The Heroic Act for the Poor Souls.

The Heroic Act for the Poor Souls.

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.

The Heroic Act for the Poor Souls.

THERE is one act of charity for the Holy Souls which comprises all others, and this is called the Heroic Act for the Holy Souls. It consists in giving up to the Holy Souls all our works of satisfaction, that is, all the satisfactory value of all the works, prayers, and sufferings of our life, and all the suffrages which shall be given us after death, without reserving anything whatsoever for ourselves.
We place these our suffrages in the hands of the Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, that she may distribute them according to her good pleasure among the souls which she herself wishes to deliver from Purgatory. The merit of our good works is inalienable, that is, it is strictly personal, and we cannot dispose of it for anyone else; it is the satisfactory value alone which we are free to dispose of. We have already explained that every work has a threefold result, (1) Merit, which belongs to the doer of the good work alone; (2) Satisfaction, which we can dispose of for others; (3) Impetration, or the power of obtaining some favour from God.
The Heroic Act has been enriched with special indulgences and privileges, of which the principal are the following. “(1) To priests who have made this act, the indult of a privileged altar every day. (2) The simple faithful can gain a plenary indulgence, applicable to the Souls in Purgatory only, each time they communicate, on condition they visit a church or public oratory and pray for the Pope’s intentions. (3) They may apply to the Holy Souls all indulgences which are not otherwise applicable by virtue of concession.
This Act leaves us perfectly free to pray for those souls in whom we are most interested; the application of these prayers is subject to the infinitely loving and perfect disposition of God. This Act does not oblige under pain of sin, and can be revoked at any time. It may be made without any special formula. It does not necessarily subject us to a long Purgatory ourselves, for it allows us to rest on the mercy of God in our regard, as we see from what is related in the Life of St. Gertrude.
This Saint had made a complete donation of all her works of satisfaction to the faithful departed, without reserving anything to herself to discharge her own debts. When she was about to die, she considered the great number of her sins, and then, recalling that she had given away all her satisfactions, began to fear lest she should now have to begin a long period of terrible suffering. But Our Lord reassured her, saying: “My daughter, your charity to the faithful departed will be of no detriment to you. Your generous donation has been most pleasing to Me, and I declare to you that all the pains you would have had to endure are now remitted, and your merit will be greatly increased in heaven.”
. . . Father John Morris, S.J., gives ten advantages of the Heroic Act, which we think it will be well to summarize here.
The first is the increase of our eternal glory, the possession in a greater degree of God for all eternity. The Heroic Act is an exchange of glory for merit, of Purgatory for Heaven, of time for eternity, of pain for glory and for God. “Essential reward is infinitely better than the forgiveness of temporal pain.” (St. Thomas.) It would be an act of cowardice to renounce such a reward for fear of temporal pain.
The second advantage is that the Act is truly a heroic act, and thus constitutes one of the greatest sacrifices we can make to God. We deliberately take upon ourselves to pay “to the last farthing” the whole of the debt which we now owe, and may ever owe, to God. We take upon ourselves, with our eyes open, the pain of sense assigned by Divine Justice as the equivalent of our sinful turning to creatures, and the pain of loss or delay of the Beatific Vision, and we refuse to our own selves the satisfactions by which that pain might be assuaged.
One seldom has a chance of doing a heroic act for God. Who knows if we do this one, but He may send us more, and so we will greatly advance His glory and gain a higher degree of possession of Him in Heaven. Nothing gives Him such glory as this.
The third advantage is that it is a Heroic Act of Charity, and thus makes us more like to that God Who laid down His life for us, and who has said that no man hath greater love than to lay down his life for his friends.
The fourth advantage of the Heroic Act is that it has a power of propitiation with God, and will induce Him to look on us with favour.
The fifth is that it gives a special joy to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and moves Him to a tender gratitude to those who give Him this pleasure.
The sixth is the patronage and favour of Mary, into whose hands the act is made, and at whose disposal our treasures are placed. We know for certain that they cannot be better disposed of both for our own selves and our friends as well as for the souls she loves.
The seventh is the happiness of the holy Angels, whom we thus enable to free their own special charges from suffering and present them to God.
The eighth is the friendship of the Saints, for every Saint in Heaven rejoices at the entrance of a soul into the glory they possess.
The ninth is the gratitude of the souls themselves to those who succour them.
The tenth is the consciousness we ourselves have of the offering we have made, which leads us to a more careful watch over ourselves to avoid all sin, for we shrink from adding to the debt we have undertaken to pay single-handed.
The form of the Act may be the briefest possible, and so it can easily be renewed and will keep alive within us a tender charity toward the Holy Souls and a desire to increase the worth of our offering by the fervour of our lives, for the repetition of acts gives force and fervour to our will.
The act Father Morris recommends is:
“Dear Lord, I make this offering of all I can give to the Holy Souls, through the hands of Thy Blessed Mother.”

Practice.—Do all you can to make the Heroic Act known and practised.

Indulgenced Prayer.—For saying in the morning the Hail Holy Queen and in the evening “We fly to thy patronage, O Holy Mother of God, despise not our petitions in our necessities, but ever deliver us from all dangers, O ever glorious and Blessed Virgin,” with the Versicle: “Make me worthy to praise thee, O Holy Virgin”; “Give me strength against thy enemies”; “Blessed be God in His Saints,” in reparation for all injuries to the images of our Lady and the Saints. (100 days daily; seven years and seven quarantines on Sunday.) Plenary, twice a month, on Sundays.

EXAMPLE.

Father Nieremberg, that devoted servant of the Holy Souls, gives us an example of a generosity which reaches heroism.
There was among his penitents at the court of Madrid, a lady of rank, who under his direction had attained to a high degree of virtue, but was tormented with an excessive fear of Purgatory, which made her dread death. She fell ill, and her fears so increased that she became inconsolable. Her holy confessor could not even induce her to receive the last Sacraments. She then suddenly lost consciousness. The Father, alarmed at the peril of this soul, retired into a chapel and offered the Holy Sacrifice to obtain for the invalid sufficient time to receive the Sacraments. At the same time he offered himself as a victim to undergo all the sufferings reserved for that poor soul in the next life. The Mass was no sooner ended than the lady regained consciousness and was entirely changed. She asked for the last Sacraments, received them with fervour, and expired with a smile on her lips.
From that time, the holy Father was afflicted with every kind of suffering of body and soul; the remaining sixteen years of his life were one long martyrdom and a most rigorous Purgatory. But what must be his reward?

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.


PSALM: DE PROFUNDIS

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).


RECITING THE ROSARY FOR THE HOLY SOULS.

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.


CATHOLIC LEAGUE OF PERPETUAL SUFFRAGE FOR THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY.

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

THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER.

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,
AN INDULGENCE OF SEVEN YEARS AND AS MANY QUARANTINES on each day of the month;
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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Of a pure Mind and simple Intention.

I. With two wings a man is lifted up above earthly things; that is with simplicity and purity.
Simplicity must be in the intention, purity in the affection.
Simplicity aims at God; purity takes hold of Him, and tastes Him.
No good action will hinder thee, if thou be free from inordinate affections.
If thou intendest and seekest nothing else but the will of God and the profit of thy neighbour, thou shalt enjoy internal liberty.
If thy heart were right, then every creature would be to thee a looking-glass of life and a book of holy doctrine.
There is no creature so little and contemptible as not to manifest the goodness of God.—Thomas à Kempis—Imitation of Christ Bk II, Ch IV, pt. I.

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December Devotion: The Immaculate Conception.

Virtues to practice: Conformity to the will of God, divine love.

Come, let us adore the King our Lord, who is to come!


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Novena for Advent

Hail and blessed be the hour and the moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, O my God! To hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.

(It is piously believed that whoever recites the above prayer fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew (Nov. 30th) until Christmas will obtain what is asked.)

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