Relief of the Poor Souls—Almsdeeds.

Relief of the Poor Souls—Almsdeeds.


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—Almsdeeds.

THE third of the three eminent good works is almsdeeds. Holy Scripture tells us that “prayer is good with fasting and alms more than to lay up treasures of gold: for alms delivereth from death, and the same is that which purgeth away sins, and maketh to find mercy and life everlasting.”
‘‘Give alms out of thy substance, and turn not away thy face from any poor person: for so it shall come to pass that the face of the Lord shall not be turned from thee. According to thy ability be merciful; if thou have much, give abundantly, if thou have little, take care even to bestow willingly a little. For thus thou storest up to thyself a good reward for the day of necessity. For alms deliver from all sin, and will not suffer the soul to go into darkness. Alms shall be a great confidence before the Most High God, to all them that give it.” (Tob. IV.)
All these words are most eminently applicable to almsgiving.
St. Thomas says that ‘‘almsgiving possesses more completely the virtue of satisfaction than prayer, and prayer more completely than fasting.” Many great servants of God have selected almsgiving as their means of assisting the dead.
The great monastery of Fulda gave an eminent example of this good work. In the year 830 a contagious disease attacked the monastery, and numbers of the religious were carried off by it. The great Abbot Rhabanus Maurus, filled with charity for their souls, called Edelard, the procurator of the monastery, and reminded him of the rule regarding alms for the departed. “Take care,” said he, “that the poor be fed with the food destined for the brethren we have lost.”
But Edelard, who was a thrifty soul, thought this very extravagant, and in his avarice carried out the order very incompletely, or not at all.
One night, when the community had retired, he walked across the chapter-room with a lamp in his hand. What was his amazement to see that the room was full of a number of religious, and, looking more closely at them, he recognized them as the brethren who had lately died. He remained rooted to the spot in terror. Then one of the dead brothers began to reproach him bitterly. “Why have you deprived us,” he asked, “of the assistance due to us in our torments in Purgatory? Why did you not distribute the alms you were bound by obedience to give? Receive now the punishment of your avarice; another and more terrible chastisement awaits you, when after three days you shall appear before God.”
The unfortunate Edelard fell as if struck by a thunderbolt, and remained there till after midnight, when the community, assembling for choir, found him half-dead. He was carried to the infirmary where all possible care was lavished on him. As soon as he could speak, he related the terrible occurrence which had reduced him to this extremity. Having told the Abbot and the brethren that he would die in three days, he asked for the last Sacraments, which he received most devoutly, and, in the time foretold, he died.
Mass was immediately sung, and the alms given to the poor as usual. But Edelard’s Purgatory continued. One day he appeared to his Abbot, pale and disfigured. “Alas!” he said, “in spite of all your prayers, I cannot enter Heaven till my brethren are released, who are still detained through my avarice and neglect. All the good works have gone to their profit, and not to mine. I entreat you to redouble your alms, that they may be delivered, and after them myself, who least deserve this mercy.”
The holy Abbot increased the alms, and after another month Edelard again appeared, clad in white, and, beaming with joy, thanked his Abbot and the whole community for their charity.
The spiritual works of mercy are no less efficacious for the dead than the corporeal. Highest among these stands the characteristic virtue of a Christian,—the forgiveness of injuries. There is not one of us who does not daily find occasion to practise this virtue. We have a very striking instance of the power which these acts have with God for the Holy Souls.
We are constantly finding instances in the revelations of the Saints which show that the characteristically Christian virtue of forgiveness of injuries counts for an immense remission of the pains of Purgatory. St. Brigid saw a soul in the lowest region of Purgatory which was delivered from the handling of demons “because solely for the honour of God it had forgiven the grievous offences of its deadly foes, and made friends with its great enemy.”
St. Gertrude saw that the sufferings of a soul for whom she prayed were greatly increased when she repeated the words, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” As she inquired the reason of this suffering, he replied: “When I was in the world, I offended God frequently by my unwillingness to forgive those who injured me in any way; and even when I had forgiven them, I showed my resentment by a grave manner when I met them, and I suffer for this whenever these words are repeated for me.” “And how long will you suffer thus?” asked the Saint. The soul replied “I shall suffer until I am entirely purified, but henceforth, by the mercy of God, whenever you say this prayer for me, I shall obtain great relief thereby.”
At Padua, the students of the University amused themselves with running about the streets at night armed with fire-arms, and challenging every one they met under pain of being shot. One night a student failed to answer and was mortally wounded by a shot through the head. The unhappy perpetrator of the deed took refuge in the house of a good widow of his acquaintance, whose son was his fellow-student. He told her he had killed someone, he knew not whom, and begged her to conceal him from the ministers of justice. She did so. In half an hour’s time her own son was brought home dead. She then knew that she was harbouring his murderer. After a sharp struggle with herself, she recollected that, as Jesus Christ forgave his executioners, she as a Christian could do no less. She shielded the unhappy fugitive, only requiring from him that he should become reconciled with God. That same night her son appeared to her, resplendent in glory, saying that he was about to enter Heaven for that act of Christian heroism she had performed in pardoning his murderer, and that but for this, he would have had long years of suffering to undergo. Such is the power of this Christian virtue. Let us, then, lose no opportunity of offering for the Holy Souls as many of these acts as come in our way, and we shall be giving the most generous alms to these poor sufferers, which they will repay a hundredfold.

Practice.—Readily forgive all injuries and offer these acts of virtue for the Holy Souls.

Indulgenced Prayer.—“O Angel of God, my guardian dear To whom His love commits me here, Ever this day be at my side, To light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.” (100 days each time; a plenary indulgence once a month, if said daily.)


A poor Neapolitan, whose earnings were barely sufficient to support his family, was imprisoned for debt, so that the children depended entirely on the poor mother, who possessed nothing but her confidence in God. With ardent faith she besought Divine Providence to come to her aid. She went to a rich and benevolent gentleman and related to him the sad story of her woes. He gave her a trifling alms. Sadly disappointed, she hastened to church and begged God for help. Enlightened no doubt by an inspiration from her guardian angel, it occurred to her to interest the Holy Souls in her behalf, as she had heard much of their sufferings and of their gratitude in helping those who befriend them. She went to the sacristy, offered the little coin to the priest, and asked if he could celebrate a Mass for the dead. He immediately did so, and the poor woman assisted at the Holy Sacrifice. She returned quite consoled and confident that God would hear her prayer. Presently she was accosted by a venerable old man, who asked her who she was and where she was going. She explained her distress and the use she had made of the money she had received. The old man seemed deeply touched, spoke some words of comfort, and gave her a note in an envelope to take to a certain address. When she had done so, the gentleman to whom it was addressed recognised with astonishment the handwriting of his father, who was dead. “Where did you get this letter?” he cried. She replied that it was from an old man she had met in the street, and that he much resembled a portrait she saw hanging in the room.
The gentleman took the note and read it aloud: “My son, your father has just been delivered from Purgatory by a Mass which the bearer of this note has had celebrated. She is in great distress, and I recommend her to you.” Tears of joy coursed down the man’s cheeks as he read these words, and, turning to the woman, he thanked her and promised to become her protector and to supply the needs of her family. Thus we see that the smallest act of charity towards the Suffering Church is precious in God’s sight and draws down on us miracles of mercy


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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