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Purgatory by Mary Anne Madden Sadlier

Part 8 out of 9

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Escape an instant from their prison drear,
Their coming brings us no repellent fear.
Their mien is dreamy, passing sweet their face,
Their fixed and hollow eyes cannot betray.

When spectral coming thus unseen they gaze
On crowds who, kneeling in the temple, pray
Forgiveness for them, one faint, joyful ray,
As light upon the opal, glittering plays,
On faces pale and calm an instant rests,
And brings a moment's warmth to clay-cold breasts.

They, the elect of God, with souls of saints,
Who bear each destined load without complaints,

Who walk all day beneath God's watching eye,
And sleep the night 'neath angels' ministry,
Nor made the sport of visions that arise
To show th' abyss of fire to dreaming eyes.

All they who while on earth, the pure of heart,
The heav'nly echoes hear, and who in part
Make smooth for man rude ways he has to tread,
And knowing earthly vanity, outspread
Their virtue like a carpet rich and rare,
And walk o'er evil, touching it nowhere.

When come sad guests from off that suff'ring shore,
Which Dante saw in dream sublime of yore,
Appearing midst us here that day most blessed,
'Tis but to those; for they alone have guessed
The secrets of the grave; alone they understand
The pallid mendicants, who ask for heav'n.

Of Israel's King the psalms, inspired cries,
With Job's sublime distress, commingled rise;
The sanctuary sobs them through the naves
While wak'ning subtle fear, the bell's deep toll
With fun'ral sounds, demanding pity's dole
For wand'ring ghosts, as countless as the waves.

Give on this day, when over all the earth
The Church to God makes moan for parted worth;
Your own remorse, regret at least to calm
Awak'ning memory's dying flame, give balm,
Flow'rs for their graves, and prayer for each loved soul,
Those gifts divine can yet the dead console.

Pray for your friends, and for your mother pray,
Who made less drear for you life's desert way,
For all the portions of your heart that lie
Shut in the tomb, alas, each youthful tie
Is lost within the coffin's close constraint,
Where, prey of worms, the dead send up their plaint

For exiles far from home and native land,
Who dying hear no voice, nor touch no hand
In life alone, more lonely still in death.
With none for their repose, to breathe one prayer,
Cast alms of tears upon an alien grave,
Or heed the stranger lonely even there;

For those whose wounded souls when here below,
But anxious thought and bitter fancies know,
With days all joyless, nights of dull unrest;
For those who in night's calm find all so blest
And meet, in place of hope with morning beams,
A horrid wak'ning to their golden dreams;

For all the pariahs of human kind
Who, heavy burdens bearing, find
How high the steeps of human woe they scale.
Oh, let your heart some off'ring make to these,
One pious thought, one holy word of peace,
Which shall twixt them and God swift rend the veil.

The tribute bring of prayers and holy tears,
That when your hour draws nigh of nameless fears,
When reached their term shall be your numbered days,
Your name made known above with grateful praise,
By those whose suff'rings it was yours to end,
Arriving there find welcome as a friend!

Your loving tribute, white-winged angels take,
Ere bearing it unto eternal spheres,
An instant lay it on the grass-grown graves,
While dying flow'rs in church-yards raise each head
To life, refreshed by breath of prayer, awake
And shed their fragrance on the sleeping dead.



No sound was made, no word was spoke,
Till noble Angus silence broke;
And he a solemn sacred plight
Did to St. Bryde of Douglas make,
That he a pilgrimage would take
To Melrose Abbey, for the sake
Of Michael's restless sprite.
Then each, to ease his troubled breast,
To some blessed saint his prayers addressed-
Some to St. Modan made their vows,
Some to St. Mary of the Lowes,
Some to the Holy Rood of Lisle,
Some to our Lady of the Isle;
Each did his patron witness make,
That he such pilgrimage would take,
And monks should sing, and bells should toll,
All for the weal of Michael's soul,
While vows were ta'en, and prayers were prayed.

Most meet it were to mark the day
Of penitence and prayer divine,
When pilgrim-chiefs, in sad array,
Sought Melrose, holy shrine.
With naked foot, and sackcloth vest,
And arms enfolded on his breast,
Did every pilgrim go;
The standers-by might hear aneath,
Footstep, or voice, or high-drawn breath.
Through all the lengthened row;
No lordly look, no martial stride,
Gone was their glory, sunk their pride,

Forgotten their renown;
Silent and slow, like ghosts, they glide,
To the high altar's hallowed side,
And there they kneeled them down;
Above the suppliant chieftains wave
The banners of departed brave;
Beneath the lettered stones were laid
The ashes of their fathers dead;
From many a garnished niche around,
Stern saint and tortured martyr frowned,
And slow up the dim aisle afar,
With sable cowl and scapular,
And snow-white stoles, in order due,
The holy Fathers, two and two,
In long procession came;
Taper, and host, and book they bare,
And holy banner, flourished fair
With the Redeemer's name;
Above the prostrate pilgrim band
The mitred Abbot stretched his hand,
And blessed them as they kneeled;
With holy cross he signed them all,
And prayed they might be sage in hall,
And fortunate in field.

The Mass was sung, and prayers were said,
And solemn requiem for the dead;
And bells tolled out their mighty peal,
For the departed spirit's weal;
And ever in the office close
The hymn of intercession rose;
And far the echoing aisles prolong
The awful burthen of the song--
_Dies Irae, Dies Illa,
Salvet SAElum in Favilla;_
While the pealing organ rung,
Thus the holy father sung:


The day of wrath, that dreadful day,
When heaven and earth shall pass away,
What power shall be the sinner's stay?
How shall he meet that dreadful day?
When, shrivelling like a parched scroll,
The flaming heavens together roll;
While louder yet, and yet more dread,
Swells the high trump that wakes the dead;
O! on that day, that wrathful day,
When man to judgment wakes from clay,
Be Thou the trembling sinner's stay,
Though heaven and earth shall pass away.



In Normandy, the most sinister associations still remain connected with
the name of Robert the Devil. By the people, who change historical
details, but yet preserve the moral thereof, it is believed that Robert
is undergoing his penance here below, on the theatre of his crimes, and
that, after a thousand years, it is not yet ended. Messrs. Taylor and
Charles Nodier have mentioned this tradition in their "Voyage
Pittoresque de l'Ancienne France" ("Picturesque Journey through Old

"On the left shore of the Seine," say they, "not far from Moulineaux,
are seen the colossal ruins, which are said to be the remains of the
castle, or fortress, of Robert the Devil. Vague recollections, a
ballad, some shepherd's tales--these are all the chronicles of those
imposing ruins. Nevertheless, the fame of Robert the Devil's doings
still survives in the country which he inhabited. His very name still
excites that sentiment of fear which ordinarily results only from
recent impressions.

"In the vicinity of the castle of Robert the Devil every one knows his
misdeeds, his violent conquests, and the rigor of his penance. The
cries of his victims still reecho through the vaults, and come to
terrify himself in his nocturnal wanderings, for Robert is condemned to
visit the ruins and the dungeons of his castle.

"Sometimes, if the old traditions of the country are to be believed,
Robert has been seen, still clad in the loose tunic of a hermit, as on
the day of his burial, wandering in the neighborhood of his castle, and
visiting, barefoot and bareheaded, the little corner of the plain where
the cemetery must have been. Sometimes, a shepherd straying through the
adjoining copse in search of his flock, scattered by an evening storm,
has been frightened by the fearful aspect of the phantom, seen by the
glare of the lightning, flitting about amongst the graves. He has heard
him, in the pauses of the tempest, imploring the pity of their mute
inhabitants; and on the morrow he shunned the place in horror, because
the earth, freshly turned up, had opened on every side to terrify the

But there is another tradition which we cannot omit.

A band of those Northmen who, during the troubled reign of Charles III.
of France--without any sufficient reason called Charles the Simple--had
invaded that part of Neustria where Robert the Devil was born; a group
of these fierce warriors were one evening warming themselves around a
fire of brambles, and, joyous in a country more genial than their own,
they sang, to a wild melody, the great deeds of their princes, when
they saw, leaning against the trunk of a tree, an old man poorly clad,
and of a sad, yet resigned aspect. They called to him as he passed
along before the fortress of Robert the Devil, then only half ruined.

"Good man," said they, "sing us some song of this country."

The old man, advancing slowly, chanted in an humble yet manly voice,
the beautiful prose of St. Stephen. It told how the first of the
martyrs paid homage till the end to Jesus Christ, Our Lord; and how,
expiring under their blows, he besought Heaven to forgive his

But this hymn displeased the rude band, who began brutally to insult
the old man. The latter fell on one knee and uttered no complaint.

At this moment appeared a young man, before whom all the soldiers rose
to their feet. His lofty mien and his tone of authority indicated the
son of a mighty lord.

"You who insult a defenceless old man," said he, "your conduct is base
and cowardly. Away with you! those who insult women or old men are
unworthy to march with the brave. For you, good old man, come and share
my meal. It is for the chief to repair the wrong-doings of those he

"Young man," said the stranger, "what you have just done is pleasing to
God, who loveth justice; but it concerneth not me, who can bear no ill-
will to any one."

He then told his name; related the hideous story of his crimes, then
his conversion through the prayers of his mother, and his penance,
which was to last yet a long time. He showed how the grace of faith and
of repentance had entered into his heart.

"Exhausted with emotion," said he, "I sat down on a stone amid some
ruins; I slept. Oh! blessed be my good angel for having sent me that
sleep! Scarcely had I closed mine eyes when I had a vision. It seemed
to me that the mountain on which rises the Castle of Moulinets darted
up to heaven and formed a staircase. Up the steps went slowly a crowd
of phantoms, in which I, alas! recognized my crimes. There were women
and young maidens, whose death was my doing, hardworking vassals
dishonored, old men driven from their dwellings, and forced to ask the
bread of charity. I saw thus ascending not only men, but things, houses
burned, crops destroyed, flocks, the hope and the care of a whole life
of toil, sacrificed at a moment in some wild revel.

"And I saw an angel rising rapidly. Then did my limbs quiver like the
leaves of the aspen. I said to that ascending angel:

"'Whither goest thou?' He answered: 'I bring thy crimes before the
Lord, that they may bear testimony against thee.'

"Then all my members became as it were burning grass. 'O good angel!' I
cried, 'could I not at least efface some of these images?' He replied:
'All, if thou wilt.' 'And how?' 'Confess them; the breath of thy avowal
will disperse them. Weep them in penance, and thy tears will efface
even the traces thereof.'"

The old man then told how he had made his confession, and what penance
he did, wandering about in rags, without other food than that which he
shared with the dogs.

"I had known," he added, "all the pleasures of the earth, and had known
some of its joys. But I found them still more in the miseries, the
life-long fatigue, the hard humiliations of penance, because they were
expiating my faults. Thus, then, O strangers, whatever fate Heaven may
decree for you, if you desire happiness, find Our Lord Jesus Christ,
and practice His justice."

The old man was silent; the barbarians remained motionless. He,
however, taking the young chief by the hand, led him to the esplanade
of the castle, and showing him all that vast country which is watered
by the Seine: "Young man," said he, "for as much as thou hast protected
a poor old man, God will reward the noble heart within thee. Thou seest
these lands so rich--they were once mine; and even now, after God, they
have no other lawful owner. I give them to thee; make faith and equity
reign there. I will rejoice in thy reign."

Now this chief, to whom the penitent Robert thus bequeathed his faith
and his inheritance, was Rollo, first Duke of the Normans.


Where the tombstones gray and browned,
And the broken roods around,
And the vespers' solemn sound,
Told an old church near;
I sat me in the eve,
And I let my fancy weave
Such a vision as I leave
With a frail pen here.

Methought I heard a trail
Like to slowly-falling hail
And the sadly-plaintive wail
Of a misty file of souls,
As they glided o'er the grass,
Sighing low: "Alas! alas!
How the laggard moments pass
In purgatorial doles!"

Through their garments' glancing sheen,
As if nothing were between,
Pierced the moon's benignant beam
To a grove of stunted pines;
In whose distant lightsome shade,
With their gilded coats arrayed,

Danced a fairy cavalcade,
To a fairy poet's rhymes.

Then a cloud obscured the moon,
And the fairy dance and rune
Faded down behind the gloom
Which along the upland fell,
And my ears could only hear,
In the church-yard lone and drear,
The tinkle soft and clear
Of the morning Mass's bell.
It eddied through the air,
And it seemed to call to prayer
All the waiting spirits there
Which the moon's beams showed,
But each tinkle sank to die
In a heart-distressing sigh,
And no worshippers drew nigh
With the penitential word.

Mute as statue, on each knoll
Stood a thin, transparent soul,
While the fresh breeze stole
From its long night's rest,
Till it bore upon its tongue,
Like a snatch of sacred song,
All the peopled graves among,
_Ite Missa est!_

Then a cry, as Angels raise
In an ecstasy of praise,
When the Godhead's glowing rays
To their eager sight is given,
Shook the consecrated ground,
And the souls it lost were found
From their venial sins unbound,
In the happy fields of heaven!

Where the tombstones gray and browned,
And the broken roods around,
And the vespers' solemn sound,
Told an old church near;
I sat me in the eve,
And I let my fancy weave
Such a vision as I leave
With a frail pen here.




O faithful church! O tender mother-heart,
That, 'neath the shelter of thy deathless love,
Shieldest the blood-bought charge thy Master gave;
Laving the calm, unfurrowed infant brow
With the pure wealth of Heaven's cleansing stream;
Breathing above the sinner's grief-bowed head
The mystic words that loose the demon-spell,
And bid the leprous soul be clean again;
Decking the upper chamber of the heart
For the blest banquet of the Lord of love;
Binding upon the youthful warrior's breast
The buckler bright, the sacred shield of strength,
The fair, celestial gift of Pentecost,
Borne on the pinions of the holy Dove!
And when, at last, life's sunset hour is near,
And the worn pilgrim-feet stand trembling on
The shadowy borders of the death-dark vale,
At thy command the priestly hand bestows
The potent unction in the saving Name,
And gives unto the parched and pallid lip
The blest Viaticum, the Bread of Life,
As staff and stay for that drear pilgrimage!
Thy prayers ascend, with magic incense-breath,
From the lone couch, where, fainting by the way,
The frail companion of the deathless soul
Parteth in pain from its immortal guest.
And when, at last, the golden chain is loosed,
And through the shadows of that mystic vale
The ransomed captive floateth swiftly forth,
In solemn tones thy _De Profundis_ rings
O'er all the realms of vast eternity;
Thy tender litanies call gently down
The angel-guides, the white-robed band of Saints,
To lead the wanderer to "the great White Throne,"
To plead, with Heaven's own pitying tenderness,
For life and mercy at the judgment-seat.
The account is given, the saving sentence breathed,
Yet He who said that nought by sin defiled
Can take at once its blessed place amid
The spotless legion of His shining Saints,
Will find, upon the white baptismal robe,
Full many a blemish; stains too lightly held,
Half-cleansed by an imperfect sorrow's flood.
"The Christian shall be saved, yet as by fire;"
So, to the pain-fraught, purifying flame
The robe is given, till every blighting spot
Hath faded from its primal purity;
Still, faithful Church, thy blest Communion binds
Each suffering child unto thy mother's heart.
Full well thou know'st the wondrous power of prayer--
That 'tis a holy and a wholesome thought
To plead for those who in the drear abode
Of penance linger, "that they may be loosed
From all their sins;" that on each spotless brow
Love's shining hand may place the starry crown.
And so the holy Sacrifice ascends,
A sweet oblation for that wailing band
Thy regal form in mourning hues is draped,
Thy pleading _Miserere_ ceaseth not
Till, at its blest entreaty, Love descends,
As erst, from His rent tomb, to Limbo's realm,
And leads again the freed, exultant throng,
Within the gleaming gates of gold and pearl,
To bask in fadeless splendor, where the flow
Of the "still waters" by the "pastures green"
Faints not, nor slackens, through the endless years.
O Christians, brethren by that holy tie
That links the living with the ransomed dead!
Children of one fond mother are ye all,
White-robed in heaven, militant on earth,
And sufferers 'mid the purifying flame.
O ye who tread the highway of our world,
Join now your voices with that mother's sigh!
And while the mournful autumn wind laments,
And sad November's ceaseless tear-drops fall
Upon "the Silent City's" marble roofs,
O'er lonely graves amid the pathless wild,
Or where the wayworn pilgrim sank to rest
In some lone cavern by the crested sea--
List to the pleading wail that e'er ascends
From the dark land of suffering and woe:
"Our footsteps trod your fair, sun-lighted paths,
Our voices mingled in your joyous songs,
Our tears were blended in one common grief;
Perchance our erring hearts' excessive love
For you, the worshipped idols of our lives,
Hath been the blemish on our bridal robes.
Plead for us, then, and let your potent prayer
Unlock the golden gates, that we who beat
Our eager wings against these prison bars,
May wing our flight to endless liberty!"



[This poem scarcely comes within the scope of the present work, yet it
is, by its nature, so closely connected therewith, and is, moreover, so
exquisitely tender and pathetic, so beautiful in its mournful
simplicity, that I decided on giving it a place amongst these funereal

Oh! it is sweet to think
Of those that are departed,
While murmured Aves sink
To silence tender-hearted--
While tears that have no pain
Are tranquilly distilling,
And the dead live again
In hearts that love is filling.

Yet not as in the days
Of earthly ties we love them;
For they are touched with rays
From light that is above them;
Another sweetness shines
Around their well-known features;
God with His glory signs
His dearly-ransomed creatures.

Yes, they are more our own,
Since now they are God's only;
And each one that has gone
Has left one heart less lonely.
He mourns not seasons fled,
Who now in Him possesses
Treasures of many dead
In their dear Lord's caresses.

Dear dead! they have become
Like guardian angels to us;
And distant Heaven like home,
Through them begins to woo us;
Love that was earthly, wings
Its flight to holier places;
The dead are sacred things
That multiply our graces.

They whom we loved on earth
Attract us now to Heaven;
Who shared our grief and mirth
Back to us now are given.
They move with noiseless foot
Gravely and sweetly round us,
And their soft touch hath cut
Full many a chain that bound us.

O dearest dead! to Heaven
With grudging sighs we gave you;
To Him--be doubts forgiven!
Who took you there to save you:--
Now get us grace to love
Your memories yet more kindly,
Pine for our homes above
And trust to God more blindly.



O Mary, help of sorrowing hearts,
Look down with pitying eye
Where souls the spouses of thy Son,
In fiery torments lie;
Far from the presence of their Lord
The purging debt they pay,
In prisons through whose gloomy shades
There shines no cheering ray.

The fire of love is in their hearts,
Its flame burns fierce and keen;
They languish for His Blessed Face,
For one brief moment seen;
Prisoners of hope, their joy is there
To wait His Holy Will,
And, patient in the cleansing flames,
Their penance to fulfil.

But dark the gloom where smile of thine,
Sweet Mother, may not fall,
Oh, hear us, when for these dear souls
Thy loving aid we call!
Thou art the star whose gentle beam
Sheds joy upon the night,
Oh, let its shining pierce their gloom
And give them peace and light.

The sprinkling of the Precious Blood
From thy dear hand must come,
Quench with its drops their cruel flames,
And call them to their home;
Freed from their pains, and safe with thee,
In Jesu's presence blest,
Oh, may the dead in Christ receive
Eternal light and rest!



No coral beads on costly chain of gold
The Palmer's pious lips at Vespers told;
No guards of art could Pilgrim's favor win,
Who only craved release from earth and sin.
He from the Holy Land his rosary brought;
From sacred olive wood each bead was wrought,
Whose grain was nurtured, ages long ago,
By blood the Saviour sweated in His woe;
Then on the Holy Sepulchre was laid
This crown of roses from His passion made;
The Sepulchre from which the Lord of all
Arose from death's dark bed and icy thrall.

Yet not complete that wreath of joy and pain,
Which for the dead must sweet indulgence gain;
The pendant cross, on which with guileless art,
Some hand had graved what touches every heart,
The image of the Lamb for sinners slain,
From Bethlehem's crib, now shrine, his prayers obtain;
And tears and kisses tell the holy tale
Of pilgrim love and penitential wail.

The love, the tears, which fed his pious flame,
May well be thine, my heart, in very same;
Since bead and cross, by Palmer prized so well,
At vesper-hour, these fingers softly tell,
And press, through them, each dear and sacred spot
Where God once walked, "yet men received Him not."
And still, with pious Palmer gray, of yore,
Thy lips can kiss the ground He wet with gore,
Still at the Sepulchre with her delay,
Who found Him risen ere the break of day;
And hover round the crib with meek delight
Where shepherds hasted from their flocks by night,
To there adore Him whom a Virgin blessed,
Bore in her arms and nourished at her breast.
My Rosary dear! my Bethlehem Cross so fair!

No rose, no lily can with thee compare;
No gems, no gold, no art, or quaint device
Could be my precious Rosary's priceless price;
For Heaven's eternal joys at holier speed,
I trust to win through every sacred bead;
And still for suffering souls obtain release
From cleansing fires to everlasting peace.


[From Sir Walter Scott's "Minstrelsy of the Border," we take this
fragment. The dirge to which the eminent author alludes in a before-
quoted extract from his work, and which he erroneously styles "a
charm," is here given in full. The reader will observe that it partakes
not the least of the nature of a charm. It would seem to have some
analogy with the "Keen," or Wail of the Irish peasantry.]

This ae nighte, this ae nighte,
Every nighte and alle;
Fire and sleet, and candle lighte,
And Christe receive thye saule.

When thou from hence away are paste,
Every nighte and alle;
To Whinny-muir thou comest at laste;
And Christe receive thye saule.

If ever thou gavest hosen and shoon;
Every nighte and alle;
Sit thee down and put them on;
And Christe receive thye saule.
If hosen and shoon thou ne'er gavest nane,
Every nighte and alle,
The whinnes shall pricke thee to the bare bane;
And Christe receive thye saule.

From Whinny-muir, when thou mayest passe,
Every nighte and alle;
To Brig o' Dread thou comest at laste;
And Christe receive thye saule.

From Brig o' Dread when thou mayest passe,
Every nighte and alle;
To Purgatory fire thou comest at laste;
And Christe receive thye saule.

If ever thou gavest meat or drink,
Every nighte and alle,
The fire shall never make thee shrinke;
And Christe receive thye saule.

If meat or drink thou never gavest nane,
Every nighte and alle;
The fire will burn thee to the bare bane;
And Christe receive thye saule.

This ae nighte, this ae nighte,
Every nighte and alle;
Fire and sleet, and candle lighte,
And Christe receive thye saule.



_From "Lyra Liturgica."_

What means this veil of gloom
Drawn o'er the festive scene;
The solemn records of the tomb
Where holy mirth hath been:
As if some messenger of death should fling
His tale of woe athwart some nuptial gathering?

Our homage hath been given
With gladsome voice to them
Who fought, and won, and wear in heaven
Christ's robe and diadem;
Now to the suffering Church we must descend,
Our "prisoners of hope" with succor to befriend.

They will not strive nor cry,
Nor make their pleading known;
Meekly and patiently they lie,
Speaking with God alone;
And this the burden of their voiceless song,
Wafted from age to age, "How long, O Lord, how long?"

O blessed cleansing pain!
Who would not bear thy load,
Where every throb expels a stain,
And draws us nearer GOD?
Faith's firm assurance makes all anguish light,
With earth behind, and heaven fast opening on the sight.

Yet souls that nearest come
To their predestin'd gain,
Pant more and more to reach their home:
Delay is keenest pain
To those that all but touch the wish'd for shore,
Where sin, and grief that comes of sin, shall fret no more.

And O--O charity,
For sweet remembrance sake,
These souls, to God so very nigh,
Into your keeping take!
Speed them by sacrifice and suffrage, where
They burn to pour for you a more prevailing prayer.

They were our friends erewhile,
Co-heirs of saving grace;
Co-partners of our daily toil,
Companions in our race;
We took sweet counsel in the house of God,
And sought a common rest along a common road.

And had their brethren car'd
To keep them just and pure,
Perchance their pitying God had spar'd,
The pains they now endure.
What if to fault of ours those pains be due,
To ill example shown, or lack of counsel true?

Alas, there are who weep
In fierce, unending flame,
Through sin of those on earth that sleep,
Regardless of their shame;
Or who, though they repent, too sadly know
No help of theirs can cure or soothe their victim's woe.

Thanks to our God who gives,
In fruitful Mass or prayer,
To many a friend that dies, yet lives,
A salutary share;
Nor stints our love, though cords of sense be riven,
Nor bans from hope the soul that is not ripe for heaven.

Feast of the Holy Dead!
Great Jubilee of grace!
When angel guards exulting lead
To their predestin'd place
Souls, that the Church shall loose from bonds to-day
In every clime that basks beneath her genial sway.



It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead.--II Mac. xii.

In some quiet hour at the close of day,
When your work is finished and laid away,
Think of the suffering souls, and pray.

Think of that prison of anguish and pain,
Where even the souls of the Saints remain,
Till cleansed by fire from the slightest stain.

Think of the souls who were dear to you
When this life held them; still be true,
And pray for them now; it is all you can do.

Think of the souls who are lonely there,
With no one, perchance, to offer a prayer
That God may have pity on them and spare.

Think of the souls that have longest lain
In that place of exile and of pain,
Suffering still for some uncleansed stain.

Think of the souls who, perchance, may be
On the very threshold of liberty--
One "_Ave Maria_" may set them free!

Oh, then, at the close of each passing day,
When your work is finished and folded away,
Think of the suffering souls, and pray!

Think of their prison, so dark and dim,
Think of their longing to be with Him
Whose praises are sung by the cherubim!

As you tell the beads of your Rosary,
Ask God's sweet Mother their mother to be;
Her immaculate hands hold Heaven's key.

Oh, how many souls are suffering when
You whisper "Hail Mary" again and again,
May see God's face as you say "_Amen!_"

--_Ave Maria_, November 24, 1883.


'Twas the hour after sunset,
And the golden light had paled;
The heavy foliage of the woods
Were all in shadow veiled.

Yet a witchery breathed through the soft twilight,
A thought of the sun that was set,
And a soft and mystic radiance
Through the heavens hung lingering yet.

The purple hills stood clear and dark
Against the western sky,
And the wind came sweeping o'er the grass
With a wild and mournful cry:

It swept among the grass that grows
Above the quiet grave,
And stirred the boughs of the linden-trees
That o'er the church-yard wave.

And the low murmur of the leaves
All softly seemed to say,

"It is a good and wholesome thought
For the dead in Christ to pray."

Earth's voices all are low and dim;
But a human heart is there,
With psalms and words of holy Church,
To join in Nature's prayer.

A Monk is pacing up and down;
His prayers like incense rise;
Ever a sweet, sad charm for him
Within that church-yard lies.

Each morning when from Mary's tower
The sweet-toned _Ave_ rings,
This herdsman of the holy dead
A Mass of Requiem sings.

And when upon the earth there falls
The hush of eventide,
A dirge he murmurs o'er the graves
Where they slumber side by side.

"Eternal light shine o'er them, Lord!
And may they rest in peace!"
His matins all are finished now,
And his whispered accents cease.

But, hark! what sound is that which breaks
The stillness of the hour?
Is it the ivy as it creeps
Against the gray church tower?

Is it the sound of the wandering breeze,
Or the rustling of the grass,
Or the stooping wing of the evening birds
As home to their nests they pass?
No; 'tis a voice like one in dreams,
Half solemn and half sad,
Freed from the weariness of earth,
Not yet with glory clad;

Full of the yearning tenderness
Which nought but suffering gives;
Too sad for angel-tones--too full
Of rest for aught that lives.

They are the Voices of the Dead
From the graves that lie around,
And the Monk's heart swells within his breast,
As he listens to the sound.

"Amen! Amen!" the answer comes
Unto his muttered prayer;
"Amen!" as though the brethren all
In choir were standing there.

The living and departed ones
On earth are joined again,
And the bar that shuts them from his ken
For a moment parts in twain.

Over the gulf that yawns beneath,
Their echoed thanks he hears
For the Masses he has offered up,
For his orisons and tears.

And as the strange responsory
Mounts from the church-yard sod,
Their mingled prayers and answers rise
Unto the throne of God. [1]

[Footnote 1: There is a story recorded of St. Birstan, Bishop of
Winchester, who died about the year of Christ 944, how he was wont
every day to say Mass and Matins for the dead; and one evening, as he
walked in the church-yard, reciting his said Matins, when he came to
the _Requiescat in Pace_, the voices in the graves round about him
made answer aloud, and said, "Amen, Amen!"--_From the "English
Martyrology" for October 22_]

--_M. R., in "The Lamp," Oct. 31, 1863._



[This is an extract from Father Ryan's poem, "Their Story Runneth

And years and years, and weary years passed on
Into the past; one autumn afternoon,
When flowers were in their agony of death,
And winds sang "_De Profundis_" o'er them,
And skies were sad with shadows, he did walk
Where, in a resting-place as calm as sweet,
The dead were lying down; the autumn sun
Was half-way down the west--the hour was three,
The holiest hour of all the twenty-four,
For Jesus leaned His head on it, and died.
He walked alone amid the Virgins' graves,
Where calm they slept--a convent stood near by,
And from the solitary cells of nuns
Unto the cells of death the way was short.

Low, simple stones and white watched o'er each grave,
While in the hollows 'twixt them sweet flowers grew,
Entwining grave with grave. He read the names
Engraven on the stones, and "Rest in peace"
Was written 'neath them all, and o'er each name
A cross was graven on the lowly stone.
He passed each grave with reverential awe,
As if he passed an altar, where the Host
Had left a memory of its sacrifice.
And o'er the buried virgin's virgin dust
He walked as prayerfully as though he trod
The holy floor of fair Loretto's shrine.
He passed from grave to grave, and read the names
Of those whose own pure lips had changed the names
By which this world had known them into names
Of sacrifice known only to their God;
Veiling their faces they had veiled their names.
The very ones who played with them as girls,
Had they passed there, would know no more than he,
Or any stranger, where their playmates slept.
And then he wondered all about their lives, their hearts,
Their thoughts, their feelings, and their dreams,
Their joys and sorrows, and their smiles and tears.
He wondered at the stories that were hid
Forever down within those simple graves.



Oh! I could envy thee thy solemn sleep,
Thy sealed lid, thy rosary-folding palm,
Thy brow, scarce cold, whose wasted outlines keep
The "_Bona Mors_" sublime, unfathomed calm.

I sigh to wear myself that burial robe
Anointed hands have blessed with pious care:
What nuptial garb on all this mortal globe
Could with thy habit's peaceful brown compare?

Beneath its hallowed folds thy feeble dust
Shall rest serenely through the night of time;
Unharmed by worm, or damp, or century's rust,
But, fresh as youth, shall greet th' eternal prime

Of that clear morn, before whose faintest ray
Earth's bliss will pale, a taper's flickering gleam;
I see it break! the pure, celestial day,
And stars of mortal hope already dim.

"_In pace_" Lord, oh! let her sweetly rest
In Paradise, this very day with Thee:
Her faithful lips her dying Lord confessed,
Then let her soul Thy risen glory see!



Let us pray for the dead!
For sister and mother,
Father and brother,
For clansman and fosterer,
And all who have loved us here;
For pastors, for neighbors,
At rest from their labors;
Let us pray for our own beloved dead!
That their souls may be swiftly sped
Through the valley of purgatorial fire,
To a heavenly home by the gate called Desire!

I see them cleave the awful air,
Their dun wings fringed with flame;
They hear, they hear our helping prayer,
They call on Jesu's name.

Let us pray for the dead!
For our foes who have died,
May they be justified!
For the stranger whose eyes
Closed on cold alien skies;
For the sailors who perished
By the frail arts they cherished;
Let us pray for the unknown dead.

Father in heaven, to Thee we turn,
Transfer their debt to us;
Oh! bid their souls no longer burn
In mediate anguish thus.
Let us pray for the soldiers,
On whatever side slain;
Whose white bones on the plain
Lay unclaimed and unfathered,
By the vortex-wind gathered,
Let us pray for the valiant dead.

Oh! pity the soldier,
Kind Father in heaven,
Whose body doth moulder
Where his soul fled self-shriven.

We have prayed for the dead;
All the faithful departed,
Who to Christ were true-hearted;
And our prayers shall be heard,
For so promised the Lord;
And their spirits shall go
Forth from limbo-like woe--
And joyfully swift the justified dead
Shall feel their unbound pinions sped,
Through the valley of purgatorial fire,
To their heavenly home by the gate called Desire,

By the gate called Desire,
In clouds they've ascended--
O Saints, pray for us,
Now your sorrows are ended!


[Footnote 1: Among the many beautiful and pious customs of Catholic
countries, none appeals with more tender earnestness to the pitying
heart than that of the _De Profundis_ bell. While the shades of
night are gathering over the earth, a solemn, dirge like tolling
resounds from the lofty church towers. Instantly every knee is bent,
and countless voices, in city and hamlet, from castle and cottage,
repeat, with heartfelt earnestness, the beautiful psalm, "_De
Profundis_," or, "Out of the depths," etc., for the souls of the
faithful departed. Thus is illustrated, in a most touching manner, the
blessed doctrine of the Communion of Saints. Thus does the Church
Militant clasp, each day anew, the holy tie which binds her to the
suffering Church of Purgation.

The compassionate heart of the Christian is stirred to its inmost
depths by the plaintive call of that warning bell; and as, in the holy
hush of nightfall, he obeys its tender appeal, how fully does he
realize that "it is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the


The day was dead; from purple summits faded
Its last resplendent ray,
And softly slept the wearied earth, o'ershaded
By twilight's dreamy gray;
Then flowed deep sound-waves o'er silence holy
Of nature's calm repose,

As from its lofty dome, outpealing slowly
Through the still gloaming, rose
The deep and dirge-like swell
Of _De Profundis_ bell.

To heedful hearts each solemn cadence falling
Through twilight's misty veil,
An echo seemed of spirit-voices calling
With sad, beseeching wail;
And thus outspake the mournful intonation:
"Plead for us, brethren, plead!"
From the drear depths of woe and desolation
Our cry of bitter need
Floats upward in the swell
Of _De Profundis_ bell.
Then bowed each knee, the plaintive summons heeding,
And rose the blended sigh.
As incense-breath of fond, united pleading
E'en to the throne on high:
"Hear, Lord, the cry of fervent supplication
Earth's children lift to Thee;
And from the depths of long and dread purgation
Thy faithful captives free,
Ere dies on earth the swell
Of _De Profundis_ bell.

"If, in Thy sight, scarce e'en the perfect whiteness
Of seraph-robe is pure,
Shall mortals brave Thine eye's eternal brightness?
Shall man its search endure?
Ah! trusting hope may meet the dazzling splendor
Of those celestial rays,
For with Thee, Lord, is pardon sweet and tender,
When contrite sorrow prays.
Ay, Thou wilt lead, from desert-waste of sadness,
Thine Israel's chosen band;
And Miriam's song of pure, triumphant gladness
Shall, in Thy promised land,
Succeed the dirge-like swell
Of _De Profundis_ bell."



Robed in mourning, nave and chancel,
In the livery of the dead,
Hymns funereal are chanted.
Services sublime are read.

Sounds the solemn _Dies Irae_,
Fraught with echoes from the day
When the majesty of Heaven
Shall appear in dread array.

Next the Gospel's weird recital,
Full of mystery and dread;
Holding message for the living,
Bringing tidings of the dead.

With its resurrection promised--
Resurrection unto life,
With its full and true fruition,
And immunity from strife.

Blest immunity from sorrow,
Primal man's unhappy dower;
While the evil shall find judgment
In the resurrection hour.

To the Lord, the King of Glory,
Goes the voiceless, tuneless prayer,
From the deep pit to deliver,
From eternal pains to spare.

All who wait the holy coming,
Wait the dawning of a day
That shall ope the gates of darkness,
Shall illume the watcher's way.
May the holy Michael lead them
To the fullness of the light
That of old, in prophet visions,
Burst on Adam's dazzled sight.

May they pass from death to living--
Message that the Master's voice
Gave to Abraham the faithful,
Bade his exiled soul rejoice.

May perpetual light descending
Touch their foreheads, dark with fear--
Dark with deadly torments suffered;
Sign them with the glory near!

May they rest, O Lord, forever
In a peace that, unexpressed,
Shall bestow upon the pilgrims
Dual crowns of light and rest!

Death's weird canticle is ringing
In its supplication strong--
In its far cry to the heavens,
Couched in wild, unearthly song.

Ay, this _Libera_ o'ercomes us,
Requiem, at once, and dirge--
Makes this life with life immortal
In our consciousness to merge.



Ye souls of the faithful who sleep in the Lord,
But as yet are shut out from your final reward,
Oh! would I could lend you assistance to fly
From your prison below to your palace on high!

O Father of Mercies! Thine anger withhold,
These works of Thy hand in Thy mercy behold;
Too oft from Thy path they have wandered aside,
But Thee, their Creator, they never denied.

O tender Redeemer, their misery see,
Deliver the souls that were ransomed by Thee;
Behold how they love Thee, despite all their pain;
Restore them, restore them to favor again!

O Spirit of Grace! O Consoler divine!
See how for Thy presence they longingly pine;
Ah! then, to enliven their sadness descend,
And fill them with peace and with joy in the end!

O Mother of Mercy! dear soother in grief!
Send thou to their torments a balmy relief;
Oh! temper the rigor of justice severe,
And soften their flames with a pitying tear.

Ye Patrons, who watched o'er their safety below,
Oh! think how they need your fidelity now;
And stir all the Angels and Saints in the sky
To plead for the souls that upon you rely!

Ye friends, who once sharing their pleasure and pain,
Now hap'ly already in Paradise reign,
Oh! comfort their hearts with a whisper of love,
And call them to share in your pleasures above!
O Fountain of Goodness! accept of our sighs:
Let Thy mercy bestow what Thy justice denies;
So may Thy poor captives, released from their woes,
Thy praises proclaim, while eternity flows!

All ye who would honor the Saints and their Head,
Remember, remember to pray for the dead--
And they, in return, from their misery freed,
To you will be friends in the hour of your need!

--_Garland of Flowers_.


'Twas All Souls' Eve; the lights in Notre Dame
Blazed round the altar; gloomy, in the midst,
The pall, with all its sable hangings, stood;
With torch and taper, priests were ranged around,
Chanting the solemn requiem of the dead;
And then along the aisles the distant lights
Moved slowly, two by two; the chapels shone
Lit as they pass'd in momentary glare;
Behind the fretted choir the yellow ray,
On either hand the altar, blazing fell.
She thought upon the multitude of souls
Dwelling so near and yet so separate.
With dawn she sought Saint Jacques; the altars there
Had each its priest; the black and solemn Mass,
The nodding feathers of the catafalque,
The flaring torches, and the funeral chant,
And intercessions for the countless souls
In Purgatory still. With pity new
The Pilgrim pray'd for the departed. Long
She knelt before the Blessed Sacrament,
Beside Our Lady's altar. Pictured there,
She saw, imprisoned in the forked flames,
The suffering souls who ask the alms of prayer;
Her taper small an aged peasant lit,
To burn before Our Lady, that her voice,
Mother of mercy as she is, might plead
For one who left her still on earth to pray.
. . . . . Sable veils
Soon hid the altars; all things spoke of death,
And realms where those who leave the upper air
Wait till the stains of sin are cleansed, and pant
Amid the thirsty flames for Paradise. [1]

[Footnote 1: These verses are taken from an anonymous metrical work
called "The Pilgrim," published in England in 1867.]



Set it down gently at the altar rail,
The faithful, aged dust, with honors meet;
Long have we seen that pious face, so pale,
Bowed meekly at her Saviour's blessed feet.

These many years her heart was hidden where
Nor moth, nor rust, nor craft of man could harm;
The blue eyes, seldom lifted, save in prayer,
Beamed with her wished-for heaven's celestial calm.

As innocent as childhood's was the face,
Though sorrow oft had touched that tender heart;
Each trouble came as winged by special grace,
And resignation saved the wound from smart.

On bead and crucifix her finger kept,
Until the last, their fond, accustomed hold;
"My Jesus," breathed the lips; the raised eyes slept,
The placid brow, the gentle hand grew cold.

The choicely ripening cluster, ling'ring late
Into October on its shrivelled vine,
Wins mellow juices, which in patience wait
Upon those long, long days of deep sunshine.

Then set it gently at the altar rail,
The faithful, aged dust, with honors meet;
How can we hope, if such as she can fail
Before th' Eternal God's high judgment-seat?



Ring out merrily,
Loudly, cheerily,
Blithe old bells from the steeple tower.
Hopefully, fearfully,
Joyfully, tearfully,
Moveth the bride from her maiden bower.
Cloud there is none in the bright summer sky,
Sunshine flings benison down from on high;
Children sing loud as the train moves along,
"Happy the bride that the sun shineth on."

Knell out drearily,
Measured out wearily,
Sad old bells from the steeple gray.
Priests chanting slowly,
Solemnly, slowly,
Passeth the corpse from the portal to-day.
Drops from the leaden clouds heavily fall,
Drippingly over the plume and the pall;
Murmur old folk, as the train moves along,
"Happy the dead that the rain raineth on."

Toll at the hour of prime,
Matin and vesper chime,
Loved old bells from the steeple high;
Rolling, like holy waves,
Over the lowly graves,
Floating up, prayer-fraught, into the sky.
Solemn the lesson your lightest notes teach,
Stern is the preaching your iron tongues preach;
Ringing in life from the bud to the bloom;
Ringing the dead to their rest in the tomb.

Peal out evermore--
Peal as ye pealed of yore, Brave old bells, on each holy day.
In sunshine and gladness,
Through clouds and through sadness,
Bridal and burial have both passed away.
Tell us life's pleasures with death are still rife;
Tell us that death ever leadeth to life;
Life is our labor and death is our rest,
If happy the living, the dead are the blest.

--_Popular Poetry_.



O holy Church! thy mother-heart
Still clasps the child of grace;
And nought its links of love can part,
Or rend its fond embrace.

Thy potent prayer and sacred rite
Embalm the precious clay,
That waits the resurrection-light--
The fadeless Easter day.

And loving hearts, by faith entwined,
True to that faith shall be,
And keep the sister-soul enshrined
In tender memory;

Shall bid the ceaseless prayer ascend,
To win her guerdon blest;
The radiant day that hath no end,
The calm, eternal rest.



Again he faced the battle-field--
Wildly they fly, are slain, or yield.
"Now then," he said, and couch'd his spear,
"My course is run, the goal is near;
One effort more, one brave career,
Must close this race of mine."
Then, in his stirrups rising high,
He shouted loud his battle-cry,
"St. James for Argentine!"

* * * * *

Now toil'd the Bruce, the battle done,
To use his conquest boldly won:
And gave command for horse and spear
To press the Southern's scatter'd rear,
Nor let his broken force combine,
When the war-cry of Argentine
Fell faintly on his ear!
"Save, save his life," he cried. "O save
The kind, the noble, and the brave!"
The squadrons round free passage gave,
The wounded knight drew near.
He raised his red-cross shield no more,
Helm, cuish, and breast-plate stream'd with gore.
Yet, as he saw the King advance,
He strove even then to couch his lance--
The effort was in vain!
The spur-stroke fail'd to rouse the horse;
Wounded and weary, in 'mid course
He tumbled on the plain.
Then foremost was the generous Bruce
To raise his head, his helm to loose:--
"Lord Earl, the day is thine!
My sovereign's charge, and adverse fate,
Have made our meeting all too late;
Yet this may Argentine,
As boon from ancient comrade, crave--
A Christian's Mass, a soldier's grave."
Bruce pressed his dying hand--its grasp
Kindly replied; but, in his clasp
It stiffen'd and grew cold--
And, "O farewell!" the victor cried,
Of chivalry the flower and pride,
The arm in battle bold,
The courteous mien, the noble race,
The stainless faith, the manly face!
Bid Ninian's convent light their shrine,
For late-wake of De Argentine.
O'er better knight on death-bier laid,
Torch never gleamd, nor Mass was said! [1]

[Footnote 1: It is said that the body of Sir Giles de Argentine was
brought to Edinburgh, and interred with the greatest pomp in St. Giles'
Church. Thus did the royal Bruce respond to the dying knight's

--_From "The Lord of the Isles"_


Pray for the Dead! When, conscienceless, the nations

Rebellious rose to smite the thorn-crowned Head
Of Christendom, their proudest aspirations
Ambitioned but a place amongst the dead.

Pray for the Dead! The seeming fabled story
of early chivalry, in them renewed,
Shines out to-day with an ascendent glory
Above that field of parricidal feud.

The children of a persecuted mother,
When nations heard the drum of battle beat,
Through coward Europe, brother leagued with brother,
Rallied and perished at her sacred feet.

O Ireland, ever waiting the To-morrow,
Lift up thy widowed, venerable head,
Exultingly, through thy maternal sorrow,
Not comfortless, like Rachel, for thy dead.

For, where the crimson shock of battle thundered,
From hosts precipitated on a few,
Above thy sons, outnumbered, crushed and sundered,
Thy green flag through the smoke and glitter flew.

Lift up thy head! The hurricane that dashes
Its giant billows on the Rock of Time,
Divests thee, mother, of thy weeds and ashes,
Rendering, at least, thy grief sublime.

For nations, banded into conclaves solemn,
Thy name and spirit in the grave had cast,
And carved thy name upon the crumbling column
Which stands amid the unremembered Past.

Pray for the Dead! Cold, cold amid the splendor
Of the Italian South our brothers sleep;
The blue air broods above them warm and tender,
The mists glide o'er them from the barren deep.

Pray for the Dead! High-souled and lion-hearted,
Heroic martyrs to a glorious trust,
By them our scorned name is re-asserted,
By them our banner rescued from the dust.

--_Kilkenny Journal_.



How lonely on the hillside look the graves!
The summer green no longer o'er them waves;
No more, among the frosted boughs, are heard
The mournful whip-poor-will or singing bird.

The rose-bush, planted with such tearful care,
Stands in the winter sunshine stiff and bare;
Save here and there its lingering berries red
Make the cold sunbeams warm above the dead.

Through all the pines, and through the tall, dry grass,
The fitful breezes with a shiver pass,
While o'er the autumn's lately flowering weeds
The snow-birds flit and peck the shelling seeds.

Because those graves look lonely, bleak and bare,
Because they are not, as in summer, fair,
O turn from comforts, cheery friends, and home,
And 'mid their solemn desolation roam!

On each brown turf some fresh memorial lay;
O'er each dear hillock's dust a moment stay,
To breathe a "Rest in Peace" for those who lie
On lonely hillsides 'neath a wintry sky.



Welcome, ye sad dirges of November,
When Indian summer drops her brilliant crown
All withered, as in clinging mantle brown
She floats, away to die beneath the leaves;
Pressed are the grapes, gathered the latest sheaves;
O wailing winds! how can we but remember
The loved and lost? O ceaseless monotones!
Hearing your plaints, counting your weary moans
Like voices of the dead, like broken sighs
From stricken souls who long for Paradise,
We will not slight the message that ye bear,
Nor check a pitying thought, nor guide a prayer.
They have departed, we must still remember;
Welcome, ye sad, sad dirges of November!


_From the French of Theodore Nisard_


The bell is tolling for the dead,
Christians, hasten we to prayer,
Our brothers suffer there,
Consumed in struggles vain.

Have pity, have pity on them,
In torturing flames immersed,
The stains their souls aspersed
Retain them far from heav'n.
Since God has giv'n us power,
Oh, let us their woes relieve;
Their hope do not deceive,
Our protectors they will be.

For these suff'ring ones we pray,
Lord Jesus, Victim blest,
Take them from pain to rest,
Thy children, too, are they.

* * * * *

[As the translation is a very rude one, we add the French original,
which, particularly when set to music, is full of a deep solemnity and



La cloche tinte pour les morts
Chretiens, mettons nous en prieres!
Ceux qi gemissent sont des freres,
Se consumant en vains efforts.
Pitie pour eux! Pitie pour eux!
Ils tourbillonnent dans la flamme;
Les taches qui souillent leur ames,
Les tiennent captifs loin des cieux.
Mettons un terme a leur douleurs,
Dieu nous en donne la puissance;
Ne trompons point leur esperance,
Puis ils seront nos protecteurs.
Disons pour nos fieres souffrants:
Sauveur Jesus, Sainte Victime,
Tirez nos freres de l'abime,
Car, eux aussi, sont vos enfants.



O Father, give them rest--
Thy faithful ones, whose day of toil is o'er,

Whose weary feet shall wander never more
O'er earth's unquiet breast!

The battle-strife was long;
Yet, girt with grace, and guided by Thy light,
They faltered not till triumph closed the fight,
Till pealed the victor's song.

Though drear the desert path,
With cruel thorns and flinty fragments strewn,
Where fiercely swept, amid the glare of noon.
The plague-wind's biting wrath.

Still onward pressed their feet;
For patience soothed with sweet celestial balm,
And, from the rocks, hope called her founts to calm
The Simoom's venom-heat.

Their march hath reached its close,
Its toils are o'er, its Red Sea safely passed;
And pilgrim feet have cast aside at last
Earth's sandal-shoon of woes.

Thou blissful promised land!
One rapturous glimpse of matchless glory caught,
One priceless vision, with thy beauty fraught,
Hath blessed that way-worn band.

And to thy smiling shore
Their ceaseless messengers of longing went,
And blooms of bliss and fruitage of content,
Returning, gladly bore.

Yet sadly still they wait;
For, past idolatries to gods of clay,
And past rebellions 'gainst the Master's sway,
Have barred the golden gate.

The magic voice of prayer,
The saving rite, the sacrifice of love,
The human tear, the sigh of Saints above,
Blent in one off'ring fair--

These, these alone, can win
The boon they crave: glad entrance into rest,
The fadeless crown, the garment of the blest,
Washed pure from stain of sin.

Hear, then, our eager cry.
O God of mercy! bid their anguish cease;
To prisoned souls, ah! bring the glad release,
And hush the mourner's sigh.

Mother of pitying love!
On sorrow's flood thy tender glances bend,
And o'er its dark and dreadful torrent send
The olive-bearing dove.

Thy potent prayer shall be
An arch of peace, a radiant promise-bow,
To span the gulf, and shed its cheering glow
O'er the dread penance-sea.

And on its pathway blest
The ransomed throng, in garments washed and white,
May safely pass to love's fair realm of light,
To heaven's perfect rest.


_From the French of Fontanes_. [1]

[Footnote 1: Louis, Marquis de Fontanes, Peer of France, and Member of
the French Academy.]


E'en now doth Sagittarius from on high,
Outstretch his bow, and ravage all the earth,
The hills, and meadows where of flowers the dearth
Already felt, like some vast ruins lie.

The bleak November counts its primal day,
While I, a witness of the year's decline,
Glad of my rest, within the fields recline.
No poet heart this beauty can gainsay,
No feeling mind these autumn pictures scorn,
But knows how their monotonous charms adorn.
Oh, with what joy does dreamy sorrow stray
At eve, slow pacing, the dun-colored vale;
He seeks the yellow woods, and hears the tale
Of winds that strip them of their lonely leaves;
For this low murmur all my sense deceives.
In rustling forests do I seem to hear
Those voices long since still, to me most dear.
In leaves grown sere they speak unto my heart.

This season round the coffin-lid we press,
Religion wears herself a mourning dress,
More grand she seems, while her diviner part
At sight of this, a world in ruins, grows.
To-day a pious usage she has taught,
Her voice opens vaults wherein our fathers dwell.
Alas, my memory doth keep that thought.
The dawn appeareth, and the swaying bell
Mingles its mournful sound with whistling winds,
The Feast of Death proclaiming to the air.
Men, women, children, to the Church repair,
Where one, with speech and with example binds
These happy tribes, maintaining all in peace.
He follows them, the first apostles, near,
Like them the pastor's holy name makes dear.

"With hymns of joy," said he, "but yesterday
We celebrated the triumphant dead
Who conquer'd heav'n by burning zeal, faith-fed.
For plaintive shades, whom sorrow makes his prey
We weep to-day, our mourning is their bliss,
All potent prayer is privileged in this,
Souls purified from sin by transient pain
It frees; we'll visit their most calm domain.
Man seeks it, and descends there every hour.
But dry our tears, for now celestial rays
The grave's dim region swift shall penetrate;
Yea, all its dwellers in their primal state
Shall wake, behold the light in mute amaze.
Ah, might I to that world my flight then wing
In triumph to my God, my flock recovered bring."

So saying, offered he the holy rite,
With arms extended praying God to spare,
The while adoring knelt he humbly there.
That people prostrate! oh, most solemn sight
That church, its porticoes with moss o'ergrown,
The ancient walls, dim light and Gothic panes,
In its antiquity the brazen lamp
A symbol of eternity doth stamp.
A lasting sun. God's majesty down sent,
Vows, tears and incense from the altars rise,
Young beauties praying 'neath their mothers' eyes,
Do soften by their voices innocent,
The touching pomp religion there reveals;
The organ hush'd, the sacred silence round,
All, all uplifts, ennobles and inspires;
Man feels himself transported where the choirs
Of seraphim with harps of gold entone
Low at Jehovah's feet their endless song.
Then God doth make His awful presence known,
Hides from the wise, to loving hearts is shown:
He seeks less to be proved than to be felt. [1]
From out the Church the multitudes depart,
In separate groups unto th' abode they go
Of tranquil death, their tears still silent flow.
The standard of the Cross is borne apart,
Sublime our songs for death their sacred theme,
Now mixed with noise that heralds storms they seem;
Now lower above our heads the dark'ning clouds,
Our faces mournful, our funereal hymn
Both air and landscape in our grief enshrouds.

Towards death's tranquil haven, on we fare,
The cypress, ivy, and the yew trees haunt
The spot where thorns seem growing everywhere.
Sparse lindens rise up grimly here and there,
The winds rush whistling through their branches gaunt.
Hard by a stream, my mind found there exprest
In waves and tombs a twofold lesson drest,
Eternal movement and eternal rest.

Ah, with what holy joy these peasants fain
Would honor parent dust; they seek with pride
The stone or turf, concealing those allied
To them by love, they find them here again.
Alas, with us we may not seek the boon
Of gazing on the ashes of our dead.
Our dead are banish'd, on their rights we tread,
Their bones unhonored at hap-hazard strewn.
E'en now 'gainst us cry out their _Manes_ pale,
Those nations and those times dire woes entail,
'Mongst whom in hearts grown weak by slow degree,
The _cultus_ of the dead has ceased.
Here, here, at least have they from wrong been free,
Their heritage of peace preserving best.
No sumptuous marbles burden names here writ,
A shepherd, farmer, peasant, as is fit,
Beneath these stones in tranquil slumber see;
Perchance a Turenne, a Corneille they hide,
Who lived obscure, e'en to himself unknown.
But if from men he'd risen separate,
Sublime in camps, the theatre, the state,
His name by idol-loving worlds outcried,
Would that have made his slumber here more sweet?

[Footnote 1: La Harpe said that these last twenty lines were the most
beautiful verses in the French tongue. They necessarily lose
considerably in the translation.]



[This beautiful requiem, written March 6th, 1868 (St. Victor's Day), on
the death of an intimate friend, acquires a new pathos and a new
solemnity, from the fact that its gifted author met his death at the
hands of an assassin but one month later, on the 7th of April of the
same year. Like Mozart, he wrote his own requiem]

Saint Victor's Day, a day of woe,
The bier that bore our dead went slow
And silent gliding o'er the snow--
_Miserere Domine!_

With Villa Maria's faithful dead,
Among the just we make his bed,
The cross, he loved, to shield his head--
_Miserere Domine!_

The skies may lower, wild storms may rave
Above our comrade's mountain grave,
That cross is mighty still to save--
_Miserere Domine!_

Deaf to the calls of love and care,
He bears no more his mortal share,
Nought can avail him now but prayer--
_Miserere Domine!_

To such a heart who could refuse
Just payment of all burial dues,
Of Holy Church the rite and use?
_Miserere Domine!_

Right solemnly the Mass was said,
While burn'd the tapers round the dead,
And manly tears like rain were shed--
_Miserere Domine!_

No more St. Patrick's aisles prolong
The burden of his funeral song,
His noiseless night must now be long--
_Miserere Domine!_

Up from the depths we heard arise
A prayer of pity to the skies,
To Him who dooms or justifies--
_Miserere Domine!_

Down from the skies we heard descend
The promises the Psalmist penned,
The benedictions without end--
_Miserere Domine!_

Mighty our Holy Church's will
To shield her parting souls from ill,
Jealous of Death, she guards them still--
_Miserere Domine!_
The dearest friend will turn away,
And leave the clay to keep the clay,
Ever and ever she will stay--
_Miserere Domine!_

When for us sinners at our need,
That mother's voice is raised to plead,
The frontier hosts of heaven 'take heed--
_Miserere Domine!_

Mother of Love! Mother of fear,
And holy Hope, and Wisdom dear,
Behold we bring thy suppliant here--
_Miserere Domine!_

His glowing heart is still for aye,
That held fast by thy clemency,
Oh! look on him with loving eye--
_Miserere Domine!_

His Faith was as the tested gold,
His Hope assured, not over-bold,
His Charities past count, untold--
_Miserere Domine!_

Well may they grieve who laid him there,
Where shall they find his equal--where?
Nought can avail him now but prayer--
_Miserere Domine!_

Friend of my soul, farewell to thee!
Thy truth, thy trust, thy chivalry;
As thine? so may my last end be!
_Miserere Domine!_



It would be a great defect in a book such as this to omit all mention
of an Association which exists in Montreal, Canada, for the special
relief of the Souls in Purgatory. It is certain that there are
Purgatorian societies, established in many other cities, both of Europe
and America. But this Canadian one seems unique, in so far, that it
has a triple aim: first, that of relieving the holy souls; second,
that of the conversion of infidels; third, that of contributing to the
support of the Mendicant Order of St. Francis. The money received is
sent direct to these missionaries, by whom the Masses are said.
Touching stories are told of the joy of these devoted apostles on
receipt of such alms, which aid them so much in the various good works
in which they are engaged.

The society has, as it were, two branches. In the first the associates
merely bind themselves to make the Way of the Cross once a week, on a
day fixed, with the primary object of relieving the holy souls, and
particularly those most pleasing to God; and the secondary one of
converting the infidels. At the end of this exercise, they make use of
the following invocation: "Holy Souls in Purgatory, rest in peace, and
pray for us."

The other branch has for its object the procuring of Masses for the
deliverance of the suffering souls. Each associate must pay to the
treasurer twenty-five cents a month, or three dollars a year; for which
Masses will be said according to the intention of the subscriber,
having always in view those souls which are most pleasing to God.

One may become a life member, on payment of twenty-five dollars.
Foundations of Masses can also be made in connection with the
Association. They are similar to those which came into existence at the
time of the Crusades and at many other epochs in Christian history.
Such foundations are sometimes made in wills. They are, of course, not
within the reach of every one. It is necessary to pay five hundred
dollars into the hands of the Society. Every necessary security for its
proper use is given, and the donor is entitled in perpetuity to a
certain yearly rental to be expended in Masses for his soul. The sum
may be paid in instalments, or several persons may club together in
making the foundation. It is a sublime thought that the Holy Sacrifice
will thus continue to be said for us, long after our memory has passed
away from earth. But as the three dollars a year which constitutes one
a member of the Association is much more within the reach of most of
us, it may be well to lay more stress upon the advantages which we
shall thereby gain for ourselves and our deceased friends. It entitles
us after death to a special Mass and a Way of the Cross every year from
each associate. The number of associates is very great; besides a share
in all the Masses and Stations, we have also a share in the good works
of the missionaries of St. Francis, and can gain Indulgences which have
been granted to the members. These Indulgences, plenary and partial,

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