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.
The Sufferings of Purgatory compared to the Sufferings of this Life.
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.
The Sufferings of Purgatory compared to the Sufferings of this Life.
Prelude.—Let us listen to the mournful cries escaping from the prison of expiation, where the inexorable justice of God detains those souls, who must be perfectly cleansed and purified before He admits them into His paradise.
Meditation.—The pain of sense in Purgatory greatly surpasses the cruellest and most insupportable pains of this life. “Everything that we could see, imagine, or feel of the sufferings of this life,” says St. Augustine, “is very little indeed, compared to the flames of Purgatory.” Venerable Bede assures us that neither the torments of the martyrs nor the punishments of criminals can approach the pains of Purgatory. St. Thomas Aquinas goes still further, for with all the authority of his genius and his science he affirms that the least of the sufferings of Purgatory is greater than the greatest suffering of this life, and the same Doctor shows us again the extent of the torments of Purgatory, when he says, “that it is the same fire which torments the damned in hell as the just in Purgatory. The pain of sense in hell does not differ from that in Purgatory, except that the torments of hell will never end, and those of Purgatory will. These are terrible considerations, and we must be very blind or very frivolous to expose ourselves willingly to the sensible torments of Purgatory by the facility with which we allow ourselves to commit faults which, without being mortal, nevertheless offend our loving God, and irritate His justice, and these same considerations should strongly urge us to show our compassion for these poor souls, who are suffering such torments in Purgatory, by the fervour and perseverance of our suffrages in their favour.
Resolution.—Bear willingly all the little contradictions and sufferings of this life, and offer this resignation in exchange for the fearful pains which await us in Purgatory.
Aspiration.—“Rebuke me not, O Lord, in Thy indignation; nor chastise me in Thy wrath.” (Psalm xxxvii. 2.)
AN HOUR IN PURGATORY.
Two religious full of piety and zeal for their sanctification, and having the same attraction for prayer, recollection, and penance, were united by such an intimate friendship, that these Latin words could be applied to them:
“Hi duo corporibus mentibus unus erant:” These are two bodies, but only one soul.
Their hearts were filled with zeal for the glory of God, and they laboured earnestly for the salvation of their neighbour, striving to observe their rule with the utmost perfection. Suddenly one of them fell ill, and caused great anxiety for his life. An angel of God appeared to him, and told him that he would die and would expiate in Purgatory the pain due to his faults until a Mass should be celebrated for him, and that then he would enter heaven to receive the reward of his zeal and fervour. These tidings filled the holy monk with joy, and, calling his friend, he related his vision, and told him of the death which would soon release him, and of the very short time he would have to remain in Purgatory, then he implored him, by the brotherly love which had united them, to offer up the holy Sacrifice as soon as possible after his death, so that he might soon enjoy eternal bliss, and, deeply affected by the thought of losing so dear a friend, he promised to fulfil his wish, and he was faithful to his word; for the monk dying the next morning, he had hardly closed his eyes, when he hastened to the sacristy to vest himself in the sacred ornaments, and offer up the holy sacrifice. Mass was hardly finished when during his thanksgiving his friend appeared to him, radiant with happiness, but still retaining a shade of sadness and suffering on his countenance. “Brother,” he said to him, “where then is your faith? How have you kept your promise? You deserve that God should have no more pity on you.” “And why?’’ he replied. “Why, have you not left me a year and more in the midst of that avenging fire without any of my brothers having said the Mass which would have delivered me. “What can you mean?’’ cried the religious. “I have but just taken off my sacerdotal vestments; you have left the earth but a short time ago; your funeral has not yet taken place, and your corpse is still amongst us.” Then his friend, looking at him, exclaimed, with a deep and mournful sigh: “Oh, how frightful, then, are those sufferings, since they have made me consider a short time a year. I thank you, brother, for your zeal in accomplishing this work of charity. I am going to heaven to bless God, and to implore of Him to return what you have done to me, so that we may one day be united in our eternal happiness as we have been in the days of suffering and warfare. I thank you again then, brother, and do you take courage.”
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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