Part 6 out of 9
and imperfections; the traces in them of, and the attachments in them
to, former sins, incident upon the frailties of feeble human nature,
still cling to them, and must needs be consumed in the fiery ordeal of
suffering before their enjoyment of the beatific vision can be
completed and their union with the Godhead consummated.
That there should be for souls after death such a state of purgation is
all within the grasp of human reason. It is a doctrine that was taught
in the remotest ages of the world. Here is a condensed version of the
tradition as handed down in clearest terms, beautifully expressed by
one of the world's greatest thinkers and writers: "All things are
distinctly manifest in the soul after it has been divested of the body;
and this is true both of the natural disposition of the soul and of the
affections that the man has acquired from his various pursuits. When
therefore the soul comes before the Judge ... the Judge finds all
things distorted through pride and falsehood and whatsoever is
unrighteous, for as much as the soul has been nurtured with untruth ...
and he forthwith sends it to a prison state where it will undergo the
punishment it deserves. But it behooveth that he that is punished, if
he be justly punished, either become better and receive benefit from
his punishment, or become a warning to others.... _But whoso are
benefited ... are such as have been guilty of curable transgressions;
their benefit here and hereafter  accrues to them through pains and
torments; for it is impossible to get rid of injustice by other manner
of means._" This reads like a page torn from one of the early
Fathers of the Church.  More than five centuries before the
Christian era it was penned by Plato.  Clearly does he draw the line
between eternal punishment for unrepented crimes and temporal
punishment for curable _Idmpa_ trangressions. Virgil in no
uncertain tone echoes the same doctrine, making no exception to the
rule that some corporeal stains and traces of ill follow all beyond the
grave; _and therefore do they suffer punishment and pay the penalty
of old wrongs._  What antiquity has handed down, and reason has
found to be just and proper, the Church has defined and decreed. She
has gone further. She has supplemented and completed the pagan
conception of expiation by that of intercession; and she has added
thereto, for the comfort and consolation of the living and the dead,
that the souls so suffering "may be helped by the suffrages of the
faithful, but principally by the acceptable Sacrifice of the Altar."
 And in her prayers for deceased friends, relatives and benefactors,
she is mindful of Mary's sweet influence with her Son, and asks their
deliverance through her intercession. 
[Footnote 1: Kai enthude kai en Aidou]
[Footnote 2: There is a passage in Clement of Alexandria, not unlike
this in statement of the same doctrine ("Stromaton" 1. vi. m. 14, p.
794 Ed. Potter). The passage is quoted in "Faith of Catholics." Vol.
Ill p. 142.]
[Footnote 3: Gorgias, cap. lxxx, lxxxi.]
[Footnote 4: AEneid, lib. vi. 735, 740.]
[Footnote 5: Council of Trent, Sess. xxv. Decret. de Purgatorio, p.
[Footnote 6: Beata Maria semper virgine intercedente.]
The tendency to commune with the dead, and to pray for them, is strong
and universal. It survives whatever systems or whatever creeds men may
invent for its suppression. Samuel Johnson is professedly a staunch
Protestant, bristling with prejudices, but a delicate moral sense
enters the rugged manhood of his nature. Instinctively he seeks to
commune with his departed wife, after the manner dear to the Catholic
heart, but forbidden to the Protestant. He keeps the anniversary of her
death. He composes a prayer for the repose of her soul, beseeching God
"to grant her whatever is best in her present state, and finally to
receive her to eternal happiness." 
[Footnote 1: Boswell's Johnson, vol. 1, p. 100. Croker's Ed. There is
pathos in this entry, remembering the man: "Mar. 28, 1753. I kept this
day as the anniversary of my Tetty's death, with prayer and tears in
the morning. In the evening I prayed for her conditionally, if it were
lawful." _Ibid._ p. 97.]
Of the nature and intensity of the sufferings of souls undergoing this
purgation, we on earth can form but the faintest conception. Not so
Mary. She sees things as they are. She sees the great love animating
those I holy souls. She sees their eager desire to be united to God,
the sole centre and object of their being. She sees and appreciates the
struggle going on in them between that intense desire--that great
yearning--that groping after perfect union--that unfilled and
unsatiated vagueness arising from their privation of the only fulness
that could replenish them, on the one hand, and on the other, the sense
of their unfitness, keen, strong, deep, intense, overwhelming them and
driving them back to the flames of pain and soul-hunger and soul-thirst
until they shall have satisfied God's justice to the last farthing, and
even the slightest stain has been cleansed, and they stand forth in the
light of God's sanctity, whole and spotless. She sees the terrible
struggle; and her motherly heart goes out in tender pity to these her
children, washed and ransomed by the Blood of her Divine Son, and she
is well disposed to extend to them the aid of her powerful
intercession. She is fitly called the Mother of Mercy. Her merciful
heart goes out to these, the favored ones of her Son, all the more
lovingly and tenderly because they are unable to help themselves.
But whilst Mary looks upon those souls with an eye of tender mercy and
sweet compassion, and whilst Jesus is prepared to admit them to the
beatific vision as soon as they become thoroughly purified, still the
assuaging of their pains and the abridging of their time of purgation
depend in a great measure upon the graces and the merits that are
applied to them by us, their brethren upon earth. According to the
earnestness of the prayers we say for them, and the measure of the good
works we do for them, will the intercession of Mary and all the saints
be efficacious with Jesus in their behalf. It is unspeakably consoling
to the living and the dead to know that the members of the Church
militant upon earth have it within their power to aid and relieve the
members of the Church suffering. It is therefore really and indeed a
holy and a wholesome thought for us of the one to pray for those of the
other. It is more: it is an imperative duty we owe the faithful
departed. They are our brethren in Christ, bought at the same price,
nurtured by the same graces, living by the same faith, and sanctified
by the same spirit. Many of them may have been near and dear to us in
this life; and of these, many again may now suffer because of us;
whether it was that we led them directly into wrong-doing, or whether
it was that, in their loving kindness for us, they connived at,
permitted, aided or abetted us, in what their consciences had whispered
them not to be right. In each and every case it is our bounden duty to
do all in our power to assuage sufferings to which we may have been
accessory. In heart-rending accents do they cry out to us: "_Have
pity on me, have pity on me, at least ye my friends!_"  And as we
would have others do by us under like circumstances, so should we not
turn a deaf ear to their petition.
[Footnote 1: Job, xix. 21.]
Daily does the Angel of Death enter our houses, and summon from us
those that are rooted in our affections, and for whom our heart-throbs
beat in love and esteem. Daily must we bow our heads in reverent
silence and submission to the decree that snatches from us some loved
one. Perhaps it is a wife who mourns the loss of her husband. She finds
comfort and companionship in praying for the repose of his soul; in the
words of Tertullian, "she prays for his soul, and begs for him in the
interim refreshments, and in the first resurrection companionship, and
maketh offerings on the anniversary day of his falling asleep." 
Perhaps it is a husband whose loving wife has gone to sleep in death.
Then will he hold her memory sacred, and offer thereto the incense of
unceasing prayer, so that it may be said of him as St. Jerome wrote to
Pammachius: "Thou hast rendered what was due to each part; giving tears
to the body and alms to the soul.... There were thy tears where thou
knewest was death; there were thy works where thou knewest was life....
Already is she honored with thy merits; already is she fed with thy
bread, and abounds with thy riches."  Perhaps it is a dear friend
around whom our heart-strings were entwined, and whose love for us was
more than we were worthy of: whose counsels were our guide; whose soul
was an open book in which we daily read the lesson of high resolve and
sincere purpose; whose virtuous life was a continuous inspiration
urging us on to noble thought and noble deed; and yet our friendship
may have bound his soul in ties too earthly, and retarded his progress
in perfection; in consequence he may still dread the light of God's
countenance, and may be lingering in this state of purgation. It
behooves us in all earnestness, and in friendship's sacred claim, to
pray unceasingly for that friend, beseeching God to let the dews of
Divine mercy fall upon his parching soul, assuage his pain, and take
him to Himself, to complete his happiness.
[Footnote 1: "Dc Monogam," n. x. p 531. "Faith of Catholics," Vol.
III., p. 144.]
[Footnote 2: Ep. XXXVII]
So the sacred duty of prayer for the dead runs through all the
relations of life. From all comes the cry begging for our prayers. We
cannot in justice ignore it; we cannot be true to ourselves and
unmindful of our suffering brethren. Every reminder that we receive is
a voice coming from the grave. Now it is the mention of a name that
once brought gladness to our hearts; or we come across a letter written
by a hand whose grasp used to thrill our souls--that hand now stiffened
and cold in death; or it is the sight of some relic that vividly
recalls the dear one passed away; or it is a dream--and to whom has not
such a dream occurred?--in which we live over again the pleasant past
with the bosom friend of our soul, and he is back once more, in the
flesh, re-enacting the scenes of former days, breathing and talking as
naturally as though there were no break in his life or ours and we had
never parted. When we awaken from our dream, and the pang of reality,
like a keen blade, penetrates our hearts, let us not rest content with
a vain sigh of regret, or with useless tears of grief; let us pray God
to give the dear departed soul eternal rest, and admit it to the
perpetual light of His Presence. And in like manner should we regard
all other reminders as so many appeals to the charity of our prayers.
In this way will the keeping of the memory of those gone before us be
to them a blessing and to us a consolation.
Furthermore, every prayer we say, every sacrifice we make, every alms
we give for the repose of the dear departed ones, will all return upon
ourselves in hundredfold blessings. They are God's choice friends, dear
to His Sacred Heart, living in His grace and in constant communing with
Him; and though they may not alleviate their own sufferings, their
prayers in our behalf always avail. They can aid us most efficaciously.
God will not turn a deaf ear to their intercession. Being holy souls,
they are grateful souls. The friends that aid them, they in turn will
also aid. We need not fear praying for them in all faith and
confidence. They will obtain for us the special favors we desire. They
will watch over us lovingly and tenderly; they will guard our steps;
they will warn us against evil; they will shield us in moments of trial
and danger; and when our day of purgatorial suffering comes, they will
use their influence in our behalf to assuage our pains and shorten the
period of our separation from the Godhead. And so may we, in constant
prayer, begging in a special manner the intercession of Mary the Mother
of Mercy, say to our Lord and Saviour: "_Deliver them from gloom and
darkness, and snatch them from sorrow and grief; enter not into
judgment with them, nor severely examine their past life; but whether
in word or deed they have sinned, as men clothed with flesh, forgive
and do away with their transgressions." 
[Footnote 1: From prayer for the Faithful Departed in the Syriac
Liturgy. See "Faith of Catholics," Vol. III, p. 203]
DR. JOHNSON ON PRAYERS FOR THE DEAD.
BOSWELL. What do you, think, sir, of Purgatory, as believed by the
JOHNSON. Why, sir, it is a very harmless doctrine. They are of opinion
that the generality of mankind are neither so obstinately wicked as to
deserve everlasting punishment, nor so good as to merit being admitted
into the society of blessed spirits; and therefore that God is
graciously pleased to allow of a middle state, where they may be
purified by certain degrees of suffering. You see, sir, that there is
nothing unreasonable in this.
BOSWELL. But then, sir, their Masses for the dead?
JOHNSON. Why, sir, if it be once established that there are souls in
Purgatory, it is as proper to pray for them as for our brethren of
mankind who are yet in this life.
BOSWELL. The idolatry of the Mass?
JOHNSON. Sir, there is no idolatry in the Mass. They believe God to be
there, and they adore Him.
* * * * *
BOSWELL. We see in Scripture that Dives still retained an anxious
concern about his brethren?
JOHNSON. Why, sir, we must either suppose that passage to be
metaphorical, or hold with many divines, and all purgatorians, that
departed souls do not all at once arrive at the utmost perfection of
which they are capable.
* * * * *
BOSWELL. Do you think, sir, it is wrong in a man who holds the doctrine
of Purgatory to pray for the souls of his deceased friends?
JOHNSON. Why, no, sir.
* * * * *
He states, that he spent March 22, 1753, in prayers and tears in the
morning; and in the evening prayed for the soul of his deceased wife,
"conditionally, if it be lawful." The following is his customary prayer
for his dead wife: "And, O Lord, so far as it may be lawful in me, I
commend to Thy fatherly goodness the soul of my departed wife;
beseeching Thee to grant her whatever is best in her present state, and
finally to receive her into eternal happiness."--_Boswell's "Life of
Johnson,"_ Pages 169, 188.
THE DOCTRINE OF PURGATORY.
[Footnote 1: From his work, "The Path which Led a Protestant Lawyer to
the Catholic Church," p. 637.]
The Council of Trent declared, as the faith of the Catholic Church,
"_that there is a Purgatory, and that the souls there detained are
helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but principally by the
acceptable sacrifice of the altar._"
This is all that is required to be believed. As to the kind and measure
of the purifying punishment, the Church defines nothing. This doctrine
has been very much misrepresented, and has most generally been attacked
by sarcasm and denunciation. But is this a satisfactory method to treat
a grave matter of faith, coming down to us from the olden times? The
doctrine of Purgatory is most intimately connected with the doctrine of
sacramental absolution and satisfaction, and legitimately springs from
it. That there is a distinction in the guilt of different sins, must be
conceded. All our criminal laws, and those of all nations, are founded
upon this idea. To say that the smallest transgression, the result of
inadvertence, is equal in enormity to the greatest and most deliberate
crime, is utterly opposed to the plain nature of all law, and to the
word of God, which assures us that men shall be punished or rewarded
according to their works (Rom. ii. 6), as not to require any
refutation. Our Lord assures us that men must give an account in the
day of judgment for every idle word they speak (Matt, xii. 36), and St.
John tells us that nothing denied shall enter heaven (Rev. xxi. 27).
Then St. John says there is a sin unto death, and there is a sin which
is not unto death (I John, v. 16), and he also tells us that "all
unrighteousness is sin; and there is a sin not unto death." So we are
told by the same apostle, that if we confess our sins, God is faithful
and just to forgive us (I John, i. 9). Now we must put all these texts
together, and give them their full, harmonious, and consistent force.
We must carry out the principles laid down to their fair and logical
results. Suppose, then, a man speak an idle word, and die suddenly,
before he has time to repent and confess his sin, will he be lost
everlastingly? Must there not, in the very nature of Christ's system,
be a middle state, wherein souls can be purged from their lesser sins?
MALLOCK ON PURGATORY. 
[Footnote 1: William Hurrell Mallock, the author of "Is Life Worth
Living," from which this extract is given, and of several other recent
works, was, at the time when the above was written, as he says himself
in his dedication, "an outsider in philosophy, literature, and
theology," and not, as might be supposed, a Catholic. It has been
positively asserted, and as positively denied, that he has since
entered the Church. But it is certain that he has not done so. Mallock
is not a Catholic.--COMPILER'S NOTE.]
To those who believe in Purgatory, to pray for the dead is as natural
and rational as to pray for the living. Next, as to this doctrine of
Purgatory itself--which has so long been a stumbling-block to the whole
Protestant world--time goes on, and the view men take of it is
changing. It is becoming fast recognized on all sides that it is the
only doctrine that can bring a belief in future rewards and punishments
into anything like accordance with our notions of what is just or
reasonable. So far from its being a superfluous superstition, it is
seen to be just what is demanded at once by reason and morality, and a
belief in it to be not an intellectual assent, but a partial
harmonizing of the whole moral ideal.--_W. H. Mattock, "Is Life Worth
Living,"_ Page 297.
BOILEAU-DESPREAUX AND PRAYER FOR THE DEAD.
We love to see the truth of our dogmas proclaimed from amid the great
assemblies of choice intelligences. Boileau did not hesitate to do
homage to the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory on the following solemn
On the death of Furetiere, the French Academy deliberated whether they
would have a funeral service for him, according to the ancient custom
of the establishment. Despreaux, who had taken no part in the expulsion
of his former associate, gave expression, when he was no more, to the
language of courageous piety. He feared not to express himself in these
words: "Gentlemen, there are three things to be considered here--God,
the public, and the Academy. As regards God, He will, undoubtedly, be
well pleased if you sacrifice your resentment for His sake and offer
prayers to Him for the repose of a fellow-member, who has more need of
them than others, were it only on account of the animosity he showed
towards you. Before the public, it will be a glorious thing for you not
to pursue your enemy beyond the grave. And as for the Academy, its
moderation will be meritorious, when it answers insults by prayers, and
does not deny a Christian the resources offered by the Church for
appeasing the anger of God, all the more that, besides the
indispensable obligation of praying to God for your enemies, you have
made for yourselves a special law to pray for your associates."
ALL SAINTS AND ALL SOULS. 
[Footnote 1: New York _Tablet_, Nov. 12, 1870]
MRS. J. SADLIER.
OF all the sublime truths which it is the pride and happiness of
Christians to believe, none is more beautiful, more consoling than that
of the Communion of Saints. Do we fully realize the meaning of that
particular article of our faith? From their earliest infancy Christian
children repeat, at their mother's knee, "I believe in the Communion of
Saints;" but it is only when the mind has attained a certain stage of
development that they begin to feel the inestimable privilege of being
in the Communion of Saints.
But how sad to think that even in later life many of those whose
childhood lisped "I believe in the Communion of Saints," neither know,
nor care to know, what it means. Outside the Church who believes in the
Communion of Saints?--who rejoices in the glory of the glorified, or
invokes their intercession with God? Who believes in that state of
probation whereby the earth-stains are washed from the souls of men?
Who has compassion on "the spirits who are in prison?" To Catholics
only is the Communion of Saints a reality, a soul-rejoicing truth. How
inestimable is the privilege of being truly and indeed "of the
household of faith,"--within and of "the Church of the Saints," the
Church that alone connects the life which is and that which is to come,
the living and the dead!
Year by year we are reminded of this truth, so solemn and so beautiful,
the Communion of Saints, by the double festival of All Saints and All
Souls--when the Church invites her children of the Militant Church to
rejoice with her on the glory of her Saints, and to pray with her for
the holy dead who are still in the purgatorial fire that is to prepare
them for that blessed abode into which "nothing defiled can enter."
Grand and joyous is the feast of the Saints, when we lovingly honor all
our brethren who have gained their thrones in Heaven, and with faith
and hope invoke their powerful aid, that we, too, may come where they
are, and be partakers in their eternal blessedness; solemn and sad, but
most sweetly soothing to the heart of faith, is the day of All Souls,
when the altars are draped in black, and the chant is mournful, and
sacrifice is offered, the whole world over, for the dead who have slept
in Christ, with the blessing of the Church upon them. For them, if they
still have need of succor, are all the good works of the faithful
offered up, and the prayers of all the Saints and all the Angels
invoked, not only on the second day of November, but on every day of
that mournful month.
Thus do we, who are still on earth, honor the glorified Saints of God,
and invoke them for ourselves and for the blessed souls who may yet be
debarred from the joys of Heaven. And this is truly the Communion of
Saints--the Church on earth, the Church in Heaven, the Church in
Purgatory, distinct, yet united, the children of one common Father, who
is God; of one common Mother, who is Mary, the Virgin ever Blessed.
[Footnote 1: Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibnitz, the eminent Protestant
philosopher. The above is from his "Systema Theologicum."]
ON THE MASS AS A PROPITIATORY SACRIFICE.
No new efficacy is superadded to the efficacy of the Passion from this
propitiatory Sacrifice, repeated for the remission of sins; but its
entire efficacy consists in the representation and application of the
first bloody Sacrifice, the fruit of which is the Divine Grace bestowed
on all those who, being present at this tremendous sacrifice, worthily
celebrate the oblation in unison with the priest. And since, in
addition to the remission of eternal punishment, and the gift of the
merits of Christ for the hope of eternal life, we further ask of God,
for ourselves and others, both living and dead, many other salutary
gifts (and amongst those, the chief is the mitigation of that paternal
chastisement which is due to every sin, even though the penitent be
restored to favor); it is therefore clearly manifest that there is
nothing in our entire worship more precious than the sacrifice of this
Divine Sacrament, in which the Body of Our Lord itself is present.
EXTRACTS FROM "A TROUBLED HEART."
How often have I been touched at the respect paid the dead in Catholic
countries; at the reverence with which the business man, hastening to
fulfil the duties of the hour, pauses and lifts his hat as the funeral
of the unknown passes him in the street! What pity streams from the
eyes of the poor woman who kneels in her humble doorway, and, crossing
herself, prays for the repose of the soul that was never known to her
in this life; but the body is borne towards the cemetery, and she joins
her prayer to the many that are freely offered along the solemn way
* * * * *
So passes the faithful soul to judgment; after which, if not ushered at
once into the ineffable glory of the Father, it pauses for a season in
the perpetual twilight of that border-land where the spirit is purged
of the very memory of sin. Even as Our Lord Himself descended into
Limbo; as He died for us, but rose again from the dead and ascended
into heaven, so we hope to rise and follow Him,--sustained by the
unceasing prayers of the Church, the intercession of the Saints, and
all the choirs of the just, who are called on night and day, and also
by the prayers and pleadings of those who have loved us, and who are
still in the land of the living.
The prayers that ease the pangs of Purgatory, the _Requiem_, the
_Miserere_, the _De Profundis_--these are the golden stairs
upon which the soul of the redeemed ascends into everlasting joy. Even
the Protestant laureate of England has confessed the poetical justice
and truth of this, and into the mouth of the dying Arthur--that worthy
knight--he puts these words:
"Pray for my soul! More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of; wherefore let thy voice
Rise like a fountain for me night and day;
For, what are men better than sheep or goats
That nourish a blind life within the brain,
If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer
Both for themselves and those who call them friend?
For so the whole round earth is every way
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God." 
[Footnote 1: These exquisite lines will be found elsewhere in this
volume in the full description of King Arthur's death from Tennyson.
But they bear repetition.]
O ye gentle spirits that have gone before me, and who are now, I trust,
dwelling in the gardens of Paradise, beside the river of life that
flows through the midst thereof,--ye whose names I name at the Memorial
for the Dead in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,--as ye look upon the
lovely and shining countenances of the elect, and, perchance, upon the
beauty of our Heavenly Queen, and upon her Son in glory,--O remember me
who am still this side of the Valley of the Shadow, and in the midst of
trials and tribulations. And you who have read these pages, written
from the heart, after much sorrow and long suffering, though I be still
with you in the flesh, or this poor body be gathered to its long home,
--you whose eyes are now fixed upon this line, I beseech you,
_Pray for me_!--_Anon_.
EUGENIE DE GUERIN AND HER BROTHER MAURICE.
[In Eugenie de Guerin's journal we find the following beautiful words
written while her loving heart was still bleeding for the early death
of her best-loved brother, Maurice--her twin soul, as she was wont to
"O PROFUNDITY! O mysteries of that other life that separates us! I who
was always so anxious about him, who wanted so much to know everything,
wherever he may be now there is an end to that. I follow him into the
three abodes; I stop at that of bliss; I pass on to the place of
suffering, the gulf of fire. My God, my God, not so! Let not my brother
be there, let him not! He is not there. What! his soul, the soul of
Maurice, among the reprobate! ... Horrible dread, no! But in Purgatory,
perhaps, where one suffers, where one expiates the weaknesses of the
heart, the doubts of the soul, the half-inclinations to evil. Perhaps
my brother is there, suffering and calling to us in his pangs as he
used to do in bodily pain, 'Relieve me, you who love me!' Yes, my
friend, by prayer. I am going to pray. I have prayed so much, and
always shall. Prayer? Oh, yes, prayers for the dead, they are the dew
_All Souls'_--How different this day is from all others, in
church, in the soul, without, within. It is impossible to tell all one
feels, thinks, sees again, regrets. There is no adequate expression for
all this except in prayer.... I have not written here, but to some one
to whom I have promised so long as I live, a letter on All Souls'....
O my friend, my brother, Maurice! Maurice! art thou far from me? dost
thou hear me? What are they, those abodes that hold thee now? ...
Mysteries of another life, how profound, how terrible ye are--
sometimes, how sweet!
PASSAGES FROM THE VIA MEDIA.
[Written while Cardinal Newman was still an Anglican]
Now, as to the punishments and satisfactions for sins, the texts to
which the minds of the early Christians seem to have been principally
drawn, and from which they ventured to argue in behalf of these vague
notions, were these two: 'The fire shall try every man's work,' etc.,
and 'He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.' These
passages, with which many more were found to accord, directed their
thoughts one way, as making mention of fire, whatever was meant by the
word, as the instrument of trial and purification; and that, at some
time between the present time and the Judgment, or at the Judgment. As
the doctrine, thus suggested by certain striking texts, grew in
popularity and definiteness, and verged towards its present Roman form,
it seemed a key to many others. Great portions of the books of Psalms,
Job, and the Lamentations, which express the feelings of religious men
under suffering, would powerfully recommend it by the forcible and most
affecting and awful meaning which they received from it. When this was
once suggested, all other meanings would seem tame and inadequate.
To these may be added various passages from the prophets, as that in
the beginning of the third chapter of Malachi, which speaks of fire as
the instrument of purification, when Christ comes to visit His Church.
Moreover, there were other texts of obscure and indeterminate meaning,
which seem on this hypothesis to receive a profitable meaning; such as
Our Lord's words in the Sermon on the Mount, "Verily, I say unto thee,
thou shalt by no means come out thence till thou hast paid the
uttermost farthing;" and St. John's expression in the Apocalypse, that,
"no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to
open the book."--_Via Media, pp._ 174-177.
Most men, to our apprehensions, are too little formed in religious
habits either for heaven or for hell; yet there is no middle state when
Christ comes in judgment. In consequence, it is obvious to have
recourse to the interval before His coming, as a time during which this
incompleteness may be remedied, as a season, not of changing the
spiritual bent and character of the soul departed, whatever that be,
for probation ends with mortal life, but of developing it in a more
determinate form, whether of good or evil. Again, when the mind once
allows itself to speculate, it will discern in such a provision a means
whereby those who, not without true faith at bottom, yet have committed
great crimes, or those who have been carried off in youth while still
undecided, or who die after a barren, though not immoral or scandalous
life, may receive such chastisement as may prepare them for heaven, and
render it consistent with God's justice to admit them thither. Again,
the inequality of the sufferings of Christians in this life compared
one with another, leads the mind to the same speculations; the intense
suffering, for instance, which some men undergo on their death-bed,
seeming as if but an anticipation in their case of what comes after
death upon others, who, without greater claims on God's forbearance,
live without chastisement and die easily. The mind will inevitably
dwell upon such thoughts, unless it has been taught to subdue them by
education or by the fear of the experience of their dangerousness.--
_Via Media, pp. 174-177_.
FROM THE FRENCH.
November is come; and the pleasant verdure that the groves and woods
offered to our view in the joyous spring is fast losing its cheerful
hue, while its withered remains lie trembling and scattered beneath our
feet. The grave and plaintive voice of the consecrated bell sends forth
its funereal tones, and, recalling the dead to our pensive souls,
implores, for them the pity of the living. Oh! let us hearken to its
thrilling call; and may the sanctuary gather us together within its
darkened walls, there to invoke our Eternal Father, and breathe forth
cherished names in earnest prayer!
When the solemn hour of the last farewell was come for those we loved,
and their weakened sight was extinguished forever, it seemed as if our
hearts' memory would be eternal, and as if those dear ones would never
be forgotten. But time has fled, their memory has grown dim, and other
thoughts reign paramount in our forgetful hearts, which barely give
them from time to time a pious recollection.
Nevertheless, they loved us, perhaps too well, lavish of a love that
Heaven demanded. How devoted was their affection; and shall we now
requite it by a cruel forgetfulness? Oh! if they suffer still on our
account; if, because of their weakness, they still feel the wrath of
God's justice, shall we not pray, when their voices implore our help,
when their tears ascend towards us?
Alas! in this life what direful contamination clings to the steps of
irresolute mortals! Who has not wavered in the darksome paths into
which the straight road so often deviates?
The infinite justice of the God of purity perhaps retains them in the
dungeons of death. Alas! for long and long the Haven of eternal life
may be closed against them! Oh, let us pray; our voices will open the
abode of celestial peace unto the imprisoned soul. The God of
consolation gave us prayer, that love might thus become eternal.--
_The Lamp_, Nov. 5, 1864.
AN ANGLICAN BISHOP PRAYING FOR THE DEAD.
Foremost among later Anglican divines in piety, in learning, and in the
finer qualities of head and heart, stands the name of Reginald Heber,
Bishop of the Establishment, whose gentle memory,--embalmed in several
graceful and musical poems, chiefly on religious subjects,--is still
revered and cherished by his co-religionists, respected and admired
even by those who see in him only the man and the poet--not the
religious teacher. I am happy to lay before my readers the following
extract from a letter of Bishop Heber, in which that amiable and
accomplished prelate expresses his belief in the efficacy of prayers
for the departed:
"Few persons, I believe, have lost a beloved object, more particularly
by sudden death, without feeling an earnest desire to recommend them in
their prayers to God's mercy, and a sort of instinctive impression that
such devotions might still be serviceable to them.
* * * * *
"Having been led attentively to consider the question, my own opinion
is, on the whole, favorable to the practice, which is, indeed, so
natural and so comfortable, that this alone is a presumption that it is
neither unpleasing to the Almighty nor unavailing with Him.
"The Jews, so far back as their opinions and practices can be traced
since the time of Our Saviour, have uniformly recommended their
deceased friends to mercy; and from a passage in the Second Book of
Maccabees, it appears that, from whatever source they derived it, they
had the same custom before His time. But if this were the case, the
practice can hardly be unlawful, or either Christ or His Apostles
would, one should think, have, in some of their writings or discourses,
condemned it. On the same side it may be observed that the Greek
Church, and all the Eastern Churches, pray for the dead; and that we
know the practice to have been universal, or nearly so, among the
Christians a little more than one hundred and fifty years after Our
Saviour. It is spoken of as the usual custom by Tertullian and
Epiphanius. Augustine, in his _Confessions_, has given a beautiful
prayer which he himself used for his deceased mother, Monica; and among
Protestants, Luther and Dr. Johnson are eminent instances of the same
conduct. I have, accordingly, been myself in the habit, for some years,
of recommending on some occasions, as, after receiving the sacrament,
etc., my lost friends by name to God's goodness and compassion, through
His Son, as what can do them no harm, and may, and I hope will, be of
service to them."
THE "PURGATORY" OF DANTE.
In the course of his remarks upon the _Divina Comedia_ of Dante, a
bitter opponent of the Holy See and of everything Catholic, Mariotti,
 an apostle of United Italy, expresses his views upon the ancient
doctrine of Purgatory. These views are but an instance of how its
beauty and truthfulness to nature strike the minds of those who have
strayed from the centre of Christian unity.
[Footnote 1: Mariotti, author of "Italy Past and Present," an
unscrupulous opponent of the Papacy and of the Church.]
"To say nothing of its greatness and goodness, the poem of Dante," says
Mariotti, "is the most curious of books. The register of the past,
noting down every incident within the compass of man's nature.... Dante
is the annalist, the interpreter, the representative of the Middle
Ages.... The ideas of mankind were in those '_dark_' ages
perpetually revolving upon that 'life beyond life,' which the
omnipresent religion of that _fanatical_ age loved to people with
appalling phantoms and harrowing terrors. Dante determined to
anticipate his final doom, and still, in the flesh, to break through
the threshold of eternity, and explore the kingdom of death.... No poet
ever struck upon a subject to which every fibre in the heart of his
contemporaries more readily responded than Dante. It is not for me to
test the soundness of the Roman Catholic doctrine of Purgatory, or to
inquire which of the Holy Fathers first dreamt of its existence. It
was, however, a sublime contrivance, unscriptural though it may be--a
conception full of love and charity, in so far as it seemed to arrest
the dead on the threshold of eternity; and making his final welfare
partly dependent on the pious exertions of those who were left behind,
established a lasting interchange of tender feelings, embalmed the
memory of the departed, and by a posthumous tie wedded him to the
mourning survivor.... Woe to the man, in Dante's age, who sunk into his
grave without bequeathing a heritage of love; on whose sod no
refreshing dew of sorrowing affection descended. Lonely as his relics
in the sepulchre, his spirit wandered in the dreaded region of
probation; alone he was left defenceless, prayerless, friendless to
settle his awful score with unmitigated justice. It is this feeling,
unrivalled for poetic beauty, that gives color and tone to the second
division of Dante's poem. The five or six cantos, at the opening, have
all the milk of human nature that entered into the composition of that
miscalled saturnine mind. With little more than two words, the poet
makes us aware that we have come into happier latitudes. Every strange
visitor breathes love and forgiveness. The shade we meet is only
charged with tidings of joy to the living, and messages of good will.
The heart lightens and brightens at every new stratum of the atmosphere
in that rising region; the ascent is easy and light, like the gliding
of a boat down the stream. The angels we become familiar with are
angels of light, such as human imagination never before nor afterwards
conceived. They come from afar across the waves, piloting the barge
that conveys the chosen spirits to heaven, balancing themselves on
their wide-spread wings, using them as sails, disdaining the aid of all
mortal contrivance, and relying on their inexhaustible strength; red
and rayless at first, from the distance, as the planet Mars when he
appears struggling through the mist of the horizon, but growing
brighter and brighter with amazing swiftness. They stand at the gate of
Purgatory, they guard the entrance to each of the seven steps of its
mountain--some with green vesture, vivid as new-budding leaves,
gracefully waving and floating in simple drapery, fanned by their
wings; bearing in their hands flaming swords broken at the point;
others, ash-colored garments; others again, in flashing armor, but all
beaming with so intense, so overwhelming a light, that dizziness
overcomes all mortal ken, whenever directed to their countenance. The
friends of the poet's youth one by one arrest his march, and engage him
in tender converse. The very laws of immutable fate seem for a few
moments suspended to allow full scope for the interchange of
affectionate sentiments. The overawing consciousness of the place he is
in, for a moment forsakes the mortal visitor so miraculously admitted
into the world of spirits. He throws his arms round the neck of the
beloved shade, and it is only by the smile irradiating its countenance
that he is reminded of the intangibility of its ethereal substance. The
episodes of "the Purgatory" are mostly of this sad and tender
description. The historical personages introduced seem to have lost
their own identity, and to have merged into a blessed calmness,
characterizing medium of the region they are all travelling through."
It is plain that, bitterly hostile as is this faithless Italian to the
Church of his fathers, and the truth which it teaches, his poetic
instinct, at least, rises above mere prejudice, and enables him to
penetrate into that dim but holy atmosphere created by the poet's
genius, and yet more fully by the poet's faith. This homage to the
union of religious grandeur, natural tenderness, and supernatural
fervent charity, which make this doctrine unconsciously dear to every
human heart, is of value coming from the pen of so prejudiced a
witness. It is but one of countless testimonies that in all times, and
in all ages, have sprung from the heart of man, as it were in his own
THE MOUTH OF NOVEMBER. 
[Footnote 1: New York _Tablet_, Nov. 26, 1859.]
MARY E. BLAKE (MARIE).
It is but a few days since the Church has celebrated the triumph of her
saints, rejoicing in the eternal felicity of that innumerable throng
whom she has given to the celestial Sion. She invites us to share her
joy. She bids us look up from the rugged pathway of our thorn-strewn
pilgrimage to that blissful abode which is to be the term and the
reward of all our trials. Yet, like a true mother, she cannot forget
that portion of her family who are sighing for their deliverance, in
that region of pain to which they are consigned by eternal justice. On
one day she sings with radiant brow and tones of jubilee her _Sursum
Corda_; on the next, she kneels a suppliant, chanting with uplifted
hands and tearful eyes her _Requiem AEternam_; and we, the
companions of her exile, shall we not sympathize with every emotion of
the heart of our tender Mother?
Among the pious customs which owe their existence to the fertile spirit
of Catholic devotion is that which dedicates the month of November to
the Suffering Souls in Purgatory. It would seem as though the annual
circle of commemorative devotion were incomplete without this crowning
fulfilment of charity.
Some years since, I met with a graphic description of a spectacle in
the Catholic Cemetery of New Orleans. It was the 2d of November, when
the friends and relatives of the dead came to scatter emblematic
wreaths and sweet-scented flowers on their graves. This custom was
observed by the French Catholics and their descendants; and the writer,
although a Protestant, was deeply impressed with its beauty and
significance. He asked why, among Americans, there was so little of
this eloquent affection for the dead. He might have found an answer in
the fact that the principle of faith was wanting--of that vivid and
active faith which seeks and finds by such means its outward
We, also, are the children of the Saints. We have inherited from them
the same faith in all its integrity, and how does our _practice_
correspond with it? What are we doing for that army of holy captives
who cannot leave their prison till the uttermost farthing be paid? Let
us not imitate those tepid Christians who are satisfied with erecting
costly monuments, and observing, with scrupulous exactness, the usual
period of "mourning," while the poor souls are left to pine forgotten,
if they have gone with some-lingering stains--some earthly tarnish on
their nuptial garment. Ah! there is so much that might be done if we
would only reflect, and let our hearts be softened by the intense
eloquence of their mute appeal....
These are a few of the thoughts suggested by the late solemnity, and
perhaps they cannot be concluded more appropriately than by introducing
the following poem, found in an old magazine. If the theme be
sufficient to inspire thus one who had but faint glimmerings of divine
truth, what should be expected of us, who rejoice in the fullness of
that light? I twine, then, this flower of the desert with the leaves I
have gathered, and offer my humble wreath as a tribute of faith and
affection on the altar dedicated to the dear departed.
LITANY OP THE DEPARTED.
It is, therefore, a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead.--
II. Mach. xii. 26.
For the spirits who have fled
From the earth which once they trod;
For the loved and faithful dead,
We beseech the living God!
Oh! receive and love them!
By the grave where Thou wert lying,
By the anguish of Thy dying,
Spread Thy wings above them;
Grant Thy pardon unto them,
_Dona eis requiem!_
Long they suffered here below,
Outward fightings, inward fears;
Ate the cheerless bread of woe,--
Drank the bitter wine of tears:--
Now receive and love them!
By Thy holy Saints' departures,
By the witness of Thy martyrs,
Spread Thy wings above them.
On the souls in gloom who sit,
_Lux eterna luceat_!
Lord, remember that they wept,
When Thy children would divide;
Lord, remember that they slept
On the bosom of Thy Bride;
And receive and love them!
By the tears Thou couldst not smother;
By the love of Thy dear Mother,
Spread Thy wings above them.
To their souls, in bliss with Thee,
_Dona pacem, Domini_!
Grant our prayers, and bid them pray,
O thou Flower of Jesse's stem;
Lend a gracious ear when they,
Plead for us, as we for them.
_Dona eis requiem_,
_Jesu, qui salutam das_
_Micat lumen animas_!
ALL SOULS' DAY 
[Footnote 1: New York _Tablet_, Nov. 12, 1864.]
MRS. J. SADLIER.
Nothing in the whole grand scheme of Religion is more beautiful than
the tender care of the Church over her departed children. Not content
with providing for their spiritual wants during their lives, and
sending them into eternity armed with and strengthened by the last
solemn Sacraments, blessing their departure from, as she blessed their
entrance into, this world, her maternal solicitude follows them beyond
the grave, and penetrates to the dreary prison in the Middle State
where, happily, they may be, as the Apostle says, "cleansed so as by
fire." With the tender compassion of a fond mother, the Church,
_our_ mother, yearns over the sufferings of her children, all the
dearer to her because they suffer in the Lord, and by His holy will.
By every means within her power she aids these blessed souls who are at
once so near Heaven, and so far from it; by solemn prayers, by
sacrifice, by continual remembrance of them in all her good works, she
gives them help and comfort herself, while encouraging the faithful to
imitate her example in that respect by numerous and great Indulgences,
and by the crown of eternal blessedness she holds out to those who
perform faithfully and in her own proper spirit this Seventh Spiritual
Work of Mercy--"to pray for the living _and the dead_." In every
Mass that is said the long year round on each of her myriad altars, a
solemn commemoration is made for the Dead immediately after the
Elevation of the Sacred Host, the great Atoning Sacrifice of the New
Law; in all the other public offices of the Church, "the faithful
departed" are tenderly remembered, and, to crown the efforts of her
maternal charity, the second day of November of every year is set apart
for the solemn remembrance of these her most beloved and most afflicted
children, for whose benefit and relief all the Masses of that day
throughout the whole Catholic world are specially offered up. Nay, more
than that, the entire month of November is devoted to the Souls in
Purgatory, and the good works and pious prayers of all the holy
communities who spend their lives in commune with God are offered up
with that benign intention during the month.
In Catholic countries, the faithful are touchingly reminded of this sad
though pleasing duty to their departed brethren, by the tolling of the
several convent and church bells at eight o'clock in the evening, at
which time the different communities unite in reciting the solemn _De
Profundis_, and other prayers for the dead. Solemn and sonorous we
have heard that passing-bell, year after year, booming through the
darkness and storm of the November night in a northern land  where
the pious customs of the best ages of France, transplanted over two
centuries ago, flourish still in their pristine beauty and touching
[Footnote 1: Eastern, or French Canada, now known as the Province of
But, though all Catholics may not hear the _De Profundis_ bell of
November nights, nor all households kneel at evening hour to join in
spirit with the pious communities who are praying then for the faithful
departed, yet all Catholics know when, on the first of November, they
celebrate the great and joyous festival of All Saints, that the next
day will bring the mournful solemnity of All Souls, when the altars of
the Church will be draped with black, and her ministers robed in the
same sombre garb, whilst offering the "Clean Oblation" of the New Law
for the souls who are yet in a state of purgation in the other life.
To the deep heart of Catholic piety nothing can be more sensibly
touching than "the black Mass" of All Souls' Day. If the feast be not
celebrated by the laity as it so faithfully is by the Church, it
certainly ought to be, if the spirit of the faith be still amongst
them. The funereal solemnity of the occasion touches the deepest,
holiest sympathies in every true Catholic heart, reminding each of
their loved and lost, and filling their souls with the soothing hope
that the Great Sacrifice then offered up for all the departed children
of the Church may release one or more of their nearest and dearest from
the cleansing fires of Purgatory. Then, while the funeral dirge fills
the sacred edifice, and the mournful _Dies Irae_ thrills the hearts
of all, each one thinks of his own departed ones, and recalls with
indescribable sadness other just such celebrations in the years long
past, when those for whom they now invoke the mercy of Heaven were
still amongst the living. Then comes, too, the solemn thought that
some, perhaps many, of those then present in life and health may be
numbered with the dead before All Souls' Day comes round again, and a
voice from the depths of the Christian heart asks, "May not I, too, be
then with the dead?"
When noting with surprise and regret how many Catholics neglect the
celebration of All Souls' Day, we have often endeavored to account for
such strange apathy. Surely, if the charity of the Church do not
inspire them--if they do not feel, with the valiant Macchabeus of old,
that "it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the Dead that
they may be loosed from their sins"--if natural affection, even, do not
move them to think of the probable sufferings of their own near and
dear--sufferings which they may have it in their power to alleviate--at
least, a motive of self-interest ought to make them reflect that when
they themselves are with the dead, retributive justice may leave them
forgotten by their own flesh and blood, as they forget others now. But
to those who do faithfully unite with the Church in her solemn
commemoration of the faithful departed on All Souls' Day, nothing can
be more soothing to the deep heart of human sadness, as nothing is more
imposing, or more strikingly illustrative of that Catholic charity,
that all-embracing charity which has its life and fountain within the
THE respect due to cemeteries is too closely connected with the
doctrine of Purgatory for us to omit observing here that those asylums
of the dead, being the objects of pious reverence, even amongst
infidels, ought to be still more so amongst us. It was in this
connection that Mgr. Pelletan, Arch-priest of the Cathedral of Algiers,
wrote thus on the 13th of March, 1843:
"Here in Algiers, do we not see, every Friday, the Mussulman Arab,
wandering pensively through his cemetery, placing on some venerated and
beloved grave bouquets of flowers, branches of boxwood; wrapped in his
bornouse, he sits for hours beside it, motionless and thoughtful; lost
in gentle melancholy, it would seem as though he were holding intimate
and mysterious converse with the dear departed one whose loss he
"But for us, Christians, nourished, enlightened by the truth of God,
what special homage, what profound reverence we should manifest towards
the remains of our fathers, our brethren who died in the same faith!
Oh, let us remember the first faithful--the martyrs--the catacombs! The
cemetery is for us the land where grows invisibly the harvest of the
elect; it is the sleeping world of intelligence; sheltered are its
peaceful slumbers in the bosom of nature ever young, ever fruitful; the
crowd of the dead pressed together beneath those crosses, under those
scattered flowers, is the crowd that will one day rise to take
possession of the infinite future, from which it is only separated by
some sods of turf.
"Hence how lively, how motherly has ever been the solicitude of the
Church in this respect! She wishes that the ground wherein repose the
remains of her children be blessed and consecrated ground; she purifies
it with hyssop and holy water; she calls down upon it by her humble
supplications, the benediction of Him who disposes according to His
will of things visible and invisible, of souls and of bodies; she
wishes that the cross should rise in its midst, that her children may
rest in peace in its shade while awaiting the grand awaking; even as a
temple and a sanctuary, she banishes from it games, noise of all kinds,
and even all that savors of levity or irreverence."--_Dictionnaire
d'Anecdotes Chretiens, p_. 993.
OPINIONS OF VARIOUS PROTESTANTS.
Some say, like Lessing in his "Treatise on Theology," "What hinders us
from admitting a Purgatory? as if the great majority of Christians had
not really adopted it. No, this intermediate state being taught and
recognized by the ancient Church, notwithstanding the scandalous abuses
to which it gave rise, should not be absolutely rejected."
Others, with Dr. Forbes (_controv. pontif. princip., anno_ 1658):
"Prayer for the dead, MADE USE OF FROM THE TIMES OF THE APOSTLES,
cannot be rejected as useless by Protestants. They should respect the
judgment of the primitive Church, and adopt a practice sanctioned by
the continuous belief of so many ages. We repeat that prayer for the
dead is a salutary practice."
Several others, rising to our point of view, drawing their inspiration
from the sources of Catholic charity, tell you, with the theologian
Collier (Part II. p. 100): "Prayer for the dead revives the belief in
the immortality of the soul, withdraws the dark veil which covers the
tomb, and establishes relations between this world and the other. Had
it been preserved, we should probably not have had amongst us so much
incredulity. I cannot conceive why our Church, which is so remote from
the primitive times of Christianity, should have abandoned or disdained
a custom that had never been interrupted; which, on the contrary, as we
have reason to believe from Scripture, existed in ancient times; which
was practiced in the Apostolic age, in the time of miracles and
revelations; introduced amongst the articles of faith, and never
rejected, except by Arius."
"It was evidently in use in the Church in the time of St. Augustine,
and down to the sixteenth century. If we do nothing for our dead, if we
omit to occupy ourselves with them and pray for them, as was formerly
done in the Holy Supper, we break off all intercourse with the Saints;
and then, how could we dare to say that we remain in communion with the
blessed? And if we break off in this way from the most noble part of
the universal Church, may it not be said that we mutilate our belief
and reject one of the articles of the Christian faith?"
"Yes," says the German Sheldon, in his turn, "prayer for the dead is
one of the most ancient and most efficacious practices of the Christian
You have just heard the sound of some bells; listen again and you shall
hear something different.
You think, then, that there are Protestants who admit Purgatory and
others who deny it? You are mistaken! There are some who at once admit
and do not admit it. This is difficult to comprehend, but it is so,
nevertheless, and this is how they take it:
On the one side, they will have nothing but hell, pure and simple; this
is the Catholic side; but on the other is the philosophic side, the
eternity of horrible pains is something too hard; and then, why not a
hell that will end a little sooner, or a little later? For, in fine,
there are small criminals and great criminals. So that their temporary
hell--that is to say, having an end--being, after all, nothing more
than one Purgatory, it follows that, having broken with us because they
did not want Purgatory, they broke off again because they wanted
Purgatory only.--_Dictionnaire d'Anecdotes_, 998-9.
Mr. Thorndike, a Protestant theologian, says: "The practice of the
Church of interceding for the dead at the celebration of the Eucharist,
is so general and so ancient, that it cannot be thought to have come in
upon imposture, but that the same aspersion will seem to take hold of
the common Christianity."
The Protestant translators of Du Pin observe, that St. Chrysostom, in
his thirty-eighth homily on the Philippians, says, that to pray for the
faithful departed in the tremendous mysteries, was decreed by the
The learned Protestant divine, Dr. Jeremy Taylor, writes thus: "We find
by the history of the Machabees, that the Jews did pray and make
offerings for the dead, which appears by other testimonies, and by
their form of prayer still extant, which they used in the captivity.
Now, it is very considerable, that since our Blessed Saviour did
reprove all the evil doctrines and traditions of the Scribes and
Pharisees, and did argue concerning the dead and the resurrection, yet
He spake no word against this public practice, but left it as He found
it; which He who came to declare to us all the will of His Father would
not have done, if it had not been innocent, pious, and full of charity.
The practice of it was at first, and was universal: it being plain both
in Tertullian and St. Cyprian, and others."
"Clement," says Bishop Kaye, "distinguishes between sins committed
before and after baptism: the former are remitted at baptism, the
latter are purged by discipline.... The necessity of this purifying
discipline is such, that if it does not take place in this life, it
must after death, and is then to be effected by fire, not by a
destructive, but a discriminating fire, pervading the soul which passes
through it."--_Clem_., ch. xii.
SOME THOUGHTS FOR NOVEMBER.
I stood upon an unknown shore,
A deep, dark ocean, rolled beside;
Dear, loving ones were wafted o'er
That silent and mysterious tide.
To most persons, the idea of Purgatory is simply one of pain; they try
to avoid thinking about it, because the subject is unpleasant, and
people's thoughts do not naturally revert to painful subjects; they
feel that it is a place to which they must go at least, if they escape
worse; they must suffer, they cannot help it, and so the less they
think about it beforehand, the better. Purgatory and suffering are to
them synonymous terms; perhaps fear keeps them from some sins which,
without this salutary apprehension, they would readily fall into; but,
on the whole, they take their chance, and hope for the best. This,
perhaps, is the view of a large class of people, and of those who will
scarcely own to themselves what they think on the subject; but their
lives are the tell-tales, and we cannot but fear that to escape hell is
the utmost effort of many who apparently are good Catholics. Still, we
would not say that they do not love God, that they are not in many ways
pleasing to Him; but, oh! how many there are who only want a little
more generosity to become Saints! Then, there is another class, further
on in their heavenward journey--souls who do love God, who do seek only
to please Him, who are generous, often even noble-hearted, in their
Master's service; souls who can say, "Our Father," and look up with
child-like love to Heaven; but even with such, and perhaps with almost
all, the feeling about Purgatory is much the same; it is a sort of
necessary evil; a something that must be endured. They feel strongly
all that justice demands; their very sanctity and goodness lead them to
desire that that which is evil in them should be taken out, even by
fire; but still there are few that do really see the deep, deep love of
Purgatory. We are very far from wishing to hinder people from thinking
less of its sufferings--nay, rather their very intenseness and severity
only pleads our case more strongly. All that has been revealed to the
Saints, all that has been made known to us by the Church or tradition,
proclaims the same fact. Suffering, intense, unearthly anguish, is the
portion of those most blessed souls; and it has been said that the
pains of Purgatory only differ in duration from those of hell. Still,
there is this difference--oh! blessed be God, there is this difference,
and it is all we could ask: in hell, the damned blaspheme their Master
with the demons that torment them; in Purgatory, the holy souls love
their God with the angelic choirs who await their entrance to the land
of bliss. If the souls of the damned could love, hell would cease to be
hell; if the souls of the blessed ones in prison could cease to love,
Purgatory would be worse to them than a thousand such hells.
* * * * *
Yes; Purgatory is love, and if it be true that the love of God extends
even to hell, because its torments might be worse, did not His infinite
mercy temper His infinite justice, how much more truly may this be said
of Purgatory! We have no wish to enter into any detailed account of
what the pains of Purgatory are supposed to be; this is a subject for
the pen of the theologian, or the raptures of the Saint. Awful and
terrible we know they are. But there is one suffering which we wish to
speak of, because we cannot but hope, if people reflected upon it
seriously, that they would learn to think of Purgatory less as a
necessary evil, and more as a most tender mercy, and be more inclined
to enter into a hearty co-operation with those who are anxious to help
the poor souls in this awful prison.
Surely, the one object of our whole lives is, not so much to get to
Heaven because we shall be happy there, as to see Jesus forever and
forever, to be near Him, to gaze on Him, and to love Him without fear;
for then love will be fearless, because suffering and sin will have
And what will happen when we die? Oh! if we were sent to Purgatory
without seeing Jesus, we might bear it better. There have been souls on
earth privileged to suffer for months the pains of the holy souls, and
they have lived and borne the pain, and longed, if it were possible,
even for more; but they had not seen Jesus as we shall see Him at the
moment of our death. The very thought makes us shudder and our life-
blood run cold. What if we should indeed be saved, we who have so
trembled and feared, and known not whether we were worthy of love or
hatred? What if we should behold the face of Divinest Majesty gaze upon
us even for one moment in tenderness? And yet, unless we see it in
unutterable wrath, this will be. But what then? Shall we see it
forever? Shall our eyes gaze on and on, and feast themselves on that
sight for all eternity? ... Ah! not yet; we must lose sight of that
vision of delight; it must be withdrawn from us--not, thank God, in
anger, but in sorrow. Oh! what are the pains of Purgatory, what the
burning of its fire, in comparison with the suffering which the soul
endures when separated, even for a moment, from her God? Who can tell,
who can understand, who can even faintly guess, what will be the
anguish of longing which shall consume our very being? But why must
this be? Why does love, infinite, tender love, inflict such intense
pain? Why does the parent turn away from his child, and forbid him his
presence for a time? Is it that he loves him less than when he lavished
on him the tenderest caresses? ... Why, but because suffering is needed
as an atonement to justice, because love cannot be perfected without
fear. "It is here tried and purified, but hath in Heaven its perfect
rest." Oh! the love of Purgatory! we shall never know it, or understand
it, until we are there. Yes, we cannot but think that the greatest, the
keenest suffering of the soul will be the remembrance of that which it
has seen for a passing moment, and the pining to behold again and
forever the face of God. It has been revealed to Saints that so intense
is this desire, that the soul would gladly place itself even in the
most fearful tortures, could it thus become more quickly purged from
that which withholds it from the presence of God. Did we but well
consider, and enter into this feeling, we should be much more careful
about our imperfections and our venial sins.
* * * * *
The Saints have ever desired suffering, and consider it as the greatest
favor which could be bestowed upon them; not that it is in itself
desirable, but because it perfects love. Let us, then, we who are not
Saints, think of Purgatory with more affection; let us rejoice that, if
we are not privileged to have keen, unearthly anguish in this life, we
shall yet suffer, and suffer intensely, in the next. Our love will be
purified; our dross be purged away; the weary pain which we feel
continually when we think how vile we are in the sight of God, how the
eye of Jesus, with all its tenderness, must often turn from us in
sorrow--the weary pain, the deep degradation of misery and sin, will
one day cease; we shall not tremble under our Father's eye, or long to
hide ourselves from our Father's countenance. Now we must often feel,
when trying with our whole hearts to please God, how impure, how
sullied we are before Him. Our pride, our vanity, our impatience, our
self-love, are all there. God sees them; how can He, then, look on us
as we desire He should? And often we almost long to be in those purging
flames, even should it be for years and years, that this vileness might
be burned away.
LEGENDARY AND POETICAL.
That we should help them wash away the stains
They carried hence; that so, made pure and light,
They may spring upward to the starry spheres.
Ah! so may mercy tempered justice rid
Your burdens speedily; that ye have power
To stretch your wing, which e'en to your desire
Shall lift you.
LEGENDARY AND POETICAL.
The day of wrath, that dreadful day
Shall the whole world in ashes lay,
As David and Sybils say.
What horror will invade the mind,
When the strict Judge, who would be kind,
Shall have few venial faults to find!
The last loud trumpet's wondrous sound
Must thro' the rending tombs rebound,
And wake the nations underground.
Nature and death shall with surprise
Behold the pale offender rise,
And view the Judge with conscious eyes.
Then shall with universal dread,
The sacred mystic book be read,
To try the living and the dead.
The Judge ascends His awful throne,
He makes each secret sin be known,
And all with shame confess their own.
O then! what int'rest shall I make,
To save my last important stake,
When the most just have cause to quake!
Thou mighty formidable King!
Thou mercy's unexhausted spring!
Some comfortable pity bring.
Forget not what my ransom cost,
Nor let my dear-bought soul be lost,
In storms of guilty terror tost.
Thou, who for me didst feel such pain,
Whose precious blood the cross did stain,
Let not those agonies be vain.
Thou whom avenging powers obey,
Cancel my debt (too great to pay)
Before the said accounting day.
Surrounded with amazing fears,
Whose load my soul with anguish hears,
I sigh, I weep, accept my tears.
Thou, who wast mov'd with Mary's grief,
And by absolving of the thief,
Hast given me hope, now give relief.
Reject not my unworthy prayer,
Preserve me from the dangerous snare,
Which death and gaping hell prepare.
Give my exalted soul a place
Among the chosen right hand race,
The sons of God, and heirs of grace.
From that insatiate abyss,
Where flames devour and serpents hiss,
Promote me to Thy seat of bliss.
Prostrate, my contrite heart I rend,
My God, my Father, and my Friend:
Do not forsake me in my end.
Well may they curse their second birth,
Who rise to a surviving death.
Thou great Creator of mankind,
Let guilty man compassion find.--_Amen_.
AUTHORSHIP OF THE DIES IRAE.
[Footnote 1: Rev. John O'Brien, A.M., Prof. of Sacred Liturgy in Mount
St. Mary's College, Emmettsburg, Md.]
The authorship of the "Dies Irae" seems the most difficult to settle.
This much, however, is certain: that he who has the strongest claims to
it is Latino Orsini, generally styled _Frangipani_, whom his
maternal uncle, Pope Nicholas III. (Gaetano Orsini), raised to the
cardinalate in 1278. He was more generally known by the name of
Cardinal Malabranca, and was, at first, a member of the Order of St.
Dominic. (See _Dublin Review_, Vol. XX., 1846; Gavantus, Thesaur.
Sacr. Rit., p. 490.)
As this sacred hymn is conceded to be one of the grandest that has ever
been written, it is but natural to expect that the number of authors
claiming it would be very large. Some even have attributed it to Pope
Gregory the Great, who lived as far back as the year 604. St. Bernard,
too, is mentioned in connection with it, and so are several others; but
as it is hardly necessary to mention all, we shall only say that, after
Cardinal Orsini, the claims to it on the part of Thomas de Celano, of
the Order of Franciscans Minor, are the greatest. There is very little
reason for attributing it to Father Humbert, the fifth general of the
Dominicans in 1273; and hardly any at all for accrediting it to
Augustinus de Biella, of the Order of Augustinian Eremites. A very
widely circulated opinion is that the "Dies Irae," as it now stands, is
but an improved form of a Sequence which was long in use before the age
of any of those authors whom we have cited. Gavantus gives us, at page
490 of his "Thesaurus of Sacred Rites," a few stanzas of this ancient
[Footnote 1: We subjoin this Latin stanza: Cum recordor moriturus,
Quid post mortem sum futurus
Terror terret me venturus,
Queru expecto non securus.]
* * * * *
To repeat what learned critics of every denomination under heaven have
said in praise of this marvellous hymn, would indeed be a difficult
task. One of its greatest encomiums is, that there is hardly a language
in Europe into which it has not been translated; it has even found its
way into Greek and Hebrew--into the former, through an English
missionary of Syria, named Hildner; and into the latter, by Splieth, a
celebrated Orientalist. Mozart avowed his extreme admiration of it, and
so did Dr. Johnson, Sir Walter Scott, and Jeremy Taylor, besides hosts
of others. The encomium passed upon it by Schaff is thus given in his
own words: "This marvellous hymn is the acknowledged master-piece of
Latin poetry and the most sublime of all uninspired hymns. The secret
of its irresistible power lies in the awful grandeur of the theme, the
intense earnestness and pathos of the poet, the simple majesty and
solemn music of its language, the stately metre, the triple rhyme, and
the vocal assonances, chosen in striking adaptation--all combining to
produce an overwhelming effect, as if we heard the final crash of the
universe, the commotion of the opening graves, the trumpet of the
archangel summoning the quick and the dead, and saw the King 'of
tremendous majesty' seated on the throne of justice and mercy, and
ready to dispense everlasting life, or everlasting woe." (See "Latin
Hymns," Vol. I. p. 392, by Prof. March, of Lafayette College, Pa.)
The music of this hymn formed a chief part in the fame of Mozart; and
it is said, and not without reason, that it contributed in no small
degree to hasten his death, for so excited did he become over its awe-
enkindling sentiments while writing his celebrated "Mass of Requiem,"
that a sort of minor paralysis seized his whole frame, so
Terret dies me terroris,
Dies irae, ac furoris,
Dies luctus, ac moeroris,
Dies ultrix peccatoris,
Dies irae, dies illa, etc, etc.
that he was heard to say: "I am certain that I am writing this Requiem
for myself. It will be my funeral service." He never lived to finish
it; the credit of having done so belongs to Sussmayer, a man of great
musical attainments, and a most intimate friend of the Mozart family.--
_Dublin Review_, Vol. I., May, 1836.
The allusion to the sibyl in the third line of the first stanza, "Teste
David cum Sybilla,"  has given rise to a good deal of anxious
inquiry; and so very strange did it sound to French ears at its
introduction into the sacred hymnology of the Church, that the Parisian
rituals substituted in its place the line, _Crucis expandens
vexilla_. The difficulty is, however, easily overcome if we bear in
mind that many of the early Fathers held that Almighty God made use of
these sibyls to promulgate His truths in just the same way as He did of
Balaam of old, and many others like him. The great St. Augustine has
written much on this subject in his "City of God;" and the reader may
form some idea of the estimation in which these sibyls were held, when
he is told that the world-renowned Michael Angelo made them the subject
of one of his greatest paintings.... In the opinions of the ablest
critics it was the Erythrean sibyl who uttered the celebrated
prediction about the advent of our Divine Lord and His final coming at
the last day to judge the living and the dead.... The part of the
sibyl's response which referred particularly to the Day of Judgment was
written (as an acrostic) on the letters of Soter, or Saviour. It is
given as follows in the translation of the "City of God" of St.
[Footnote 1: As David and Sibyls say.]
"Sounding, the archangel's trumpet shall peal down from heaven,
Over the wicked who groan in their guilt and their manifold sorrows,
Trembling, the earth shall be opened, revealing chaos and hell.
Every king before God shall stand on that day to be judged;
Rivers of fire and of brimstone shall fall from the heavens."
The bright sun was risen
More than two hours aloft; and to the sea
My looks were turned. "Fear not," my master cried.
"Assured we are at happy point. Thy strength
Shrink not, but rise dilated. Thou art come
To Purgatory now. Lo! there the cliff
That circling bounds it. Lo! the entrance there,
Where it doth seem disparted."...
Reader! thou markest how my theme doth rise;
Nor wonder, therefore, if more artfully
I prop the structure. Nearer now we drew,
Arrived whence, in that part where first a breach
As of a wall appeared. I could descry
A portal, and three steps beneath, that led
For inlet there, of different color each;
And one who watched, but spake not yet a word,
As more and more mine eye did stretch its view,
I marked him seated on the highest step,
In visage such as past my power to bear.
Grasped in his hand, a naked sword glanced back
The rays so towards me, that I oft in vain
My sight directed. "Speak from whence ye stand,"
He cried; "What would ye? Where is your escort?
Take heed your coming upward harm ye not."
"A heavenly dame, not skilless of these things,"
Replied the instructor, "told us, even now,
'Pass that way, here the gate is.'" "And may she,
Befriending, prosper your ascent," resumed
The courteous keeper of the gate. "Come, then,
Before our steps." We straightway thither came.
The lowest stair was marble white, so smooth
And polished, that therein my mirrored form
Distinct I saw. The next of hue more dark
Than sablest grain, a rough and singed block
Cracked lengthwise and across. The third, that lay
Massy above, seemed porphyry, that flamed
Red as the life-blood spouting from a vein.
On this God's Angel either foot sustained,
Upon the threshold seated, which appeared
A rock of diamond. Up the trinal steps
My leader cheerily drew me. "Ask," said he,
"With humble heart, that he unbar the bolt."
Piously at his holy feet devolved
I cast me, praying him, for pity's sake,
That he would open to me; but first fell
Thrice on my bosom prostrate. Seven times
The letter that denotes the inward stain,
He, on my forehead, with the blunted point
Of his drawn sword, inscribed. And "Look," he cried,
"When entered, that thou wash these scars away."
Ashes, or earth ta'en dry out of the ground,
Were of one color with the robe he wore.
From underneath that vestment forth he drew
Two keys, of metal twain; the one was gold,
Its fellow, silver. With the pallid first,
And next the burnished, he so plyed the gate,
As to content me well. "Whenever one
Faileth of these that in the key-hole straight
It turn not, to this alley then expect
Access in vain." Such were the words he spake.
"One is more precious, but the other needs
Skill and sagacity, large share of each,
Ere its good task to disengage the knot
Be worthily performed. From Peter these
I hold, of him instructed that I err
Rather in opening, than in keeping fast;
So but the suppliant at my feet implore."
Then of that hallowed gate he thrust the door.
Exclaiming, "Enter, but this warning hear:
He forth again departs who looks behind."
As in the hinges of that sacred ward
The swivels turned, sonorous metal strong.
Harsh was the grating; nor so surlily
Rocked the Tarpeian when by force bereft
Of good Metellus, thenceforth from his loss
To leanness doomed. Attentively I turned,
Listening the thunder that first issued forth;
And "We praise Thee, O God," methought I heard,
In accents blended with sweet melody.
The strains came o'er mine ear, e'en as the sound
Of choral voices, that in solemn chant
With organ mingle, and, now high and clear
Come swelling, now float indistinct away.--_Canto IX_.
* * * * *
Hell's dunnest gloom, or night unlustrous, dark,
Of every planet reft, and palled in clouds,
Did never spread before the sight a veil
In thickness like that fog, nor to the sense
So palpable and gross. Entering its shade,
Mine eye endured not with unclosed lids;
Which marking, near me drew the faithful guide,
Offering me his shoulder for a stay.
As the blind man behind his leader walks,
Lest he should err, or stumble unawares
On what might harm him, or perhaps destroy;
I journeyed through that bitter air and foul,
Still listening to my escort's warning voice,
"Look that from me thou part not." Straight I heard
Voices, and each one seemed to pray for peace,
And for compassion to the Lamb of God
That taketh sins away. The prelude still
Was "Agnus Dei;" and, through all the choir,
One voice, one measure ran, that perfect seemed
The concord of their song. "Are these I hear
Spirits, O Master?" I exclaimed; and he,
"Thou aim'st aright: these loose the bonds of wrath."--_Canto_
* * * * *
Forthwith from every side a shout arose
So vehement, that suddenly my guide
Drew near, and cried: "Doubt not, while I conduct thee."
"Glory!" all shouted (such the sounds mine ear
Gathered from those who near me swelled the sounds),
"Glory in the highest be to God!" We stood
Immovably suspended, like to those,
The shepherds, who first heard in Bethlehem's field
That song: till ceased the trembling, and the song
Was ended: then our hallowed path resumed,
Eyeing the prostrate shadows, who renewed
Their customed mourning. Never in my breast
Did ignorance so struggle with desire
Of knowledge, if my memory do not err,
As in that moment; nor, through haste, dared I
To question, nor myself could aught discern.
So on I fared, in thoughtfulness and dread.--_Canto XX._
* * * * *
Now the last flexure of our way we reached;
And, to the right hand turning, other care
Awaits us. Here the rocky precipice
Hurls forth redundant flames; and from the rim
A blast up-blown, with forcible rebuff
Driveth them back, sequestered from its bound.
Behooved us, one by one, along the side,
That bordered on the void, to pass; and I
Feared on one hand the fire, on the other feared
Headlong to fall: when thus the instructor warned:
"Strict rein must in this place direct the eyes.
A little swerving and the way is lost."
Then from the bosom of the burning mass,
"O God of mercy!" heard I sung, and felt
No less desire to turn. And when I saw
Spirits along the flame proceeding, I
Between their footsteps and mine own was fain
To share by turns my view. At the hymn's close
They shouted loud, "I do not know a man;" 
Then in low voice again took up the strain.-_Canto XXV_.
[Footnote 1: _I do not know a man._ St. Luke, i. 34.]
* * * * *
Now was the sun  so stationed, as when first
His early radiance quivers on the heights
Where streamed his Maker's blood; while Libra hangs
Above Hesperian Ebro; and new fires,
Meridian, flash on Ganges' yellow tide.
So day was sinking, when the Angel of God
Appeared before us. Joy was in his mien.
Forth of the flame he stood--upon the brink;
And with a voice, whose lively clearness far
Surpassed our human, "Blessed are the pure
In heart," he sang; then, near him as we came,
"Go ye not further, holy spirits," he cried,
"Ere the fire pierce you; enter in, and list
Attentive to the song ye hear from thence."
I, when I heard his saying, was as one
Laid in the grave. My hands together clasped,
And upward stretching, on the fire I looked,
And busy fancy conjured up the forms,
Erewhile beheld alive, consumed in flames.--_Canto XXVII._
[Footnote 1: At Jerusalem it was dawn, in Spain midnight, and in India
noonday, while it was sunset in Purgatory]
HAMLET AND THE GHOST.
HAMLET. Where wilt thou lead me? Speak, I'll go no further.
GHOST. Mark me.
HAM. I will.
GHOST. My hour is almost come,
When I to sulphurous and tormenting flames
Must render up myself.
HAM. Alas! poor ghost!
GHOST. Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing
To what I shall unfold.
HAM. Speak, I am bound to hear.
GHOST. So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear.
GHOST. I am thy father's spirit;
Doomed for a certain time to walk the night;
And, for the day, confined to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes, done in my days of nature,
Are burnt and purged away. But that I am forbid
To tell the secrets of my prison-house,
I could a tale unfold, whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul; freeze thy young blood;
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres;
Thy knotted and combined locks to part,
And each particular hair to stand on end,
Like quills upon the fretful porcupine;
But this eternal blason must not be
To ears of flesh and blood.
CALDERON'S "PURGATORY OF ST. PATRICK."
In a work of this nature, it is essential to its purpose that the
compiler should take cognizance of the many legends, wild and
extravagant as some of them are, which have been current at various
times and amongst various peoples, on the subject of Purgatory. For
they have, indeed, a deep significance, proving how strong a hold this
belief in a middle state of souls has taken on the popular mind. They
are, in a certain sense, a part of Catholic tradition, and have to do
with what is called Catholic instinct. They prove that this dogma of
the Church has found a home in the hearts of the people, and become
familiar to them, as the tales of childhood whispered around the winter
hearth. If it appear now and then, in some such uncouth disguise, as
that which we, are about to present to our readers, we see,
nevertheless, through it all the truth, or rather the fragments of
truth, such as is often found floating about through Europe on the
breath of tradition. The curious legend has been turned by Calderon
from dross into precious gold. He presents it to us in his "Purgatory
of St. Patrick" with a beauty that divests it of much of its native
wildness. He presumably drew his materials for the drama from a work,
"The Life and Purgatory of St. Patrick," published in Spain in 1627 by
Montalvan, a Spanish dramatist. It was translated into French by a
Franciscan priest and doctor of theology, Francois Bouillon; as also
into Portuguese by Father Manuel Caldeira. When this work was issued
Calderon was wish the army in Flanders. He must have seen it, his
brilliant imagination at once taking hold of it as the groundwork for a
splendid effort of his genius.
We cite here an extract from an introduction by Denis Florence
MacCarthy to his translation of Calderon's "Purgatory of St. Patrick."
It will be of interest as following the thread of this weird legend:
The curious history of Ludovico Enio, on which the principal interest
of this play depends, has been alluded to, and given more or less fully
by many ancient authors. The name, though slightly altered by the
different persons who have mentioned him, can easily be recognized as
the same in all, whether as Owen, Oien, Owain, Eogan, Euenius, or
Ennius. Perhaps the earliest allusion to him in any printed English
work is that contained in 'Ranulph Hidgen's Polychronicon,' published
at Westminster by Wynkin de Worde, in 1495: 'In this Steven's tyme, a
knyght that hyght Owen wente into the Purgatory of the second Patrick,
abbot, and not byshoppe. He came agayne and dwelled in the abbaye of
Ludene of Whyte Monks in Irlonde, and tolde of joycs and of paynes that
he had seen.'
The history of Enio had, however, existed in manuscript for nearly
three centuries and a half before the Polychronicon was printed; it had
been written by Henry, the Monk of Salterey, in Huntingdonshire, from
the account which he had received from Gilbert, a Cistercian monk of
the Abbey of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Luden, or Louth, above
mentioned.  Colgan, after collating this manuscript with two others
on the same subject, which he had seen, printed it nearly in full in
his "Trias." ... Matthew Paris had, however, before this, in his
"History of England," under date 1153, given a full account of the
adventures of OEnus in the Purgatory. ... Sir Walter Scott mentions, in
his "Border Minstrelsy," that there is a curious Metrical Romance in
the Advocates' Library of Edinburgh, called "The Legend of Sir Owain,"
relating his adventures in St. Patrick's Purgatory; he gives some
stanzas from it, descriptive of the knight's passage of "The Brig o'
Dread;" which, in the legend, is placed between Purgatory and Paradise.
This poem is supposed to have been written early in the fourteenth
[Footnote 1: Colgan's "Trias Thanmaturgae," p. 281, Ware's "Annals of
Ireland," A.D. 1497.]
A second extract on the subject, taken from the Essay by Mr. Wright on
the "Purgatory of St. Patrick," published in London in 1844, gives
still further information with regard to it.
"The mode," he says, "in which this legend was made public is thus told
in the Latin narrative. Gervase (the founder and first Abbot of Louth,
in Lincolnshire) sent his monk, Gilbert, to the king, then in Ireland,
to obtain a grant to build a monastery there. Gilbert, on his arrival,
complained to the king, Henry II., that he did not understand the
language of the country. The king said to him,' I will give you an
excellent interpreter,' and sent him the knight Owain, who remained
with him during the time he was occupied in building the monastery, and
repeated to him frequently the story of his adventures in Purgatory.
Gilbert and his companions subsequently returned to England, and there
he repeated the story, and some one said he thought it was all a dream,
to which Gilbert answered: 'That there were some who believed that
those who entered the Purgatory fell into a trance, and saw the vision
in the spirit, but that the knight had denied this, and declared that
the whole was seen and felt really in the body.' Both Gilbert, from
whom Henry of Salterey received the story, and the bishop of the
diocese, assured him that many perished in this Purgatory, and were
never heard of afterwards." It is clear from the allusion to it in
Caesarius of Heisterbach, that already, at the beginning of the
thirteenth century, St. Patrick's Purgatory had become famous
throughout Europe. 'If any one doubt of Purgatory,' says this writer,
'let him go to Scotland (i. e., Ireland, to which this name was
anciently given), and enter the Purgatory of St. Patrick, and his
doubts will be expelled.' This recommendation was frequently acted upon
in that, and particularly in the following century, when pilgrims from
all parts of Europe, some of them men of rank and wealth, repaired
thither. On the patent rolls in the Tower of London, under the year
1358, we have an instance of testimonials given by the king, Edward
III., on the same day, to two distinguished foreigners, one a noble
Hungarian, the other a Lombard, Nicholas de Becariis, of their having
faithfully performed this pilgrimage. And still later, in 1397, we find
King Richard II. granting a safe conduct to visit the same place to
Raymond, Viscount of Perilhos, Knight of Rhodes, and Chamberlain of the
King of France, with twenty men and thirty horses. Raymond de Perilhos,
on his return to his native country, wrote a narrative of what he had
seen, in the dialect of the Limousin (_Lemosinalingna_), of which
a Latin version was printed by O'Sullivan in his '_Historia Catholica
Ibernica.' ... This is a mere compilation from the story of 'Henry of
Salterey,' and begins, like that, with an account of the origin of the
Purgatory. He represents himself as having been first a minister to
Charles V. of France, and subsequently the intimate friend of John I.
of Aragon, after whose death (in 1395) he was seized with the desire of
knowing how he was treated in the other world, and determined, like a
new AEneas, to go into St. Patrick's Purgatory in search of him. He saw
precisely the same sights as the knight, Owain, but (as in Calderon)
only twelve men came to him in the hall instead of fifteen, and in the
fourth hall of punishments he saw King John of Aragon, and many others
of his friends and relations.
We will now select from the drama of "Calderon" a few characteristic
passages, to show how this subject was treated by the glowing pen and
fervid fancy of the greatest of all the poets of Catholic Spain, whose
poetry, indeed, is deserving of more widespread appreciation than it
has yet received at the hands of the Catholic reading public. We will
begin with those lines in which Ludovico Enio, the hero of the tale,
makes known his identity to King Egerio.
LUDOVICO. Listen, most beautiful divinity,
For thus begins the story of my life.
Great Egerio, King of Ireland, I
Am Ludovico Enio--a Christian also--
In this do Patrick and myself agree,
And differ, being Christians both,
And yet as opposite as good from evil.
But for the faith which I sincerely hold
(So greatly do I estimate its worth),
I would lay down a hundred thousand lives--
Bear witness, thou all-seeing Lord and God.
. . . . . . All crimes,
Theft, murder, treason, sacrilege, betrayal
Of dearest friends, all these I must relate.
For these are all my glory and my pride.
In one of Ireland's many islands I
Was born, and much do I suspect that all
The planets seven, in wild confusion strange,
Assisted at my most unhappy birth.
He proceeds with a catalogue of his crimes, most dark, indeed, and
relates how St. Patrick, who was present, had saved him from shipwreck.
The King, however, who is a pagan, takes the Knight into his service,
while he bids the Saint begone. Before they part Patrick asks of him a
PATRICK. This one boon I ask--
LUDOVICO. What is it?
PATRICK. That, alive or dead, we meet
In this world once again.
LUDOVICO. Dost thou demand
So strange and dread a promise from me?
LUDOVICO. I give it to thee then.
PATRICK. And I accept it.
What follows is from a conversation between Patrick and the King,
wherein are explained many of the truths of faith, including the
existence of heaven and of hell. Thus the Saint:
PATRICK. There are more places
In the other world than those of
Everlasting pain and glory:
Learn, O King, that there's another,
Which is Purgatory; whither
Flies the soul that has departed
In a state of grace; but bearing
Still some stains of sin upon it:
For with these no soul can enter
God's pure kingdom--there it dwelleth
Till it purifies and burneth
All the dross from out its nature;
Then it flieth, pure and limpid,
Into God's divinest presence.
KING. So you say, but I have nothing,
Save your own words, to convince me;
Give me of the soul's existence
Some strong proof--some indication--
Something tangible and certain--
Which my hands may feel and grasp at.
And since you appear so powerful
With your God, you can implore him,
That to finish my conversion,
He may show some real being,
Not a mere ideal essence,
Which all men can touch; remember,
But one single hour remaineth
For this task: this day you give us
Certain proofs of pain or glory,
Or you die: where we are standing
Let your God display his wonders--
And since we, perhaps, may merit
Neither punishment nor glory,
Let the other place be shown us,
Which you say is Purgatory.
PATRICK then prays, concluding with the words:
"I ask, O Lord, may from Thy hand be given,
That Purgatory, Hell, and Heaven
May be revealed unto those mortals' sight."
An Angel then descends and speaks as follows:
ANGEL. Patrick, God has heard thy prayer,
He has listened to thy vows;
And as thou hast ask'd, allows
Earth's great secrets to lie bare.
Seek along this island ground
For a vast and darksome cave,
Which restrains the lake's dark wave,
And supports the mountains round;
He who dares to go therein,
Having first contritely told
All his faults, shall there behold
Where the soul is purged from sin.
He shall see with mortal eyes
Hell itself--where those who die
In their sins forever lie,
In the fire that never dies.
He shall see, in blest fruition,
Where the happy spirits dwell.
But of this be sure as well--
He who without true contrition
Enters there to idly try
What the cave may be, doth go
To his death--he'll suffer woe
While the Lord doth reign on high.
Who this day shall set you free
From this poor world's weariness;
He shall grant to you, in pity,
Bliss undreamed by mortal men--
Making thee a denizen
Of his own celestial city.
He shall to the world proclaim
His omnipotence and glory,
By the wondrous Purgatory,
Which shall bear thy sainted name.
Polonia, the King's daughter, whom Ludovico had married and deserted,
having first tried to kill her, appears upon the scene just as the
King, Patrick, and some others, who have set out upon their quest for
the Purgatory, have reached a gloomy mountain and a deep cave. Polonia
relates the wonders and the terrors of the cavern through which she has
passed. Patrick then speaks as follows:
PATRICK. This cave, Egerio, which you see, concealeth
Many mysteries of life and death,
Not for him whose hardened bosom feeleth
Nought of true repentance or true faith.
But he who freely enters, who revealeth
All his sins with penitential breath,
Shall endure his Purgatory then,
And return forgiven back again.
Later in the drama we find Ludovico desiring
Into Patrick's Purgatory;
Humbly and devoutly keeping
Thus the promise that I gave him."
Again, he says:
"I have faith and firm reliance
That you yet shall see me happy,
If in God's name blessed Patrick,
"Aid me in the Purgatory."
Having confessed his sins and made due preparation, he enters the cave.
On his return hence, the Priest, or Canon as he is called, bids him
relate the wonders he has seen. He finds himself first "in thick and
pitchy darkness," he hears horrid clangor, and falls down at length
into a hall of jasper, where he meets with twelve grave men, who
encourage him, and bid him keep up his courage amid the fearful sights
he is to behold later on. At length he reaches the Purgatory:
"I approached another quarter;
There it seemed that many spirits
I had known elsewhere, were gathered
Into one vast congregation,
Where, although 'twas plain they suffered,
Still they looked with joyous faces,
Wore a peaceable appearance,
Uttered no impatient accents,
But, with moistened eyes uplifted
Towards the heavens, appeared imploring
Pity, and their sins lamenting.
This, in truth, was Purgatory,
Where the sins that are more venial
Are purged out."
He then alludes to that Bridge or "Brig o' Dread," to which allusion
will be made in another portion of our volume. As this passage is
celebrated, it is well to give it in full:
LUDOVICO. To a river did they lead me,
Flowers of fire were on its margin,
Liquid sulphur was its current,
Monsters of the deep were in it;
It was very broad, and o'er it
Lay a bridge, so slight and narrow