The Pain of Loss.

The Pain of Loss.


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 Pain of Loss.

As we have said, the pain of loss is harder to bring home to ourselves than the pain of sense; but it is incomparably greater and more of a torment to the souls in Purgatory than the pain of sense. It has perhaps been more vividly described by St. Catherine of Genoa than by any other writer. Those who dwell upon this aspect of Purgatory are more concerned to show the effect which the vision of Jesus in His Sacred Humanity at the particular judgment has on the soul.

“The sight of Him will kindle in thy heart
All tender, reverential, gracious thoughts
Thou wilt be sick with love, and yearn for Him
And thou wilt hate and loathe thyself; for though
Now sinless, thou wilt feel that thou hast sinned
As never thou didst feel; and wilt desire
To slink away, and hide thee from His sight
And yet will have a longing aye to dwell
Within the beauty of His countenance.
And these two pains, so counter and so keen—
The longing for Him, when thou seest Him not;
The shame of self at thought of seeing Him—
Will be thy veriest, sharpest Purgatory.”

—(Dream of Gerontius)

For the soul is so entranced, fascinated, and enlightened by the glory and beauty of this sight that the sole thought it can retain, is the knowledge of its own unfitness to enjoy the possession and the sight of its Divine Love; it therefore welcomes and seeks the purifying flames with an intensity of longing which we are quite unable to imagine or describe. “It has no memory,” says St. Catherine of Genoa, “no memory at all of its past sins or of the earth. When the soul leaves the body, and finds itself out of that state of purity in which it was created, seeing the hindrance, and that it can only be removed by Purgatory, it plunges into it without a moment’s hesitation; and were there no such means provided to remove the impediment, it would forthwith beget within itself a hell which would be worse than Purgatory, because by reason of this impediment it would see itself unable to reach God, its last end, and this hindrance would be so full of pain, that, in comparison with it, Purgatory, though, as I have said, it be like hell, would be as nothing.”
Again: “I see that the Being of God is so pure that should a soul see in itself even the least mote of imperfection, it would rather cast itself into a thousand hells than go with that one spot into the presence of the Divine Majesty. Therefore, seeing Purgatory ordained to take away such blemishes, the soul plunges itself therein, and deems it a great mercy that it can thus remove its spots. No tongue can express, no mind can understand, how dreadful is Purgatory. Its pain is like that of hell, and yet I see any soul with the least stain of imperfection accept it as a mercy, not thinking it of any moment when compared with being kept from its Love. The love of God directs towards the soul certain burning rays of light, which seem penetrating and powerful enough to annihilate, not merely the body, but, were it possible, the very soul itself. They work in two ways: they purify and they annihilate. Look at gold: the oftener it is melted, the better it becomes, and it could be melted so as to destroy every single defect. Such is the action of fire on material things. Now the soul cannot be annihilated so far as it is in God, but only in itself; and the more it is purified, the more it annihilates itself, till at last it becomes quite pure and rests in God. Gold which has been purified to a certain point ceases to suffer any diminution from the action of fire, however intense it be, for fire does not destroy the gold itself, but only the dross it may chance to have. In like manner the divine fire acts on souls; God holds them in the furnace, until every defect has been burnt away, and until He has brought them, each in his own degree, to a certain standard of perfection. Thus purified, they rest in God, without any alloy, their very being is God, they become impassible because there is nothing left to be consumed. And if in this state of purity they were kept in the fire, they would feel no pain.”

Practice.—Avoid the least deliberate sin.

Indulgenced Prayer.—When genuflecting say: “We adore Thee, O most holy Lord, Jesus Christ, here and in all the churches of the whole world, because by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.” (Seven years and seven quarantines each time. Plenary once a month.)


St. Bede relates that there was in Northumberland a man named Drithelm, who with his family led a good Christian life. He fell sick, and growing rapidly worse, died, to the immense grief of his wife and children. They passed the night in tears by his remains, but the following day, before his burial, he suddenly returned to life, rose up and sat down. All were so terrified that they at once fled, except his wife. “Fear not,” he said to her, ‘‘it is God who has restored my life, and I have yet a long time to live on this earth, but it will be very different from the life I have hitherto led.” He arose, went to church, and remained there a long time in prayer. Then he returned home, but only to take leave of his family, for he said that he could now live only to prepare himself for death, and advised them to do the same. He then divided his property into three parts, one for his children, another for his wife, and the third for alms. Being now reduced to complete poverty, he went to a monastery and begged to be received as a penitent, who would be a servant to all. The Abbot gave him a retired cell, which he occupied for the rest of his life. He gave himself up to prayer, the hardest labour, and extraordinary acts of penance. Thus he would sometimes plunge himself into frozen water in winter and remain there for hours.
On being pressed to relate his experiences in the other world, he said that, on leaving his body, he was entrusted to a guide who led him to a large deep valley of enormous extent, all fire on one side, all ice and snow on the other. This mysterious valley was filled with innumerable souls, who threw themselves incessantly from one side to the other. His guide told him this was not hell, but the place of punishment for souls who had neglected to confess their sins during life, and had deferred their conversion. Some were condemned to remain there till the Day of Judgment, but others could be freed by suffrages, Masses, and alms. If anyone expressed surprise at the fearful penances of Drithelm, he answered that he had seen fire and cold that were much worse. He never ceased to afflict his body till the day when God at last called him to Himself. St. Bede remarks that this vision is conformable to the words of Holy Scripture: “Let him pass from the snow waters to excessive heat.” (Job XXIV, 19.) This strange event produced a sensation in England and was the means of the conversion of many sinners.


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 Thy eternal Father in behalf of the Holy Souls in purgatory, the Most Precious Blood which poured forth from the Sacred Wounds of Thy adorable Body, together with Thy 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 particular 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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