poor souls

All Souls Day – the Faithful Departed

November 2, 2012

An Angel Frees Souls from Purgatory c. 1610, Ludovico Carracci, oil on canvas, Pinacoteca, Vatican

Yesterday we celebrated the feast of the Church Triumphant – all those who ran the good race and by the grace of God finished.  When we are agitated and troubled over events or situations in our lives, we can be comforted by the fact that we have an enormous crowd praying for us, cheering us on toward that perfect charity that comes from the mercy seat of God.

Today we celebrate the feast of the Church Suffering – all those who having departed this life, are still being purified and readied to join the Church Triumphant. St. Odilo, Abbot of Cluny (Benedictine), established in his Order towards the end of the tenth century a general commemoration of all the faithful departed which soon spread to the whole Western Church. This is why we say, “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.  May they rest in peace. Amen” at the end of every hour of the Divine Office.  Praying for the dead is so important that the Church makes it part of our sacred liturgy.

The Church Triumphant, the Church Suffering, and we, the Church Militant, are bound together by the bonds of charity. We practice acts of mercy, charity, and piety when we pray for the dead.

St. Augustine wrote:                                                                      

Grant, O Lord, that I may experience a reasonable sorrow at the death of those who are dear to me, shedding tears of resignation over our mortal condition, yet soon restraining them by this consoling thought of the faith: in dying, the faithful have only withdrawn a little from us to go into a better world.

May I not weep as do the pagans who are without hope.  I may have reason to be sad, but in my affliction hope will comfort me.  With hope so great, it is not fitting, O my God, that Your temple should be in mourning.  You dwell there, You who are our Consoler; and You cannot fail in Your promises.

St. Gregory Nazianzen wrote:

O Master and Creator of the universe, Lord of life and death, You give our souls being and fill them with blessings: You carry out and transform everything by the work of Your Word, at the time foreordained and according to the plan of Your Wisdom; receive, today, our deceased brethren and give them eternal rest.

May You welcome us, in our turn, at the moment pleasing to You, after having guided us and left us in the body for as long as You think useful and salutary.

Made ready in Your fear, without trouble and without delay, may You receive us on the last day.  Grant that we may not leave the things of this world with regret, like those who are too much attached to earth and the flesh; grant that we may advance resolutely and happily toward that blessed and unending life which is in Christ Jesus Our Lord, to whom be glory forever and ever.  Amen.

For more on purgatory, Why the Catholic Church Prays for the Dead, Easy Chaplet for the Poor Souls, Indulgences Applied to the Poor Souls, and Pie Jesu Domine – Gabriel Faure.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

(Click on the link above to read why I end my posts this way.)

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Friday, November 2nd, 2012 Catholic Church, liturgy, suffering 4 Comments

Year of Faith – Plenary Indulgences

October 9, 2012

Thanks to the Pope having inherited the Keys of Peter, as of October 11 we will enter a year of special grace.  From October 11, 2012 until November 24, 2013, Catholics taking part in the Year of Faith will be able to earn plenary indulgences for doing specified acts of devotion.

From the Apostolic Penitentiary we have:

Since the primary objective is to develop sanctity of life to the highest degree possible on this earth, and thus to attain the most sublime level of pureness of soul, immense benefit may be derived from the great gift of Indulgences which, by virtue of the power conferred upon her by Christ, the Church offers to everyone who, following the due norms, undertakes the special prescripts to obtain them.

During the Year of Faith, which will last from 11 October 2012 to 24 November 2013, Plenary Indulgence for the temporal punishment of sins, imparted by the mercy of God and applicable also to the souls of deceased faithful [remember the Poor Souls in Purgatory, please], may be obtained by all faithful who, truly penitent, take Sacramental Confession and the Eucharist and pray in accordance with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff.

(A) Each time they attend at least three sermons during the Holy Missions, or at least three lessons on the Acts of the Council or the articles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in church or any other suitable location.

(B) Each time they visit, in the course of a pilgrimage, a papal basilica, a Christian catacomb, a cathedral church or a holy site designated by the local ordinary for the Year of Faith (for example, minor basilicas and shrines dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Apostles or patron saints), and there participate in a sacred celebration, or at least remain for a congruous period of time in prayer and pious meditation, concluding with the recitation of the Our Father, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form, and invocations to the Blessed Virgin Mary and, depending on the circumstances, to the Holy Apostles and patron saints.

(C) Each time that, on the days designated by the local ordinary for the Year of Faith, … in any sacred place, they participate in a solemn celebration of the Eucharist or the Liturgy of the Hours, adding thereto the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form. 

(D) On any day they choose, during the Year of Faith, if they make a pious visit to the baptistery, or other place in which they received the Sacrament of Baptism, and there renew their baptismal promises in any legitimate form.

Diocesan or eparchal bishops, and those who enjoy the same status in law, on the most appropriate day during that period or on the occasion of the main celebrations, … may impart the papal blessing with the Plenary Indulgence.

So we must find out what our diocesan bishops will be designating for us.  Usually this information will be available through the chancery via a diocesan publication, appear in parish bulletins, and may be read from the pulpit.  We can be sure that they will be generous with opportunities.

This Pope, as did Pope John Paul II, has shown special care for the disabled and sick.  They, too, will be able to earn plenary indulgences even if they cannot get to the locations specified or perform some of the acts necessary.  The Penitentiary document says:

…if, united in spirit and thought with other faithful, and especially at the times when the words of the Supreme Pontiff and diocesan bishops are transmitted by television or radio, they recite … the Our Father, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form, and other prayers that concord with the objectives of the Year of Faith, offering up the suffering and discomfort of their lives.

The usual conditions of making a good confession and receiving Holy Communion apply.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church has always led me into prayer.  Mine is filled with page markers and yellow highlights.  We must know our Faith to live it properly.  It is a serious and moral obligation we have if we are to call ourselves Catholic.  God speaks to us through these pages and leads us to a deeper understanding of His Word in sacred scripture.

This Year of Faith couldn’t come at a better time for devout Catholics.  The holier and more committed to Christ and the teachings of the Church we become, the more graces we can bring down upon this needy world and the more we will practice the virtue of charity so lacking around us.  How about inviting a fallen away Catholic to join you in studying the Faith this year and taking part in the activities in your diocese?

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

(Click on the link above to read why I end my posts this way.)

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Tuesday, October 9th, 2012 Catholic Church 1 Comment

Prayer of St. Gertrude the Great

November 27, 2011

Crown of Thorns, 1520-25, Lucas, Cranach the Elder (b. 1472, Kronach, d. 1553, Weimar), Oil and tempera on limewood, Private collection

St. Gertrude the Great was quite an amazing woman, a glory of the Benedictine order.  I have a large book of her life that I’ve not been able to finish reading, but one of these days…

Although today is the first day of Advent, it’s still November, the month of the Holy Souls.  You may have heard this prayer or even used it yourself a time or two.  The good people of St. Peter Parish in Tulsa pray it after reciting the rosary before High Mass.  I have it on the back of a laminated holy card that I keep in my breviary.  Although we end every hour of the Divine Office with the “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord” prayer, I like to pray St. Gertrude’s prayer after every hour, too.

What strikes me about this prayer is the commonality between it, the chaplet of Divine Mercy, and the Chaplet for the Poor Souls, all beginning with “Eternal Father, I offer Thee…”. These prayers stretch across many centuries with a continuity of theology – we Christians pleading the blood of Christ for mercy from the Father.

Prayer of St. Gertrude the Great

Eternal Father, I offer thee the most precious blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family.  Amen.

“…[T]hose in my own home…”  = me and my husband.

“…[F]or sinners everywhere…” = everyone in the world.

“…[W]ithin my family.” = the living extended family.

St. Teresa of Avila wrote in one of her books that the greatest alms we can give is to pray for sinners.  Who among us is so poor we cannot give these alms daily?

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

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Sunday, November 27th, 2011 Catholic Church, prayers, spirituality 9 Comments

Ridding Ourselves of Rust

November 14, 2011

In keeping with remembering in prayer the Holy Souls in purgatory this month of November, and very much wanting them to pass quickly through their state of final purgation, I am continuing to post on aspects of this subject, especially on the state of Christian perfection necessary to see God face to face (1 Cor. 13:12).

Crucifixion and the Holy Souls in Purgatory

The great lesson purgatory teaches us is that of conforming ourselves so perfectly to the will of God in this life that our only attachment at the time of death is to Him.  Of ourselves we can do no such thing, but with God, all things are possible.  That we should even want to do so is a great grace of the love and mercy the infinitely generous Jesus grants us.

I have written before that we must begin in this life the disposition of soul we will carry into eternity: perfect charity.  In the analogy of ridding ourselves of rust, St. Catherine of Genoa writes in her treatise on purgatory:

And if a soul were brought to see God when it still had the smallest thing of which to purge itself, a great injury would be done to it.  For since pure love and supreme justice could not brook that stained soul, and to bear with its presence would not befit God [Rev. 21: 27], that soul would suffer a torment worse than ten purgatories.

To see God when full satisfaction had not yet been given to Him, even if the time of purgation lacked but the twinkling of an eye, would be unbearable to the soul.  It would sooner go to a thousand hells to rid itself of the little rust still clinging to it, than stand in the divine presence when it was not yet wholly cleansed.

It is better to die in the state of a totally pure heart (Mt. 5:8) and go straight to heaven than to die loving Jesus but still requiring that trial by fire.  Ideally then, whatever we can do in this life to purify our souls of selfishness and to scrub ourselves clean of the temporal punishment due to sin moves us closer and closer to that perfect charity God desires of us.  Jesus has given us the graces of the sacraments, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy to follow, the examples of the saints to imitate, and the gifts of pain and suffering in this life to help us become perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (Mt. 5:48).

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, a great early 20th century saint hidden in the Carmelite cloister of Dijon writes so simply:

Love draws its object after it; we draw Jesus after us, He draws us into Himself. Then, carried away above ourselves, into the inner recesses of love, gazing upon God, we go to meet Him, to meet the Spirit that is His Love; and this Love burns us, consumes us, draws us into the unity where beatitude awaits us.

This is heaven.  The journey of burning purification begins now – today – if we so will.  We can be confident that even though we falter, we will never be abandoned by Jesus if we perform our daily duties out of love of God, if we confess our sins with true repentance and a resolve to stop sinning, and if we ask His help to be like Him.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

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Monday, November 14th, 2011 Catholic Church, spirituality 8 Comments

Chaplet for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

November 9, 2011

In the past week I’ve written about purgatory a couple of times.  Why the Catholic Church Pray for the Dead explains the doctrine of  purgatory and its origins. St. Catherine of Genoa Explains Purgatory gives us insight into this state of being for many souls who die in the Lord but are not immediately taken to the beatific vision.

One of the great acts of charity we can perform is to pray for the Holy Souls, part of our heavenly family who have not yet taken possession of the mansion God has prepared for them. Here is a post containing a chaplet we can easily say for these people we will see again one day.

Easy Chaplet for the Poor Souls

I invite my readers to consider praying it throughout the year, especially in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.  It’s also good to pray when you’re feeling under the weather or going through suffering of your own.  Sometimes I don’t feel like praying for myself at all, except to do the will of God.  This chaplet makes it easier for me to pray at those times.  I figure at least somebody is going to get some good out of whatever blue funk I might be in.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever. Amen.

(Click on the link above to read why I am ending my posts with this.)

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Wednesday, November 9th, 2011 religion, spirituality Comments Off

St. Catherine of Genoa Explains Purgatory

November 7, 2011

St. Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510) was one of the more remarkable saints when it comes to experiencing a major conversion from the world to God.  For her times she was also a leading woman in the city, running a hospital she and her husband founded.

We remember St. Catherine especially for her treatise on purgatory: Fire of Love!: Understanding Purgatory.  I’m reading it again after some years as a way to connect more closely with those who have died in Christ and who are undergoing the purification she wrote about.  Here are some paragraphs from the book describing the burning desire for full union in charity with God:

I perceive there to be so much conformity between God and the soul that when He sees it in the purity in which His Divine Majesty created it, He gives it a burning love, which draws it to Himself, which is strong enough to destroy it, immortal though it be, and which causes it to be so transformed in God that it sees itself as though it were none other than God.  Unceasingly God draws the soul to Himself and breathes fire into it, never letting it go until He has led it to the state from which it came forth — that is, to the pure cleanliness in which it was created.

When with its inner sight the soul sees itself drawn by God with such loving fire, then it is melted by the heat of the glowing love for God its most dear Lord, which it feels overflowing it.  And it sees by the divine light that God does not cease drawing it, nor from leading it, lovingly and with much care and unfailing foresight, to its full perfection, doing this out of His pure love. [This is what St. Paul meant when he said, "for this is the will of God, your sanctification" 1 Thess. 4:3.]

But the soul, because it is hindered by sin, cannot go where God draws it; it cannot follow the uniting look by which God would draw it to Himself.  Again the soul perceives the grievousness of being held back from seeing the divine light; the soul’s instinct, too, since it is drawn by that uniting look, craves to be unhindered.

I say it is the sight of these things that begets in the souls the pain they feel in purgatory. Not that they make account of their pain; although it is most great, they deem it far less evil than to find themselves going against the will of God, whom they clearly see to be on fire with extreme and pure love for them.

Strongly and unceasingly this love draws the soul with that uniting look, as though it had nothing else than this to do.  Could the soul who understood this find a worse purgatory in which to rid itself sooner of all the hindrance in its way, it would swiftly fling itself therein, driven by the conforming love between itself and God.

When gold has been purified up to twenty-four carats, it can no longer be consumed by any fire; not the gold itself but only the dross can be burnt away.  Thus the divine fire works in the soul: God holds the soul in the fire until its every imperfection is burnt away and it is brought to perfection [Mt. 5: 48], as it were, to the purity of twenty-four carats — each soul, however, according to its own degree.

When the soul has been purified it remains wholly in God, having nothing of the self in it, its being is in God, who has led this cleansed soul to Himself.  The soul can suffer no more, for nothing is left in it to be burnt away. Were it held in the fire when it has thus been cleansed, it would feel no pain.  Rather the fire of divine love would be to it like eternal life and in no way contrary to it.

There is much more in this great little book, but for me what hits home is the need, at the time of death, to have no attachment of any kind to sin or this world.  We can only get there by practicing detachment every day – by holding it in our minds and considering our relationship with the people and things around us frequently.

The last two paragraphs above are very much like what we find in the biblical references to being tried by fire.  Contemplating purgatory is a big incentive to submit to all the trials God sends us in this life so that we will be in perfect charity with Him at the moment of death.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever. Amen.

(Click on the link above to read why I am ending my posts with this.)

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Monday, November 7th, 2011 Spiritual reading, spirituality 3 Comments

Sunday Snippets – A Catholic Carnival

November 6, 2011

Welcome to Sunday Snippets, our weekly meme hosted by RAnn at This That and the Other Thing. Please join us, read others’ posts of the week, and comment if you like.

This week I worked on a vocation series.  If you think it’s only about priests and nuns, you’d be surprised.  I wrote these posts to encourage more conversation in families and parishes on this important subject.

What is a Vocation?g

Distinct Vocations

Vocations Are Not…

Discerning One’s Vocation

Also, because November is the month dedicated to the Poor Souls I wrote Why the Catholic Church prays for the Dead.  This is about as close to apologetics as I’ll probably ever get.  If you’ve ever encountered non-Catholics who deny the existence of purgatory, this article may help you.  As I wrote in How to Get More From Reading the Bible, God shows us some things without using specific words.

Another awesome image from the heavens and APOD:

HH-222 The Waterfall Nebula

HH-222: The Waterfall Nebula
Image Credit:
Z. Levay (STScI/AURA/NASA), T.A. Rector (U. Alaska Anchorage) & H. Schweiker (NOAO/AURA/NSF), KPNO, NOAO

Explanation: What created the Waterfall Nebula? No one knows. The structure seen in the region of NGC 1999 in the Great Orion Molecular Cloud complex is one of the more mysterious structures yet found on the sky. Designated HH-222, the elongated gaseous stream stretches about ten light years and emits an unusual array of colors. One hypothesis is that the gas filament results from the wind from a young star impacting a nearby molecular cloud. That would not explain, however, why the Waterfall and fainter streams all appear to converge on a bright but unusual non thermal radio source located toward the upper left of the curving structure. Another hypothesis is that the unusual radio source originates from a binary system containing a hot white dwarf, neutron star, or black hole, and that the Waterfall is just a jet from this energetic system. Such systems, though, are typically strong X-rays emitters, and no X-rays have been detected. For now, this case remains unsolved. Perhaps well-chosen future observations and clever deductive reasoning will unlock the true origin of this enigmatic wisp in the future.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever. Amen.

(Click on the link above to read why I am ending my posts with this.)

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Saturday, November 5th, 2011 Catholic Church, Sunday Snippets 2 Comments

Why the Catholic Church Prays for the Dead

November 4, 2011

Offering Mass for the Poor Souls

November is the month in which we Catholics especially remember those who have gone before us to eternal rest but who have need of additional purification before being admitted to heaven.  Monday is the weekday devoted to the Poor Souls throughout the year.

Newsflash: the Catholic Church didn’t invent purgatory.  God did. The practice of praying and offering sacrifice for the Poor Souls, called that because they cannot any longer help themselves to acquire that perfect charity necessary for the beatific vision, actually began among the Jews long before the birth of Christ.

The Latin “purgo” means “to cleanse morally, purify, expiate.” Purgatory refers to the process of final sanctification of the soul who has not been directly admitted to heaven upon death.

The Catholic Church teaches from Sacred Scripture and Tradition that:

1.  We would die separated from Holy God, except:

2.  Jesus died in our place, taking our sins to the cross. Then he rose from the dead, to give us a resurrected life in Heaven.

3.  Those who accept this and seek forgiveness will have their sins removed and will live united with Jesus in Heaven.

4.  Those who understand this yet reject it will die in their sins, unable to enter Heaven, thereby choosing Hell.

5.  The souls who die loving Jesus but have failed to love others fully (what we do unto others we do unto Jesus; see Matt. 25:40) must be purified before they can experience the fullness of Heaven because “nothing unclean shall enter into it” (Rev. 21: 27) When we incur a debt to God through sin, the debt must be fully discharged or we die unclean even though forgiven.

6.  We are all sinners; even after we’ve been freed from Original Sin in our baptisms. We cannot become holy by our own efforts.

The necessity of purgatory can be likened to a man who murders another person, whether in cold blood or by accident.  When he is caught, he either confesses and is sentenced or is tried and found guilty on the evidence.  Even if he apologizes to the family and friends of the one he murdered and is forgiven, he must still go to prison to make atonement for his sin under the law.  If we have not atoned for our sins in this life, God, in his mercy provides for that final purification when we die because Christ opened the gates of heaven for us and we must be in perfect charity with God to enter.

When did the belief in purgatory originate?

It is impossible to say exactly when the Jews began to believe the doctrine of purgatory, but we find references to it in the Old Testament.  In Wis. 3:1-7, God tells us:

“But the souls of the just are in God’s hand; no torment will touch them. In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to be dead; their departure was reckoned as defeat, and their going from us a disaster. But they are at peace, for though in the sight of men they may suffer punishment, they have a sure hope of immortality, and after a little chastisement they will receive great blessings, because God has tested them and found them worthy to be His. He put them to the proof like gold in a crucible, and found them acceptable like an offering burnt whole on the altar. In the hour of their judgment they will shine in glory and will sweep over the world like sparks through stubble.”

We find additional allegorical (see my post on How to Get More From Reading the Bible) or outright references to purgatory in Dan. 12:10, Zechariah 13:9, Malachai 3: 2-3, and 2 Maccabees 12: 43-46.  Each of these verses tells of the need for purification or prayers for the dead.

For the sake of validity, we must also say here that all the books of the Old Testament recognized by the Catholic Church were in use and accepted as the Word of God by the Jews a full 200 years before Christ was born. The final ratification of the complete books of the Bible that were in use from the Apostolic age on occurred at the councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397).  The bishops and Fathers of the Church present discerned at those councils the canon of the inspired Word of God and so the Bible remained until the 1500s when various individuals under their own authority began excising books that did not support their new theologies.

Purgatory in the Jewish Tradition

The roots of Christianity are Jewish. Before Christ’s birth Rabbi Shammai (50 BC – AD 30), a key major teacher of early rabbinical Judaism, is on record as having interpreted Zechariah 13:9 as referring to a state of purification after death.  Rabbinic literature interprets Isaiah 66:15-16 and Malachi 3:2-3 as referring to the purgatorial process, and even the Talmud in Sabbath 33b mentions purgatory. [1]

The Jewish historian Josephus commented on the endurance of the Jews under siege in the year 63: “Just as if deep peace enfolded the city, the daily sacrifices, offerings for the dead, and every other act of worship were meticulously carried out to the glory of God” (The Jewish War).

Observant Jews today chant the Kaddish for their loved ones.  The Mourner’s Kaddish asks God’s forgiveness for any sins the departed may have committed, begging Him to grant the departed eternal peace.  The Jews also offer alms and good deeds for the dead as is tradition in the Catholic Church. [2] We can see from this that the belief in purgation after death is very ancient. Jesus and the apostles would have considered the doctrine of purgatory a given and all Jews hearing their words would have understood the meaning just as today nobody needs explanations of Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

The New Testament on purgatory

If the Jews were wrong about their belief in a place of purification, Jesus would have surely corrected this in His preaching. However, He reinforced it, as did Matthew, Paul, Peter, John, and the writer to the Hebrews. In Matthew 5: 26 Jesus says:  “Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing.”

Note that Jesus does not say “until I pay the last farthing for you.”  He justifies us with His blood, and without Him nothing we do of ourselves will merit heaven, but we must take responsibility for our actions and be cleansed before entering the presence of our heavenly Father (Rev. 21: 27).  This cleansing may take place on earth or it will take place after death.

St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 says:

“Every man’s work shall be manifest; for the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work, of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work burn, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.”

The quote is in concordance with the verses of Zechariah and Malachai cited above regarding the refiner’s fire.  Other New Testament references are: Timothy 1:16-18, Hebrews 12:14, Hebrews 12:22-23, 1 Peter 4:6.

Early Christian practices expressing belief in purgatory

Church doctrines derive from the written Word and oral Tradition handed down from the Apostles, the last of whom was John and with whom revelation ended.  The tombs and catacombs of the early Christians contained graffiti or inscriptions with words of petition for peace and rest.  It is also known that the practice in Apostolic times was to use a diptych at the altar which contained the names of the dead to be remembered at Mass.  These practices of the early Church show belief in purgatory because those in heaven have no need for our prayers of supplication on their behalf.

Purification

Saint Catherine of Genoa is known for her treatise on the Poor Souls.  In Fire of Love!: Understanding Purgatory she documents her understanding of the state of souls awaiting the beatific vision.  In a similar mode, Pope Benedict XVI writes of purgatory in Spes Salvi #47 clearly in reference to 1 Cor.:

“Some recent theologians are of the opinion that the fire which both burns and saves is Christ himself, the Judge and Savior. The encounter with him is the decisive act of judgment. Before his gaze all falsehood melts away…. Yet in the pain of this encounter, when the impurity and sickness of our lives become evident to us, there lies salvation. His gaze, the touch of his heart heals us through an undeniably painful transformation “as through fire”. But it is a blessed pain, in which the holy power of his love sears through us like a flame, enabling us to become totally ourselves and thus totally of God. In this way the inter-relation between justice and grace also becomes clear: the way we live our lives is not immaterial, but our defilement does not stain us for ever if we have at least continued to reach out towards Christ, towards truth and towards love. Indeed, it has already been burned away through Christ’s Passion. At the moment of judgment we experience and we absorb the overwhelming power of his love over all the evil in the world and in ourselves. The pain of love becomes our salvation and our joy.” [3]

From both Scripture and Tradition we can say confidently that the doctrine of purgatory is true; some souls do endure a state of final purification because they have not died in perfect charity; it is temporary; the people in this state have been assured of salvation; and we can help them in their purification with our prayers, almsgiving, sacrifices, and good deeds on their behalf.  By remembering the Poor Souls this way, we are exercising charity and participating in the communion of saints which we profess in the Apostles’ Creed.

The Church prays in the Tract of All Souls Day (1962 liturgical books):

Absolve, O Lord, the souls of all the faithful departed from every bond of sin.  And by the help of Thy grace may they be enabled to escape the avenging judgment and enjoy the bliss of everlasting light.

[1] http://www.fisheaters.com/purgatory.html

[2] http://www.yahrzeit.org/qak.html#Catholics%20do

[3] http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20071130_spe-salvi_en.html

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Friday, November 4th, 2011 Catholic Church 5 Comments

Advent with Mary and Joseph

December 7, 2010

Nativity, 1597, Federico Fiori Barocci (b. 1526, Urbino, d. 1612, Urbino), oil on canvas, Museo del Prado, Madrid

This month’s Una Voce Arkansas Ozarks Regional Newsletter December 2010 is ready for downloading. To know how Mary and Joseph spent the first Advent – what life was really like for them in the practical realm – you’ll want to read the second article.

Of course, enjoy the whole newsletter, including how to enroll deceased family and friends in the Rorate Caeli Purgatorial Society.

V.  Praised be Jesus Christ!

R.  Now and forever.  Amen.

(Click on the link above to read why I am ending my posts with this.)

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Sabbath Moments

November 20, 2010

Welcome to the meme, Sabbath Moments, hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace. These are the times when we just be with the Lord rather than do. Visit Colleen and check out the Sabbath Moments of others for some quick inspiration.

Monday of this past week I was feeling really good and got on a roll writing three posts on the late Polish composer Henryk Gorecki and Pope John Paul II.  That day I also got the Una Voce Arkansas Ozarks Regional Newsletter uploaded and available in the newsletter section of this site.

“Terrific,” I thought.  “If things keep up this way I’ll have most of my research done for my ebook on purgatory and move along toward getting my editingandproofing.com site ready for customers.”

Hah!  Tuesday I came down with a sinus/bronchial tube infection that threw me off all my wondrously laid plans which vanished into the ether. I’ve been off-line since I started taking prescription drugs on Tuesday evening.  Moving around doing ordinary things still sends me into paroxysms of coughing and when that happens my head feels like it wants to explode.  Thank God for Bufferin!

As is usual for me when I feel ill, I grabbed my rosary and descended into a stupor. I have no idea how many rosaries I prayed or even if I finished one.  What I’m sure of is that God in His mercy let a few souls out of purgatory this week because I offered up my suffering with joy for them.

I hope my Sabbath Moments next week will be more pleasant!  God bless all of you who visited here.

V.  Praised be Jesus Christ!

R.  Now and forever.  Amen.

(Click on the link above to read why I am ending my posts with this.)

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Saturday, November 20th, 2010 Sabbath Moments 9 Comments

Sunday Snippets – A Catholic Carnival

November 14, 2010

Welcome to Sunday Snippets, a weekly meme hosted by RAnn at This That and the Other Thing, where we share our posts for the week.  Be sure to see what other Catholic bloggers are contributing by visiting RAnn.

This week I posted a clip from Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem and wrote a bit about him and the section, Pie Jesu Domine.

I added a prayer for deliverance From a Sudden and Unprovided Death to my site and mentioned my good neighbor’s passing this week.

Sabbath Moments says a little more about my neighbor – he was special in a way not seen very often these days.

For a striking resemblance to the recent martyrdom of the Chaldeans at Mass in Baghdad see the excerpt from Psalm 44 and my comments at Praying the Psalms – Psalm 44.

Here is Globular Star Cluster NGC 6934. When I first saw it, it seemed to me that these stars looked like a fireworks display seen from a perspective of standing directly underneath the explosion looking upward.  These stars are about 10 billion years old.


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Sunday, November 14th, 2010 Sunday Snippets 3 Comments

From a Sudden and Unprovided Death…

November 9, 2010

Our neighbor who was diagnosed with stage 4 squamous cell cancer in May passed away early this morning.  He was a good son and brother who saw his mission in life to care for his ailing mother who passed away shortly after he was diagnosed. Please say some prayers for the repose of his soul.  God will surely bless him for the many years he made it possible for his family and friends to enjoy his mother who was a lovely person.  Filial piety.

Since this is the month of the Poor Souls, I’ve been thinking about the Church’s prayers for deliverance from a sudden and unprovided death.  I put them under the page at this site, “Prayers for the Dying.”

It’s always a good idea to remember that we will not know the day or the hour of our passing, and to be ready for it always, trusting in the mercy of God.

V.  Praised be Jesus Christ!

R.  Now and forever.  Amen.

(Click on the link above to read why I am ending my posts with this.)

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Tuesday, November 9th, 2010 religion, spirituality 3 Comments

Easy Chaplet for the Poor Souls

November 4, 2010

Every time we pray the Apostles’ Creed we say, “I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints….

Perhaps the most overlooked members of the communion of saints are the souls in Purgatory, yet offering prayers for their release into heaven is one of the easiest ways of  gaining fellow prayer warriors to help us in our daily life.

Imagine the joy of the soul who can do nothing for herself but who is released to the Beatific Vision through our intercession. Will she not plead to God on our behalf for the graces to remain faithful to Him in this life and join her in praise of the Trinity at our death?  What greater return of charity for charity can there be?

Praying for the Poor Souls is a kind of almsgiving open to all and one which will bring down great blessings on us. Since November is the month dedicated to the Poor Souls, I present the following from a post I wrote last November.

Chaplets and rosaries are particularly useful to people who aren’t well enough to get to Mass, and who feel just too weak or tired to do any other devotions or read the Bible.

On the large beads:

V. Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Precious Blood of Thy Beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, the lamb without blemish or spot (1 P. 1:19)

R.  For the refreshment and deliverance of the souls in Purgatory

(One can add here, especially those of my family, or of my ancestry, or of priests.  The Holy Spirit sometimes moves one to pray for particular groups of Holy Souls.)

Ten times on the small beads:

V. By Thy Precious Blood, O Jesus –

R.  Purify and deliver their souls.

After having said five decades, one concludes with:

V.  Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.

R.  And let perpetual light shine upon them.

V. May they rest in peace.

R. Amen.

How easy is this?!  Please spread this devotion.  Also, Monday is the day of the week dedicated to the Poor Souls.  We can pray this chaplet every Monday throughout the year in memory of the faithful departed.  “It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.” (2 Maccabees 12:46)

V.  Praised be Jesus Christ!

R.  Now and forever.  Amen.

(Click on the link above to read why I am ending my posts with this.)

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Thursday, November 4th, 2010 religion, spirituality 10 Comments

Indulgences Applied to the Poor Souls

November 2, 2010

Virgin and Child with Souls in Purgatory c. 1650, Luca Giordano, Oil on canvas, San Pietro di Castello, Venice

I’m a little late on this, but here is info on the plenary indulgences for the first week of November:

On all the days from November 1-November 8 inclusive, a plenary indulgence, applicable only to the Poor Souls, is granted to those who visit a cemetery and pray, even if only mentally, for the departed.

Conditions for the Indulgences:

  1. Only one plenary indulgence can be gained per day.
  2. Being is the state of grace is necessary, at least by completion of the work.
  3. Freedom from attachment to sin, even venial sin, is necessary, other wise the indulgence is only partial. (By this is meant attachment to a particular sin, not sin in general.
  4. Holy Communion must be received each time the indulgence is sought.
  5. Prayers must be recited for the intentions of the Holy Father on each day the indulgence is sought. (No particular prayers are prescribed.  One Our father and one Hail Mary suffice, or other suitable prayers.)
  6. A sacramental confession must be made within a week of completion of the prescribed work.  (One confession made during the week, made with the intention of gaining all the indulgences suffices.)

We have three cemeteries within two miles of our house so I will be making an effort to get to at least one of them every day. Mondays are dedicated to the Poor Souls, too, every week of the year, so we can always remember them in a special way no matter the season. I especially like to pray for those who have no one who prays for them in addition to deceased friends and relatives.

V.  Praised be Jesus Christ!

R.  Now and forever.  Amen.

(Click on the link above to read why I am ending my posts with this.)

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Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 religion, spirituality Comments Off

Father Mark’s Chaplet for the Poor Souls

 

An Angel Frees Souls from Purgatory c. 1610, Ludovico Carracci, oil on canvas, Pinacoteca, Vatican

An Angel Frees Souls from Purgatory c. 1610, Ludovico Carracci, oil on canvas, Pinacoteca, Vatican

Father Mark Daniel Kirby, O.S.B. is the founder of the Benedictine Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  His community has a special purpose, being established by Bishop Slattery of Tulsa as a response to Pope Benedict’s Year of the Priest, which ends next June.  “It is a life that is offered and consecrated:

  • for the sanctification of priests and the spiritual renewal of the clergy in the whole Church.
  • in reparation for the sins that disfigure the Face of Christ the Priest.
  • in the sacrificial love that is inseperable from the gift and mystery of the priesthood.”

Benedictine spirituality is close to my heart because of its balance between work and prayer.  Ora et Labora is the Benedictine motto, regardless of whether a monastery or family of monasteries is primarily contemplative or whether it engages in pastoral works.

Father’s blog, Vultus Christi, meaning “Face of Christ” has a spiritually beneficial posting nearly every day.  He also usually includes sacred art with his posts, which I find really beautiful.  On November 3, 2009 he wrote about a chaplet for the Poor Souls he has been praying for many years.  I like it very much since it is easily prayed using a standard rosary, so I am sharing it here.  Chaplets and rosaries are particularly useful to people who aren’t well enough to get to Mass, and who feel just too weak or tired to do any other devotions or read the Bible.

On the large beads:

V. Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Precious Blood of Thy Beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, the lamb without blemish or spot (1 P. 1:19)

R.  For the refreshment and deliverance of the souls in Purgatory

(One can add here, especially those of my family, or of my ancestry, or of priests.  The Holy Spirit sometimes moves one to pray for particular groups of Holy Souls.)

Ten times on the small beads:

V. By Thy Precious Blood, O Jesus –

R.  Purify and deliver their souls.

After having said five decades, one concludes with:

V.  Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.

R.  And let perpetual light shine upon them.

V. May they rest in peace.

R. Amen.

How easy is this?!  Please spread this devotion.  Also, Monday is the day of the week dedicated to the Poor Souls.  We can pray this chaplet every Monday throughout the year in memory of the faithful departed.  “It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.” (2 Maccabees 12:46)

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Tuesday, December 1st, 2009 spirituality 2 Comments

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