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nor encouragement to support her in her arduous struggle. On the 23d of
December his coadjutor writes:

"Divine Providence always acts with sweetness and with power. The
consent of your good mother is an important step gained. The good
_curé_ advises you not to go to Paris until you have some means
wherewith to begin your work. You will do well to avail yourself of the
interest you possess in your diocese to obtain some aid towards it. The
_curé_ entirely approves of your becoming a religious. It is quite
possible that God may restore your health; and he advises you to make a
novena to St. Philomena.

"The very day I received your letter, Monseigneur Chalandon, our worthy
Bishop, came to Ars, to call on my holy _curé_. I mentioned you
to him. He told me he had written to you. He also says that you must
not begin without some means and better health. Pray very hard that God
may give you both. I think the souls in Purgatory ought to take this
opportunity to prove that they have influence with God. Their interests
are at stake in the removal of these obstacles." Mdlle. - - had asked to
make this novena conjointly with M. Vianney; and she soon received the
following letter:

"It is to-day, the 9th of January, that our much-wished-for novena is
to begin. The souls in Purgatory are interested in the re-establishment
of your health. I am, you know, but the echo of our good and holy
_curé_. Your director gives you excellent advice. You might,
indeed, as soon as you have means enough of support for one year, go to
Paris for a while, and come back again to forward the work in the same
way you are doing now. You say, 'St. Vincent de Paul used to begin his
works with nothing.' So he did. But then, as my good _curé_
observes, 'St. Vincent de Paul was a great saint!'"

According to M. Vianney's advice, on the 19th of January, 1856, the
foundress went to Paris, where she met some persons who had, like her,
resolved to devote themselves to the service of the souls in Purgatory;
but who were quite at a loss how to proceed, and had no means of
support. All sorts of crosses awaited this little band of Helpers of
the Holy Souls, for such was the name they had taken. Not only were
funds wanting for their establishment, but they did not know where to
apply for work, and sufferings of every kind assailed them. Mdlle. - -
experienced what always happens to generous souls at the outset of
their enterprises, when they have unreservedly devoted themselves to
the service of God, and are being tried like gold in the furnace. Blame
and neglect became her portion. Nobody thought it worth their while to
assist a little band of women, whose heroic project had seemed
admirable, indeed, in theory, but was now declared to be impracticable.
They were considered as mere enthusiasts; and, indeed, as was said by
M. Desgenettes, the venerable Curé of Notre Dame des Victoires, they
were truly possessed with the holy folly of the Cross.

Meantime they had to work for their bread, and did work with all their
might. But it was not always that work could be obtained; and trials
without end beset the infant community, lodged in an attic in the Rue
St. Martin. Every day, as they asked their Heavenly Father for their
daily bread, they prepared themselves to receive with it their habitual
portion of sufferings and privations - a fit noviceship for souls
undertaking a work of heroic expiation. Mdlle. - - , who, for the first
time in her life quitted a home where she had known all the comforts of
affluence, had to undergo numberless privations. Illness combined with
poverty to heighten their trials. Their Divine Master made them
experience the kind of suffering which it was hereafter to be their
special vocation to relieve. The Curé d'Ars fully understood the nature
of that training, and never offered them any help but that of his
advice and prayers. "He does not give you anything," says a letter
written on the 16th of March, "but _he_ will ask St. Philomena,
his heavenly treasurer, to put it into the hearts of those who could
assist you to do so." And, indeed, help used to come whenever the
distress of the holy society became too urgent. One day the foundress
had not a single penny left, and was, to use a common expression, at
her wits' end. But, thank God, there is something better than human
wits or human ingenuity in such extremities; and that is prayer. The
Sister who acted as housekeeper placed her bills before the
Superioress, and asked for money to buy food for the day. Mdlle. - -
told her to wait a little, and went out, not knowing very well what to
do next. She entered a church, threw herself on her knees before the
Blessed Sacrament, and prayed long and fervently. As she was coming
away she stopped before an image of our Holy Mother, and clasping her
hands, exclaimed: "My Blessed Mother, you _must_ get me 100 francs
to-day. I will take no refusal. You _cannot_, you never do forsake
your children." She went straight home, and up the dingy stairs into
the little room inhabited by the infant community. The instant she
opened the door her eyes fell on a letter lying on the table. She
opened it with a beating heart, and found in it a note of 100 francs.
There was no name; not a word written on the cover. The postman had
just left it, and to this day the donor of this sum, or the place it
came from, has not been discovered. Another time eight sous was all
that remained in the purse of the associates. They agreed to lay out
this money to advantage, and accordingly employed it in purchasing a
little statue of St. Joseph, whom they instituted their treasurer. The
Saint has fulfilled ever since the trust reposed in him; but he often
waits till the very last moment to supply the necessities of his
clients. I have seen this little image in their convents. It is, of
course, very dear to them.

One day, when no needle-work was to be had, and distress was
threatening them, a little girl came to their room, and asked if they
had finished the bracelets she had been told to call for. Finding she
had mistaken the direction, the child said: "You could have some of
that work to do if you liked."

Upon inquiry they found that the employment consisted in threading rows
of pearls for foreign exportation; that it was less fatiguing and
better paid than needle-work, and proved for some months a valuable
resource. On another occasion the sum of 500 francs was required for
some pressing necessity. This time the foundress had recourse to our
Lady of Victories. Having placed the matter in her hands, she went to
call on a person whom she thought might lend her this money, but met
with a decided negative. She did not know any one else in Paris to whom
she could apply; but on leaving the house she met a gentleman, with
whom she had no previous acquaintance, who came up to her and said: "I
think you are Mdlle. - - , and that you have a special devotion for the
souls in Purgatory. Will you allow me to place this 500 francs at your
disposal, and to recommend my intentions to your prayers?" Meanwhile
illnesses and trials continued to affect the little community. The Abbé
T - - writes from Ars: "Do not ask for miraculous cures. _M. le
Curé_ complains that St. Philomena sends us too many people." The
next letter is full of kind encouragement: "_M. le Curé_ only
smiles when I tell him all you have to go through, and he bids me
repeat the same thing to you, which he desired me to write to a good
Sister, devoted to all sorts of good works and suffering cruel
persecution. 'Tell her that these crosses are flowers which will soon
bear fruit.' You have thought, prayed, taken advice, and thoroughly
weighed the sacrifices you will have to make, and you have every reason
to believe that in doing this work you are doing God's will. The energy
which He alone can give will enable you to accomplish what you have
begun."..."_M. le Curé_ has said to me several times, in a tone
of the strongest conviction, 'Their enterprise cannot fail to succeed;
but the foundress will have to experience what anxiety and what labor,
what efforts and what sufferings, have to be endured ere such a work
can be consolidated; but,' he adds, 'if God is with them, who shall be
against them?'"

On the 20th of June the Superioress received another letter from the
same good priest:

"I feel deeply affected," he writes, "at the thought of the many and
severe trials which beset you. Tell your friend that the holy
_curé_ bids her not to look back, but obey with courage the sacred
call she has received. The souls in Purgatory must be enabled to say of
you, 'We have advocates on earth who can feel for us, because they know
themselves what it is to suffer.' And mind you go on praying to St.
Philomena, and begging of her to obtain for you the means necessary for
the accomplishment of your holy projects."

The associates continued to pray, to work, and to suffer with patience
and cheerfulness. They received at last some unexpected assistance. New
members proposed to join them; but it became then absolutely necessary
to hire a house. The Superioress searched in every direction for a
suitable one, but without success. It seems as if the words, "there was
no room for them," were destined to prove applicable to all religious
foundations during their periods of probationary trial. After having
exerted herself, and employed others in vain for a long time, the
Superioress received a message from a holy man whose prayers she had
asked, desiring her to go to a particular part of the town, and to
await there some providential indication as to the abode she was
seeking. For several hours she paced up and down the streets of that
part of Paris, praying interiorly, but totally at a loss where to
apply. At last she accidentally turned into the Rue de la Barouillière,
and saw a house and garden with a bill upon it indicating that it was
to be let or sold. She immediately asked to go over it. All sorts of
difficulties, apparently insurmountable ones, stood in the way of the
purchase. They were overcome in a strangely unaccountable manner, and
the money which had to be paid in advance was actually forthcoming on
the appointed day, to the astonishment of all concerned. The history of
this negotiation, and the wonderful answers to prayer vouchsafed in the
course of it, are very striking; only the more we study the
manifestations of God's Providence with regard to works carried on in
faith and simple reliance on His assistance, the more _accustomed_
we get to these miracles of mercy. The Helpers of the Souls in
Purgatory took possession of their new home on the 1st of July, 1856,
and not long after began their labors amongst the poor. An act of
kindness solicited at their hands towards a sick and destitute neighbor
soon after their arrival, was the primary cause of their choosing as
their particular line of charity attendance on the sick poor in their
own destitute homes by day and by night also. This, together with their
prayers, their fasts, and their watches, is the continual sacrifice
they offer up for the souls in Purgatory.

* * * * *

Before I go on with the history of the Helpers of the Holy Souls in
Purgatory, I must describe to you their house, - No. 16 Rue de la
Barouillière, - a very small and inconvenient one at the time of their
installation, but which has since been re-modelled according to the
wants of the increasing community, and an adjoining one added to it. I
have often visited this convent, which soon becomes dear to those who
would fain help the many beloved ones removed from their sight, but
feel the impotency of their own efforts, their want of holiness, of
courage, and of perseverance in this blessed work. The sight of this
religious house is very touching; the inscriptions on the walls, which
are taken from the Holy Scriptures and the writings of the Saints, all
bear reference to the state of departed souls, and our duty towards
them; the quiet chapel where the Office for the Dead is daily said, and
a number of Masses offered up. The memorials of the saintly Curé d'Ars,
whose spirit seems to hover over the place, gives a peculiar character
to its aspect. The nuns do not wear the religious dress, but are simply
dressed in black, like persons in mourning.

* * * * *

On the 18th of August, 1856, Monseigneur Sibour, the Archbishop of
Paris, came to visit and bless the new community. "It is a grain of
mustard-seed," he said, "which will become a great tree, and spread its
branches far and wide." He approved of all that had been done since the
house had been opened, and allowed Mass to be said every day in the
chapel as soon as it could be properly fitted up, which was the case on
the ensuing 5th of November. On the 8th of the same month the house was
solemnly consecrated to the Blessed Virgin; the keys were laid at the
feet of her image, and she was entreated to become herself the
Superioress of the congregation.

It was on the 27th of December, the feast of the disciple whom Jesus
loved, the great apostle of charity, that the foundress and five other
Sisters made their first vows. A few days afterwards, Monseigneur
Sibour was about to sign a grant of indulgences for the work of the
religious; someone standing beside him said, "Monseigneur, the souls in
Purgatory are guiding your pen." He smiled, and made haste to write his
name. He little thought how soon he would be himself numbered with the
dead. It was on the 3d of January, 1857, that his tragical death took

* * * * *

On the 4th of August, 1859, the holy Curé of Ars died; but he lives in
the hearts and in the memories of the community which owes so much to
his prayers and his advice. His name is frequently on their lips; often
has his intercession obtained for them miraculous cures. Every memorial
of him is carefully preserved and venerated.

* * * * *

In the course of the year 1859, on the Feast of St. Benedict, Cardinal
Morlot sanctioned the institution of a third order of Helpers of the
Souls in Purgatory, and the affiliation to it of honorary members. The
ladies of the third order engage to lead a practically Christian life
in the world, to perform exactly all their religious duties, and those
of their state of life. They promise, in their measure, to suffer, act,
and pray for the dead, and offer up their good works, the sacrifices
they may be inspired to make, and the devotions prescribed by a simple
and easy rule adapted to their condition, for this object.... On the
day of the institution of the third order, twenty-eight ladies joined
it, received the cross, and made their act of consecration in presence
of the Archbishop. The honorary members have been continually and
rapidly increasing in number.

* * * * *

The new order has a special devotion to St. Joseph, the great minister
of God's mercy to all religious, the particular protector of the souls
in Purgatory, the foster-father of Christ's poor, and the helper of the
dying. He was himself once in limbo, and knows what it is to wait. It
is scarcely necessary to speak of their devotion to the Blessed Virgin,
whom they have crowned as the Queen of Purgatory, and invoke under the
title of Our Lady of Providence. They specially keep the Feast of the
Sacred Heart, those of St. Ignatius and St. Gertrude; but All Souls is
of course the day of their most particular devotion. The Holy Sacrament
is exposed during the whole time of the Octave.

* * * * *

And now, to use words of Père Blot, of the Society of Jesus: "How
consoling a thought it is that as the Holy Souls in Purgatory, in all
probability, and according to the opinion of the greatest theologians,
know what we do for them, and pray for us, they see these acts of
charity; they see these devoted women making themselves the slaves of
the poor, and sowing in tears, that they themselves may reap in joy. We
cannot also but believe that the prayers of the Holy Souls, and perhaps
their influence, contribute to the success of the mission carried on
for their sakes and in their name amidst the poor and suffering.
Several times when they have been invoked by the community, wonderful
cures have been vouchsafed and favors obtained. Instances of this kind
have excited the astonishment of physicians, and confirmed a pious
belief in the efficacy of those prayers. St. Catherine, of Bologna,
used to say, 'When I wish to obtain some favor from the Eternal Father,
I invoke the souls in the place of expiation, and charge them with the
petition I have to make to Him, and I feel I am heard through their
means.' Let us, then, if we feel inspired to do so, ask the prayers of
the souls in Purgatory; but, above all things, let us pray for them,
and, like these religious, join to our prayers acts of self-denying
charity towards the poor. Let us always remember, that to the Eternal
Lord of all things everything is present - the future as well as the
past. We call Him the King of Ages, because the order of events depends
wholly on His will, and nothing in their course or succession can alter
or change the effects of that will. He looks upon what is to come as if
it were present or already past. In consideration of the prayers, the
suffrages, and the good works of the Church, which He foresees, He
grants proportionate graces, even as if those prayers and good works
had been already offered up.... Amongst the Helpers of the Holy Souls
several have made great sacrifices to God in order to obtain mercy for
souls long ago called away from this world. We can all imitate their
example. 'Oh! if it was not too late!' is the cry of many a heart
tortured by anxiety for the fate of some loved one who has died
apparently out of the Church, or not in a state of grace. We answer,
'It is never too late. Pray; act; suffer. The Lord foresaw your
efforts. The Lord knew what was to come, and may have given to that
soul at its last hour some extraordinary graces, which snatched it from
destruction, and placed it in safety where your love may still reach
it, your prayers relieve, your sacrifices avail.'"

I could not resist closing this letter with these sentences, which have
raised the hopes and stimulated the courage of many mourners. I only
wish this imperfect sketch of the Order of Helpers of the Holy Souls,
and of the nature of their work, might prove a first though feeble step
towards the introduction amongst us at some future day of a Sisterhood
which, in the words used on his death-bed by Father Faber, the great
advocate amongst us of devotion to the Holy Souls in Purgatory,
"procures such immense glory to God."



[Footnote 1: Rev. John O'Brien, A.M., Prof. of Sacred Liturgy at Mt.
St. Mary's, Emmittsburg. "History of the Mass and its Ceremonies in the
Eastern and Western Churches."]

The Mass of Requiem is one celebrated in behalf of the dead.... If the
body of the deceased be present during its celebration, it enjoys
privileges that it otherwise would not, for it cannot be celebrated
unless within certain restrictions. Masses of this kind are accustomed
to be said in memory of the departed faithful, _first_, when the
person dies - or, as the Latin phrase has it, _dies obitus seu
deposifionis_, which means any day that intervenes from the day of
one's demise to his burial; _secondly_, on the third day after
death, in memory of Our Divine Lord's resurrection after three days'
interval; _thirdly_, on the seventh day, in memory of the mourning
of the Israelites seven days for Joseph (Gen. i. 10); _fourthly_,
on the thirtieth day, in memory of Moses and Aaron, whom the Israelites
lamented this length of time (Numb. xx.; Deut. xxxiv.); and, finally,
at the end of the year, or on the anniversary day itself (Gavant.,
Thesaur. Rit. 62). This custom also prevails with the Orientals.

During the early days it was entirely at the discretion of every priest
whether he said daily a plurality of Masses or not (Gavant., Thesaur.
Rit. p. 19). It was quite usual to say two Masses, one of the occurring
feast, the other for the benefit of the faithful departed. This
practice, however, kept gradually falling into desuetude until the time
of Pope Alexander II. (A. D. 1061-1073), when that pontiff decreed that
no priest should say more than one Mass on the same day.

* * * * *

Throughout the kingdom of Aragon, in Spain (including Aragon, Valentia,
and Catalonia), also in the kingdom of Majorca (a dependency of
Aragon), it is allowed each secular priest to say two Masses on the 2d
of November, the Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed, and each
regular priest three Masses. This privilege is also enjoyed by the
Dominicans of the Monastery of St. James at Pampeluna (Benedict XIV.,
_De Sacrif. Missal Romae, ex. Congr. de Prof. Fide_, an. 1859
editio, p. 139). This grant, it is said, was first made either by Pope
Julius or Pope Paul III., and though often asked for afterwards by
persons of note, was never granted to any other country, or to any
place in Spain except those mentioned. For want of any very recent
information upon the subject, I am unable to say how far the privilege
extends at the present day. A movement is on foot, however, to petition
the Holy See for an extension of this privilege to the Universal
Church, in order that as much aid as possible may be given to the
suffering souls in Purgatory.

* * * * *

In case of a death occurring (amongst the Armenians) Mass is never
omitted. The Armenians say one on the day of burial and one on the
seventh, fifteenth, and fortieth after death; also one on the
anniversary day. This holy practice of praying for the dead and saying
Mass in their behalf is very common throughout the entire East, with
schismatics as well as Catholics.

* * * * *

As late as the sixteenth century, a very singular custom prevailed in
England - viz.: that of presenting at the altar during a Mass of Requiem
all the armor and military equipments of deceased knights and noblemen,
as well as their chargers. Dr. Kock (Church of our Fathers, II. 507),
tells us that as many as eight horses, fully caparisoned, used to be
brought into the church for this purpose at the burial of some of the
higher nobility. At the funeral of Henry VII., in Westminster Abbey,
after the royal arms had first been presented at the foot of the altar,
we are told that Sir Edward Howard rode into Church upon "a goodlie
courser," with the arms of England embroidered upon his trappings, and
delivered him to the abbots of the monastery (_ibid_). Something
similar happened at the Mass of Requiem for the repose of the soul of
Lord Bray in A. D. 1557, and at that celebrated for Prince Arthur, son
of Henry VII. (_ibid_).

* * * * *

As the priest begins to recite the memento for the dead, he moves his
hands slowly before his face, so as to have them united at the words
"_in somno pacis_." This gentle motion of the hands is aptly
suggestive here of the slow, lingering motion of a soul preparing to
leave the body, and the final union of the hands forcibly recalls to
mind the laying down of the body in its quiet slumber in the earth. As
this prayer is very beautiful, we transcribe it in full. It is thus
worded: "Remember, also, O Lord! Thy servants, male and female, who
have gone before us with the sign of faith and sleep in the sleep of
peace, N. N.; to them, O Lord! and to all who rest in Christ, we
beseech Thee to grant a place of refreshment, light, and peace; through
the same Christ our Lord. Amen." At the letters N. N. the names of the
particular persons to be prayed for among the departed were read out
from the diptychs in ancient times. When the priest comes to them now
he does not stop, but pauses awhile at "_in, somno pacis_" to make
his private memento of those whom he wishes to pray for in particular,
in which he is to be guided by the same rules that directed him in
making his memento for the living, only that here he cannot pray for
the conversion of any one, as he could there, for this solely relates
to the dead who are detained in Purgatory. Should the Holy Sacrifice be
offered for any soul among the departed which could not be benefited by
it, either because of the loss of its eternal salvation or its
attainment of the everlasting joys of heaven, theologians commonly

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