Relief of the Poor Souls—Indulgences.

Relief of the Poor Souls—Indulgences.


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.

Relief of the Poor Souls—Indulgences.

If even half the indulgences granted were made use of by more people, an incalculable number of souls would be released sooner than they are.
What is an indulgence? An indulgence is the remission of the temporal punishment due to sin, granted by the power of the keys, by which the Church is enabled to free the faithful from every obstacle to their entrance into the glory of Heaven. In the Sacrament of Penance she absolves sinners from their sin as to the guilt; outside of the Sacrament she remits the debt of temporal punishment which is still due after the absolution; this latter is what is called an indulgence. Only in this life may souls gain indulgences for themselves, but the Church may allow her children to transmit to others departed, the remission granted to themselves, by indulgences applicable to the Holy Souls. The satisfactions offered to God in the name of Jesus are always accepted, and God may apply them to any particular soul or to all in general. Indulgences are either plenary or partial. A plenary indulgence remits the whole of the temporal punishment due to sin. A partial indulgence remits a certain number of days or years. But these days or years are not days or years of suffering in Purgatory; they represent days or years of the public canonical penances formerly imposed by the Church—principally fasts and humiliations. The Church has power to remit these penances imposed by her, and she indirectly remits the sufferings in the other world as the equivalent of these penances. . .
Indulgences are a spiritual treasury open to all the faithful. One day when Blessed Mary of Quito was rapt in ecstasy, she saw an immense table covered with heaps of silver, gold, and precious stones, and she heard a voice saying: “These riches are public property; everyone may come and take what he will.” She understood by divine revelation that indulgences were meant.
Behold, with what ease we may become possessed of these treasures,—no fasts, no privations, no great trouble even is necessary. A Rosary, a Communion, a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, a short prayer or some act of charity, will free souls from the terrible flames, and we are too negligent, too careless to bestir ourselves to give them this relief!
God has frequently allowed marvels to happen in order to bear witness how efficacious are indulgences for the relief of the Suffering Souls.
Venerable Mother Frances of the Blessed Sacrament once saw three of the bishops of her diocese in Purgatory. She told the reigning Bishop, Christopher de Ribera, about it and begged him to procure for her three indulgences of the Crusade, which at that time had been granted to Spain by the Holy See. She fulfilled all the conditions and applied a plenary indulgence to each of the bishops. The following night they all appeared to her and thanked her for their deliverance from all their sufferings, and also begged her to thank Bishop Ribera in their name.
St. Teresa tells of a religious who set the highest value on the smallest indulgences and strove to gain all in her power. Otherwise she was of very ordinary virtue indeed. After her death, the Saint, to her great surprise, saw her soul ascend immediately to Heaven. St. Teresa expressed her astonishment to Our Lord who thereupon made known to her that it was owing to the care the deceased had taken to win indulgences during her lifetime; she had a large debt to pay the divine justice, but by her diligence in gaining indulgences she had been enabled to do so before her death.
In the life of St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi it is related that a Sister died who had been tenderly nursed by the Saint. She wished to visit the body exposed in church according to the prevailing custom. She went to the grille of the church, but there she was rapt in ecstasy and saw the soul of the departed take flight to Heaven. In the same vision Our Lord revealed to her that this soul had passed but fifteen hours in Purgatory, because she had suffered much in this life and had been careful to gain all the indulgences she could.
Besides the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross, which are most highly indulgenced, there are several daily exercises by which plenary indulgences may be gained once a month, by visiting some church and saying some prayer, such as five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys, or a decade of the Rosary for the intentions of the Pope. The prayer or aspiration which is so indulgenced has to be said daily for a month, and then the plenary indulgence is gained by Confession, Communion, and prayers for the Pope. These are what are termed the usual conditions. . . . The Pope’s intentions are understood to be the peace of the world, the conversion of sinners and heretics, and the welfare of the Church. This is indeed a small work for the gaining of so great a good as a plenary indulgence, but when prayers are offered for these great intentions by so many millions of Christian souls, their effect must be great indeed before God.
Prayers which must be said once every day to gain the plenary indulgence once a month, are the acts of faith, hope and charity, for which seven years and seven quarantines are also gained each time they are recited; also the Litany of Our Lady, the Memorare, The Angelus, (three times a day). Besides these prayers, which are said daily by most Catholics, there are many short aspirations, such as “Jesus, Mary, Joseph,” “Sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation,” “Sweet Heart of my Jesus, may I ever love Thee more and more,” “O Sacrament most holy,” etc., and many others, which will be found in the Raccolta or authentic collection of the Church’s indulgences, a book of devotion which every one who loves the Holy Souls should possess, for it contains all possible indulgences, and many Catholics are ignorant of the precise though very simple conditions on which they are to be gained.

Practice.—Earnestly study to know all the indulgenced prayers you can, and choose those you can say daily, so as to gain plenary indulgences once a month.

Indulgenced Prayer.—“Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts. Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory.” “Glory be to the Father. Glory be to the Son. Glory be to the Holy Ghost.” (100 days each time, once daily; three times on Sundays; a plenary indulgence once a month on usual conditions, if said daily.)


Christopher Sandoval, Archbishop of Seville, received wonderful favours from the souls of Purgatory, whom, from earliest childhood, he had always loved and tried to help. While he was studying at the University of Louvain, he was reduced to great poverty, through the non-arrival of some letters. Just then a poor person asked him for an alms for love of the souls in Purgatory. Never before had he been obliged to refuse such a request. He went into a church, saying: “If I cannot give an alms for the poor souls, I can at least pray for them.” Scarcely had he finished his prayer, than he met a handsome young man, dressed as a traveller, who saluted him respectfully. The newcomer spoke kindly to him of his father and of his relatives and friends. He then asked Christopher to accompany him to a hotel and dine with him. Sandoval, who had had nothing to eat since the previous day, willingly assented. They seated themselves at table and conversed pleasantly together. After the meal, the stranger gave Sandoval a sum of money and said that his father, the Marquis, would repay him. Then he withdrew and no one ever saw or heard of him again. The sum of money was exactly what Christopher required to cover his expenses till his letters arrived, and no one ever reclaimed it. He was convinced that his unknown friend was a messenger from Heaven, sent by the Holy Souls whom he had relieved by his prayers and alms. Pope Clement VIII, to whom he told the story, looked upon it as a favour from heaven, and advised him to make it known for the edification of the faithful.


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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