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milder sufferings be derived from the song of the nightingale, from the
fragrance of flowers, from the murmur of the brook, or from the moral
affections themselves? Homer and Ossian tell us of the joy of grief
_aruerou tetarpo mesthagolo_.

Poetry finds its advantage also in that doctrine of Purgatory which
teaches us that the prayers and other good works of the faithful may
obtain the deliverance of souls from their temporal pains. How
admirable is this intercourse between the living son and the deceased
father - between the mother and daughter - between husband and wife -
between life and death. What affecting considerations are suggested by
this tenet of religion! My virtue, insignificant being as I am, becomes
the common property of Christians; and, as I participate in the guilt
of Adam, so also the good that I possess passes to the good of others.
Christian poets! the prayers of your Nisus will be felt, in their happy
effects, by some Euryalus beyond the grave. The rich, whose charity you
describe, may well share their abundance with the poor, for the
pleasure which they take in performing this simple and grateful act
will receive its regard from the Almighty in the release of their
parents from the expiatory flame. What a beautiful feature in our
religion to impel the heart of man to virtue by the power of love, and
to make him feel that the very coin which gives bread for the moment to
an indigent fellow-being, entitles, perhaps, some rescued soul to an
eternal position at the table of the Lord. [1]

[Footnote 1: "Genius of Christianity." Book II., Chap. xv. pp. 338-



Mary, from her nearness to Jesus, has imbibed many traits of the Sacred
Heart of Jesus. She shares, in a preeminent degree, His Divine
compassion for sorrow and suffering. Where He loves and pities, she
also loves and pities. Nay, may we not well say that all enduring
anguish of soul and writhing under the pangs of a lacerated heart, are
especially dear to both Jesus and Mary? Was not Jesus the Man of
Sorrows? and did He not constitute Mary the Mother of suffering and
sorrowing humanity? And even as His Divine breast knew keenest sorrow,
did not a sword of sorrow pierce her soul? She participated in the
agony of Jesus only as such a Mother can share the agony of such a Son;
in the tenderest manner, therefore, does she commiserate sorrow and
suffering wherever found. Though now far beyond all touch of pain and
misery, still as the devoted Mother of a pain-stricken race, she
continues to watch, to shield, to aid and to strengthen her children in
their wrestlings with these mysterious visitants.


Nor does Mary's interest cease upon this side of the grave. It
accompanies souls beyond. And when she beholds those souls undergoing
their final purgation, before entering upon the enjoyment of the
beatific vision, she pities them with a pity all the more heartfelt
because their suffering is so much greater than any they could have
endured in this life. See the state of those souls. They are in grace
and favor with God; they are burning with love for Him; they are
yearning, with a yearning boundless in its intensity, to drink
refreshment of life, and love, and sanctification, and to be
replenished with goodness and truth, and to perfect their natures at
the Fountain-head of all truth, all goodness, all love, and all
perfection. They are yearning; but so clearly and piercingly does the
white light of God's truth and God's holiness shine through them and
penetrate every fold and recess of their moral natures, and reveal to
them every slightest imperfection, that they dare not approach Him and
gratify their intense desire to be united with Him. Their weaknesses
and imperfections; the traces in them of, and the attachments in them
to, former sins, incident upon the frailties of feeble human nature,
still cling to them, and must needs be consumed in the fiery ordeal of
suffering before their enjoyment of the beatific vision can be
completed and their union with the Godhead consummated.


That there should be for souls after death such a state of purgation is
all within the grasp of human reason. It is a doctrine that was taught
in the remotest ages of the world. Here is a condensed version of the
tradition as handed down in clearest terms, beautifully expressed by
one of the world's greatest thinkers and writers: "All things are
distinctly manifest in the soul after it has been divested of the body;
and this is true both of the natural disposition of the soul and of the
affections that the man has acquired from his various pursuits. When
therefore the soul comes before the Judge ... the Judge finds all
things distorted through pride and falsehood and whatsoever is
unrighteous, for as much as the soul has been nurtured with untruth ...
and he forthwith sends it to a prison state where it will undergo the
punishment it deserves. But it behooveth that he that is punished, if
he be justly punished, either become better and receive benefit from
his punishment, or become a warning to others.... _But whoso are
benefited ... are such as have been guilty of curable transgressions;
their benefit here and hereafter [1] accrues to them through pains and
torments; for it is impossible to get rid of injustice by other manner
of means._" This reads like a page torn from one of the early
Fathers of the Church. [2] More than five centuries before the
Christian era it was penned by Plato. [3] Clearly does he draw the line
between eternal punishment for unrepented crimes and temporal
punishment for curable _Idmpa_ trangressions. Virgil in no
uncertain tone echoes the same doctrine, making no exception to the
rule that some corporeal stains and traces of ill follow all beyond the
grave; _and therefore do they suffer punishment and pay the penalty
of old wrongs._ [4] What antiquity has handed down, and reason has
found to be just and proper, the Church has defined and decreed. She
has gone further. She has supplemented and completed the pagan
conception of expiation by that of intercession; and she has added
thereto, for the comfort and consolation of the living and the dead,
that the souls so suffering "may be helped by the suffrages of the
faithful, but principally by the acceptable Sacrifice of the Altar."
[5] And in her prayers for deceased friends, relatives and benefactors,
she is mindful of Mary's sweet influence with her Son, and asks their
deliverance through her intercession. [6]

[Footnote 1: Kai enthude kai en Aidou]

[Footnote 2: There is a passage in Clement of Alexandria, not unlike
this in statement of the same doctrine ("Stromaton" 1. vi. m. 14, p.
794 Ed. Potter). The passage is quoted in "Faith of Catholics." Vol.
Ill p. 142.]

[Footnote 3: Gorgias, cap. lxxx, lxxxi.]

[Footnote 4: Æneid, lib. vi. 735, 740.]

[Footnote 5: Council of Trent, Sess. xxv. Decret. de Purgatorio, p.

[Footnote 6: Beata Maria semper virgine intercedente.]

The tendency to commune with the dead, and to pray for them, is strong
and universal. It survives whatever systems or whatever creeds men may
invent for its suppression. Samuel Johnson is professedly a staunch
Protestant, bristling with prejudices, but a delicate moral sense
enters the rugged manhood of his nature. Instinctively he seeks to
commune with his departed wife, after the manner dear to the Catholic
heart, but forbidden to the Protestant. He keeps the anniversary of her
death. He composes a prayer for the repose of her soul, beseeching God
"to grant her whatever is best in her present state, and finally to
receive her to eternal happiness." [1]

[Footnote 1: Boswell's Johnson, vol. 1, p. 100. Croker's Ed. There is
pathos in this entry, remembering the man: "Mar. 28, 1753. I kept this
day as the anniversary of my Tetty's death, with prayer and tears in
the morning. In the evening I prayed for her conditionally, if it were
lawful." _Ibid._ p. 97.]


Of the nature and intensity of the sufferings of souls undergoing this
purgation, we on earth can form but the faintest conception. Not so
Mary. She sees things as they are. She sees the great love animating
those I holy souls. She sees their eager desire to be united to God,
the sole centre and object of their being. She sees and appreciates the
struggle going on in them between that intense desire - that great
yearning - that groping after perfect union - that unfilled and
unsatiated vagueness arising from their privation of the only fulness
that could replenish them, on the one hand, and on the other, the sense
of their unfitness, keen, strong, deep, intense, overwhelming them and
driving them back to the flames of pain and soul-hunger and soul-thirst
until they shall have satisfied God's justice to the last farthing, and
even the slightest stain has been cleansed, and they stand forth in the
light of God's sanctity, whole and spotless. She sees the terrible
struggle; and her motherly heart goes out in tender pity to these her
children, washed and ransomed by the Blood of her Divine Son, and she
is well disposed to extend to them the aid of her powerful
intercession. She is fitly called the Mother of Mercy. Her merciful
heart goes out to these, the favored ones of her Son, all the more
lovingly and tenderly because they are unable to help themselves.


But whilst Mary looks upon those souls with an eye of tender mercy and
sweet compassion, and whilst Jesus is prepared to admit them to the
beatific vision as soon as they become thoroughly purified, still the
assuaging of their pains and the abridging of their time of purgation
depend in a great measure upon the graces and the merits that are
applied to them by us, their brethren upon earth. According to the
earnestness of the prayers we say for them, and the measure of the good
works we do for them, will the intercession of Mary and all the saints
be efficacious with Jesus in their behalf. It is unspeakably consoling
to the living and the dead to know that the members of the Church
militant upon earth have it within their power to aid and relieve the
members of the Church suffering. It is therefore really and indeed a
holy and a wholesome thought for us of the one to pray for those of the
other. It is more: it is an imperative duty we owe the faithful
departed. They are our brethren in Christ, bought at the same price,
nurtured by the same graces, living by the same faith, and sanctified
by the same spirit. Many of them may have been near and dear to us in
this life; and of these, many again may now suffer because of us;
whether it was that we led them directly into wrong-doing, or whether
it was that, in their loving kindness for us, they connived at,
permitted, aided or abetted us, in what their consciences had whispered
them not to be right. In each and every case it is our bounden duty to
do all in our power to assuage sufferings to which we may have been
accessory. In heart-rending accents do they cry out to us: "_Have
pity on me, have pity on me, at least ye my friends!_" [1] And as we
would have others do by us under like circumstances, so should we not
turn a deaf ear to their petition.

[Footnote 1: Job, xix. 21.]


Daily does the Angel of Death enter our houses, and summon from us
those that are rooted in our affections, and for whom our heart-throbs
beat in love and esteem. Daily must we bow our heads in reverent
silence and submission to the decree that snatches from us some loved
one. Perhaps it is a wife who mourns the loss of her husband. She finds
comfort and companionship in praying for the repose of his soul; in the
words of Tertullian, "she prays for his soul, and begs for him in the
interim refreshments, and in the first resurrection companionship, and
maketh offerings on the anniversary day of his falling asleep." [1]
Perhaps it is a husband whose loving wife has gone to sleep in death.
Then will he hold her memory sacred, and offer thereto the incense of
unceasing prayer, so that it may be said of him as St. Jerome wrote to
Pammachius: "Thou hast rendered what was due to each part; giving tears
to the body and alms to the soul.... There were thy tears where thou
knewest was death; there were thy works where thou knewest was life....
Already is she honored with thy merits; already is she fed with thy
bread, and abounds with thy riches." [2] Perhaps it is a dear friend
around whom our heart-strings were entwined, and whose love for us was
more than we were worthy of: whose counsels were our guide; whose soul
was an open book in which we daily read the lesson of high resolve and
sincere purpose; whose virtuous life was a continuous inspiration
urging us on to noble thought and noble deed; and yet our friendship
may have bound his soul in ties too earthly, and retarded his progress
in perfection; in consequence he may still dread the light of God's
countenance, and may be lingering in this state of purgation. It
behooves us in all earnestness, and in friendship's sacred claim, to
pray unceasingly for that friend, beseeching God to let the dews of
Divine mercy fall upon his parching soul, assuage his pain, and take
him to Himself, to complete his happiness.

[Footnote 1: "Dc Monogam," n. x. p 531. "Faith of Catholics," Vol.
III., p. 144.]

[Footnote 2: Ep. XXXVII]

So the sacred duty of prayer for the dead runs through all the
relations of life. From all comes the cry begging for our prayers. We
cannot in justice ignore it; we cannot be true to ourselves and
unmindful of our suffering brethren. Every reminder that we receive is
a voice coming from the grave. Now it is the mention of a name that
once brought gladness to our hearts; or we come across a letter written
by a hand whose grasp used to thrill our souls - that hand now stiffened
and cold in death; or it is the sight of some relic that vividly
recalls the dear one passed away; or it is a dream - and to whom has not
such a dream occurred? - in which we live over again the pleasant past
with the bosom friend of our soul, and he is back once more, in the
flesh, re-enacting the scenes of former days, breathing and talking as
naturally as though there were no break in his life or ours and we had
never parted. When we awaken from our dream, and the pang of reality,
like a keen blade, penetrates our hearts, let us not rest content with
a vain sigh of regret, or with useless tears of grief; let us pray God
to give the dear departed soul eternal rest, and admit it to the
perpetual light of His Presence. And in like manner should we regard
all other reminders as so many appeals to the charity of our prayers.
In this way will the keeping of the memory of those gone before us be
to them a blessing and to us a consolation.


Furthermore, every prayer we say, every sacrifice we make, every alms
we give for the repose of the dear departed ones, will all return upon
ourselves in hundredfold blessings. They are God's choice friends, dear
to His Sacred Heart, living in His grace and in constant communing with
Him; and though they may not alleviate their own sufferings, their
prayers in our behalf always avail. They can aid us most efficaciously.
God will not turn a deaf ear to their intercession. Being holy souls,
they are grateful souls. The friends that aid them, they in turn will
also aid. We need not fear praying for them in all faith and
confidence. They will obtain for us the special favors we desire. They
will watch over us lovingly and tenderly; they will guard our steps;
they will warn us against evil; they will shield us in moments of trial
and danger; and when our day of purgatorial suffering comes, they will
use their influence in our behalf to assuage our pains and shorten the
period of our separation from the Godhead. And so may we, in constant
prayer, begging in a special manner the intercession of Mary the Mother
of Mercy, say to our Lord and Saviour: "_Deliver them from gloom and
darkness, and snatch them from sorrow and grief; enter not into
judgment with them, nor severely examine their past life; but whether
in word or deed they have sinned, as men clothed with flesh, forgive
and do away with their transgressions." [1]

[Footnote 1: From prayer for the Faithful Departed in the Syriac
Liturgy. See "Faith of Catholics," Vol. III, p. 203]


BOSWELL. What do you, think, sir, of Purgatory, as believed by the
Roman Catholics?

JOHNSON. Why, sir, it is a very harmless doctrine. They are of opinion
that the generality of mankind are neither so obstinately wicked as to
deserve everlasting punishment, nor so good as to merit being admitted
into the society of blessed spirits; and therefore that God is
graciously pleased to allow of a middle state, where they may be
purified by certain degrees of suffering. You see, sir, that there is
nothing unreasonable in this.

BOSWELL. But then, sir, their Masses for the dead?

JOHNSON. Why, sir, if it be once established that there are souls in
Purgatory, it is as proper to pray for them as for our brethren of
mankind who are yet in this life.

BOSWELL. The idolatry of the Mass?

JOHNSON. Sir, there is no idolatry in the Mass. They believe God to be
there, and they adore Him.

* * * * *

BOSWELL. We see in Scripture that Dives still retained an anxious
concern about his brethren?

JOHNSON. Why, sir, we must either suppose that passage to be
metaphorical, or hold with many divines, and all purgatorians, that
departed souls do not all at once arrive at the utmost perfection of
which they are capable.

* * * * *

BOSWELL. Do you think, sir, it is wrong in a man who holds the doctrine
of Purgatory to pray for the souls of his deceased friends?

JOHNSON. Why, no, sir.

* * * * *

He states, that he spent March 22, 1753, in prayers and tears in the
morning; and in the evening prayed for the soul of his deceased wife,
"conditionally, if it be lawful." The following is his customary prayer
for his dead wife: "And, O Lord, so far as it may be lawful in me, I
commend to Thy fatherly goodness the soul of my departed wife;
beseeching Thee to grant her whatever is best in her present state, and
finally to receive her into eternal happiness." - _Boswell's "Life of
Johnson,"_ Pages 169, 188.



[Footnote 1: From his work, "The Path which Led a Protestant Lawyer to
the Catholic Church," p. 637.]

The Council of Trent declared, as the faith of the Catholic Church,
"_that there is a Purgatory, and that the souls there detained are
helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but principally by the
acceptable sacrifice of the altar._"

This is all that is required to be believed. As to the kind and measure
of the purifying punishment, the Church defines nothing. This doctrine
has been very much misrepresented, and has most generally been attacked
by sarcasm and denunciation. But is this a satisfactory method to treat
a grave matter of faith, coming down to us from the olden times? The
doctrine of Purgatory is most intimately connected with the doctrine of
sacramental absolution and satisfaction, and legitimately springs from
it. That there is a distinction in the guilt of different sins, must be
conceded. All our criminal laws, and those of all nations, are founded
upon this idea. To say that the smallest transgression, the result of
inadvertence, is equal in enormity to the greatest and most deliberate
crime, is utterly opposed to the plain nature of all law, and to the
word of God, which assures us that men shall be punished or rewarded
according to their works (Rom. ii. 6), as not to require any
refutation. Our Lord assures us that men must give an account in the
day of judgment for every idle word they speak (Matt, xii. 36), and St.
John tells us that nothing denied shall enter heaven (Rev. xxi. 27).
Then St. John says there is a sin unto death, and there is a sin which
is not unto death (I John, v. 16), and he also tells us that "all
unrighteousness is sin; and there is a sin not unto death." So we are
told by the same apostle, that if we confess our sins, God is faithful
and just to forgive us (I John, i. 9). Now we must put all these texts
together, and give them their full, harmonious, and consistent force.
We must carry out the principles laid down to their fair and logical
results. Suppose, then, a man speak an idle word, and die suddenly,
before he has time to repent and confess his sin, will he be lost
everlastingly? Must there not, in the very nature of Christ's system,
be a middle state, wherein souls can be purged from their lesser sins?


[Footnote 1: William Hurrell Mallock, the author of "Is Life Worth
Living," from which this extract is given, and of several other recent
works, was, at the time when the above was written, as he says himself
in his dedication, "an outsider in philosophy, literature, and
theology," and not, as might be supposed, a Catholic. It has been
positively asserted, and as positively denied, that he has since
entered the Church. But it is certain that he has not done so. Mallock
is not a Catholic. - COMPILER'S NOTE.]

To those who believe in Purgatory, to pray for the dead is as natural
and rational as to pray for the living. Next, as to this doctrine of
Purgatory itself - which has so long been a stumbling-block to the whole
Protestant world - time goes on, and the view men take of it is
changing. It is becoming fast recognized on all sides that it is the
only doctrine that can bring a belief in future rewards and punishments
into anything like accordance with our notions of what is just or
reasonable. So far from its being a superfluous superstition, it is
seen to be just what is demanded at once by reason and morality, and a
belief in it to be not an intellectual assent, but a partial
harmonizing of the whole moral ideal. - _W. H. Mattock, "Is Life Worth
Living,"_ Page 297.


We love to see the truth of our dogmas proclaimed from amid the great
assemblies of choice intelligences. Boileau did not hesitate to do
homage to the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory on the following solemn
occasion: -

On the death of Furetière, the French Academy deliberated whether they
would have a funeral service for him, according to the ancient custom
of the establishment. Despréaux, who had taken no part in the expulsion
of his former associate, gave expression, when he was no more, to the
language of courageous piety. He feared not to express himself in these
words: "Gentlemen, there are three things to be considered here - God,
the public, and the Academy. As regards God, He will, undoubtedly, be
well pleased if you sacrifice your resentment for His sake and offer
prayers to Him for the repose of a fellow-member, who has more need of
them than others, were it only on account of the animosity he showed
towards you. Before the public, it will be a glorious thing for you not
to pursue your enemy beyond the grave. And as for the Academy, its
moderation will be meritorious, when it answers insults by prayers, and
does not deny a Christian the resources offered by the Church for
appeasing the anger of God, all the more that, besides the
indispensable obligation of praying to God for your enemies, you have
made for yourselves a special law to pray for your associates."


[Footnote 1: New York _Tablet_, Nov. 12, 1870]


OF all the sublime truths which it is the pride and happiness of
Christians to believe, none is more beautiful, more consoling than that
of the Communion of Saints. Do we fully realize the meaning of that
particular article of our faith? From their earliest infancy Christian
children repeat, at their mother's knee, "I believe in the Communion of
Saints;" but it is only when the mind has attained a certain stage of
development that they begin to feel the inestimable privilege of being
in the Communion of Saints.

But how sad to think that even in later life many of those whose
childhood lisped "I believe in the Communion of Saints," neither know,
nor care to know, what it means. Outside the Church who believes in the
Communion of Saints? - who rejoices in the glory of the glorified, or
invokes their intercession with God? Who believes in that state of
probation whereby the earth-stains are washed from the souls of men?
Who has compassion on "the spirits who are in prison?" To Catholics
only is the Communion of Saints a reality, a soul-rejoicing truth. How

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