Part 3 out of 9
that we can to deliver them from the flames of Purgatory, or, at least,
to soothe their pains.... The fire of Purgatory, as the doctors of the
Church declare, is as intense as that of the abode of hell; with this
difference, that it has an end. Yea! it may be that to-day a soul in
Purgatory is undergoing more agony, more excruciating suffering than a
damned soul, which is tormented in hell for a few mortal sins; while
the poor soul in Purgatory must satisfy for millions of venial sins.
All the pains which afflict the sick upon earth, added to all that the
martyrs have ever suffered, cannot be compared with those in Purgatory,
so great is the punishment of those poor souls.
We read, how once a sick person who was very impatient in his
sufferings, exclaimed; "O God, take me from this world!" Thereupon the
Angel Guardian appeared to him, and told him to remember that, by
patiently bearing his afflictions upon his sick-bed, he could satisfy
for his sins, and shorten his Purgatory. But the sick man replied that
he chose rather to satisfy for his sins in Purgatory. The poor sufferer
died; and behold, his Guardian Angel appeared to him again, and asked
him if he did not repent of the choice he had made of satisfying for
his sins in Purgatory, by tortures, rather than upon earth by
afflictions. Thereupon the poor soul asked the angel: "How many years
am I now here in these terrible flames?" The Angel replied: "How many
years? Thy body upon earth is not yet buried; nay, it is not yet cold
and still thou believest already thou art here for many years!" Oh, how
that soul lamented upon hearing this. Great indeed was its grief for
not having chosen patiently to undergo upon earth the sufferings of
sickness, and thereby shorten its Purgatory.
* * * * *
Upon earth, persons who anxiously seek another abode or another state
of life, often know not whether, perhaps, they may not fall into a more
wretched condition. How many have forsaken the shores of Europe, with
the bright hope of a better future awaiting them in America? All has
been disappointment! They have repented a thousand times of having
deserted their native country. Now does this disappointment await the
souls in Purgatory upon their deliverance? Ah! by no means. They
_know_ too well that when they are released heaven will be their
home. Once there, no more pains, no more fire for them; but the
enjoyment of an _everlasting bliss_, which no eye hath seen nor
ear heard; nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive. Such
will be their future happy state. Oh! how great is their desire to be
there already. Another circumstance which especially intensifies hope
in the breast of man, is _intercourse_--union with those who are
near and dear to him.
How many, indeed, have bid a last farewell to Europe, where they would
have prospered; but oh, there are awaiting them in another land their
beloved ones--those who are so dear, and in whose midst they long to
be! Oh, what a great source of desire is not this, for the poor souls
in Purgatory to go to heaven! In heaven they shall find again those
whom they have loved and cherished upon earth, but who have already
preceded them on their way to the heavenly mansion.... There is still
another feature, another circumstance which presents itself in the
condition of the poor souls in Purgatory: I mean the irresistible force
or tendency with which they are drawn towards _God_; their intense
longing after Him, their last aim and end.... Oh, with what intense
anxiety and longing is not a poor soul in Purgatory consumed, to behold
the splendor of its Lord and Creator! But, also! with what marks of
_gratitude_ does not every soul whom we have assisted to enter
heaven pray for us upon its entrance!
Therefore, let us hasten to the relief of the poor suffering souls in
Purgatory. Let us help them to the best of our power, so that they may
supplicate for us before the throne of the Most High; that they may
remember us when we, too, shall one day be afflicted in that prison
house of suffering, and may procure for us a speedy release and an
early enjoyment of a blissful eternity.
* * * * *
When it will be your turn one day to dwell in those flames, and be
separated from God, how happy will you not be, if others alleviate and
shorten your pains! Do you desire this assistance for your own soul?
Then begin in this life, while you have time, to render aid to the poor
souls in Purgatory.... He who does not assist others, unto him
shall no mercy be shown; for this is what even-handed justice requires.
Hence, let us not be deaf to the pitiful cries of the departed ones....
What afflicts those poor, helpless souls still more, is the
circumstance that, despite their patience in _suffering_, they can
earn nothing for heaven. With us, however, such is not the case. We, by
our patience under affliction, may merit much, very much indeed, for
Paradise.... I well remember a certain sick person who was sorely
pressed with great sufferings. Wishing to console him in his distress,
I said: "Friend, such severe pains will not last long. You will either
recover from your illness and become well and strong again, or God will
soon call you to himself." Thereupon the sick man, turning his eyes
upon a crucifix which had been placed for him at the foot of his bed,
replied: "Father, I desire no alleviation in my suffering, no relief in
my pains. I cheerfully endure all as long as it is God's good pleasure,
but I hope that I now undergo my Purgatory." Then, stretching forth his
hands towards his crucifix he thus addressed it, filled with the most
lively hope in God's mercy: "Is it not so, dear Jesus? Thou wilt only
take me from my bed of pain to receive me straightway into heaven!"
* * * * *
We find in the lives of all the saints a most ardent zeal in the cause
of these poor afflicted ones. For their relief they offered to God not
only prayers, but also Masses, penances, the most severe sicknesses,
and the most painful trials, and all this as a recognition and a
practical display of the belief which they cherished--that they who
have slept in Christ are finally to repose with him in glory....
Because all that we perform for the help and delivery of the poor souls
in Purgatory, are works of Christian faith and piety. Such are prayer,
the august sacrifice of the Mass, the reception of the holy sacraments,
alms-deeds, and acts of penance and self-denial....
Remember, dear Christians, that we, too, shall be poor, helpless, and
suffering souls in Purgatory, and what shall we carry with us of all
our earthly goods and treasures? Not a single farthing.
* * * * *
We read, in the life of St. Gertrude, that God once allowed her to
behold Purgatory. And, lo! she saw a soul that was about issuing from
Purgatory, and Christ, who, followed by a band of holy virgins, was
approaching, and stretching forth his hands towards it. Thereupon the
soul, which was almost out of Purgatory, drew back, and of its own
accord sank again into the fire. "What dost thou?" said St. Gertrude to
the soul. "Dost thou not see that Christ wishes to release thee from
thy terrible abode?" To this the soul replied: "O Gertrude, thou
beholdest me not as I am. I am not yet immaculate. There is yet another
stain upon me. I will not hasten thus to the arms of Jesus."
A POPULAR VIEW OF PURGATORY.
REV. J. J. MORIARTY, LL.D.
Purgatory is a state of suffering for such souls as have left this life
in the friendship of God, but who are not sufficiently purified to
enter the kingdom of heaven--having to undergo some temporal punishment
for their lighter sins and imperfections, or for their grievous sins,
the eternal guilt of which has been remitted. In other words, we
believe that the souls of all who departed this life--not wicked enough
to be condemned to hell, nor yet pure enough to enjoy the Beatific
Vision of God--are sent to a place of purgation, where, in the crucible
of suffering, the lighter stains of their souls are thoroughly removed,
and they themselves are gradually prepared to enter the Holy of Holies
--where nothing defiled is permitted to approach.
* * * * *
----There are many venial faults which the majority of persons commit,
and for which they have little or no sorrow--sins which do not deprive
the soul of God's friendship, and yet are displeasing to His infinite
holiness. For all these we must suffer either in this life or the next.
Divine justice weighs everything in a strict balance, and there is no
sin that we commit but for which we shall have to make due reparation.
Faults which we deem of little or no account the Almighty will not pass
unnoticed or unpunished. Our Blessed Saviour warns us that even for
"every idle word that man shall say he shall render an account in the
day of judgment."
We know full well that no man will be sent to hell merely for an "idle
word," or for any venial fault he may commit; consequently there must
be a place where such sins are punished. If they be not satisfied for
here upon earth by suffering, affliction, or voluntary penance, there
must be a place in the other life where proper satisfaction is to be
made. That place cannot be either heaven or hell. It cannot be heaven,
for no sufferings, no pain, no torment is to be found there, where "God
shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, where death shall be no
more, nor mourning nor weeping." It cannot be hell, where only the
souls of those who have died enemies of God are condemned to eternal
misery, for "out of hell there is no redemption."
There must be, then, a Middle Place where lighter faults are cleansed
from the soul, and proper satisfaction is rendered for the temporal
punishment that still remains due. The punishment of every one will
vary according to his desert.
* * * * *
Our Divine Lord warns us to make necessary reparation whilst we have
the time and opportunity.
"Make an agreement with thy adversary quickly whilst thou art in the
way with him; lest, perhaps, the adversary deliver thee to the judge,
and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into
prison. Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence till thou
pay the last farthing." (St. Matthew, v., 25, 26.)
This expresses the doctrine of Purgatory most admirably. The Scriptures
always describe our life as a pilgrimage. We are only on our way. We
have to meet the claims of Divine justice here before being called to
the tribunal of the everlasting Judge; otherwise, even should we die in
His friendship and yet have left these claims not entirely satisfied,
we shall be cast into the prison of Purgatory; and "Amen, I say unto
thee that thou shalt not go out from thence until thou pay the last
* * * * *
Our Saviour declares (St. Matthew, xii. 32,) that "whoever shall speak
a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but he that
shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him,
either in this life or in the world to come;" which shows, as St.
Augustine says in the twenty-first book of his work, "The City of God,"
that there are some sins (venial of course) which shall be forgiven in
the next world, and that, consequently, there is a middle state, or
place of purgation in the other life, since no one can enter heaven
having any stain of sin, and surely no one can obtain forgiveness in
The testimony of St. Paul is very clear on this point of doctrine: "For
no man can lay another foundation but that which is laid; which is
Jesus Christ. Now if any man build on that foundation, gold, silver,
precious stones, wood, hay, stubble: every man's work shall be made
manifest; for the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be
revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort
it is. If any man's work abide, which he had built thereupon, he shall
receive a reward. If any man's work burn, he shall suffer loss; _but
he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire_."
* * * * *
In the First Epistle of St. Peter (Chap. iii. 18, 19), we learn that
Christ "being put to death, indeed, in the flesh, but brought to life
by the spirit, in which also He came and preached to those spirits who
were in prison."
Our Blessed Saviour, immediately after death, descended into that part
of hell called Limbo, and, as St. Peter informs us, "preached to the
spirits who were in prison." This most certainly shows the existence of
a middle state. The spirits to whom our Lord preached were certainly
not in the hell of the damned, where His preaching could not possibly
bear any fruit; they were not already in heaven, where no preaching is
necessary, since there they see God face to face. Therefore they must
have been in some middle state--call it by whatever name you please--
where they were anxiously awaiting their deliverance at the hands of
their Lord and Redeemer.
Belief in Purgatory is more ancient than Christianity itself. It was
the belief among the Jews of old, and of this we have clear proof in
the Second Book of Machabees, xii., 43. After a great victory gained by
that valiant chieftain, Judas Machabeus, about two hundred years before
the coming of Christ, "Judas making a gathering, he sent twelve
thousand drachmas of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered
for the sins of the dead, thinking well and justly concerning the
resurrection.... It is, therefore, a holy and wholesome thought to pray
for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins."
It is customary, even in our days, in Jewish synagogues, to erect
tablets reminding those present of the lately deceased, in order that
they may remember them in their prayers. Surely, if there did not exist
a place of purgation, no prayers nor sacrifices would be of any avail
to the departed. We find the custom of praying, of offering the Holy
Sacrifice of the Mass for their spiritual benefit, more especially on
their anniversaries, an universal practice among the primitive
Christians of the Eastern and Western Churches, of the Greek, Latin,
and Oriental Rites.
Even if we did not find strong warrant, as we do, in the Scriptures,
the authority of Apostolic Tradition would be amply sufficient for us;
for, remember, we Catholics hold the traditions, handed down from the
Apostles, to be of as much weight as their own writings.
... Hence it is that we have recourse to sacred tradition as well as to
Scripture for the proof of our teaching. With reference, then, to the
doctrine of "Purgatory," we are guided by the belief that prevailed
among the primitive Christians.
That the custom of praying for the dead was sanctioned by the Apostles
themselves, we have the declaration of St. John Chrysostom: "It was not
in vain instituted by the Apostles that in the celebration of the
tremendous mysteries a remembrance should be made of the departed. They
knew that much profit and advantage would be thereby derived."
Tertullian--the most ancient of the Latin Fathers, who flourished in
the age immediately following that of the Apostles--speaks of the duty
of a widow with regard to her deceased husband: "Wherefore also does
she pray for his soul, and begs for him, in the interim, refreshment,
and in the first resurrection, companionship, and makes offerings for
him on the anniversary day of his falling asleep in the Lord. For
unless she has done these things, she has truly repudiated him so far
as is in her power." All this supposes a Purgatory.
"The measure of the pain," says St. Gregory Nyssa, "is the quantity of
evil to be found in each one.... Being either purified during the
present life by means of prayer and the pursuit of wisdom, or, after
departure from this life, by means of the furnace of the fire of
* * * * *
Not only deeply instructive, but also eminently consoling is the
doctrine of Purgatory. We need not "mourn as those who have no hope,"
for those nearest and dearest who have gone hence and departed this
life in the friendship of God.
How beautifully our Holy Mother the Church bridges over the terrible
chasm of the grave! How faithfully and tenderly she comes to our aid in
the saddest of our griefs and sorrows! She leaves us not to mourn
uncomforted, unsustained. She chides us not for shedding tears over our
dear lost ones--a beloved parent, a darling child, a loving brother,
affectionate sister, or deeply-cherished friend or spouse. She bids us
let our tears flow, for our Saviour wept at the grave of Lazarus.
She whispers words of comfort--not unmeaning words, but words of divine
hope and strength--to our breaking hearts. She pours the oil of
heavenly consolation into our deepest wounds. She bids us cast off all
unseemly grief, assuring us that not even death itself can sever the
bond that unites us; that we can be of service to those dear departed
ones whom we loved better than life itself; that we can aid them by our
prayers and good works, and especially by, the Holy Sacrifice of the
Mass. Thus may we shorten their time of banishment, assuage their
pains, and continue to storm Heaven itself with our piteous appeals
until the Lord deign to look down in mercy, open their prison doors,
and admit them to the full light of His holy presence, and to the
everlasting embrace of their Redeemer and their God.
EXTRACTS FROM "CATHOLIC BELIEF."
VERY REV. FAA DI BRUNO. 
[Footnote 1: Catholic Belief, or, A Short and Simple Exposition of
Catholic Doctrine, by Very Rev. Joseph Faa Di Bruno. D. D., Rector-
General of the Pious Society of Missions of the Church of San Salvatore
in Onde, Ponte Sisto, Rome, and St. Peter's Italian Church in London.
American Edition, edited by Father Lambert, author of Notes on
As works of penance have no value in themselves except through the
merits of Jesus Christ, so the pains of Purgatory have no power in
themselves to purify the soul from sin, but only in virtue of Christ's
Redemption, or, to speak more exactly, the souls in Purgatory are able
to discharge the debt of temporal punishment demanded by God's justice,
and to have their venial sins remitted only through the merits of Jesus
Christ, "yet so as by fire."
The Catholic belief in Purgatory rests on the authority of the Church
and her apostolic traditions recorded in ancient Liturgies, and in the
writings of the ancient Fathers: Tertullian, St. Cyprian, Origen,
Eusebius of Caesarea, Arnobius, St. Basil, St. Ephrem of Edessa, St.
Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Ambrose, St. Epiphanius,
St. John Chrysostom, St. Jerome, St. Augustine. It rests also on the
Fourth Council of Carthage, and on many other authorities of antiquity.
That this tradition is derived from the Apostles, St. John Chrysostom
plainly testified in a passage quoted at the end of this chapter, in
which he speaks of suffrages or help for the departed.
St. Augustine tells us that Arius was the first who dared to teach that
it was of no use to offer up prayers and sacrifices for the dead; and
this doctrine of Arius he reckoned among heresies. (Book of Heresies,
There are also passages in Holy Scripture from which the Fathers have
confirmed the Catholic belief on this point.
St. Paul, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, chap. iii. 11-15,
writes: "For other foundations no one can lay, but that which is laid;
which is Christ Jesus. Now, if any man build upon this foundation,
gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work
shall be manifest; for the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it
shall be revealed in fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of
what sort it is. If any man's work abide, which he hath built
thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work burn, he shall
suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire."
The ancient Fathers, Origen in the third century, St. Ambrose and St.
Jerome in the fourth, and St. Augustine in the fifth, have interpreted
this text of St. Paul as relating to venial sins committed by
Christians which St. Paul compares to "wood, hay, stubble," and thus
with this text they confirm the Catholic belief in Purgatory, well
known and believed in their time, as it is by Catholics in the present
time. In St. Matthew (chap. v. 25, 26) we read, "Be at agreement with
thy adversary betimes, whilst thou art in the way with him; lest,
perhaps, the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver
thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Amen, I say to thee,
thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing."
On this passage, St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, a Father of the third
century, says: "It is one thing to be cast into prison, and not go out
from thence till the last farthing be paid, and another to receive at
once the reward of faith and virtue: one thing in punishment of sin to
be purified by long-suffering and purged by long fire, and another to
have expiated all sins of suffering (in this life); one in fire, at the
day of Judgment to wait the sentence of the Lord, another to receive an
immediate crown from Him." (Epist. iii.)
Our Saviour said: "He that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall
not be forgiven him in this world, nor in the world to come." (St.
Matt. xii. 32.)
From this text St. Augustine argues, that "It would not have been said
with truth that their sin shall not be forgiven, neither in this world,
nor in the world to come, unless some sins were remitted in the next
world." (_De Civitate Dei_, Book xxi. chap. 24.)
On the other hand, we read in several places in Holy Scripture that God
will render to every one (that is, will reward or punish) according as
each deserves. See, for example, in Matthew xvi. 27. But as we cannot
think that God will punish everlastingly a person who dies burdened
with the guilt of venial sin only, it may be an "_idle word_," it
is reasonable to infer that the punishment rendered to that person in
the next world will be only temporary.
The Catholic belief in Purgatory does not clash with the following
declarations of Holy Scripture, which every Catholic firmly believes,
namely, that it is Jesus who cleanseth us from all sin, that Jesus bore
"the iniquity of us all," that "by His bruises we are healed," (Isaias
iii., 5); for it is through the blood of Jesus and His copious
Redemption that those pains of Purgatory have power to cleanse the
souls therein detained.
Again, the Catholic belief in Purgatory is not in opposition to those
texts of Scripture in which it is said that a man when he is justified
is "translated from death to life;" that he is no longer judged: that
there is no condemnation in him. For these passages do not refer to
souls taken to Heaven when natural death occurs, but to persons in this
world, who from the death of sin pass to the life of grace. Nor does it
follow that dying in that state of grace, that is, in a state of
spiritual life, they must go at once to Heaven. A soul may be
justified, entirely exempt from eternal _condemnation_, and yet
have something to suffer for a time; thus, also, in this world, many
are justified, and yet are not exempt from suffering.
Again, it is not fair to bring forward against the Catholic doctrine on
Purgatory that text of the Apocalypse, Rev. xix. 13: "Blessed are the
dead, who die in the Lord. From henceforth now, saith the Spirit, that
they may rest from their labors: for their works follow them," for this
text applies only to those souls who die perfectly in the Lord, that
is, entirely free from every kind of sin, and from the _stain_,
the _guilt_, and the _debt of temporal punishment_ of every
sin. Catholics believe that these souls have no pain to suffer in
Purgatory, as is the case with the martyrs and saints who die in a
perfect state of grace.
It is usual to bring forward against the Catholic belief in Purgatory
that text which says: "If the tree fall to the south, or to the north,
in what place soever it shall fall, there shall it be." (Eccles. xi. 3.)
This text confirms and illustrates the truth that, when death comes,
the _final doom_ of every one is fixed, and that there is no
possibility of changing it; so that one dying in a state of mortal sin
will always remain in a state of mortal sin, and consequently be
rejected forever; and one dying in a state of grace and friendship with
God, will forever remain accepted by God and in a state of grace, and
in friendship with Him.
But this text proves nothing against the existence of Purgatory; for a
soul, although in a state of grace, and destined to heaven, may still
have to suffer for a time before being perfectly fit to enter upon the
eternal bliss, to enjoy the vision of God.
Some might be disposed, notwithstanding, to regard this text as opposed
to the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory by saying that the two places
alluded to in the texts are heaven and hell. But this interpretation
Catholics readily admit, for at death either heaven or hell is the
final place to which all men are allotted, Purgatory being only a
passage to heaven. This text surely does not tell against those just
ones under the Old Law who died in a state of grace and salvation, and
who, though sure of heaven, had yet to wait in a middle state until
after the Ascension of Jesus Christ; neither, therefore, does it tell
Christ's Redemption is abundant, "_plentiful_" as Holy Scripture,
says (Ps. cxxix. 7), and Catholics do not believe that those Christians
who die guilty only of _venial the practice of the Catholic Church to
offer prayers and other pious works in suffrage for the dead, as is
amply testified by the Latin Fathers; for instance, Tertullian, St.
Cyprian, St. Augustine, St. Gregory; and amongst the Greek Fathers, by
St. Ephrem of Edessa, St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom. St. Chrysostom
says: "It was not without good reason ordained by the Apostles that
mention should be made of the dead in the tremendous mysteries, because
they knew well that, these would receive great benefit from it" (on the
First Epistle to Philippians, Homily iii.) By the expression
"tremendous mysteries," is meant the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
St. Augustine says: "It is not to be doubted that the dead are aided by
the prayers of Holy Church and by the salutary sacrifice, and by the
alms which are offered for their spirits, that the Lord may deal with
them more mercifully than their sins have deserved. For this, which has
been handed down by the Fathers, the universal Church observes."
(_Enchirid_, Vol. v., Ser. 172.)
The same pious custom is proved also from the ancient Liturgies of the
Greek and other Eastern Churches, both Catholic and Schismatic, in
which the Priest is directed to pray for the repose of the dead during
the celebration of the Holy Mysteries.
PURGATORY AND THE FEAST OF ALL SOULS.
By Purgatory no more is meant by Catholics than a middle state of
souls; namely of purgation from sin by temporary chastisements, or a
punishment of some sin inflicted after death, which is not eternal. As
to the place, manner or kind of these sufferings nothing has been
defined by the Church; and all who with Dr. Deacon except against this
doctrine, on account of the circumstance of a material fire, quarrel
about a mere scholastic question, in which a person is at liberty to
choose either side.... Certainly some sins are venial, which deserve
not eternal death. Yet if not effaced by condign punishment in this
world must be punished in the next. The Scriptures frequently mention
those venial sins, from which ordinarily the just are not exempt, who
certainly would not be just if these lesser sins into which men easily
fall by surprise, destroyed grace in them, or if they fell from
charity. Yet the smallest sin excludes a soul from heaven so long as it
is not blotted out.... Who is there who keeps, so constant a guard upon
his heart and whole conduct as to avoid all sensible self-deceptions?
Who is there upon whose heart no inordinate attachments steal; into
whose actions no sloth, remissness, or other irregularity ever
insinuates itself?... The Blessed Virgin was preserved by an
extraordinary grace from the least sin in the whole tenor of her life
and actions; but, without such a singular privilege, even the saints
are obliged to say that they sin daily.... The Church of Christ is
composed of three different parts: the Triumphant in Heaven, the
Militant on earth, and the Patient or Suffering in Purgatory. Our
charity embraces all the members of Christ.... The Communion of Saints
which we profess in our Creed, implies a communication of certain good
works and offices, and a mutual intercourse among all the members of
Christ. This we maintain with the Saints in heaven by thanking and
praising God for their triumphs and crowns, imploring their
intercession, and receiving the succors of their charitable solicitude
for us: likewise with the souls in Purgatory by soliciting the divine
mercy in their favor. Nor does it seem to be doubted but they, as they
are in a state of grace and charity, pray for us; though the Church
never address public suffrages to them, not being warranted by
primitive practice and tradition so to do.
... St. Odilo, abbot of Cluni, in 998, instituted the commemoration of
all the faithful departed in all the monasteries of his congregation on
the 1st of November, which was soon adopted by the whole Western
Church. The Council of Oxford, in 1222, declared it a holiday of the
second class, on which certain necessary and important kinds of work
were allowed. Some dioceses kept it a holiday of precept till noon;
only those of Vienne and Tours, and the order of Cluni, the whole day:
in most places it is only a day of devotion. The Greeks have long kept
on Saturday sevennight before Lent, and on Saturday before Whitsunday,
the solemn commemoration of all the faithful departed; but offer up
Mass every Saturday for them.... The dignity of these souls most
strongly recommends them to our compassion, and at the same time to our
veneration. Though they lie at present at a distance from God, buried
in frightful dungeons under waves of fire, they belong to the happy
number of the elect. They are united to God by His grace; they love Him
above all things, and amidst their torments never cease to bless and
praise Him, adoring the severity of His justice with perfect
resignation and love.... They are illustrious conquerors of the devil,
the world and hell; holy spirits loaded with merits and graces, and
bearing the precious badge of their dignity and honor by the nuptial
robe of the Lamb with which by an indefeasible right they are clothed.
Yet they are now in a state of suffering, and endure greater torments
than it is possible for any one to suffer, or for our imagination to
represent to itself in this mortal life.... St. Caesarius of Aries
writes: "A person," says he, "may say, I am not much concerned how long
I remain in Purgatory, provided I may come to eternal life. Let no one
reason thus. Purgatory fire will be more dreadful than whatever
torments can be seen, imagined, or endured in this world. And how does
any one know whether he will stay days, months, or years? He who is
afraid now to put his finger into the fire, does he not fear lest he be
then all buried in torments for a long time.... The Church approves
perpetual anniversaries for the dead; for some souls may be detained in
pains to the end of the world, though after the day of judgment no
third state can exist.... If we have lost any dear friends in Christ,
while we confide in His mercy, and rejoice in their passage from the
region of death to that of life, light, and eternal joy, we have reason
to fear some lesser stains may retard their bliss. In this uncertainty
let us earnestly recommend them to the divine clemency.... Perhaps, the
souls of some dear friends may be suffering on our account; perhaps,
for their fondness for us, or for sins of which we were the occasion,
by scandal, provocation, or otherwise, in which case motives not only
of charity, but of justice, call upon us to endeavor to procure them
all the relief in our power.... Souls delivered and brought to glory by
our endeavors will amply repay our kindness by obtaining divine graces
for us. God Himself will be inclined by our charity to show us also
mercy, and to shower down upon us His most precious favors. 'Blessed
are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.' By having shown this
mercy to the suffering souls in Purgatory, we shall be particularly
entitled to be treated with mercy at our departure hence, and to share
more abundantly in the general suffrages of the Church, continually
offered for all that have slept in Christ."
ANECDOTES AND INCIDENTS.
We know them not, nor hear the sound
They make in treading all around:
Their office sweet and mighty prayer
Float without echo through the air;
Yet sometimes, in unworldly places,
Soft sorrow's twilight vales,
We meet them with uncovered faces,
Outside their golden pales,
Though dim, as they must ever be,
Like ships far-off and out at sea,
With the sun upon their sails.--FABER.
THE FRUIT OF A MASS.
The incident we are about to relate and which, in some way, only the
price of the first Mass paid for, reminds us of another which seems to
be also the fruit of a single Mass given under the inspiration of
faith. This fact is found in the life of St. Peter Damian, and we are
happy to reproduce it here, in order to tell over again the marvels of
God in those He loves, and to make manifest that charity for the poor
souls brings ever and always its own reward.
Peter, surnamed Damian, was born in 988, at Ravenna, in Italy. His
family was poor, and he was the youngest of several children. He lost
his father and mother while still very young, and was taken by one of
his brothers to his home. But Damian was treated there in a very
inhuman manner. He was regarded rather as a slave, or, at least, as a
base menial, than as the brother of the master of the house. He was
deprived of the very necessaries of life, and, after being made to work
like a hired servant, he was loaded with blows. When he was older, they
gave him charge of the swine.
Nevertheless, Peter Damian, being endowed with rare virtue, received
all with patience as coming from God. This sweet resignation on the
part of a child was most pleasing to the Lord, and He rewarded him by
inspiring him to a good action.
One day the little Damian, leading his flocks to the pasture, found on
the way a small piece of money. Oh! how rejoiced he was! How his heart
swelled within him!
He clapped his hands joyfully, thinking himself quite rich, and already
he began to calculate all he could do with his money. Suggestions were
not wanting, for he was in need of everything.
Nevertheless, the noble child took time to reflect; a sudden shadow
fell on the fair heaven of his happy thoughts. He all at once
remembered that his father, his poor mother who had so loved him, might
be still suffering cruel torments in the place of expiation. And
despising his own great necessities, and generously making the
sacrifice of what was for him a treasure, Damian, raised above himself
and his wants by the thought of his beloved parents, brought his money
to a priest, to have the Holy Sacrifice offered for them.
That generous child had obeyed a holy inspiration, and this good deed
of his was quickly rewarded. Fortune suddenly changed with him. He was
taken by another of his brothers, who took all possible care of him.
Seeing that the child had such excellent dispositions, he made him
begin to study. He sent him first to Florence, then to a famous school
in Parma, where he had for his master the celebrated Ivo. The brilliant
qualities of Damian were rapidly developed, and soon he became
professor where he had been a pupil. He afterwards gave up the world
and became a religious, and was, in course of time, not only a
remarkable man, but a great saint. He was charged by the Holy See with
affairs the most important, and died clothed in the Roman purple. He is
still a great light in the Church, and his writings are always full of
piety and erudition.
The little Damian, then, might well think that he possessed a treasure
in his little coin, since with it he purchased earthly honors and
heavenly bliss. We all of us have often had in our hand Damian's little
piece of money, but have we known how to make a treasure of it?
_Almanac of the Souls in Purgatory_, 1877.
THE FAITH OF A PIOUS LADY.
"In the course of the month of July of last year," said a zealous
member of our Association for the Souls in Purgatory, "I was accosted
by one of our associates who told me, with an exuberance of joy, 'Ah!
we have great reason to thank the souls in Purgatory; I beg you to
unite with us in thanking them for the favor they have just done us.'
'Indeed? Well! I am very happy to hear it. Has anything extraordinary
happened to you? Tell me, if you please, what seems to cause you so
"Then our fervent associate--a young man of a mild and pleasing aspect,
usually somewhat reserved, but of gentlemanly bearing--said, in a tone
of deep emotion:
"'I am rejoiced to tell you, in the first place, that I have the
happiness of still having my good mother. God seems to leave her on the
earth to complete the work of her purification, for she is always sick
and suffering, and, as she says herself, there is neither rest nor
peace for her here below; nevertheless, she resigns herself so
patiently to the sufferings and tribulations which weigh so heavily
upon her that it does me a twofold good every time I see her, for I
love her as my mother, I venerate her as a saint.
"'One day, then, last week, finding herself a little stronger, she
thought she would take a short drive, being in the country for her
health. The drive seemed really to do her good; the beauty of the
country, and still more, the fresh, pure air, appeared to revive her,
and altogether she enjoyed her drive immensely. Her heart, as well as
her mind, was changed, for you know there is often a sickness of the
head, as of the body. She already began to flatter herself with the
hope of a speedy recovery, when, in the midst of the drive which was
having so beneficial an effect, the horse, from some unknown cause,
suddenly took fright, and, taking the bit between his teeth, started
off at a fearful pace.
"'Imagine the terror of my poor mother! On either side the road was a
broad, deep ditch, and the rough, uneven soil caused the carriage to
jolt fearfully, which was another great danger; and, as it so often
happens in the country, the road was deserted, and no one to be seen
who might give any assistance.
"'To crown all, it happened that the servant who drove my mother, in
his efforts to restrain the horse in his headlong flight, had the
misfortune to break the reins, which were their only chance of guiding
the animal in his mad career.
"'Ah! how can I describe the feelings of my poor dear mother, already
so sick and so feeble; in fact, she was almost dead with fright. She
thought every moment that she was going to be thrown into the ditch, or
dashed against the stake paling which bordered the road on either side.
She was nearly in despair, when all at once the thought occurred to her
to promise a Mass for the Souls in Purgatory, if the horse stopped.
"'And what do you think?--Ah! I am still so agitated myself, that I can
hardly tell it!--But, wonderful to relate, that horse, in the wild
excitement of his flight, without so much as a thread to restrain him,
who could not have been stopped by any natural cause whatsoever,--that
horse stopped immediately, and one might say, suddenly, as though a
barrier were placed before him!
"'It were utterly impossible to express my mother's joy and gratitude.
Her life will henceforth be but one long act of thanksgiving; for,
without that unlooked-for help it had certainly been all over with her.
Oh, I beseech you help me to thank Heaven for so great a favor.'"
This example will serve to show still more clearly that God is pleased
to manifest His power, even for the slightest service rendered to those
whom He deigns to call His "Beloved" of Purgatory.--_Almanac of the
Souls in Purgatory_. 1877.
PAY WHAT THOU OWEST.
When the fathers of the Society of Jesus first established their order
in Kentucky, a wealthy and respected Catholic citizen of Bardstown, Mr.
S----, sought admission among them,--although his age and lack of a
thorough preparatory education offered obstacles to his success. He
entered the Novitiate, only to be convinced that it was too late for
him to become a priest, as had been prudently represented to him at the
outset. However, his love for the Society had been strengthened by his
short stay in the sanctuary of the community, and he resolved to devote
himself to the service of the Fathers in another way. He determined to
secure a suitable residence, and found a college, which, as soon as it
was in a flourishing condition, he would turn over to the Society.
With this object in view, Mr. S---- made diligent inquiries, and
advertised in various county newspapers for a suitable residence in
which to begin his good work. One of his advertisements received a
prompt reply from the executors of an estate in C---- County. The
property offered for sale was unencumbered, its broad lands under high
cultivation, the mansion in good repair, etc. Accompanied by a friend,
Mr. S---- hastened to visit the plantation. He found one wing of the
house occupied by the overseer and his family, and observed with
pleasure that the advertisement seemed not to have exaggerated the
value of the estate.
Mr. S---- and his friend tarried over night, and were assigned separate
apartments, which the administrators had ordered to be kept in
readiness for the reception of prospective purchasers. Although greatly
fatigued by a long ride on horseback over ill-kept roads, neither of
the gentlemen could sleep, on account of a wearisome, incessant
knocking in an adjoining room. Each believing the other to be sound
asleep, forbore to awake his tired companion, but when they met at an
early breakfast, they both, as in one breath, inquired of the farmer's
wife the cause of the continuous tapping in the adjoining apartment.
Mrs. F---- exchanged a significant glance with her husband, and a sort
of grim smile overspread the face of the latter. After a moment's
hesitation, he declared that he and his wife, and the servants on the
estate, had in vain tried to find out the cause. All who slept in those
two rooms heard the noise, and could not sleep. Both husband and wife
assured their guests that the knocking took place in the apartment
always occupied, during her lifetime, by Mrs. G----, the late owner of
the estate; furthermore, that the disturbance was unknown before her
death. Mr. S---- and his companion naturally became more and more
interested, and after suggesting all the ordinary causes of unusual and
mysterious knocks, such as rats, cats, chipmunks, creaking doors,
broken shutters, and the like, rode off with Mr. F---- to make a
thorough examination of the estate.
The two gentlemen rode all over the plantation, conferred with the
executors and some lawyers, and after inspecting the house thoroughly,
sat down to a dinner that was highly creditable to the hostess, who
seemed anxious concerning the disclosures of the morning. When night
came on, the visitors were shown to the same rooms they had previously
occupied. In the morning each spoke again of his inability to get any
refreshing sleep, and as they rode back to B----, talking over dreams,
visions, and other supernatural occurrences, they asked themselves,
might not this knocking have a supernatural cause? Concluding it might
have, they considered it would be well to lay the case before the Rev.
Father Q----; at least, they could go, and tell him of their journey
into C---- County, and also of the mysterious knocking, if it seemed to
come in naturally; for each felt a little dread of being laughed at as
too credulous. In the course of their conversation with the Father, the
full details of what they had learned and had personally experienced
were related. Father Q---- seemed to consider the occurrence quite
easily accounted for by some physical cause; but when the gentlemen
recalled to his attention the circumstance of Mrs. G----'s death, he
appeared to take another view of the matter.
Finally, it was decided that Father Q---- and a brother priest should
accompany Mr. S---- and his friend to the plantation, for a personal
investigation. Soon after their arrival at the mansion the priests,
preceded by the servants of the family, Mr. and Mrs. F----, and the two
visitors, repaired to the mysterious chamber. When a little Holy Water
had been sprinkled about the room, there was a cessation of the
knocking, and after reciting some prayers, Father Q---- inquired, in
Latin, of whatever spirit might be there the cause of the disturbance.
He was distinctly answered in the same tongue that the soul of Mrs.
G---- could not rest in peace, because of an uncancelled debt to the
shoemaker, Mr. ----. The interlocutor was assured that the matter should
be attended to at once. Thereupon the knocking re-commenced and
All were painfully surprised, but thanked God that it would be so easy
a matter to settle the debt. The Rosary was then recited by the
assembly, most of whom had supposed that the priests were present to
bless the house. Without delay, Mr. S. and Father Q---- repaired to the
shop of the village shoemaker, and begged him to present any bill that
he might have against the estate of the late Mrs. G----. The shoemaker
said that he did not believe there was anything due to him, for
payments had always been made very punctually. However, he ran over his
account-book, and declared that he found nothing. In sorrowful
surprise, the two friends then took their departure, telling the shoe
dealer that if, at any time, he should find aught against the property,
to inform them without delay.
On his return home, the shoemaker related to his mother what had
happened in the shop. After reflection, she asked if he had looked over
his father's accounts. "Certainly not," he said. She then remarked that
the request was only half complied with, for Mrs. G---- had long been
his father's customer. After dinner, they repaired to the attic, and,
searching out the old ledgers, went over them carefully. To their
surprise they found a bill of twelve dollars and a half, for a pair of
white satin slippers (probably Mrs. G----'s wedding shoes), which, in
the midst of various affairs, had remained unsettled. A messenger was
sent with all speed to the mansion. On the way he chanced to meet
Father Q---- and Mr. S----. The bill, with interest, was paid on the
spot, and, returning to the house, they learned from the astonished and
delighted tenants that the rappings had suddenly and entirely ceased.
Shortly after, Mr. S---- became the owner of the estate, the heirs of
which, preferring to live in Europe, had permitted its sale, in order
to divide and enjoy the proceeds. As Mr. S---- had planned, a college
was there founded, and before long it was under the control of the
Society of his aspirations and his enthusiastic love.--_Ave
Maria_, Nov. 15, 1884.
THE VIA CRUCIS
In November, 1849, Prince Charles Loewenstein Wertheim Rosenberg died. A
lady who filled a subordinate office in his family as governess,
communicated to the author the incidents which follow. At the prince's
deathbed, which she was permitted to visit, she made a vow to say
certain prayers daily for the repose of his soul, in accordance with a
wish which he had expressed. When the family was residing at the castle
of Henbach on the Maine, it was this lady's habit to spend a short time
every evening in the private chapel. After one of those visits, about
three months after the prince's death, she retired to rest, and in the
course of the night had a singular dream. She was in the chapel,
kneeling in a tribune; opposite to her was the high altar. She had
spent some time in prayer, when suddenly, on the steps of the altar,
she saw the tall figure of the deceased prince, kneeling with great
apparent devotion. Presently he turned towards her, and in his usual
manner of addressing her, said: "Dear child, come down to me here in
the chapel; I want to speak to you." She replied that she would gladly,
but that the doors were all locked. He assured her that they were all
open. She went down to him, taking her candle with her. When she came
near him, the prince rose to meet her, took her hand, and, without
speaking, led her to the altar, and they both knelt down together. They
prayed for some time in silence, then he rose once more, and standing
at the foot of the altar, said: "Tell my children, my dear child, that
their prayers and yours are heard. Tell them that God has accepted the
_Via Crucis_  which they have daily made for me, and your
prayers also. I am with God in His glory, and I will pray for all those
who have so faithfully prayed for me." As he spoke, his face seemed
lighted up as with the glory usually painted round the head of a saint.
With a farewell look he vanished, and she awoke.
[Footnote 1: Way of the Cross, more commonly called the Stations of the
At breakfast she appeared agitated. She sat beside the prince's
granddaughter, Princess Adelaide Loewenstein, afterwards married to Don
Miguel of Portugal. This lady asked her what was the matter. She
related her dream, and then begged to know what prayers the princesses
had offered for the repose of his Highnesses' soul. They were the
_Via Crucis_.--_Footsteps of Spirits_. 
[Footnote 1: Published by Burns & Lambert of London.]
When the Benedictine College at Ampleforth, in Yorkshire, was building,
a few years ago, one of the masons attracted the attention of the
community by the interest which he took in the incidents of their daily
life. He had to walk from a village three miles off, so as to be at the
college every morning by six o'clock. He was first much pleased with
the regularity of the community, whom he always found in the church,
singing the Hours before Mass, on his arrival in the morning. By
degrees he was taught the whole of the Catholic doctrine, and was
received into the Church. None of his family, however, would follow his
example. Exposure to cold and wet brought on an illness, of which he
died, in a very pious manner. A short time after his death, his wife
was one morning sweeping about the open door of her house, when her
husband walked in, and sat down on a seat by the fire, and began to ask
her how she did. She answered that she was well, and hoped he was happy
where he was. He replied that he was, at that time; that, at first, he
had passed through Purgatory, and had undergone a brief purification;
but that, when this was ended, he had been taken to the enjoyment of
the bliss of God in heaven. He remained talking to her some little time
longer, then he bade her farewell, and disappeared.
The woman applied to a Catholic priest for instruction; and it was
found that, although she had never in her life read a Catholic book,
nor conversed about the Catholic religion with any one, she had
acquired a complete knowledge of the doctrine of Purgatory from that
short interview with her husband. She, too, became a Catholic. The
author was told this story by one who was a member of the community of
Ampleforth at the time.
A missionary priest at B---- (in England), a very few years ago,
promised to say Mass for a woman in his congregation who had died.
Among other engagements of the same kind, he unconsciously overlooked
her claim upon him. By and by her husband came to him, and begged him
to remember his promise. The missionary thought that he had already
done so. "Oh! no, sir," the man replied; "I can assure you that you
have not; my poor wife has been to me to tell me so, and to get you to
do this act of charity for her." The priest was satisfied of his
omission, and immediately supplied it. Soon after, the poor man
returned to thank him, at the woman's desire. She had told her husband
that now she was perfectly happy in heaven; her face, which had
appeared much disfigured at her first visit, was surrounded with a halo
of light when she came again. This anecdote reached the author through
a common friend of his own and of the missionary.
A similar anecdote is told of a nun in the English convent of Bruges,
between thirty and forty years ago. A relation of Canon Schmidt had
died in the house, and Miss L----, another nun, much attached to her,
saw her friend one night in a dream. She seemed to come with a serious
countenance, and pointed to the Office for the Dead in an office-book,
which she appeared to hold in her hand. Her friend was much perplexed,
and consulted Miss N----, a third nun, who suggested that perhaps Miss
L---- had not said the Office three times, as usual, for her deceased
sister. Miss L---- was nearly sure that she had; but as she had a habit
of marking off this obligation as it was discharged, it could be easily
ascertained. On examining her private note-book, it turned out that she
had not said the three Offices. Miss N----'s sister, who was educated
in the same convent, told the author this little story, and afterwards
was good enough to revise his narrative of it. So that this account is
virtually her own. Though seeming to have passed through two channels
on its way to this book, that is, through the author's memory and his
friend's, yet having, submitted to the latter a written memorandum of
the narrative, and received and adopted his friend's corrections, the
story is as authentic as if it had passed through only one intermediate
channel. For there is no doubt that the value of a story diminishes
rapidly with every additional hand through which it passes.--
_Footsteps of Spirits_, 113-14.
A TRUE STORY OF THE "DE PROFUNDIS."
One evening in the month of July, 184--, a happy group were gathered in
the wide porch of a well-known mansion in Prince George's County,
Maryland. A little Catholic church had been recently built in the
village of L---- by the zealous and wealthy proprietor of "Monticello,"
and as the means of the newly-formed congregation were too limited to
support a resident pastor, one of the Reverend Fathers from Georgetown
kindly came out once a fortnight to celebrate Mass and administer the
Sacraments. On the eve of the favored Sunday, Doctor J---- took his
carriage to the railway station and brought back the Reverend Father
named for that week's services; and his visit was always looked for
with delight by all the household at Monticello, domestics and
children, but by none so much as by three recent converts to our holy
faith, who often took occasion to propound to their amiable and learned
guest any doubts on religious questions that had arisen during the
course of the intervening weeks.
On the evening above mentioned, the priest who came was an Italian
Jesuit, the Reverend Father G----. He held his little audience
entranced with a fund of edifying stories and interesting replies to
the questions asked. The calm serenity of the night, the gentle,
refreshing breeze that came from a neighboring wood of pine-trees, the
beautiful glitter of the flitting glow-worm, and the rich perfume
wafted from the purple magnolia _grandiflora_--all added to the
enchantment. The doctor broke the charm by saying: "Reverend Father, we
shall be obliged to leave early to-morrow morning. The carriage will be
ready for you at 6 o'clock."
"Is it a long drive to the church?" asked Father G----.
"No; only four miles," answered the doctor; "but there will be many
confessions to hear and, perhaps, some baptisms to administer; hence,
unless the work is begun early, Mass will not be over before 12
"I hope, then," replied the Father, smiling, "that you will not fail to
"As to that," rejoined the doctor, "when I have to arise at any
particular time, I recite a _De Profundis_ for the relief of the
suffering souls, and I am sure of awaking promptly at he right hour."
"I can easily credit that," said Father G----.
"It is a pious practice which was recommended to me by the late Dr.
Ryder, of Georgetown, when I was at the College," said the host; "and I
have never found that any one to whom I taught the practice failed to
find it truly efficacious."
"If it would not detain you too long beyond your customary hours," said
Father G----, "I would add to my long list of anecdotes one more on the
All present besought the priest to favor them; in truth, the worthy
household never wearied of pious conversation.
"It happened," began the good priest, with religious modesty, "that
about twenty years ago I accompanied a number of prominent members of
our Society who had been summoned to the Mother House, in Rome, on
business of importance. The Fathers carried with them precious
documents from their several provinces; and, besides the purse
necessary to meet their current travelling expenses, certain
contributions from churches as Peter's Pence, and donations for the
General of the Society. Our way lay across the Apennines, and we were
numerous enough to fill a large coach. We knew that the fastnesses of
the mountains were infested by outlawed bands, and we had been careful
to select an honest driver. Before setting out, it was agreed that we
should place ourselves under the protection of the Holy Souls by
reciting a _De Profundis_ every hour. At a given signal, mental or
vocal prayer, reading or recreation, would be suspended, and the psalm
recited in unison.
"Luigi, the driver, had been instructed, in case of any apparent
danger, to make three distinct taps on the roof of our vehicle with the
heavy end of his whip. We travelled the whole day undisturbed, without
other interruptions than those called for by the observance of our
itinerary. Just as the evening twilight began, we reached the summit of
a lofty mountain. The air was cool, the scenery wild and majestic, and
each of us seemed absorbed in the pleasant glimpses of the receding
landscapes, when we were startled by three ominous knocks on the roof
of our coach. Before we could ask any questions, Luigi had given his
horses such blows as nearly made them throw us out of the vehicle, and
sent the animals running at a break-neck speed. We looked, we listened,
and, to our amazement and horror, beheld about a dozen bandits on
either side of the road, with arms uplifted, and holding deadly
weapons, as if ready and determined to strike with well-aimed
precision. But, strange to say, they all remained as motionless as
statues, until we had gone on so far as to leave them a mere speck on
the descending horizon.
"Each one of our party had kept exterior silence, but inwardly put his
trust in the Most High. At last, Luigi halted. His horses were white
with foam, and panting as if they would never breathe naturally again.
"A miracle!" cried Luigi, signing himself with the mystic Sign; "may
God and Our Lady be praised! I tell you, Fathers, it is a miracle that
we are not dead men!" "'Indeed, a very special protection of Divine
Providence said the superior _pro tem_.; 'and we must all thank
God with our whole hearts.'
"'I tell you,' broke in Luigi, 'those were horrible men; I never saw
any look fiercer.'
"'Then, as soon as your horses are able, we had better move on. Shall
you be obliged to change them before we get to our proposed stopping-
place?' asked the superior.
"'Oh, we must not stop to change! we should be tracked by some of their
spies. We had better go on; and, as the road descends gently, I think
this team will make the remainder of the route.'
"'Well,' said our superior, as we re-entered the coach, 'we must all
offer a Mass in thanksgiving to-morrow;' to which we all heartily
assented, and found subject for conversation the rest of the way in
recalling the particulars of our wondrous escape.
"Holy obedience afterwards stationed me," continued the Reverend
Father, "at the Gesu. About two years later, I was called upon to
instruct a prisoner condemned to capital punishment. 'He appears to
have been a desperate man,' said the jailer, as he drew aside the
enormous bolts of iron that held fast the door of a corridor leading to
a dismal dungeon; 'now, however, he is a little subdued; he even seems
contrite at times, and I hope he will die penitent.'
"I visited the prisoner several times; he was always glad to see me,
but it cost him a great effort to open his heart, and make a full
confession. His birth and parentage, and advantages for a liberal
education, should have brought him to a widely-different destiny. He
had loved adventure naturally, but had taken a wrong direction. He
might have become a famous military man, whereas he was only a rough,
desperate highwayman. To win him to God, I began to listen to
narratives of his wild brigand exploits. I affected to be interested in
these daring adventures, and then succeeded in pointing out to him the
sin that abounded in each and every act. One day, as he was speaking of
the latest years of his life, I was greatly surprised to hear him
recount the identical incident with which I began my story. He
described to me in the most graphic terms the wonderful manner in which
his hands and those of his comrades had been held by an invisible,
irresistible power, saying that they had returned to their mountain
haunts perfectly dismayed; that some of them appeared to have a vague
and conscientious alarm, though revelry and song soon banished such
misgivings. He told me that they knew the carriage was full of Jesuit
priests, and that they had been promised a great pecuniary reward by a
prominent member of the Freemason Society if they should succeed in
seizing our luggage.
"I then made known to my penitent my share in that providential escape;
he at once fell on his knees, wept long and bitterly, and finally asked
my forgiveness. I prepared him for his dreadful end, and believe he
died at peace with God, so great is the mercy of Jesus to the contrite
soul, 'even though his sins be as scarlet.' I asked his permission to
narrate the particulars of his portion of the story, and he gladly gave
it, hoping to merit something for his sin-burdened soul by that act of
We were all much impressed by the Reverend Father's narrative, and as
we bade one another good-night, the doctor remarked that a kind deed
performed for others was sure to merit a blessing in return, even
though it were so small a favor as that gained by his favorite practice
of saying the _De Profundis_.
"Yes," said Father G----, "charity never fails."--_Ave Maria_,
Nov. 24th, 1883.
The following fact took place in Montreal, Canada, some three or four
years since. We shall leave the zealous member of our association who
related it to us to tell his own story:
"One morning," said he, "coming back from Mass, I saw Mr. C----, who
was also coming out of the church. He was a worthy man, fearing God and
fulfilling his duties faithfully and conscientiously. I said to myself:
'There is a man who deserves to belong to our association.' For is it
not always a favor when God deems us worthy to do something for Him?
"I approached and asked him if he would not like to become a member of
our association. 'What association?' 'The Association of the Way of the
Cross and Masses. It is to relieve the dead by prayer and alms, two
powerful means.' 'Ah! I knew nothing of it. What has to be done?' 'It
suffices to make the Way of the Cross once a week and pay for a Mass
once a month.' 'I love the souls in Purgatory,' he said, 'and I do all
I can to relieve them. But, you see, things are not going well with me
just now. I have been a long time sick, and am hardly able yet to
discharge my ordinary duties.'
"At these words I cast my eyes on the speaker, and saw what I had not
before noticed, that he looked pale and worn. He went on: 'As for
paying anything, it would be impossible for me to do it; I have
contracted debts, and if my ill health should continue,' he added, in a
faltering voice, 'I shall be obliged to sell my little house.' Then he
stopped, his heart evidently full, and tears in his eyes. 'But
Providence watches over you, and nothing happens without God's good
leave. If a single hair of our head cannot fall unless He will it, what
have you to fear? Do something for God whilst you can. If you are
liberal to Him, He will be more so towards you. Do you remember the
promise Our Lord made to St. Gertrude? 'I will give an hundred-fold,'
said He, 'for all thou shalt do for my beloved ones in Purgatory.' This
promise was not for St. Gertrude alone; it was likewise for you. For
one dollar that you give, you will gain ten; and if you are resolved to
help the poor souls all you can, they will get you health to do it.'
'Ah! what you say touches me much, and truly I know not what to do.'
After a moment's hesitation, he quickly resumed: 'Well, sir, although I
am actually in distress, I am going to try; it may be the best means of
getting out of it.' 'Yes, try; we run no risk when we make the Holy
Souls our debtors.'
"At these words, he drew from his pocket a small purse which contained
only half a dollar. 'There is all my wealth, and I am happy to share it
with you,' and he gave me the stipend for a Mass. 'I will perhaps put
myself to some inconvenience in giving you that sum, trifling though it
be; but, blessed be God! I will bear with the inconvenience, thinking
that those who suffer much more than I will obtain some relief in their
cruel torments. I will also pray for them, and that they may obtain for
me the resignation which is so pleasing to God.'
"When I saw the noble sentiments of this man, I shook him by the hand,
warmly thanked him, and reminded him that God was always touched by
such acts, and that He knew how to reward them.
"From that moment, strange to say, that frail, delicate man began to
recover his strength, work came back to his shop, and everything grew
brighter around him. And, as an additional reward from Heaven, he was
animated by a new zeal for the Holy Souls, for he not only paid his own
little contribution regularly, but he also collected the money for as
many Masses as he could on one side and another.
"Six or seven months thus passed away amid ever increasing prosperity,
when one day he said to me in presence of several persons: 'Last
autumn, before I gave my name to the Association for the Souls in
Purgatory, I was so sick and so discouraged that I thought I should
die; but when I had paid for my first Mass, from that moment, as all
may see, my health began to return, and with it my courage. To-day, as
you see, I am perfectly well. Moreover, I have found means to pay off
one hundred and fifty dollars of debt, and to have fifty dollars' worth
of repairs made to my little house. How has all that been done? I know
not: for you will admit that, by a poor shoemaker such as I, who works
at his bench and without even an apprentice, after such a hard winter,
and without any advance before me, to find means, despite all that, to
provide for the support of his family and pay two hundred dollars over
and above, is something extraordinary.
"'But I know well to whom I owe it all; hence,' he added, with a smile,
'that has given me new zeal. Now, I work not only for myself; every
evening I go out collecting for our good Souls in Purgatory, and,
blessed be God! I have got one hundred and fifty dollars for the
Association of Masses. Have I not, sir?' he added, addressing the
treasurer, who was present.
"'Yes, you have, indeed, collected one hundred and fifty dollars,
perhaps something more, by twenty-five cents here and twenty-five cents
there, with a perseverance and a zeal beyond all praise, and well
deserving of the favors you have received.'
"'Ah!' said this worthy man, so admirable in his simplicity and the
fervor of his conviction, 'it is that I still desire something; I now
expect that they will make me better,' and he sighed.
"Thus was this good man rewarded for his confidence in the Souls in
Purgatory, and such was his gratitude to them."--_Almanac of the Souls
in Purgatory, 1877_.
ANECDOTE OF THE "DE PROFUNDIS."
I once heard an anecdote of a good priest who was in the habit of
saying the De Profundis every day for the Souls in Purgatory, but,
happening one day to omit it, either through inadvertence or press of
occupation, he was passing through a cemetery about the close of day,
when he suddenly heard, through the hushed silence of the lonely place
and the solemn evening's hour, a mournful voice repeating the first
words of the beautiful psalm--_De Profundis clamavit Domini_--then
it stopped, but the priest, as soon as he had recovered from the first
shock, and remembering with bitter self-reproach his omission, took up
the words where the supernatural voice had left off, and finished the
recitation of the _De Profundis_, resolving, as he did so, that,
for the time to come, nothing should prevent him from reciting it every
day, and more than once in the day, for the benefit of the dear
A STRANGE OCCURRENCE IN A PERSIAN PRISON.
There is a very strange story concerning Purgatory related by St. John
the Almoner, Patriarch of Alexandria, in the end of the sixth and the
beginning of the seventh century. A little before a great mortality
which took place in that city, several inhabitants of the Island of
Cyprus were carried off to Persia and cast into a prison so severe that
it was called the _Oblivion_. Some of them, however, succeeded in
making their escape and returned to their own country. A father and
mother, whose son had been carried off with the others, asked them for
tidings of their son. "Alas!" said they, "your son died on such a day;
we ourselves had the sad consolation of giving him burial." The poor
parents hastened then to have a solemn service performed for the repose
of his soul; this they had done three times every year, continuing in
prayer for the same intention. But, marvellous to relate! one day this
son, so much regretted, so fondly remembered, came knocking at their
door and threw himself into their arms. He had been supposed dead for
four years, yet was really alive, he whom the other prisoners had
buried having had a great resemblance to him, that is all. "How! is it
really thou, dear son? Oh! how we mourned for thee! Three times every
year we had a solemn service for thee." "On what days?" eagerly
demanded the son. "On the holy days of Christmas, Easter, and
Pentecost." "Precisely!" he exclaimed; "on those very days I saw, each
time, an officer radiant with light, who came to me and taking off my
chains, opened the doors of my prison. I went forth into the city,
walked wherever I wished, without any one appearing to notice me; only,
in the evening, I always found myself miraculously chained in my
dungeon. It was the fruit of your good prayers, and if I had been in
Purgatory, they would have served at the same time to relieve me; I
beseech you not to forget me when the good God shall see fit to call me
to Himself."--_Leontius, Life of St. John the Almoner._
A SWISS PROTESTANT CONVERTED BY THE DOCTRINE OF PURGATORY.
I have somewhere read, says a Catholic writer, that a Swiss Protestant
was converted to the true religion solely on account of our having the
consoling doctrine of Purgatory, whereas Protestants will not admit of
it. He was a Lutheran somewhat advanced in age, and he had a brother
who passed for a worthy man, as the world goes, but had also the
misfortune of being a Protestant. He fell sick, and notwithstanding the
care of several physicians, died, and was buried by a Protestant
minister of Berne. His death was a terrible blow to the brother of whom
I speak. Hoping to dissipate his grief he tried travelling, but the
thought of his brother's eternal destiny pursued him everywhere. He one
day, on board a steamer, made the acquaintance of a Catholic priest,
with whom he entered into conversation. Confidence was soon established
between them; they spoke of death, and the afflicted traveller asked
the priest what he thought of it. "What I think is this," replied the
priest: "When a man has perfectly discharged all his duties to God, his
neighbor and himself, he goes straight to heaven; if he have not
discharged them, or have neglected any of those which are essential, he
goes straight to hell; but if he have only to reproach himself with
those trifling faults which are inseparable from our frail nature, he
spends some time in Purgatory." At these words the listener smiled with
evident relief and satisfaction; he felt consoled. "Sir," cried he, "I
will become a Catholic, and for this reason: Protestants only admit of
heaven and hell; but, in order to get to Paradise, one must have
nothing wherewith to reproach himself. Now, although my brother was a
good man, he was by no means free from those slight faults of which you
spoke just now. He will not be damned for these faults, but they will
prevent him from going to heaven; there must, therefore, be an
intermediate place wherein to expiate them; hence, there must be a
Purgatory. I will be a Catholic, so as to have the consolation of
praying for my brother."--_The Catechism in Examples_, pp. 141-2.
THE DEAD HAND.
SISTER TERESA MARGARET GESTA was struck by apoplexy on the 4th of
November, 1859, without any premonitory symptoms to forewarn her of her
danger; and, without recovering consciousness, she breathed her last at
four o'clock in the afternoon of the same day. Her companions were
plunged into the deepest sorrow, for the Sister was a general favorite;
but they resigned themselves to the will of God. Whilst lamenting the
death of one who had been to them a model, comforter, and mother, they
consoled themselves by the remembrance of the virtues of which she was
a splendid example, and of which they never tired speaking.
Twelve days had passed since her death. Some of the Sisters felt a
certain kind of dread of going alone to the places frequented by the
departed one; but Sister Anna Felix Menghini, a person of a lively and
pleasant disposition, often rallied them, good-humoredly, on their
About ten o'clock in the forenoon, this same Sister Anna, having charge
of the clothing, was proceeding to the work-room. Having gone up-
stairs, she heard a mournful voice, which at first she thought might be
that of a cat shut up in the clothes-press. She opened and examined it
carefully, but found nothing. A sudden and unaccountable feeling of
terror came over her, and she cried out: "Jesus, Mary, what can it be?"
She had hardly uttered these words when she heard the same mournful
voice as at first, which exclaimed in a gasping sob: "O my God, how I
suffer!" The religious, though surprised and trembling, recognized
distinctly the voice of Sister Teresa; she plucked up courage and asked
"On account of poverty," answered the voice.
"What!" replied Sister Anna, "and you were so poor!"
"Not for me," was answered, "but for the nuns.... If one is enough, why
two? and if two are sufficient, why three?... And you--beware for
At the same time the whole room was darkened by a thick smoke, and the
shadow of Sister Teresa, moving towards the exit, went up the steps,
talking as it moved. Sister Anna was so frightened that she could not
make out what the spirit said. Having reached the door, the apparition
spoke again: "This is a mercy of God!" And in proof of the reality,
with its open hand it struck the upper panel of the door near the
frame, leaving the impression of the hand more perfect than it could
have been made by the most skillful artist with a hot iron.
Sister Anna was like Balthasar: "Then was the King's countenance
changed, and his thoughts troubled him; and the joints of his loins
were loosed, and his knees struck one against the other." (Dan., v. 6).
She could not stir for a considerable time; she did not even dare to
turn her head. But at last she tottered out and called one of her
companions, who, hearing her feeble, broken words, ran to her with
another Sister; and presently the whole community was gathered round in
alarm. They learned in a confused manner what had taken place,
perceived the smell of burnt wood, and noticed a whitish cloud or mist
that filled the room and made it almost dark. They examined the door
carefully though tremblingly, and recognized the fac-simile of Sister
Teresa's hand; and, filled with terror, they fled to the choir.
There the Sisters, forgetting the need of food and rest, remained in
prayer till after sunset, abandoning everything in their anxiety to
procure relief for their beloved Sister Teresa. The zealous Minorite
Fathers, who have the spiritual direction of the convent, learning what
had happened, were equally earnest in offering prayers and sacrifice,
and in singing the psalms for the dead. Many of the faithful likewise
assembling, not through idle curiosity, but out of genuine piety,
joined in the recitation of the Rosary and other prayers, though the
deceased Sister was almost entirely unknown to the people. Her
observance of the rule was very strict, and she scrupulously avoided
all intercourse with people outside her convent. But still large
numbers crowded to join in those devotions for her.
Sister Anna, who was more worn out by excitement than the other
religious, was directed to retire early the following night. She
herself confesses that she was fully resolved next day to remove, at
any cost, the obnoxious marks of the hand. But Sister Teresa appeared
to her in a dream, saying: "You intend to remove the sign which I have
left. Know that it is not in your power to do so, even with the aid of
others; for it is there by the command of God, for the instruction of
the people. By His just and inexorable judgment I was condemned to the
dreadful fires of Purgatory for forty years on account of my
condescension to the will of some of the nuns. I thank you and those
who joined in so many prayers to the Lord for me; all of which He was
pleased in His mercy to accept as suffrages for me, and especially the
Seven Penitential Psalms, which were such a relief!" And then, with a
smiling countenance, she added: "Oh! blessed rags, that are rewarded
with such rich garments! Oh! happy poverty, that brings such glory to
those who truly observe it! Alas! how many suffer irreparable loss, and
are in torments, because, under the cloak of necessity, poverty is
known and valued by few!"
Finally, Sister Anna, lying down as usual on the night of the 19th,
heard her name distinctly pronounced by Sister Teresa. She awoke, all
in a tremor, and sat up, unable to answer. Her astonishment was great
when, near the foot of the bed, she saw a globe of light that made the
cell as bright as noonday, and she heard the spirit say in a joyful
voice: "On the day of the Passion I died (on Friday), and on the day of
the Passion I go to glory.... Strength in the Cross!... Courage to
suffer!..." Then, saying three times "Adieu!" the globe was transformed
into a thin, white, shining cloud, rose towards heaven, and
The zealous Bishop of the diocese having heard of these events,
instituted the process of examination on the 23d of the same month. The
grave was opened in presence of a large number of persons assembled for
the occasion; the impression of the hand on the door was compared with
the hand of the dead, and both were found to correspond exactly. The
door itself was set apart in a safe place and guarded. Many persons
being anxious to see the impression, it was allowed to be visited,
after a certain lapse of time, and with due precautions, by such as had
secured the necessary permission.--_Ave Maria_, Nov. 17, 1883.
A BEAUTIFUL EXAMPLE.
The following fact is related by the Treasurer of the Association for
the Souls in Purgatory. He himself was personally cognizant of the
circumstances of the case. We leave him to speak:
"Mr.----," said he, "was one of our first and most fervent associates.
His devotedness for good works is well known, so that he is everywhere
regarded as an acquisition in all pious enterprises. His exemplary
conduct rendered him, moreover, one of the most precious auxiliaries of
the work. Hence his zeal, instead of slackening, did but go on
increasing; and whereas, in the beginning, his collection amounted only
to some dollars, after a while he often brought me forty or fifty
dollars for the suffering souls. May Heaven bless that fervent
associate, and may his example serve as a lesson to the indifferent!
"During eighteen months, or two years, this pious and zealous member
brought me every six months,--with other moneys,--the sum of fifteen
dollars which was thus periodically sent him; and each time that I
asked him whence this money came, he answered that he knew nothing of
it himself; that it was sent him by a worthy man without further
information, and so he brought it to me without asking, or knowing
"Desirous of getting to the bottom of this mystery, I resolved to try
and find out what it meant. I, one day, asked Mr.----. to tell me the
name of this generous protector of the poor souls, for I was going to
hunt him up.--'Oh!' said he, 'it is Such-a-one; he lives a long way
off, towards Hochelaga,  but, indeed, I cannot tell you the exact
[Footnote 1: A suburban town or village of Montreal, situated, like the
city, on the banks of the St. Lawrence.]
"Such vague information embarrassed me no little. I, nevertheless, took
the City Directory, but, alas! there were fully twenty-five persons of
the same name. Resolved, however, to put an end to this uncertainty, I
proceeded, with the little information I had, to the place indicated to
me; I arrive at a house bearing the name of the new benefactor of our
work. I go in at a venture; it was a little shoe-store, scarcely
fifteen feet square, somewhat gloomy and not over-clean, owing,
probably, to the nature of the business carried on there; the whole
appearance of the place was, indeed, very unlike one where much money
could be made. Going in, I perceived sitting in the farther end of the
store, a man whose face was so expressive of goodness, so open and so
calm, that only a good conscience could leave so gracious an imprint on
the features, and I said to myself: 'That is he.'--Then I asked aloud:
'You are Mr. Such-a-one?'--That is my name,' he answered, with a
pleasant smile.--'But is it you who has sent us every six months for
two years, the sum of fifteen dollars,--thirty dollars a year,--for
the Souls in Purgatory, apart from your regular contribution?'--'Yes,'
said he, quietly, and still with the same smile on his lips.--'Ah!'
said I, 'we are very grateful to you, and the Holy Souls will surely be
mindful of you. I suppose you have a great compassion for those poor
souls who suffer so much, and that that inspires you with zeal, and so
you make up this sum amongst your friends and neighbors;--or they,
perhaps, bring it to your house, quarter by quarter, as is done
elsewhere?'--'No!' said he, still very quietly, 'no, it is my own
little share.'--'How! your own little share?' and instinctively I cast
a glance around the little store, which seemed hardly to justify the
giving of such a sum. 'How! your little share? but we find it a very
large and generous one, and we are happy that your zeal and charity
make it seem to you so small. Heaven will bless you for it. Still there
must be something hidden under these gifts, so often repeated; the Holy
Souls must have done you some favor. Please tell me, then, what induces
you to give so handsome a sum every year, without being asked?'
"'Well, I will not conceal from you that the Souls in Purgatory have
visibly protected me; and to make known to you, in a few words, all my
little history, I must tell you that, two or three years ago, I heard
people speak so favorably of the Association for the Souls in
Purgatory--I heard so much about it, indeed, that from that day
forward, I placed all my little business under the care of the
Suffering Souls, and ever since, I am happy to tell you, to the credit
of those holy Souls, that my affairs go, as if they were on wheels!"
(These are his own words.) "I give my thirty-three dollars a year
without any injury to myself; on the contrary, all goes the better for
it. My store is not much to look at, but it is well filled, and all
that is in it is my own. Apart from that, and what is still better, I
have not a penny of debt.'
"He then added, in a lower tone: 'I have, moreover, the happiness of
honoring in that way the thirty-three years of labors and sufferings
which Our Divine Lord spent on earth. That thought does my poor heart
"'Ah, sir,' said he, with an impulse of true faith which made my heart
thrill--'Ah, sir, if men believed more, they would do wonders, and the
word of Our Lord never fails, and He has said that the more one gives
the more they receive, for charity never makes any one poor; only we
must give without distrust, and without speculation.'
"I warmly shook hands with this admirable man, and returned home as
charmed with my visit as delighted with so much faith. Then I said to
myself: 'There is a fine example to follow. How many others might have
no debts, if they knew how to make sacrifices for the dear Suffering
Souls!'"_--Almanac of the Souls in Purgatory, 1877_
HOW TO PAY ONE'S DEBTS.
Speaking just now of that generous man who had no debts, we called to
mind an example that teaches a pretty way of paying debts. We are about
to furnish the receipt, so that no one may complain, giving to each the
chance of making use of it. In divulging this secret we shall certainly
pass for the least selfish man in the world; for, to furnish every one
with the means of paying their debts, is it not to procure for each the
opportunity of enriching himself? But, dear reader, laying aside all
thanks, hasten only to profit by the receipt, and we shall, each of us,
have obtained our object.
We take this secret from the Chronicles of the good Friars Minors, an
authority to which no one can take exception.
The Blessed Berthold belonged to the great Franciscan family. His fine
talents and rare virtues had caused him to be appointed a preacher of
the Order. The Sovereign Pontiff, seeing all the good that Berthold was
destined to do by his eloquent sermons, had given him power to grant to
each of his hearers, an indulgence of ten days; which was a great
privilege for the faithful, as well as a mark of esteem and distinction
Friar Berthold, then, had preached a most moving sermon on alms-giving,
and had granted the ten days' indulgence to all who were present.
Amongst the audience was a lady of quality who, owing to a reverse of
fortune, was in great distress and loaded with debt. She had hitherto
been content to suffer in silence, being prevented by a false shame
from making her condition known; but overcome by the enthusiastic
charity of the good father, she went privately to him to explain how
she was situated, giving him thus an opportunity of putting in practice
what he had so eloquently preached. But Friar Berthold, who, like his
father St. Francis, had chosen poverty for his lady and mistress, could
not come to her relief. Nevertheless, as poverty, in the man who
suffers and endures it voluntarily for the love of God, becomes
strength and even riches, Berthold, strong in his sacrifice and rich in
his poverty--Berthold, inspired by the Holy Ghost, repeated to her what
Peter of old, inspired by God, said to the lame man at the gate of the
Temple who had asked him for alms: "Silver and gold have I none, but
that which I have I will give unto thee." He then assured the lady that
she had gained ten days' indulgence by being present at his preaching,
and he added: "Go to such a banker in the city. Hitherto he has busied
himself much more about temporal riches than spiritual treasures, but
offer him in return for the donation he will give you, to make over to
him the merit of this indulgence, so that the pains awaiting him in
Purgatory may be diminished. I have every reason to think," continued
the good Father, "that he will give you some assistance."
The poor woman, full of that faith which is so powerful, went as she
was told, in all simplicity. God touched the heart of the rich man, who
received her kindly. He asked her how much she expected to receive in
exchange for her ten days' indulgence. Feeling herself animated by an
interior strength, she replied: "As much as it weighs in the balance."
--"Well!" said the banker, "here is the balance. Write down your ten
days' indulgence, and put the paper in one scale; I will place a piece
of money in the other." O prodigy! the scale with the paper in it does
not rise, but the other does. The banker, much amazed, puts in another
piece of money, but the weight is not changed; he puts in another, then
another; but the result is still the same, the paper on which the
indulgence is written is still the heaviest. The Banker puts down then
five, ten, thirty pieces, till there was as much as the whole amount
which the lady required for her present needs. Then only did the two
scales become equal.
The banker, struck with astonishment, saw in this marvel a precious
lesson for him; he was at length made sensible of the value of the
things of heaven.
The poor Souls understand it still better, as, for the slightest
earthly indulgence they would give all the gold in the world.
You, then, who have no money to give for the Souls in Purgatory--you,
too, who have financial difficulties on your shoulders, offer up
indulgences for the poor Souls, and they will make themselves your
bankers; they will pay you double, nay, a hundred-fold for whatever you
have put in the scale of the balance of mercy. They will pay you not
only in spiritual treasures, but even in temporal wealth, which will
procure for you the double advantage of paying your debts here below,
and those of the other world.--_Almanac of the Souls in Purgatory_,
"One day, in the month of July," relates a zelator of the Association,
 "I met one of our members. He was a man of an amiable disposition,
and remarkable for his piety and his devotion to good works. He was a
merchant of good standing, engaged in a respectable business. Like many
others, however, he had seen bad days; and to the commonplace question,
'How goes business?' he replied: 'Ah! badly enough; I can hardly pay
expenses, and I am doubly unfortunate. I had a house which brought me
in two or three hundred dollars a year, and I have had the misfortune
of being unable to rent it this year, so that, losing on all sides, I
find myself a good deal embarrassed.'--'Will you allow me,' said I, 'to
give you a little advice? Promise some Masses for the Souls in
Purgatory in case you have the good fortune to rent your house. It will
be, as it were, the tithe of your rent. We too often forget that we owe
to Our Lord a part of what He gives us so freely. It is, nevertheless,
only an offering that we make Him of His own goods; and, at the same
time, an act of gratitude for that He has deigned to give it to us.
Furthermore, it is an act of homage, an acknowledgment of His
supremacy. And we shall derive the more profit from it according as we
do it with a good heart. Besides all that, you have the additional
happiness of assisting your relatives and friends who are suffering in
the flames of Purgatory.'
[Footnote 1: For the Relief of the Souls in Purgatory.]
"This little exhortation seemed to strike him to whom it was addressed,
and, as if awaking from a long lethargy, he suddenly said: 'Why did I
not think of that before? I promise,' added he, 'five dollars for the
Souls in Purgatory, if I find a tenant.'
"This eagerness to do good, this species of regret for not having done
it sooner, this pious disposition which makes us desire to relieve
those who are in affliction, must have been very pleasing to God, for,
within the week, the gentleman came to me with his five dollars, and
said, smiling: 'I lose no time, you see, in keeping my promise.'--'Why,
have you already rented your house?'--'Yes, a manufacturer from the
country who had just had the misfortune of being burned out, saw my
house by chance, came to ask my terms, and we agreed at once. He is to
take possession next week.'
"A week passed, even a month, then two, and no tenant, when I happened
again to meet my friend, whom I almost suspected of having forgotten
his promise. 'Ah!' said he, 'I am worse off than ever, and I was so
sure of having rented my house.'--' How! did that person not come back,
then?'--' No, and I thought him such an honest man! The disappointment
has been a great loss to me.'--'Write to him, then, threatening to make
him responsible for the whole rent. But, better than that, wait still,
and have confidence; the Holy Souls cannot fail to bring the matter to
a favorable issue. It is, perhaps, a want of faith on your part which
has delayed the fulfillment of the contract.'
"Three days had scarcely passed when I again saw our Associate. 'This
time,' said he, 'I come to pay; my tenant has arrived.'--'But he has
made you lose five or six weeks' rent.'--'Not so; he is, just as I
thought, an honorable, upright man. He arrived two days ago. It was I
that hired your house,' said he, 'and I come to take possession of
it.'--'Mr.----,' said I, 'I am very glad, but I expected you sooner.'--
'It is true I was to have come before now, but was prevented from doing
so by important business. How long is it since I rented your house?'--
'Just nine weeks.'--'It is only right, then, that I should pay you for
the time I have made you lose;' then handing me a sum of money,
'there,' said he, 'is the amount coming to you; and now, my family
arrive to-morrow, so we take possession at once of your house, and your
rent shall be paid regularly.'
"So there is an end to my anxiety, and you cannot believe how happy I
am in bringing you the trifling sum I promised; but while keeping my
promise, I thank you very sincerely for the confidence wherewith you
inspired me in the Holy Souls. May God bless you for it!"--_Almanac
of the Souls in Purgatory_, 1881.
APPARITION OF A CITIZEN OF ARIES.
LECOYER, in his "Tales of Ghosts and Apparitions,"  relates a
historical occurrence which had great publicity. In the reign of King
Charles IV. of France, surnamed the Fair, the last king of the first
branch of the Capets, who died in 1323, the soul of a citizen, some
years dead and abandoned by his relations, who neglected to pray for
him, appeared suddenly in the public square at Aries, relating
marvellous things of the other world, and asking for help. Those who
had seen him in his lifetime at once recognized him. The Prior of the
Jacobins, a man of saintly life, being told of this apparition,
hastened to go and see the soul. Supposing at first that it might be a
spirit that had taken the form of this citizen, he took, with lighted
tapers, a consecrated host, which he held out to it. But the soul
immediately showed that it was really there itself, for it prostrated
itself and adored Our Lord, asking naught else but prayers which might
deliver it from Purgatory, to the end that it might enter purified into
[Footnote 1: "Histoires des Spectres et des Apparitions."]
THE COUNTESS OF STRAFFORD.
The Countess of Strafford, before her conversion to the Catholic faith,
went often to see Monseigneur de la Mothe, Bishop of Amiens, and her
conversations with him always made the deepest impression on her mind.
But what touched her more than all was a sermon which he preached on
the feast of St. John the Baptist, in the chapel of the Ursulines in
Amiens. After hearing this discourse, she felt within her a lively
desire to believe as did the preacher who had so much edified her. She
still had some doubts, however, on the Sacrifice of the Mass and
Purgatory. She went to propose them to the holy Bishop, who, without
disputing with her or openly attacking her prejudices, deemed it his
duty to speak thus to her, in order to undeceive her: "Madam, you know
the Bishop of London and have confidence in him? Well, I beg you to ask
him what I am going to tell you: The Bishop of Amiens has told me a
thing that surprised me; he says that if you can deny that St.
Augustine said Mass and prayed for the dead, and particularly for his
mother, he himself will become a Protestant." This advice was followed.
The Bishop of London made no reply, but contented himself with saying
to the bearer of the letter that Lady Strafford had been breathing a
contagious atmosphere which had carried her away, and that anything he
could write to her would probably not remedy the evil. This silence on
the part of a man whom she had trusted implicitly, finished opening the
eyes of Lady Strafford, and she soon after made her abjuration at the
hands of the Bishop of Amiens.--_Vie de Monsgr. de la Mothe._
THE MARQUIS BE CIVRAC. _(From une Commune Vendeenne.)_
The belief that the living friends may be of use to their friends in
the grave, has in it I know not what instructive and natural which one
meets in hearts the most simple and unsophisticated. A pious peasant
woman of La Vendee kneeling on the coffin of her good master, the
Marquis de Civrac, cried out: "O my God, repay to him all the good he
has done to us!" Does not this fervent cry of grateful affection
signify: "My God, some rays are perchance wanting in the crown of our
benefactor; supply them, we beseech Thee, in consideration of our
prayer and all he has done for us?" and this is precisely the consoling
doctrine of Purgatory.
GRATITUDE OF THE HOLY SOULS.
[Rev. James Mumford, S.J., born in England in 1605, and who labored for
forty years for the cause of the Catholic Church in his native country,
wrote a remarkable work on Purgatory; and he mentions that the
following incident was written to him by William Freysson, a publisher,
of Cologne. May it move many in their difficulties to have recourse to
the Holy Souls.]
One festival day, when my place of business was closed, I was occupying
myself in reading a book which you had lent me, and which was on "The
Souls in Purgatory." I was absorbed in my subject when a messenger came
and told me that my youngest child, aged four years, showed the first
symptoms of a very grave disease. The child rapidly grew worse, and the
physicians at length declared that there was no hope. The thought then
occurred to me that perhaps I could save my child by making a vow to
assist the Suffering Souls in Purgatory. I accordingly repaired at once
to a chapel, and, with all fervor, supplicated God to have pity on me;
and I vowed I would distribute gratuitously a hundred copies of the
book that had moved me in behalf of the suffering souls, and give them
to ecclesiastics and to religious to increase devotion to the Holy
Souls. I had, I acknowledge, hardly any hope. As soon as I returned to
the house I found the child much better. He asked for food, although
for several days he had not been able to swallow anything but liquids.
The next day he was perfectly well, got up, went out for a walk, and
ate as if he had never had anything the matter with him. Filled with
gratitude, I was only anxious to fulfill my promise. I went to the
College of the Jesuit Fathers and begged them to accept as many copies
of the work as they pleased, and to distribute them amongst themselves
and other communities and ecclesiastics as they thought fit, so that
the suffering souls, my benefactors, should be assisted by further
Three weeks had not slipped away, however, when another accident not
less serious befell me. My wife, on entering the house one day, was
suddenly seized with a trembling in all her limbs, which threw her to
the ground, and she remained insensible. Little by little the illness
increased, until she was deprived of the power of speech. Remedies
seemed to be in vain. The malady at length assumed such aggravated
proportions that every one was of opinion she had no chance of
recovery. The priest who assisted her had already addressed words of
consolation to me, exhorting me to Christian resignation. I turned
again with confidence to the souls in Purgatory, who had assisted me
once before, and I went to the same church. There, prostrate before the
Blessed Sacrament, I renewed my supplication with all the ardor with
which affection for my family inspired me. "O my God!" I exclaimed,
"Thy mercy is not exhausted: in the name of Thy infinite bounty, do not
permit that the recovery of my son should be paid by the death of his
mother." I made a vow this time, to distribute two hundred copies of
the holy book, in order that a greater number of persons might be moved
to intercede for the suffering souls. I besought those who had already
been delivered from Purgatory to unite with me on this occasion. After
this prayer, as I was returning to the house, I saw my servants running
towards me. They told me with delight that my wife had undergone a
great change for the better; that the delirium had ceased, and she had
recovered her power of speech. I at once ran on to assure myself of the
fact: all was true. Very soon my wife was so perfectly recovered that
she came with me into the holy place to make an act of thanksgiving to
God for all His mercies.--_Ave Maria_.
A STRANGE INCIDENT.
A young German lady of rank, still alive to tell the story, arriving
with her friends at one of the most noted hotels in Paris, an apartment
of unusual magnificence on the first floor was apportioned to her use.
After retiring to rest she lay awake a long while, contemplating, by
the dim light of a night-lamp, the costly ornaments in the room, when
suddenly the folding-doors opposite the bed, which she had locked, were
thrown open, and, amid a flood of unearthly light, there entered a
young man in the garb of the French navy, having his hair dressed in
the peculiar mode _a la Titus_. Taking a chair and placing it in
the middle of the room, he sat down, and drew from his pocket a pistol
of an uncommon make, which he deliberately put to his forehead, fired,
and fell back as if dead. At the moment of the explosion the room
became dark and still, and a low voice said softly: "Say an _Ave
Maria_ for his soul."
The young lady, though not insensible, became paralyzed with horror,
and remained in a kind of cataleptic trance, fully conscious, but
unable to move or speak, until, at nine o'clock next day, no answer
having been given to repeated calls of her maid, the doors were forced
open. At the same moment the power of speech returned, and the poor
young lady shrieked out to her attendants that a man had shot himself
in the night, and was lying dead on the floor. Nothing, however, was to
be seen, and they concluded that she was suffering from the effects of
a dream. Not being a Catholic, she could not, of course, understand the
meaning of the mysterious command.
A short time afterwards, however, the proprietor of the hotel informed
a gentleman of the party that the terrible scene witnessed by the young
lady had in reality been enacted only three nights previously in that
very room, when a young French officer put an end to his life with a
pistol of a peculiar description, which, together with the body, was
then lying at the Morgue awaiting identification. The gentleman
examined them both, and found them to correspond exactly with the
description of the man and the pistol seen in the apparition.
Whether the young officer was insane, or lived long enough to repent of
his crime, is not known; however, the then Archbishop of Paris,
Monseigneur Sibour, was exceedingly impressed by the incident. He
called upon the young lady, and directing her attention to the words
spoken by the mysterious voice, urged her to embrace the Catholic
faith, to whose teaching it pointed so clearly.--_Ave Maria_,
August 15, 1885.
All the ages, every clime
Strike the silver harp of time,
Chant the endless, holy story,
Souls retained in Purgatory.
Freed by Mass and holy rite,
Requiem, dirge and wondrous might,
A prayer which hut and palace send,
Where king and serf, where lord and hireling blend.
The vast cathedral and the village shrine
Unite in mercy's choral strain divine.
THE DOCTRINE OF PURGATORY, OR A MIDDLE STATE, AMONG THE PAGAN NATIONS
BY THE REV. A. A LAMBING, A.M.
[This very interesting article was originally published in the "Ave
The attentive student of the mythology of the nations of antiquity
cannot fail to discover many vestiges of a primitive revelation of some
of the principal truths of religion, although in the lapse of time they
have been so distorted and mingled with fiction that it requires
careful study to sift the few remaining grains of truth from the great
mass of superstition and error in which they are all but lost. Among
these truths may be reckoned monotheism, or the belief in, and the
worship of, one only God, which the learned Jesuit, the Rev. Aug.
Thebaud, in his "Gentilism," has proved to have been the primitive
belief of all nations. It may not, however, be so generally known that
the doctrine of Purgatory, or a future state of purification, was also
held and taught in all the religious systems in the beginning. While a
knowledge of this fact cannot add anything to the grounds of our faith
as Catholics, it will not be wholly without interest, and it will,
besides, better enable us to give a reason for the faith that is in us.
It was left to Martin Luther to found an ephemeral religious system
that should deny this dogma, founded no less on revelation than on
right reason; but, then, logic has never been one of the strong points
Before turning my attention to the nations of the pagan world, I shall
briefly give the Jewish belief on this point. It may not generally be
known that the doctrine of a middle state is not explicitly proposed to
the belief of the Jews in any of the writings of the Old Testament,
although it was firmly held by the people. We depend for our knowledge
of this fact mainly on the celebrated passage of the Second Book of
Machabees (xii. 43-46). The occasion on which the doctrine was stated
was this: Some of the soldiers of Judas Machabeus, the leader of the
Jewish armies, fell in a certain battle; and when their fellow-soldiers
came to bury them, they discovered secreted in the folds of their
garments some parts of the spoils of one of the pagan shrines, which it
was not permitted them to keep. After praying devoutly, the sacred
writer goes on to say that Judas, "Making a gathering, sent twelve
thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifices to be offered
for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the
resurrection [for if he had not hoped that they who were slain should
rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the
dead]. And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with
godliness had great grace laid up for them. It is, therefore, a holy
and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed
The Catholic doctrine is thus briefly laid down in the Catechism:
"Purgatory is a place of punishment in the other life where some souls
suffer for a time before they can go to heaven;" or, in the words of
the Catechism of the Council of Trent, there is "the fire of Purgatory,
in which the souls of just men are cleansed by a temporary punishment
in order to be admitted into their eternal country, 'into which nothing
How far the pagan notions of a middle state harmonize with the
Christian doctrine the reader will be able to determine as we proceed.
I must premise by stating that almost all, if not all, the forms of
paganism were two-fold, containing a popular form of religion, believed
and practiced by the mass of the people, and a more recondite form that
was known only to the initiated, whether this was the priestly caste,
as was generally the case, or whether they were designated by some
other name. It should also be observed that the forms of religion were
constantly undergoing changes of greater or less importance. Nor must
we lose sight of the fact that different nations embodied the same idea
under different terms. The conception of the phlegmatic Norseman would
be different from that of the imaginative Oriental, and the language of
the refined Greek would be far other than that of the rude American
savage. But yet the same truth may be found to underlie all, the
outward garb alone differing.
Turning first to Egypt, which is, rightly or wrongly, commonly
considered the cradle of civilization, we may sum up its teaching with
regard to the lot of the dead, and the middle state, in these
interesting remarks of a learned author: "The continuance of the soul
after its death, its judgment in another world, and its sentence
according to its deserts, either to happiness or suffering, were
undoubted parts both of the popular and of the more recondite religion.
It was the universal belief that immediately after death the soul
descended into a lower world, and was conducted to the Hall of Truth
(or, 'of the Two Truths'), where it was judged in the presence of
Osiris and the forty-two demons, the 'Lords of Truth' and judges of the
dead. Anubis, 'the director of the weight,' brought forth a pair of
scales, and, placing on one scale a figure or emblem of Truth, set on
the other a vase containing the good actions of the deceased; Thoth
standing by the while, with a tablet in his hand, whereon to record the
result. According to the side on which the balance inclined, Osiris
delivered the sentence. If the good deeds preponderated, the blessed
soul was allowed to enter the 'boat of the sun,' and was conducted by
good spirits to Aahlu (Elysium), to the 'pools of peace,' and the
dwelling place of Osiris.... The good soul, having first been freed
from its infirmities by passing through the basin of purgatorial fire,
guarded by the four ape-faced genii, and then made the companion of
Osiris three thousand years, returned from Amenti, re-entered its
former body, rose from the dead, and lived once more a human life upon
earth. This process was reiterated until a certain mystic cycle of
years became complete, when finally the good and blessed attained the
crowning joy of union with God, being absorbed into the Divine Essence,
and thus attaining the true end and full perfection of their being."
[Footnote 1: "History of Ancient Egypt," George Rawlinson, Vol. I., pp.
It may be remarked that all systems of religion which held the doctrine
of metempsychosis, or the transmigration of souls, should be considered
as believing in a middle state of purgation, since they maintained the
necessity of the soul's further purification, after death, before it
was permitted to enter into its final rest.
In the ever-varying phases through which Buddhism, the religion of all
South-eastern Asia, has passed in its protracted existence, it is
difficult to determine with any degree of certainty, precisely what its
disciples hold; but the belief in metempsychosis, which is one of its
fundamental doctrines, must permit us to range it on the side of those
who hold to the idea of a middle state. Certain it is, they believe
that the soul, by a series of new births, becomes, in process of time,
better fitted for the final state in which it is destined for ever to
remain. The same may be said of the religion of the great body of the