant Theodosius, that rest which
Thou hast prepared for Thy Saints. May his soul thither tend, whence it
came, where it cannot feel the sting of death, where it will learn that
death is the termination, not of nature, but of sin. I loved him,
therefore will I follow him to the land of the living; I will not leave
him, till, by my prayers and lamentation, he shall be admitted to the
holy mount of the Lord to which his deserts call him." 
[Footnote 1: De obitu. Theodosii. Ibid., pp. 1197-8; 1207-8.]
He thus concludes his letter to ST. FAUSTINUS on the death of his
sister: "Therefore I consider her not so much to be deplored as to be
followed by our prayers, nor do I think that her soul should be
saddened with tears, but rather commended to the Lord in oblations. For
our flesh cannot be perpetual or lasting; it must necessarily fall in
order that it may rise again--it must be dissolved in order that it may
rest, and that there may be some end of sin." 
[Footnote 1: St. Ambr., p. 39, ad Faustini, t. 2, p 944, ed. Ben.]
In his funeral oration upon his brother Satyrus, he cries out: "To Thee
now, O omnipotent God, I commend this innocent soul,--to Thee I offer
my victim. Accept graciously and serenely the gift of the brother--the
sacrifice of the priest."
[Footnote 1: De excessu frateris satyri, No. 80, p. 1135.]
In his discourse on the deceased Emperor Valentinian the Younger,
murdered in 392: "Give the holy mysteries to the dead. Let us, with
pious earnestness, beg repose for his soul. Lift up your hands with me,
O people, that at least by this duty we may make some return for his
benefits."  Joining him with the Emperor Gratian, his brother, dead
some years before, he says: "Both blessed, if my prayers can be of any
force! No duty shall pass over you in silence. No prayer of mine shall
ever be closed without remembering you. No night shall pass you over
without some vows of my supplications. You shall have a share in all my
sacrifices. If I forget you let my own right hand be forgotten." 
[Footnote 1: St. Ambr. de obitu Valent, No. 56, t. 2, p 1189, ed.
[Footnote 2: Ibid., No. 78, p. 1194.]
"It was not in vain," says ST. CHRYSOSTOM, "that the apostles ordained
a commemoration of the deceased in the holy and tremendous mysteries.
They were sensible of the benefit and advantage which accrues to them
from this practice. For, when the congregation stands with open arms as
well as the priests, and the tremendous sacrifice is before them, how
should our prayers for them not appease God? But this is said of such
as have departed in faith." 
[Footnote 1: Hom. 3 in Phil., t. n., p. 217 ed. Montfauc.]
ST. AUGUSTINE again says: "Nor is it to be denied that the souls of the
departed are relieved by the piety of their living friends, when the
sacrifice of the Mediator is offered for them, or alms are given in the
Church. But these things are profitable to those who, while they lived,
deserved that they might avail them. There is a life so good as not to
require them, and there is another so wicked that after death it can
receive no benefit from them. When, therefore, the sacrifices of the
altar or alms are offered for all Christians, for the very good they
are thanksgivings, they are propitiations for those who are not very
bad. For the very wicked, they are some kind of comfort to the living."
In another of his works he says that prayer for the dead in the holy
mysteries was observed by the whole church. He expounds the thirty-
seventh Psalm as having reference to Purgatory. The words: "Rebuke me
not in thy fury, neither chastise me in thy wrath," he explains as
follows: "That you purify me in this life, and render me such that I
may not stand in need of that purging fire."
ARNOBIUS speaks of the public liturgies: "In which peace and pardon are
begged of God for kings, magistrates, friends and enemies, both the
living and those who are delivered from the body."
To these few extracts, which space permits, might be added innumerable
others from St. Clement of Alexandria, St. Athanasius, St. Paulinus,
St. Eusebius, Lactantius, Tertullian, St. Caesarius of Arles, St.
Bernard, Venerable Bede, St. Thomas Aquinas, and so on down to our own
immediate time. Their testimony is most clear not only as regards the
custom of praying for the dead, but the actual doctrine of Purgatory,
as it is now understood in the Church. They are, in fact, in many cases
most explicit upon this point, obviously referring to a middle state of
suffering and expiation, and thus refuting by anticipation the
objections of those who claim that the primitive Christians prayed
indeed for the dead, but knew nothing of Purgatory: a contradiction, it
would seem, as prayer for the dead, to be available, supposes a place
or state of probation. But, even where the mention made by the Fathers
of prayer for the dead does not refer expressly to a place of
purgation, it is no more a proof that they did not hold this doctrine
than that those modern Catholic authors disbelieve in it, who suppose
this middle state of suffering to be admitted by their readers. Or
even, which rarely happens, if they be silent altogether upon the
subject, it no more infers their ignorance of such a belief than the
same silence to be noted in theological and religious works of our own
day. It proves no more than that they are at the time engaged in
treating of some other subject. The following, which may serve as a
conclusion to these extracts, is the solemn decision of the Council of
Trent in regard to this doctrine: "The Church, inspired by the Holy
Ghost, has always taught, according to the Holy Scriptures and
apostolic tradition, that there is a Purgatory, and that the souls
there detained receive comfort from the prayers and good works of the
faithful, particularly through the sacrifice of the Mass, which is so
acceptable to God."
In the thirteenth Canon of the sixth session, it decrees that, "if any
one should say that a repentant sinner, after having received the grace
of justification, the punishment of eternal pains being remitted, has
no temporary punishment to be suffered either in this life or in the
next in Purgatory, before he can enter into the Kingdom of God, let him
In the third Canon of the twenty-fourth session, it defines "that the
sacrifice of the Mass is propitiatory both for the living and the dead
for sins, punishments and satisfactions."
VERSES FROM THE IMITATION.
THOMAS A KEMPIS.
Trust not in thy friends and neighbors, and put not oft thy soul's
welfare till the future; for men will forget thee sooner than thou
It is better to provide now in time and send some good before thee than
to trust to the assistance of others after death.
If thou art not solicitous for thyself now, who will be solicitous for
Did'st thou also well ponder in thy heart the future pains of hell or
Purgatory, methinks thou would'st bear willingly labor and sorrow and
fear no kind of austerity.
Who will remember thee when thou art dead? and who will pray for thee?
Now thy labor is profitable, thy tears are acceptable, thy groans are
heard, thy sorrow is satisfying and purifieth the soul.
The patient man hath a great and wholesome purgatory.
Better is it to purge away our sins, and cut off our vices now, than to
keep them for purgation hereafter.
If thou shalt say thou are not able to suffer much, how then wilt thou
endure the fire of Purgatory. Of two evils, one ought always to choose
When a Priest celebrateth, he honoreth God, he rejoiceth the Angels, he
edifieth the Church, he helpeth the living, he obtaineth rest for the
departed, and maketh himself partaker of all good things.
I offer to Thee also all the pious desires of devout persons; the
necessities of my parents, friends, brothers, sisters, and all those
that are dear to me; ... and all who have desired and besought me to
offer up prayers and Masses for themselves and all theirs, whether they
are still living in the flesh or are already dead to this world.
ST. AUGUSTINE AND HIS MOTHER, ST. MONICA.
[In the beautiful account given by the great St. Augustine of the last
illness and death of his holy mother, St. Monica, we find some touching
proofs of the pious belief of mother and son in the existence of a
middle state for souls in the after life. The holy doctor had been
relating that memorable conversation on heavenly things which took
place between his mother and himself on that moonlight night at the
window in the inn at Ostia, immortalized by Ary Schaeffer in his
To this what answer I made her I do not well remember. But scarce five
days, or not many more, had passed after this before she fell into a
fever: and one day, being very sick, she swooned away, and was for a
little while insensible. We ran in, but she soon came to herself again,
and looking upon me and my brother (Navigius), that were standing by
her, said to us like one inquiring: "Where have I been?" then,
beholding us struck with grief, she said: "Here you shall bury your
mother." I held my peace and refrained weeping; but my brother said
something by which he signified his wish, as of a thing more happy,
that she might not die abroad but in her own country; which she
hearing, with a concern in her countenance, and checking him with her
eyes that he should have such notions, then looking upon me, said: "Do
you hear what he says?" then to us both: "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." And when she had
expressed to us this, her mind, with such words as she could, she said
no more, but lay struggling with her disease that grew stronger upon
* * * * *
And now behold the body is carried out to be buried, and I both go and
return without tears. Neither in those prayers, which we poured forth
to Thee when the sacrifice of our ransom was offered to Thee for her,
the body being set down by the grave before the interment of it, as
custom is there, neither in those prayers, I say, did I shed any tears.
* * * * *
And now, my heart being healed of that wound in which a carnal
affection might have some share, I pour out to Thee, our God, in behalf
of that servant of Thine, a far different sort of tears, flowing from a
spirit frighted with the consideration of the perils of every soul that
dies in Adam. For, although she, being revived in Christ, even before
her being set loose from the flesh and lived in such manner, as that
Thy name is much praised in her faith and manners; yet I dare not say
that from the time Thou didst regenerate her by baptism, no word came
out of her mouth against Thy command.... I, therefore, O my Praise and
my Life, the God of my heart, setting for a while aside her good deeds,
for which with joy I give Thee thanks, entreat Thee at present for the
sins of my mother. Hear me, I beseech Thee, through that Cure of our
wounds that hung upon the tree, and that, sitting now at Thy right
hand, maketh intercession to Thee for us. I know that she did
mercifully, and from her heart forgive to her debtors their trespasses:
do Thou likewise forgive her her debts, if she hath also contracted
some in those many years she lived after the saving water.... And I
believe Thou hast already done what I ask, but these free offerings of
my mouth approve, O Lord.
For she, when the day of her dissolution was at hand, had no thought
for the sumptuous covering of her body, or the embalming of it, nor had
she any desire of a fine monument, nor was solicitous about her
sepulchre in her own country: none of these things did she recommend to
us; but only desired that we should make a remembrance of her at Thy
altar, at which she had constantly attended without one day's
intermission, from whence she knew was dispensed that Holy Victim by
which was cancelled that handwriting that was against us (Coloss. II.),
by which that enemy was triumphed over who reckoneth up our sins and
seeketh what he may lay to our charge, but findeth nothing in Him
through whom we conquer. Who shall refund to Him that innocent blood He
shed for us? Who shall repay Him the price with which He bought us,
that so he may take us away from Him? To the sacrament of which price
of our redemption Thy handmaid bound fast her soul by the bond of
Let her, therefore, rest in peace, together with her husband, before
whom and after whom she was known to no man; whom she dutifully served,
bringing forth fruit to Thee, in much patience, that she might also
gain him to Thee. And do Thou inspire, O Lord, my God, do Thou inspire
Thy servants, my brethren, Thy children, my masters, whom I serve with
my voice, and my heart, and my writings, that as many as shall read
this shall remember, at Thy altar, Thy handmaid Monica with Patricius,
formerly her husband. Let them remember, with a pious affection, these
who were my parents in this transitory life, my brethren under Thee,
our Father, in our Catholic Mother, and my fellow-citizens in the
eternal Jerusalem, for which the pilgrimage of Thy people here below
continually sigheth from their setting out till their return. That so
what my mother made her last request to me may be more plentifully
performed for her by the prayers of many, procured by these, my
confessions, and my prayers. 
[Footnote 1: Conf. B. IX. Chs. XI.-XIII.]
ST. GERTRUDE AND THE HOLY SOULS.
[In the "Life and Revelations of St. Gertrude" we find many instances
of the efficacy of prayers for the dead and how pleasing to God is
devotion to the souls in Purgatory. From these we select the
Our Blessed Lord once said to the Saint: "If a soul is delivered by
prayer from Purgatory I accept it as if I had myself been delivered
from captivity, and I will assuredly reward it according to the
abundance of my mercy." The religious also beheld many souls meeting
before her to testify their gratitude for their deliverance from
Purgatory, through the prayers which had been offered for her, and
which she had not needed.
* * * * *
As St. Gertrude prayed fervently before matins on the blessed night of
the Resurrection, the Lord Jesus appeared to her full of majesty and
glory. Then she cast herself at His feet, to adore Him devoutly and
humbly, saying: "O glorious Spouse, joy of the angels, Thou who hast
shown me the favor of choosing me to be Thy spouse, who am the least of
Thy creatures! I ardently desire Thy glory, and my only friends are
those who love Thee; therefore I beseech Thee to pardon the souls of
Thy special friends  by the virtue of Thy most glorious
Resurrection. And to obtain this grace from Thy goodness, I offer Thee,
in union with Thy Passion, all the sufferings which my continual
infirmities have caused me." Then Our Lord, having favored her with
many caresses, showed her a great multitude of souls who were freed
from their pains, saying: "Behold, I have given them to you as a
recompense for your rare affection; and through all eternity they will
acknowledge that they have been delivered by your prayers, and you will
be honored and glorified for it." She replied: "How many are they?" He
answered: "This knowledge belongs to God alone."
As she feared that these souls, though freed from their pains, were not
yet admitted to glory, she offered to endure whatever God might please,
either in body or soul, to obtain their entrance into that beatitude;
and Our Lord, won by her fervor, granted her request immediately.
[Footnote 1: "This seems to refer," says the author of the Saint's
life, "to the souls in Purgatory."]
Some time after, as the Saint suffered most acute pain in her side, she
made an inclination before a crucifix; and Our Lord freed her from the
pain, and granted the merit of it to these souls, recommending them to
make her a return by their prayers.
* * * * *
On Wednesday, at the elevation of the Host, she besought Our Lord for
the souls of the faithful in Purgatory, that He would free them from
their pains by virtue of His, admirable Ascension; and she beheld Our
Lord descending into Purgatory with a golden rod in His hand, which had
as many hooks as there had been prayers for their souls; by these He
appeared to draw them into a place of repose. She understood by this,
that whenever any one prays generally, from a motive of charity, for
the souls in Purgatory, the greater part of those who, during their
lives, have exercised themselves in works of charity, are released.
* * * * *
On another occasion, as she remarked that she had offered all her
merits for the dead, she said to Our Lord: "I hope, O Lord, that Thou
wilt frequently cast the eyes of Thy mercy on my indigence." He
replied: "What can I do more for one who has thus deprived herself of
all things through charity, than to cover her immediately with
charity?" She answered: "Whatever Thou mayest do, I shall always appear
before Thee destitute of all merit, for I have renounced all I have
gained or may gain." He replied: "Do you not know that a mother would
allow a child who was well clothed to sit at her feet, but she would
take one who was barely clad into her arms, and cover her with her own
garment?" He added: "And now, what advantages have you, who are seated
on the shore of an ocean, over those who sit by a little rivulet?" That
is to say, those who keep their good works for themselves, have the
rivulet; but those who renounce them in love and humility, possess God,
who is an inexhaustible ocean of beatitude.
* * * * *
On one occasion, while Mass was being celebrated for a poor woman who
had died lately, St. Gertrude recited five _Pater Nosters_, in
honor of Our Lord's five wounds, for the repose of her soul; and, moved
by divine inspiration, she offered all her good works for the increase
of the beatitude of this person. When she had made this offering, she
immediately beheld the soul in heaven, in the place destined for her;
and the throne prepared for her was elevated as far above the place
where she had been, as the highest throne of the seraphim is above that
of the lowest angel. The Saint then asked Our Lord how this soul had
been worthy to obtain such advantage from her prayers, and He replied:
"She has merited this grace in three ways: first, because she always
had a sincere will and perfect desire of serving Me in religion, if it
had been possible; secondly, because she especially loved all religious
and all good people; thirdly, because she was always ready to honor Me
by performing any service she could for them." He added: "You may
judge, by the sublime rank to which she is elevated, how agreeable
these practices are to Me."
A certain religious died who had always been accustomed to pray very
fervently for the souls of the faithful departed; but she had failed in
the perfection of obedience, preferring her own will to that of her
superior in her fasts and vigils. After her decease she appeared
adorned with rich ornaments, but so weighed down by a heavy burden,
which she was obliged to carry, that she could not approach to God,
though many persons were endeavoring to lead her to Him.
As Gertrude marvelled at this vision, she was taught that the persons
who endeavored to conduct the soul to God were those whom she had
released by her prayers; but this heavy burden indicated the faults she
had committed against obedience. Then Our Lord said: "Behold how those
grateful souls endeavor to free her from the requirements of My
justice, and show these ornaments; nevertheless, she must suffer for
her faults of disobedience and self-will." ...
Then the Saint beheld her ornament, which appeared like a vessel of
boiling water containing a hard stone, which must be completely
dissolved therein before she could obtain relief from this torment; but
in these sufferings she was much consoled and assisted by those souls,
and by the prayers of the faithful. After this Our Lord showed St.
Gertrude the path by which the souls ascend to heaven. It resembled a
straight plank, a little inclined; so that those who ascended did so
with difficulty. They were assisted and supported by hands on either
side, which indicated the prayers offered for them.
* * * * *
One day St. Gertrude asked Our Lord how many souls were delivered from
Purgatory by her prayers and those of her sisters. "The number,"
replied Our Lord, "is proportioned to the zeal and fervor of those who
pray for them." He added: "My love urges me to release a great number
of souls for the prayers of each religious, and at each verse of the
psalms which they recite, I release many."
* * * * *
When Mass was offered for the deceased Brother Hermann, his soul
appeared to St. Gertrude all radiant with light, and transported with
joy. Then Gertrude said to Our Lord: "Is this soul now entirely freed
from its sufferings?" Our Lord answered: "He is already free from much
suffering, and no human being can form an idea of his glory; but he is
not yet so perfectly purified as to be worthy to enjoy My presence,
though he is approaching nearer and nearer to this purity by the
prayers which are offered for him, and is more and more consoled and
ST. JOSEPH'S INTERCESSION FOR THE FAITHFUL DEPARTED.
_(From "Le Propagateur de la Devotion a Saint Joseph.")_
ST. FRANCIS DE SALES says: "We do not often enough remember our dead,
our faithful departed." Thus the Church, like a good mother, recalls to
us the thought of the dead when we have forgotten them, and therefore
she consecrates the month of November to the memory of the dead. This
pious and salutary practice of praying for an entire month for the dead
takes its rise from the earliest ages of the Church. The custom of
mourning _thirty days_ for the dead existed amongst the Jews. The
practice of saying thirty Masses on thirty consecutive days was
established by St. Gregory, and Innocent XI. enriched it with
indulgences. "God has made known to me," says the venerable sister
Marie Denise de Martignat, "that a devotion to the death of St. Joseph
obtains many graces for those who are agonizing, and that, as St.
Joseph did not at once pass into heaven--because Jesus Christ had not
opened its gates--but descended into Limbo, it is a most useful
devotion for the agonizing, and for the souls in Purgatory, to offer to
God the resignation of St. Joseph when he was dying and about to leave
Jesus and Mary in this world, and to honor the holy patience of this
great Saint waiting calmly in Limbo until Easter-day, when Jesus
Christ, risen and glorious, released him." And if St. Joseph consoles
the souls in Purgatory, none will be so dear to him as those who were
devout to him in life, and zealous in spreading a devotion to him.
ST. FRANCIS DE SALES ON PURGATORY 
[Footnote 1: Consoling Thoughts of St Francis de Sales. Arranged by
Rev. Father Huguet. Pp. 336-7.]
The opinion of St. Francis de Sales was that from the thought of
Purgatory we should draw more consolation than pain. The greater number
of those, he said, who fear Purgatory so much, do so in consideration
of their own interests and of the love they bear themselves rather than
the interests of God; and this happens because those who treat of this
place from the pulpit usually speak of its pains and are silent in
regard to the happiness and peace which are found in it....
When any of his friends or acquaintances died, he never grew weary of
speaking fondly of them and recommending them to the prayers of others.
His usual expression was: "We do not sufficiently remember our dead,
our faithful departed;" and the proof of it is that we do not speak
enough of them. We turn away from that discourse as from a sad subject.
We leave the dead to bury their dead. Their memory perishes from us
with the sound of their funeral-bell. We forget that the friendship
which ends even with death, is never true, Holy Scripture assuring us
that true love is stronger than death.
He was accustomed to say that in this single work of mercy the thirteen
others are assembled.
Is it not, he said, in some manner, to visit the sick, to obtain by our
prayers the relief of the poor suffering souls in Purgatory?
Is it not to give drink to those who thirst after the vision of God,
and who are enveloped in burning flames, to share with them the dew of
Is it not to feed the hungry, to aid in their deliverance by the means
which faith suggests?
Is it not truly to ransom prisoners?
Is it not truly to clothe the naked, to procure for them a garment of
light, a raiment of glory?
Is it not an admirable degree of hospitality, to procure their
admission into the heavenly Jerusalem, and to make them fellow-citizens
with the Saints and domestics of God?
Is it not a greater service to place souls in heaven than to bury
bodies in the earth?
As to spirituals, is it not a work whose merit may be compared to that
of counselling the weak, correcting the wayward, instructing the
ignorant, forgiving offenses, enduring injuries? And what consolation,
however great, that can be given to the afflicted of this world, is
comparable with that which is brought by our prayers to those poor
souls which have such bitter need of them?
CARDINAL GIBBONS ON PURGATORY.
The Catholic Church teaches that, besides a place of eternal torments
for the wicked and of everlasting rest for the righteous, there exists
in the next life a middle state of temporary punishment, allotted for
those who have died in venial sin, or who have not satisfied the
justice of God for sins already forgiven. She also teaches us that,
although the souls consigned to this intermediate state, commonly
called Purgatory, cannot help themselves, they may be aided by the
suffrages of the faithful on earth. The existence of Purgatory
naturally implies the correlative dogma--the utility of praying for the
dead; for the souls consigned to this middle state have not reached the
term of their journey. They are still exiles from heaven, and are fit
subjects for divine clemency.
Is it not strange that this cherished doctrine should be called in
question by the levelling innovators of the sixteenth century, when we
consider that it is clearly taught in the Old Testament; that it is, at
least, insinuated in the New Testament; that it is unanimously
proclaimed by the Fathers of the Church; that it is embodied in all the
ancient liturgies of the Oriental and Western Church; and that it is
alike consonant with our reason and eminently consoling to the human
* * * * *
You now perceive that this devotion is not an invention of modern
times, but a doctrine universally enforced in the best and purest ages
of the Church.
You see that praying for the dead was not a devotion cautiously
recommended by some obscure or visionary writer, but an act of religion
preached and inculcated by all the great Doctors and Fathers of the
Church, who are the recognized expounders of the Christian religion.
You see them, too, inculcating this doctrine not as a cold and abstract
principle, but as an imperative act of daily piety, and embodying it in
their ordinary exercises of devotion.
They prayed for the dead in their morning and evening devotions. They
prayed for them in their daily office, and in the sacrifice of the
Mass. They asked the prayers of the congregation for the souls of the
deceased, in the public services of Sunday. And on the monuments which
were erected to the dead, some of which are preserved even to this day,
epitaphs were inscribed, earnestly invoking for their souls the prayers
of the living. How gratifying it is to our Catholic hearts, that a
devotion so soothing to afflicted spirits is, at the same time, so
firmly grounded on the tradition of ages.
That the practice of praying for the dead has descended from apostolic
times is also evident from the _Liturgus_ of the Church. A Liturgy
is the established form of public worship, containing the authorized
prayers of the Church. The Missal, or Mass-book, for instance, which
you see on our altars, contains a portion of the Liturgy of the
Catholic Church. The principal Liturgies are: The Liturgy of St. James
the Apostle, who founded the Church of Jerusalem; the Liturgy of St.
Mark the Evangelist, founder of the Church of Alexandria, and the
Liturgy of St. Peter, who established the Church in Rome. These
Liturgies are called after the Apostles who compiled them. There are,
besides, the Liturgies of St. Chrysostom and St. Basil, which are
chiefly based on that of St. James.
Now, all these Liturgies, without an exception, have prayers for the
dead, and their providential preservation serves as another triumphant
vindication of the venerable antiquity of this Catholic doctrine.
The Eastern and the Western churches were happily united until the
fourth and fifth centuries, when the heresiarchs Arius, Nestorius and
Eutyches withdrew millions of souls from the centre of unity. The
followers of these sects were called, after their founders, Arians,
Nestorians, and Eutychians, and from that day to the present the two
latter bodies have formed distinct communions, being separated from the
Catholic Church in the East, just as the Protestant churches are
separated from her in the West.
The Greek Schismatic Church, of which the present Russo-Greek Church is
the offspring, severed her connection with the See of Rome in the ninth
But in leaving the Catholic Church, these Eastern sects retained the
old Liturgies, which they use to this day....
During my sojourn in Rome, at the Ecumenical Council, I devoted a great
deal of my leisure time to the examination of the various Liturgies of
the Schismatic churches of the East. I found in all of them formulas of
prayers for the dead almost identical with that of the Roman Missal:
"Remember, O Lord, Thy servants who are gone before us with the sign of
faith, and sleep in peace. To these, O Lord, and to all who rest in
Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, light, and
peace, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord!"
Not content with studying their books, I called upon the Oriental
Patriarchs and Bishops in communion with the See of Rome, who belong to
the Armenian, the Chaldean, the Coptic, the Maronite, and Syriac rites.
They all assured me that the Schismatic Christians of the East among
whom they live have, without exception, prayers and sacrifices for the
Now, I ask, when could those Eastern sects have commenced to adopt the
Catholic practice of praying for the dead? They could not have received
it from us since the ninth century, because the Greek Church separated
from us then, and has had no communion with us since that time, except
at intervals, up to the twelfth century. Nor could they have adopted
the practice since the fourth or fifth century, inasmuch as the Arians,
Nestorians, and Eutychians have had no religious communication with us
since that period. Therefore, in common with us, they received this
doctrine from the Apostles.... I have already spoken of the devotion of
the ancient Jewish Church to the souls of the departed. But perhaps you
are not aware that the Jews retain to this day, in their Liturgy, the
pious practice of praying for the dead. Yet such in reality is the
Amid all their wanderings and vicissitudes of life, though dismembered
and dispersed, like sheep without a shepherd, over the surface of the
globe, the children of Israel have never forgotten or neglected the
sacred duty of praying for their deceased brethren.
Unwilling to make this assertion without the strongest evidence, I
procured from a Jewish convert an authorized Prayer-book of the Hebrew
Church, from which I extract the following formula of prayers which are
prescribed for funerals: "Departed brother! mayest thou find open the
gates of heaven, and see the city of peace and the dwellings of safety,
and meet the ministering angels hastening joyfully towards thee! And
may the High Priest stand to receive thee, and go thou to the end, rest
in peace, and rise again _into_ life! May the repose established
in the celestial abode... be the lot, dwelling, and the resting place
of the soul of our deceased brother (whom the spirit of the Lord may
guide into Paradise), who departed from this world, according to the
will of God, the Lord of heaven and earth. May the Supreme King of
Kings, through His infinite mercy, hide him under the shadow of His
wings. May He raise him at the end of his days, and cause him to drink
of the stream of His delights!"
I am happy to say that the more advanced and enlightened members of the
Episcopalian Church are steadily returning to the faith of their
forefathers, regarding prayers for the dead. An acquaintance of mine,
once a distinguished clergyman of the Episcopal communion, but now a
convert, informed me that hundreds of Protestant clergymen in this
country, and particularly in England, have a firm belief in the
efficacy of prayers for the dead, but for well-known reasons they are
reserved in the expression of their faith. He easily convinced me of
the truth of his assertion, particularly as far as the Church of
England is concerned, by sending me six different works published in
London, all bearing on the subject of Purgatory. These books are
printed under the auspices of the Protestant Episcopal Church; they all
contain prayers for the dead, and prove, from Catholic grounds, the
existence of a middle state after death, and the duty of praying for
our deceased brethren. 
[Footnote 1: See "Path of Holiness," Rivington's, London: "Treasury of
Devotion," Ibid; "Catechism of Theology," Masten, London.]
To sum up: we see the practice of praying for the dead enforced in the
ancient Hebrew Church, and in the Jewish synagogue of to-day. We see it
proclaimed age after age by all the Fathers of Christendom. We see it
incorporated in every one of the ancient Liturgies of the East and of
the West. We see it zealously taught by the Russian Church of to-day,
and by that immense family of schismatic Christians scattered over the
East. We behold it, in fine, a cherished devotion of two hundred
millions of Catholics, as well as of a respectable portion of the
Would it not, my friend, be the height of rashness and presumption in
you to prefer your private opinion to this immense weight of learning,
sanctity, and authority? Would it not be impiety in you to stand aside
with sealed lips, while the Christian world is sending up an unceasing
_De profundis_ for departed brethren? Would it not be cold and
heartless in you not to pray for your deceased friends, on account of
prejudices which have no grounds in Scripture, tradition, or reason
* * * * *
Oh! far from us a religion which would decree an eternal divorce
between the living and the dead. How consoling is it to the Catholic,
to think that, in praying thus for his departed friend, his prayers are
not in violation of, but in accordance with, the voice of the Church;
and that as, like Augustine, he watches at the pillow of a dying
mother, so, like Augustine, he can continue the same office of piety
for her soul after she is dead, by praying for her. How cheering the
reflection that the golden link of prayer unites you still to those who
"fall asleep in the Lord," and that you can still speak to them and
pray for them!....
Oh! it is this thought that robs death of its sting and makes the
separation of friends endurable. And if your departed friend needs not
your prayers, they are not lost, but, like the rain absorbed by the
sun, and descending again in fruitful showers on our fields, they will
be gathered by the Sun of Justice, and they will come down in
refreshing showers of grace upon your head. "Cast thy bread upon the
running waters; for, after a long time, thou shalt find it again." 
[Footnote 1: Faith of our Fathers, chap. xvi.]
THE DOCTRINE OF PURGATORY.
ARCHBISHOP HUGHES. 
[Footnote 1: Answer to nine objections made.]
The Catholic Church does not believe that God created any to be damned
absolutely, notwithstanding their co-operation with the means of
salvation which were secured to them by the death of Jesus Christ; nor
any to be saved absolutely, unless they co-operate with those means.
Hence she has ever taught the doctrine which is inculcated in
Scripture, that heaven may be obtained by all who shall apply the means
which the Saviour of the World has left in His Church for that end: in
a word, that every man shall be judged according to his works. This
doctrine is consonant with the justice which must belong to the Deity.
She knows God is too pure to admit anything defiled into His heavenly
abode (Apoc. xxi. 27); and yet too just and merciful to punish a slight
transgression with the same severity as is due to an enormous crime.
Now, suppose two men to sin against God at the same time, the one by
the deliberate murder of his father--for the case is possible--and the
other, by a slight, almost inadvertent, falsehood; and suppose,
further, that they are both to appear before God the next moment to
answer for the deeds done in the flesh, I ask whether it is consistent
with the idea we have of divine justice to think that both will be
condemned to the same everlasting punishment? If it be, then there is
no more moral turpitude in parricide than in telling a trivial
falsehood, which injures no one, but still is offensive and displeasing
to God. But if it be not consistent with divine justice, then you must
admit the distinction of guilt, and consequently of punishment. Now,
that God exacts a temporary punishment for sin, after the guilt and
eternal punishment are remitted, appears from the testimony of His
Sacred Word. St. Paul teaches that the death of the body is a
punishment which the sin of our first parent entailed on his progeny;
and yet many who have been regenerated by baptism from that original
guilt, nevertheless die before they have committed any actual sin
whatever. The children of Israel had to leave their bones in the
wilderness, after the forty years' sojournment, as a punishment,
inflicted by the Almighty Himself, for sins which He had expressly
forgiven them. Num. xiv. 20, 22. David was forgiven his sin--and yet he
was punished for it, by the death of his child, whom he loved most
tenderly. He sinned by numbering his people; and although it was
forgiven him, he had still to choose his punishment--either war,
famine, or pestilence. If such be the dispensation of God to His
creatures in this world, why may it not be also after death? Will you
say it is because the body is the medium of suffering in this life?
This is not exactly true--the body, indeed, is the medium, in many
instances, through which the soul is made to suffer. But God inflicted
no corporal chastisement on David by taking his child--it was the
king's soul that was touched, and felt, and suffered. Does not the soul
remain susceptible of suffering after death; and may not God,
conformably with the examples here laid down, extend to it in a future
state the same salutary dispensation, for His own just and merciful
purposes? But you will ask what Scripture I can quote to show that He
really does so. Now, suppose I were to refer you to the same rule, and
demand from you the text by which you feel warranted to profane the
Sabbath, and sanctify the Sunday in its stead--what will you have to
answer in reply? Surely if the authority of the Catholic Church is
sufficient to authorize your _practice_ in the one case, it is
equally so with regard to my belief in the other. But our situations
are very different; because I admit the authority of the Church in both
instances, and I shall prove that her doctrine of Purgatory, so far
from opposing, is grounded on Scripture. Whereas you reject the Church,
you make, as you say, the Scripture the _only rule_ of your faith;
and yet when the Scripture says, "Thou shalt keep holy the Sabbath
day," you say I will not sanctify the Sabbath, but I will sanctify the
day after.... This tenet of belief is proved by every text of Scripture
in which it is implied that God will render to every man according to
his works.... If the word Purgatory has anything in it peculiarly
offensive, you will not be the less a Catholic for rejecting it, and
using the Scriptural word _prison_, provided you admit that such a
place exists; in which God after having forgiven the guilt and temporal
punishment of their sins, causes the souls of the imperfect just to
undergo, nevertheless, a temporary chastisement, as David did in this
life, before admitting them into the realms of felicity. Now, if this
be so, is it not rational to believe that the mercy of God will be
moved by the prayers of His faithful servants on earth, who intercede
in behalf of their departed brethren?... In a word, the economy of God
to His creatures even in this life is consistent with the doctrine of
PURGATORY AND WHAT WE OWE TO THE DEAD.
The infallible Church, the spouse of the Holy Ghost, the Pillar and
Ground of Truth and the true teacher of the doctrine of Christ, has, in
the distribution of her feasts and festivals, set apart one day in the
year, the second of November, in favor of the suffering souls in
Purgatory. She calls on all her children to assemble around her sacred
altars, to assist and pray at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the
deliverance from Purgatory of the souls of those who, whilst dying in
peace with Our Lord, still had debts to pay to His infinite justice.
These debts were contracted by the commission of mortal sin, whose
grievous fault, though removed by the Sacrament of Penance, yet left on
the soul a debt which was not sufficiently atoned for, or by the
commission of venial sin not sufficiently repented of. Purgatory is one
of the great consoling doctrines of the Church of Christ. Only the pure
and perfect can enter Heaven; and how few persons leave this earth of
temptation, sin, and trouble in that state of purity and perfection! If
there were not a place of purification, how few could go straight to
Heaven! Nearly the whole human race would be deprived forever of the
beatific vision of God. God has chosen this way of exhibiting His
justice and mercy: His justice, by exacting the last particle of debt;
and His mercy, by saving the poor repentant sinner. God rewards every
one according to his works. Some are imperfect through want of pure
intention, through carelessness, vanity, or other causes, like the hay
and stubble adhering to gold and precious stones which dull their
* * * * *
Oh, how few are perfect, and how few do penance in proportion to their
sins! How few, in their dealing with their fellow-men, giving measure
for measure, goods equal to the money paid for them, or services equal
to the pay received! How many fail in charity, in words and actions!
How many prayers said carelessly and without thought, even at the most
solemn times! These will have to be repeated, as it were, in Purgatory.
How many will suffer from their want of charity and mercy to the poor,
and failing to pay their just dues to God's Church for the spiritual
favors they receive from it! "If we give you," says St. Paul,
"spiritual things, you should administer to us temporal things."...
All spiritual writers agree that the pains of Purgatory are intense,
yet the souls are satisfied to suffer till the last debt is paid. They
would not wish to enter Heaven with stains on their souls. God, in His
great mercy, has permitted some souls suffering in Purgatory to appear
to friends on earth to solicit their prayers and Masses, and to pay
their debts. This the Lives of the Saints and Ecclesiastical History at
all times attest. In these days when faith is fading from some minds,
even in the Church, it behooves especially the Bishops to remind the
faithful of their duties and obligations to their departed friends. It
is thought by some that an expensive funeral, with its many carriages,
and a grand monument over the grave, will satisfy all the requirements
of decency and of family love. Alas! if the dead could only speak from
their graves, they would cry out and say, "All these monuments and this
worldly pageantry only crush us. They only satisfy the vanity of the
living, but in no way alleviate our sufferings in Purgatory."...
But the Bishops must, from time to time, remind the people of their
duty towards God's servants suffering in Purgatory. In olden times,
when faith, love, and affection were stronger than now, devotion
towards the souls in Purgatory showed itself in numerous foundations in
favor of the souls in Purgatory. Churches and canonries where Masses
were celebrated every day by canons and monks, benefices for the
education of poor students, hospitals for the care of the sick,
periodical distribution of alms to the poor, to have rosaries and other
prayers said and pilgrimages made for the souls in Purgatory. All these
have been swept away by the ruthless hand of the civil power, wishing
to reform the Church; and even at the present day, when the Christian
soul is about to appear before the judgment-seat, there are legal
impediments in the way of his making by will donations for prayers or
Masses. Therefore, my dear people, whilst you are well make provision
for your own soul. Do not entrust it to the care of others who cannot
love you more than you love yourselves.
* * * * *
This doctrine of Purgatory has always been taught in the Church and
handed down from bishops and priests to their successors in the sacred
ministry, and by the voice of the people. "Stand fast, and hold the
tradition you have learned, whether by word or by our epistle." (II.
Thess. ii. 14.) Now prayers and Masses for the dead are to be found in
every ancient liturgy of the Church. There is no Oriental liturgy
without prayers for those who have departed in peace. The Apostolic
Constitutions--the most ancient and genuine work--speak largely of
prayers for the dead, for the conversion of sinners.
There are religious congregations and pious associations specially
devoted to the relief of the souls in Purgatory. St. Vincent de Paul
ordered the priests of his congregation never to go to meals without
first saying the _De Profundis_ for the souls in Purgatory. The
Church ends all the prayers of the divine office with: "May the souls
of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace." One
may turn away with a sad thought from a tomb on which is not engraved:
"May he rest in peace," or on which a cross--the emblem of our hope in
God and in a happy resurrection--does not figure.
We exhort you, beloved children in Christ, to entertain an earnest
charity towards the souls in Purgatory. You loved them during life; do
not let it be said: "Out of sight, out of mind." Love them in death or,
living, wishing earnestly to go to God. This charity will greatly help
yourselves. If a cup of cold water given to a servant of God shall not
go without its reward, how much more a cup of celestial grace, that
will shorten the time in the flames of Purgatory of a soul that most
ardently longs to see God, who desires it Himself with great love, and
will reward those who shorten the exile of His dear servants. "Those,"
says St. Alphonsus Liguori, "who succor the souls in Purgatory will be
succored in turn by the gratitude of those whom they have relieved, and
who enjoy sooner, by their prayers, the beatific vision of God."
* * * * *
The Council of Trent, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, has made
decrees on the subject which bind the consciences of the faithful. In
the Thirteenth Canon of the Sixth Session it decrees "that if any one
should say that a repentant sinner, after having received the grace of
justification, the punishment of eternal pains being remitted, has no
temporary punishment to be suffered, either in this life or in the
next, in Purgatory, before he can enter into the Kingdom of God, let
him be anathema."
Though King David was assured, after his sincere repentance, that his
sin was forgiven, yet the Prophet told him that he had still to suffer
by the death of his child.
In the Twenty-fourth Session and Third Canon the Holy Council defines
that the Sacrifice of the Mass is propitiatory, both for the living and
the dead, for sins, punishments, satisfactions, and for other
necessities, according to Apostolic traditions; and the Bishop, when he
ordains, places the patena and chalice, with the bread and wine, in the
hands of the young priest and says to him: "Receive the power to offer
to God the Sacrifice of the Mass, as well for the living as for the
dead, in the name of the Lord. Amen."
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is, therefore, the most powerful means
of relieving the souls in Purgatory; next is the fervent performance of
the Stations of the Cross, to which so many indulgences are attached;
then other indulgenced prayers; for example, the Rosary. Alms to the
poor is another powerful means. "Blessed are the merciful, for they
shall obtain mercy."
There is another means which our ancestors loved--to educate a student
for the priesthood. St. Monica rejoiced, on her death-bed, that she had
a son to remember her every day at the altar. If you have not a son you
can adopt one, or subscribe, according to your means, to the Students'
It is the custom in many places--and we wish that it should be
introduced where it is not--to receive the offerings of the people on
All Souls' Day, or the Sunday previous, or subsequent, and the proceeds
to be computed and Masses offered up accordingly.
We attach the indulgences of the Way of the Cross to certain
crucifixes, and thus enable persons who cannot conveniently visit the
Church to make the Stations there, to gain the indulgences of the
Stations by reciting fourteen times the "Our Father" and "Hail Mary,"
with a "Glory be to the Father," etc., for each Station, and five "Our
Fathers" and "Hail Marys" in honor of the five Adorable Wounds, with
one for the intentions of the Pope.
PURGATORY SURVEYED. 
[Footnote 1: Published by Burns & Oates, London.]
FATHER BINET, S. J.
[The following passages are taken from a most excellent and valuable
work, "Purgatory Surveyed," edited by the late lamented Dr. Anderdon,
S. J., being by him "disposed, abridged, or enlarged," from a treatise
by Father Binet, a French Jesuit, published at Paris in 1625, at Douay
in 1627, and translated soon after by Father Richard Thimbleby, an
English member of the Society of Jesus. Says Dr. Anderdon in his
preface: "The alterations ventured upon in this reprint, consist
chiefly in the mode of punctuation, which, being probably left to a
French compositor, are anomalous, and often perplexing. Some
expressions, so obsolete as to prevent the sense being clear, and in
the same degree lessening the value of the book to the general reader,
have been exchanged for others in more common use.... Let us earnestly
hope that, at this moment, on the threshold of the month specially
dedicated by the Church to devotion on behalf of the Holy Souls, the
joint work of Fathers Binet and Thimbleby may produce an abundant
harvest of intercession. If, during their own brief time of trial, they
were inspired to put together and to enforce such powerful motives to
stir up the faithful to this devotion, will they not now rejoice in the
re-production of their act of zeal and charity? During the two hundred
and fifty years which have elapsed since the first publication of the
French work, many changes and revolutions have taken place in the
histories of those spots of earth, known as France and England. But the
History of Purgatory is ever the same; "happiness and unhappiness"
combined; both unspeakably great; long detention, perhaps, or perhaps
swift release, according to the degree of faith and charity animating
the Church militant. May we now, and henceforth, realize in act, in
habitual practice, and, all the more, from the considerations given in
the following pages, the immense privilege of holding, to so great a
degree, the keys of Purgatory in our hands."]
Believe it, it is one of the first rudiments, but main principles, of a
Christian, to captivate his understanding, and so regulate all his
dictamens, that they be sure to run parallel with the sentiments of the
Church. And this I take to be the case when the question is started
about Purgatory fire, which I shall ever reckon in the class of those
truths, which cannot be contradicted without manifest temerity; as
being the doctrine generally preached and taught all over Christendom.
You must, then, conceive Purgatory to be a vast, darksome and hideous
chaos, full of fire and flames, in which the souls are kept close
prisoners, until they have fully satisfied for all their misdemeanors,
according to the estimate of Divine justice. For God has made choice of
this element of fire wherewith to punish souls, because it is the most
active, piercing, sensible,  and insupportable of all others. But
that which quickens it, indeed, and gives it more life, is this: that
it acts as the instrument of God's justice, who, by His omnipotent
power, heightens and reinforces its activity as He pleases, and so
makes it capable to act upon bodiless spirits. Do not, then, look only
upon this fire, though in good earnest it be dreadful enough of itself;
but consider the Arm that is stretched out, and the Hand that strikes,
and the rigor of God's infinite justice, who, through this element of
fire, vents His wrath, and pours out whole tempests of His most severe
and yet most just vengeance. So that the fire works as much mischief,
 as I may say, to the souls, as God commands; and He commands as
much as is due; and as much is due as the sentence bears: a sentence
irrevocably pronounced at the high tribunal of the severe and rigorous
justice of an angry God, and whose anger is so prevalent that the Holy
Scripture styles it "a day of fury." Now, you will easily believe that
this fire is a most horrible punishment in its own nature; but you may
do well to reflect also on that which I have now suggested; that the
fury of Almighty God is, as it were, the fire of this fire, and the
heat of its heat; and that He serves Himself of it as He pleases, by
doubling and redoubling its sharp pointed forces; for this is that
which makes it the more grievous and insupportable to the souls that
are thus miserably confined and imprisoned.
[Footnote 1: _i.e._, apprehended by the senses]
[Footnote 2: _i.e._, Not implying injury, far less injustice; but
simply punishment and suffering]
They were not much out of the way, that styled Purgatory a transitory
kind of hell, because the principal pains of the damned are to be found
there; with this only difference, that in hell they are eternal, and in
Purgatory they are only transitory and fleeting: for, otherwise, it is
probably the very same fire that burns both the Holy Souls and the
damned spirits; and the pain of loss is, in both places, the chief
torment.... Now, does not your hair stand on end? does not your heart
tremble, when you hear that the poor souls in Purgatory are tormented
with the same, or the like flames to those of the damned? Can you