Duration of Suffering.
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.
Duration of Suffering.
Prelude.—Let us penetrate into the prison of expiation, and question the captives on the duration of the sufferings which they endure.
Meditation.—If the fearful sufferings on which we have been meditating soon came to an end, it seems as if the thought of this termination would mitigate them a little. How long, then, will these sufferings last? Cardinal Bellarmine, whose authority every one acknowledges on such a subject, has said in one of his principal works: “ It is certain that the sufferings of Purgatory can last more than ten or twenty years, I dare even say, more than a hundred or a thousand years.” The learned Cardinal proves his assertion by revelations most worthy of belief, which maintain that certain souls are condemned to burn in Purgatory till the day of judgment; and also by passages from Tertullian and St Cyprian. Why, then, this length of time? “It is,” replies St. Augustine, “because it is expedient that the length of punishment should be proportioned to the number of sins. Great sins, of course, deserve not only great suffering, but that it should last a long time.” St. Bernard, filled with this thought, exclaims in a profound accent of contrition: “The number of my sins surpasses the grains of sand on the sea-shore; they are so numerous that I do not deserve to lift my eyes to heaven. I am besieged by a multitude of evils; how can I count what is innumerable?” how can I pay my debts, being obliged to repay the last farthing.
O my soul, thou who drinkest iniquity like water, listen to the advice of a great saint: “If thou thinkest little of small faults, when thou weighest them, have them in horror when thou countest them.”
Resolution.—Resolve often to avoid venial sins.
Aspiration.—“Thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing.” (Gospel according to St. Matthew v. 26.)
TWENTY YEARS IN PURGATORY.
A sick person was afflicted by the most fearful: sufferings, and he implored God with tears to deliver him from them. Then an angel appeared by his bed of pain, and said to him: “The Spirit of God sends me to you, to give you the choice of another year of suffering here on earth, or of a single day in Purgatory.” The invalid did not hesitate. “Only one day in Purgatory,” he said; “I shall at last see an end of my sufferings,” and saying this, he expired! His soul was conducted to Purgatory, and the compassionate angel offered to comfort him; but on seeing him the unhappy soul exclaimed in an accent of despair, almost like that of hell, “Why have you deceived me, angel, and misled me? You assured me that I should be but one day in Purgatory, and I have been already twenty years a prey to the most terrible sufferings.” “Ah! unfortunate soul,” replied the angel, “you err; for the rigour of your sufferings has made you exaggerate the time, and consider as an age what is, in reality, but an instant. Undeceive yourself; for some minutes only have elapsed, and your body lies still warm on your death-bed.” (St. Anthony.)
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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