Relief of the Poor Souls—Works of Penance.

Relief of the Poor Souls—Works of Penance.


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—Works of Penance.

AFTER prayer the most efficacious means of helping the Holy Souls are works of self-denial. We do not speak merely of great austerities, such as the Saints performed, but of all the trials, crosses, and contradictions of life patiently endured, as well as the smallest acts of self-denial which we impose on ourselves or accept from others as the will of God. All these, if we accept them and offer them to God in union with the sufferings of Christ, become priceless means of satisfaction for our own sins, and those of others, and are of the greatest help to the Holy Souls.
Even so small an act as to refuse ourselves a drink when thirsty has been known to procure immense relief to the poor Souls.
The Abbé Louvet says that one of his relations, who was a religious and edified her community by her virtue and regularity, lost a friend who was very dear to her, and from that time constantly recommended her to God. One evening, being very thirsty, she wanted to drink a glass of water, which her Rule permitted, but she thought of her departed friend and refused herself this small gratification for the relief of her soul. Instead of drinking, she poured the water on the ground. This slight act of mortification was so pleasing to God that He allowed the departed soul to appear to the religious on the following night, to thank her for the relief afforded, which she said had been like a refreshing bath poured on the fire which tormented her.
In the Dominican Convent of Vercelli, the prioress, Blessed Emilia, frequently encouraged her religious to make this sacrifice of not drinking when thirsty, and suggested to them to confide these drops of water to their guardian angels to temper the heat of Purgatory.
One day a Sister named Cecilia came to ask permission to drink. “Make this small sacrifice for the love of God and the Holy Souls,” said her superior. “Mother, it is no small sacrifice,” replied the nun, “I am dying of thirst.” Yet she obeyed. She died a few weeks later, and three days after her death appeared, resplendent with glory, to her superior. “O Mother,” she said, “how grateful I am to you! For my inordinate affection for my family I was condemned to a long Purgatory, but after two days my guardian angel entered, holding in his hand the glass of water which you made me offer in sacrifice; be poured the water on the flames, which were instantly extinguished, and I am now delivered. I will never forget you in Heaven.”
St. Margaret Mary de Pazzi relates that the soul of one of her deceased sisters appeared to her, and, after describing her terrible torments, said that one day passed by the whole community in exact observance would heal her parched mouth; another passed in the practice of holy charity would cure her suffering tongue; and a third spent without murmuring or disapproval of the superior would heal her tortured heart, which suffered for such faults. Thus we see that every kind of self-denial or self-restraint is beneficial to the Holy Souls. We may all restrain our tongues, refrain from uncharitable, sharp, unkind words, even if we are unable to practise great austerities; all such acts will be acceptable suffrages for the departed. We may offer for them all that is penitential in our daily work, our illnesses and ailments, our difficulties in dealing with our neighbours, our unavoidable privations and hardships, and thus, without undertaking any or few extra penances, we shall efficaciously help them. All such acts of patient endurance will make our prayers more powerful with God.

Practice.—Offer daily some acts of self-denial for the Holy Souls.

Indulgenced Prayer.—Plenary Indulgence in articulo mortis. All who, with sincere love of God, after Confession and Communion, made on any day they choose, say the following prayer, can gain a plenary indulgence, to be gained in articulo mortis if at the point of death they are in the state of grace. PRAYER: “O Lord, my God, I now at this moment readily and willingly accept at Thy hand whatever kind of death it may please Thee to send me, with all its pains, penalties, and sorrows.”


One day, while St. Corpreus, an Irish bishop, whose feast is on March 6th, was meditating after the Divine Office, he saw before him a horrible spectre, with livid countenance, a collar of fire about his neck, and on his shoulders a miserable mantle all in tatters. “Who are you?” asked the Saint. “I am Malachy, former king of Ireland. In my high position I could have done much good, which I neglected, and therefore I now suffer grievously.” “Did you not do penance for your faults?” “I did not do sufficient penance, and this owing to the culpable weakness of my confessor, whom I bent to my caprices by offering him a gold ring. It is for this that I now wear a collar of fire round my neck.” “Why are you covered with rags?” asked the bishop. “Because I neglected to help the poor and clothe the naked. I did not behave with the charity and liberality which became my dignity as king and my title of Christian.” St. Corpreus united in prayer with his Chapter, and at the end of six months obtained a mitigation of the suffering of King Malachy, and later his entire liberation.


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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