Matter of Expiation—Debts of Justice Unpaid.

Matter of Expiation—Debts of Justice Unpaid.


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.

Matter of Expiation—Debts of Justice Unpaid.

IT would seem, from the revelations of the Saints, that failings against justice, such as not fulfilling our obligations and promises, whether spiritual or temporal, are visited with very severe and long-lasting pains in Purgatory. In fact it seems that, until the reparation or restitution which is due is actually made, the soul has to remain in torments.
We read of a rich man who died without having put his affairs in order and after death appeared to his confessor, a saintly religious, devoted to the aid of the Souls in Purgatory. He begged the Father to follow him to one of the bridges of the city, and there he produced a bag of money, which he asked the Father to use for the payment of his unpaid debts. The Father did so, and a week after the soul reappeared to him and told him he was delivered from Purgatory.
In the Life of Blessed Margaret of Cortona we read of two rich merchants who were assassinated by brigands whilst travelling. They appeared to the Saint and begged her to warn their friends and relatives that they were suffering most grievously in Purgatory, and would continue to do so, unless restitution were made to all whom they had wronged by the unjust way in which they had acquired their money.
Under the head of unsatisfied justice may be placed not only debts in the temporal order, but also spiritual debts, such as prayers or Masses promised or due by the obligations of one’s state. Such are Masses which priests are obliged to say, or prayers and suffrages binding on religious for their departed brethren.
Father Rossignoli relates that a magnificent estate near Milan was devastated by hail, whilst the neighbouring fields remained uninjured. People did not know how to explain this mysterious phenomenon, until a soul from Purgatory appeared and revealed that it was a chastisement for ungrateful children who had neglected to execute their father’s will relating to certain works of piety.
We often hear of houses haunted by souls returning either to claim suffrages due to them or to repair some wrong done by them in life.
In the time of Charlemagne there lived an honest soldier, who led the life of a true Christian, though not free from many minor faults. On his deathbed, he called his nephew whom he had adopted as his son, and informed him that he had nothing to leave him but his weapons and his horse. He begged that the horse should be sold and the money given to the priests and the poor, so that Masses might be said for his soul by the priests, and prayers by the poor. The nephew did not carry out the behest, but kept the horse for making short journeys, and then put off the sale, thinking, as he said, to get a higher price later. Six months thus went by, when one morning he was addressed by the deceased in terms of severe reproach. He told him that, through his negligence in fulfilling his commands he had suffered grievous torments in Purgatory, but that to-day he was to go to heaven. He then warned the nephew that he would die in a few days and suffer the same torments which his uncle would have had to endure had God not taken pity on him, and after that he would begin the expiation of his own faults. The nephew fell ill a few days later, called for a priest and confessed his sins, and willingly accepted death in satisfaction. But his expiation still remained to be fulfilled in Purgatory.
I know of a community of monks, in which one member had died at sea. For some time afterwards the community was much disturbed by peculiar and distressing noises. The Abbot called all the monks together and inquired whether all had fulfilled their customary suffrages for the deceased. On several replying in the negative, he ordered them speedily to fulfil what remained due, and the noises forthwith ceased.
We must bear in mind that the demands of justice must infallibly be fulfilled, and that, though no retribution may follow acts of negligence and injustice in this life, no one can possibly escape paying his debts of whatever kind even the very smallest, either in this life or in the next.
It may not be only in money matters that one has failed. Supposing one had been unjust to others by undue harshness, or by slander, or calumny, one is bound to repair the wrong. By unguarded talk a person’s character may often be injured in the eyes of others, and if we have been instrumental in such a wrong we are bound, as far as we are able, to undo the harm done. We shall certainly have to suffer for such a fault, therefore, let us be wise in time and make due reparation to all we have wronged, whether in speech or in deed, while there is yet time, for it behoves us, like our Divine Master, to fulfil all justice.

Practice.—Often examine yourself as to whether you have left any debt of justice unpaid or any vow or promise unfulfilled.

Indulgenced Prayer.—The Memorare. (300 days’ indulgence every time; a plenary indulgence once a month, if said daily, under the usual conditions.)


St. Bernardine relates that a married couple without children made an agreement that, in case one should die before the other, the survivor was to distribute the property left by the other for the repose of the soul of the deceased. The husband died first, but his widow neglected to fulfil her promise. The mother of the widow was still living and to her the deceased appeared, begging her to go to her daughter and urge her, in God’s name, to fulfil her engagement. “If she delays to distribute in alms the sum which I have destined for the poor,” he added, “tell her that she will die of a sudden death in thirty days.” The impious widow treated the vision as a dream. Thirty days after, she fell from the window of an upper room and was killed on the spot. It not infrequently happens that bequests of charity are but disguised restitution on the part of the deceased, who may not have had time to make reparation for some wrong, or is not willing to reveal the secret to his heirs. Thus they may have to suffer till released from the debt.


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.


Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord! Lord hear my voice.
Let Thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
If Thou, O Lord, shalt mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand it?
For with Thee there is merciful forgiveness: and by rea­son of Thy law I have waited for Thee, O Lord.
My soul hath relied on His word: my soul hath hoped in the Lord.
From the morning watch even until night, let Israel hope in the Lord.
Because with the Lord there is mercy: and with Him plenteous redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
V. Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord.
R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.
V. May they rest in peace.
R. Amen.
V. 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 to the souls of thy servants departed the remission of all their sins, that through the devout prayers of Thy Church on earth, they may obtain that remission of pain which they have ever desired. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
V. Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord.
R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.
V. May they rest in peace.
R. Amen.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Clement XII., by a brief, Calestes Ecclesia thesauros, Aug. 11, 1736, granted:
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS to all the faithful who, at the sound of the bell, at the first hour after nightfall, shall say devoutly on their knees the psalm De profundis, or the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Requiem æternam.
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, once a year, to those who shall have performed this pious exercise for a year, on any day when, being truly penitent, after confession and communion, they shall pray for peace and union among Christian princes, for the extirpation of heresy and for the triumph of holy Mother Church.
The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius VI., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of the Propaganda, March 18, 1781, granted these indulgences to all the faithful who may happen to dwell in a place where no bell for the dead is sounded, provided they shall say the De profundis, or the Our Father, and the Hail Mary, etc., about nightfall.
The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, July 18, 1877, declared that these indulgences can be gained on the recital as aboye of the De profundis, or the Our Father, etc., before or after nightfall, provided that the bell is sounded at such hour, according to the custom of the church or place.
Moreover, His Holiness, Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Feb. 3, 1888, granted to all the faithful who shall recite the above Psalm, adding the versicle Requiem æternam dona eis Domine ei lux perpetua luceat eis, AN INDULGENCE OF FIFTY DAYS, three times a day.

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.
R. Amen.
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.
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.
R. Amen.

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).


Pius IX, has granted an Indulgence of Ten Years and Ten Quarantines once a day to the faithful who devoutly recite in company with others, either at home or in church, in public or private oratories, a third part of the Rosary of Saint Dominic; and a Plenary Indulgence on the last Sunday in every month to all who are in the habit of saying with others at least three times a week, the third part of the Rosary, without belonging to the confraternity of that name. (Visit.)
Benedict XIII granted an Indulgence of One Hundred Days for every Our Father and every Hail Mary, and a Plenary Indulgence once a year, to those who recite the third part of the Rosary every day; the same Indulgence of One Hundred Days had been granted for the Chaplet of Saint Bridget. Those who recite at least once a week the Chaplet of our Lord, or that of the Blessed Virgin, enriched with Apostolic Indulgences, gain numerous Indulgences on the feast indicated in the calendar, besides an Indulgence of One Hundred Days each time. (Take particulare notice that it is necessary to recite the whole Chaplet without remarkable interrruption.) – Month of the Dead.


In order to maintain and diffuse ever more and more among the faithful the holy and salutary thought of praying for the departed, some pious Romans projected and proposed a so-called Catholic League of perpetual suffrage for the holy souls in purgatory, to which any one may belong by reciting each day, three times, Give them eternal rest, etc., in behalf of the holy souls.
His Holiness, Pope Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Aug. 19, 1880, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, recite, three times, Give them eternal rest, etc.:
AN INDULGENCE OF TWO HUNDRED DAYS, once a day. – Raccolta 1898


His Holiness, Leo XIII., by a decree of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, January 17, 1888, granted to the faithful who shall perform some pious practice for the relief of the souls in Purgatory, every day during the whole month of November, whether in public or in private,
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, once during the same month, on any day of the month, on the usual conditions: Confession and Communion, and a visit to a church or public oratory, and there praying for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff. – Raccolta 1898.

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