Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
Prelude.—In the dark prison which is called Purgatory, the captive souls of expiation are thrilled and agitated by ardent sentiments of hope. The … month of November is the cause of these consolations, so let us prepare ourselves to-day to satisfy during this month the hope of our departed brethren.
Meditation.—It has been said, and with reason, that “amongst all Catholic devotions, one of the most solid, most fruitful, and the most conformed to that spirit of charity which constitutes the soul and principle of Christian morality, is, without doubt, devotion to the souls in Purgatory.”
And now, let us see what really is the end of this beautiful devotion. Is it not to deliver from expiatory flames souls which find in our suffrages a compensation for the slowness of their painful expiation? But the real and immediate object of devotion to the souls in Purgatory leads to various consequences which multiply its fruits. For to deliver a soul from Purgatory, is it not to procure the glory of God, since it allows that soul to praise Him in heaven for all eternity? And to deliver a soul from Purgatory, is it not to exercise one of the best works of charity a Christian could practise, since it procures for that soul the greatest of all benefits, heavenly bliss?
To deliver a soul from Purgatory is to create for ourselves in heaven a most powerful friend, whose gratitude will never fail us.
Finally, to work for the deliverance of the souls in Purgatory is to compel ourselves, so to say, to the frequent remembrance and serious consideration of our last end, and consequently to obtain a pledge and infallible means of salvation, according to the word of the Holy Ghost: “Remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin.”
O my God! I thank Thee for having shown me, and placed in my hands such a means of salvation, which at the same time as it conduces to Thy greater glory, allows me to satisfy the desire of my heart, touched by the sufferings of my departed brethren, and gives me also a pledge of eternal predestination.
Resolution.—Unite our intention to that of all the faithful, who intend to follow the exercises of the Month of the Holy Souls.
Aspiration.—“Blessed are the merciful for they shall find mercy.” (Gospel according to St. Matthew v. 7.)
HISTORY OF THE DEVOTION TOWARDS THE SOULS IN PURGATORY.
The practice of praying for the souls in Purgatory has been in use since the time of the written Law, as we see in the history of the Machabees, and we learn also from the holy Fathers and from the old liturgies, that it was religiously observed from the time of the Apostles, although there was no special day consecrated to it in the year. St Odilon was the first who established this holy custom, and he was careful, from the first years of his episcopacy, to establish in his Order the practice of constant prayer and alms, and the frequent celebration of the unbloody sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ for these suffering souls, overcome by the weight of God’s justice, and he himself often offered up Mass for this intention. His compassion for them grew from day to day, so that he was anxious to settle some means of helping them, which could not easily be interrupted as the years passed on; and he was besides incited to do so by the revelations which were made to a holy hermit, and to some of his religious, so he wrote that beautiful order which is given at length in the library of Cluny, to the effect that every year, the second day of November, which is the day after the feast of All Saints, a commemoration of all the faithful departed should be made in all the monasteries under his obedience, and that that day should be entirely set apart to obtain from God remission of their sufferings, and their entrance into the kingdom of heaven. This order was so much approved by the universal Church, that she appropriated it, and made it a rule for all the faithful, as it is expressly marked in the Roman Martyrology.
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
November Devotion: The Holy Souls in Purgatory.
Virtues to practice: Charity and kindness.
Most loving Jesus, I humbly beseech Thee, that Thou Thyself wouldst offer to Thine eternal Father in behalf of the Holy Souls in purgatory, the Most Precious Blood which poured forth from the sacred wounds of Thine adorable Body, together with Thine agony and death. And do thou likewise, O sorrowful Virgin Mary, present unto Him, together with the dolorous Passion of thy dear Son, thine own sighs and tears, and all the sorrows thou didst suffer in His suffering, in order that, through the merits of the same, refreshment may be granted to the souls now suffering in the fiery torments of purgatory, so that, being delivered from that painful prison, they may be clothed with glory in heaven, there to sing the mercies of God for ever and ever. Amen.
Absolve, O Lord, the souls of all the faithful departed from every bond of sin, that with Thy gracious assistance they may deserve to escape the judgment of vengeance and enjoy the blessedness of everlasting light.
V. Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord
R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.
V. From the gates of hell,
R. Deliver their souls, O Lord.
V. May they rest in peace.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.
Let us pray.
O, God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful; grant unto the souls of Thy servants and handmaids the remission of all their sins: that through our devout supplications they may obtain the pardon they have always desired. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
Eternal rest, etc.
An indulgence of 3 years. A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if these prayers are said daily for a month (S. C. md., Sept. 15, 1888; S. P. Ap., April 25, 1934).
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