Can We Avoid Purgatory.

Can We Avoid Purgatory.

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.

Can We Avoid Purgatory.

“Make friends with thine adversary quickly whilst thou art with him on the way, lest perchance thine adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence till thou have paid the last farthing.” (Matt. V, 25.)
To be reconciled with our adversary means to appease Divine Justice and to make satisfaction for our sins while we are “yet on the way” through life, before we arrive there where all penance is impossible, and all the rigours of Divine Justice must be endured to the full.
“He who purifies himself from his faults in the present life,” says St. Catherine of Genoa, “satisfies with a penny a debt of a thousand ducats; and he who waits until the other life to discharge his debts, consents to pay a thousand ducats for every penny he owes.”
What are these potent means of satisfaction?
They are devotion to the Most Blessed Mother of God; charity towards the living and the dead; mortification and obedience; devout reception of the Sacraments; confidence in the mercy of God; and the perfect acceptance of death in union with the death of Jesus on the Cross. To be able to make an efficacious use of these means, we must be first of all firmly resolved to make all our satisfactions in this world. We must be resolved to cleanse our souls by water and by fire, that is by the tears of penance and the fire of charity and good works.
To obtain purity of soul, we must strive to acquire a profound devotion to the Mother of God. She is the Mother of all the Souls in Purgatory, and she has herself revealed to us her Scapular, which is, as it were, the livery of the Queen of Heaven, giving special rights and privileges to those who wear it. On the 16th July, 1251, Mary appeared to St. Simon Stock, the Superior General of the Order of Mount Carmel, an Englishman, and, giving him a brown scapular, told him it was the pledge of a privilege which she had obtained for him and his brethren; that those who die devoutly, clothed with this Scapular, would be preserved from hell and have a speedy deliverance from Purgatory. She promised that if any religious or members of the confraternity of Mount Carmel were detained in Purgatory, she would descend thither on the first Saturday after their death and deliver them. The Scapular, therefore, was enriched by Mary herself with two privileges, preservation and deliverance; preservation from hell and deliverance from Purgatory.
At Otranto, a city in the kingdom of Naples, a lady of high rank heard a sermon given by a Carmelite Father, in which he set forth these two advantages of the Scapular. She immediately resolved to put on this livery of the Holy Virgin, and faithfully observed the rules of the Confraternity. She earnestly prayed that she might die on a Saturday, that she might the sooner be freed from Purgatory. After many years, she fell ill, and on a Wednesday the doctors told her that she could not live through the day. “You are mistaken,” she replied, “I shall die on Saturday”; and in fact she did. While her daughter was praying for her and shedding floods of tears, a great servant of God came to her, and said: “Weep not, my child, for to-day your mother has entered Heaven. I come to assure you of this on the part of God, for the Mother of Mercy has obtained this grace for her, thanks to the privileges of the Confraternity of the Scapular.”
Our Lord has left us many promises of the mercy which He will show to the merciful. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Forgive and you shall be forgiven.” Once a soul died who had not led a very perfect life. A holy nun saw this soul ascend almost at once to Heaven, at which she was much surprised. But Our Lord revealed to her that this soul had taken literally His words: “Judge not, and you shall not be judged,” and had always refrained from uncharitable judgments. Hence she had herself been delivered from an unfavourable judgment at the hour of death.
St. Peter Damian relates that a Roman nobleman named John Patrizzi, who had led a self-indulgent life, yet had been very charitable to the poor, died. A few days after a holy priest, while at prayer, was rapt into an ecstasy and transported to the Church of St. Cecilia where he saw a number of virgins resplendent in glory grouped round the throne of the Queen of Heaven. A poor woman, miserably clad in rags, entered, but having on her shoulders a cape of costly fur. Kneeling humbly at the feet of Mary, with her hands joined and her eyes filled with tears, she begged of Mary to have pity on the soul of the unfortunate John Patrizzi, who had just died and was suffering horribly in Purgatory. Three times she repeated this prayer with ever increasing earnestness, but without receiving any answer. At last she said: “O great Queen, I am that beggar who, at the entrance to your Basilica, asked alms in the depths of winter, being clad only in miserable rags. This man took from his shoulders the robe of costly fur which I wear, and gave it to me. Does not this act of charity, done in thy name, deserve his pardon?”
Mary replied: “This man is condemned to a long Purgatory for his many sins. But he practised two virtues: mercy to the poor and devotion to my altars, and therefore I will assist him.” The choir of virgins testified their gratitude to the Mother of Mercy. Patrizzi was brought in, pale and loaded with chains, which had inflicted deep wounds upon him. The Blessed Mother ordered his chains to be removed and garments of glory to be put on him, that he might join the happy choir around her throne. This was done, and the vision disappeared. Behold the reward of charity!
But spiritual acts of mercy are even more highly prized by God, especially those which are acts of the Christian virtues taught by Our Lord in the Gospel, such as meekness, humility, and forgiveness of injuries, for these give the greatest glory to God, as being the special fruits of the Incarnation and Redemption.
In the Life of St. Margaret Mary it is related that the father of one of her novices died, and his daughter begged the prayer of her saintly mistress for the repose of his soul. “Have no fear,” said the Saint, “it is we who should be asking his prayers. But ask your mother what was the generous action he performed just before his death, for this has won God’s favour for him.”
On inquiry it was found that a butcher had joined the procession of the Blessed Sacrament which conveyed the viaticum to the dying man. On that occasion the sick man caught sight of him, and motioning him to come and speak to him he humbly begged his pardon for the sharp words which he had from time to time addressed to him. For this act of Christian virtue he had been admitted at once into Paradise.
On another occasion, Our Lord showed to this Saint a soul who had departed this life, having but a very slight chastisement to undergo, because during life she had submitted to certain humiliations in the spirit of charity without even speaking of them. In recompense for this, she had been favourably judged by Our Lord. Here are acts of charity which are open to all of us.
We have already spoken of the value of the acceptance of the unavoidable mortifications of life, which are another of the means of supplying for Purgatory and expiating our sins in this life.
The Sacraments, when duly received by dying persons, purify the soul in a marvellous way, and take away even the remains of sin. They fill the soul with confidence and enable it to accept death in the right dispositions. This is the supreme and crowning mortification, and Blosius teaches that if a sinner were able to resign himself with full confidence and resignation to God’s Will at the moment of death, he would go straight to Heaven without passing through Purgatory. We have, then, only to make full use of the means enumerated in this chapter, and by God’s grace our Purgatory may either be undergone in this life or very greatly diminished.

Practice.—Accept cheerfully of all the trials of life, great and small as a means of fulfilling our debt of satisfaction to God.

Indulgenced Prayer.Angelus at the sound of the bell. (Thrice daily, 100 days each time; a plenary indulgence once a month, if said daily.)

EXAMPLE.

Once, when St. Gertrude had prayed for a departed soul, she saw him under a horrible form and as if blackened by fire and contorted with pain. She saw no one near him; but his sins, which he had not fully expiated, were his executioners, and each member suffered for the sins to which it had been accessory. Then St. Gertrude said to Our Lord: “My Lord, wilt thou not relieve this soul for my sake?” He replied: “Not only would I deliver this soul, but thousands of souls, for love of you! How do you wish me to show him mercy? Shall I release him at once from his pains?” “Perhaps, Lord,” she said, ‘‘this would be contrary to the decrees of your justice.” He answered: “It would not be so if you asked it with faith, for, as I foresee the future, I prepared him for this when in his agony.” She replied, “I beseech Thee, O Saviour of my soul, to perfect this work according to Thy mercy, in which I have perfect confidence.”
When she had said this, the soul appeared under a human form, and in great joy, but bearing some marks of his former sins; however, the Saint knew that he must be purified still further before he would be fit to enter into the divine presence, and thus it was necessary for him to suffer as if from the blows of an iron hammer, and he had continued so long in sin that the cleansing process was much delayed, and he also suffered as if exposed for a year to the scorching rays of the sun. She then understood that those who have committed many grievous sins are not assisted by the ordinary suffrages of the Church until they are partly purified by Divine Justice, and that they cannot at once avail themselves of the prayers of the faithful, which are always descending on the souls in Purgatory like a gentle and refreshing dew.
The Saint then asked our Lord what prayer or work would obtain relief for such great sinners, and He replied that divine love, such as she had for Him at that moment, could alone effect this; neither prayers nor labours without it will have the effect, and He added: “As none can have this grace unless I bestow it, so none can obtain these advantages after death unless I have prepared them by some special grace during life. Know, however, that the prayers and labours of the faithful relieve the soul by degrees from this heavy burden, and they are delivered sooner or later, according to the fervour and pure intentions of those who strive to help them, and according to the merits they have acquired during life.”
Then the soul in Purgatory besought Our Lord by the love which had brought Him down from Heaven to die on the Cross, to have mercy on him, and to reward abundantly those who prayed for him. And Our Lord appeared to take a gold piece from him, and lay it by as a recompense for those who had helped him by their prayers.
We see, therefore, with what love and fervour we should pray for the Holy Souls, and how they also pray for those who relieve them.

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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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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