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benefits." [1] Joining him with the Emperor Gratian, his brother, dead
some years before, he says: "Both blessed, if my prayers can be of any
force! No duty shall pass over you in silence. No prayer of mine shall
ever be closed without remembering you. No night shall pass you over
without some vows of my supplications. You shall have a share in all my
sacrifices. If I forget you let my own right hand be forgotten." [2]

[Footnote 1: St. Ambr. de obitu Valent, No. 56, t. 2, p 1189, ed.

[Footnote 2: Ibid., No. 78, p. 1194.]

"It was not in vain," says ST. CHRYSOSTOM, "that the apostles ordained
a commemoration of the deceased in the holy and tremendous mysteries.
They were sensible of the benefit and advantage which accrues to them
from this practice. For, when the congregation stands with open arms as
well as the priests, and the tremendous sacrifice is before them, how
should our prayers for them not appease God? But this is said of such
as have departed in faith." [1]

[Footnote 1: Hom. 3 in Phil., t. n., p. 217 ed. Montfauc.]

ST. AUGUSTINE again says: "Nor is it to be denied that the souls of the
departed are relieved by the piety of their living friends, when the
sacrifice of the Mediator is offered for them, or alms are given in the
Church. But these things are profitable to those who, while they lived,
deserved that they might avail them. There is a life so good as not to
require them, and there is another so wicked that after death it can
receive no benefit from them. When, therefore, the sacrifices of the
altar or alms are offered for all Christians, for the very good they
are thanksgivings, they are propitiations for those who are not very
bad. For the very wicked, they are some kind of comfort to the living."

In another of his works he says that prayer for the dead in the holy
mysteries was observed by the whole church. He expounds the thirty-
seventh Psalm as having reference to Purgatory. The words: "Rebuke me
not in thy fury, neither chastise me in thy wrath," he explains as
follows: "That you purify me in this life, and render me such that I
may not stand in need of that purging fire."

ARNOBIUS speaks of the public liturgies: "In which peace and pardon are
begged of God for kings, magistrates, friends and enemies, both the
living and those who are delivered from the body."

To these few extracts, which space permits, might be added innumerable
others from St. Clement of Alexandria, St. Athanasius, St. Paulinus,
St. Eusebius, Lactantius, Tertullian, St. Caesarius of Arles, St.
Bernard, Venerable Bede, St. Thomas Aquinas, and so on down to our own
immediate time. Their testimony is most clear not only as regards the
custom of praying for the dead, but the actual doctrine of Purgatory,
as it is now understood in the Church. They are, in fact, in many cases
most explicit upon this point, obviously referring to a middle state of
suffering and expiation, and thus refuting by anticipation the
objections of those who claim that the primitive Christians prayed
indeed for the dead, but knew nothing of Purgatory: a contradiction, it
would seem, as prayer for the dead, to be available, supposes a place
or state of probation. But, even where the mention made by the Fathers
of prayer for the dead does not refer expressly to a place of
purgation, it is no more a proof that they did not hold this doctrine
than that those modern Catholic authors disbelieve in it, who suppose
this middle state of suffering to be admitted by their readers. Or
even, which rarely happens, if they be silent altogether upon the
subject, it no more infers their ignorance of such a belief than the
same silence to be noted in theological and religious works of our own
day. It proves no more than that they are at the time engaged in
treating of some other subject. The following, which may serve as a
conclusion to these extracts, is the solemn decision of the Council of
Trent in regard to this doctrine: "The Church, inspired by the Holy
Ghost, has always taught, according to the Holy Scriptures and
apostolic tradition, that there is a Purgatory, and that the souls
there detained receive comfort from the prayers and good works of the
faithful, particularly through the sacrifice of the Mass, which is so
acceptable to God."

In the thirteenth Canon of the sixth session, it decrees that, "if any
one should say that a repentant sinner, after having received the grace
of justification, the punishment of eternal pains being remitted, has
no temporary punishment to be suffered either in this life or in the
next in Purgatory, before he can enter into the Kingdom of God, let him
be anathema."

In the third Canon of the twenty-fourth session, it defines "that the
sacrifice of the Mass is propitiatory both for the living and the dead
for sins, punishments and satisfactions."



Trust not in thy friends and neighbors, and put not oft thy soul's
welfare till the future; for men will forget thee sooner than thou

It is better to provide now in time and send some good before thee than
to trust to the assistance of others after death.

If thou art not solicitous for thyself now, who will be solicitous for
thee hereafter.

Did'st thou also well ponder in thy heart the future pains of hell or
Purgatory, methinks thou would'st bear willingly labor and sorrow and
fear no kind of austerity.

Who will remember thee when thou art dead? and who will pray for thee?

Now thy labor is profitable, thy tears are acceptable, thy groans are
heard, thy sorrow is satisfying and purifieth the soul.

The patient man hath a great and wholesome purgatory.

Better is it to purge away our sins, and cut off our vices now, than to
keep them for purgation hereafter.

If thou shalt say thou are not able to suffer much, how then wilt thou
endure the fire of Purgatory. Of two evils, one ought always to choose
the less.

When a Priest celebrateth, he honoreth God, he rejoiceth the Angels, he
edifieth the Church, he helpeth the living, he obtaineth rest for the
departed, and maketh himself partaker of all good things.

I offer to Thee also all the pious desires of devout persons; the
necessities of my parents, friends, brothers, sisters, and all those
that are dear to me; ... and all who have desired and besought me to
offer up prayers and Masses for themselves and all theirs, whether they
are still living in the flesh or are already dead to this world.


[In the beautiful account given by the great St. Augustine of the last
illness and death of his holy mother, St. Monica, we find some touching
proofs of the pious belief of mother and son in the existence of a
middle state for souls in the after life. The holy doctor had been
relating that memorable conversation on heavenly things which took
place between his mother and himself on that moonlight night at the
window in the inn at Ostia, immortalized by Ary Schaeffer in his
beautiful picture.]

To this what answer I made her I do not well remember. But scarce five
days, or not many more, had passed after this before she fell into a
fever: and one day, being very sick, she swooned away, and was for a
little while insensible. We ran in, but she soon came to herself again,
and looking upon me and my brother (Navigius), that were standing by
her, said to us like one inquiring: "Where have I been?" then,
beholding us struck with grief, she said: "Here you shall bury your
mother." I held my peace and refrained weeping; but my brother said
something by which he signified his wish, as of a thing more happy,
that she might not die abroad but in her own country; which she
hearing, with a concern in her countenance, and checking him with her
eyes that he should have such notions, then looking upon me, said: "Do
you hear what he says?" then to us both: "Lay this body anywhere; be
not concerned about that; only this I beg of you, that wheresoever you
be, you make remembrance of me at the Lord's altar." And when she had
expressed to us this, her mind, with such words as she could, she said
no more, but lay struggling with her disease that grew stronger upon

* * * * *

And now behold the body is carried out to be buried, and I both go and
return without tears. Neither in those prayers, which we poured forth
to Thee when the sacrifice of our ransom was offered to Thee for her,
the body being set down by the grave before the interment of it, as
custom is there, neither in those prayers, I say, did I shed any tears.

* * * * *

And now, my heart being healed of that wound in which a carnal
affection might have some share, I pour out to Thee, our God, in behalf
of that servant of Thine, a far different sort of tears, flowing from a
spirit frighted with the consideration of the perils of every soul that
dies in Adam. For, although she, being revived in Christ, even before
her being set loose from the flesh and lived in such manner, as that
Thy name is much praised in her faith and manners; yet I dare not say
that from the time Thou didst regenerate her by baptism, no word came
out of her mouth against Thy command.... I, therefore, O my Praise and
my Life, the God of my heart, setting for a while aside her good deeds,
for which with joy I give Thee thanks, entreat Thee at present for the
sins of my mother. Hear me, I beseech Thee, through that Cure of our
wounds that hung upon the tree, and that, sitting now at Thy right
hand, maketh intercession to Thee for us. I know that she did
mercifully, and from her heart forgive to her debtors their trespasses:
do Thou likewise forgive her her debts, if she hath also contracted
some in those many years she lived after the saving water.... And I
believe Thou hast already done what I ask, but these free offerings of
my mouth approve, O Lord.

For she, when the day of her dissolution was at hand, had no thought
for the sumptuous covering of her body, or the embalming of it, nor had
she any desire of a fine monument, nor was solicitous about her
sepulchre in her own country: none of these things did she recommend to
us; but only desired that we should make a remembrance of her at Thy
altar, at which she had constantly attended without one day's
intermission, from whence she knew was dispensed that Holy Victim by
which was cancelled that handwriting that was against us (Coloss. II.),
by which that enemy was triumphed over who reckoneth up our sins and
seeketh what he may lay to our charge, but findeth nothing in Him
through whom we conquer. Who shall refund to Him that innocent blood He
shed for us? Who shall repay Him the price with which He bought us,
that so he may take us away from Him? To the sacrament of which price
of our redemption Thy handmaid bound fast her soul by the bond of

Let her, therefore, rest in peace, together with her husband, before
whom and after whom she was known to no man; whom she dutifully served,
bringing forth fruit to Thee, in much patience, that she might also
gain him to Thee. And do Thou inspire, O Lord, my God, do Thou inspire
Thy servants, my brethren, Thy children, my masters, whom I serve with
my voice, and my heart, and my writings, that as many as shall read
this shall remember, at Thy altar, Thy handmaid Monica with Patricius,
formerly her husband. Let them remember, with a pious affection, these
who were my parents in this transitory life, my brethren under Thee,
our Father, in our Catholic Mother, and my fellow-citizens in the
eternal Jerusalem, for which the pilgrimage of Thy people here below
continually sigheth from their setting out till their return. That so
what my mother made her last request to me may be more plentifully
performed for her by the prayers of many, procured by these, my
confessions, and my prayers. [1]

[Footnote 1: Conf. B. IX. Chs. XI.-XIII.]


[In the "Life and Revelations of St. Gertrude" we find many instances
of the efficacy of prayers for the dead and how pleasing to God is
devotion to the souls in Purgatory. From these we select the

Our Blessed Lord once said to the Saint: "If a soul is delivered by
prayer from Purgatory I accept it as if I had myself been delivered
from captivity, and I will assuredly reward it according to the
abundance of my mercy." The religious also beheld many souls meeting
before her to testify their gratitude for their deliverance from
Purgatory, through the prayers which had been offered for her, and
which she had not needed.

* * * * *

As St. Gertrude prayed fervently before matins on the blessed night of
the Resurrection, the Lord Jesus appeared to her full of majesty and
glory. Then she cast herself at His feet, to adore Him devoutly and
humbly, saying: "O glorious Spouse, joy of the angels, Thou who hast
shown me the favor of choosing me to be Thy spouse, who am the least of
Thy creatures! I ardently desire Thy glory, and my only friends are
those who love Thee; therefore I beseech Thee to pardon the souls of
Thy special friends [1] by the virtue of Thy most glorious
Resurrection. And to obtain this grace from Thy goodness, I offer Thee,
in union with Thy Passion, all the sufferings which my continual
infirmities have caused me." Then Our Lord, having favored her with
many caresses, showed her a great multitude of souls who were freed
from their pains, saying: "Behold, I have given them to you as a
recompense for your rare affection; and through all eternity they will
acknowledge that they have been delivered by your prayers, and you will
be honored and glorified for it." She replied: "How many are they?" He
answered: "This knowledge belongs to God alone."

As she feared that these souls, though freed from their pains, were not
yet admitted to glory, she offered to endure whatever God might please,
either in body or soul, to obtain their entrance into that beatitude;
and Our Lord, won by her fervor, granted her request immediately.

[Footnote 1: "This seems to refer," says the author of the Saint's
life, "to the souls in Purgatory."]

Some time after, as the Saint suffered most acute pain in her side, she
made an inclination before a crucifix; and Our Lord freed her from the
pain, and granted the merit of it to these souls, recommending them to
make her a return by their prayers.

* * * * *

On Wednesday, at the elevation of the Host, she besought Our Lord for
the souls of the faithful in Purgatory, that He would free them from
their pains by virtue of His, admirable Ascension; and she beheld Our
Lord descending into Purgatory with a golden rod in His hand, which had
as many hooks as there had been prayers for their souls; by these He
appeared to draw them into a place of repose. She understood by this,
that whenever any one prays generally, from a motive of charity, for
the souls in Purgatory, the greater part of those who, during their
lives, have exercised themselves in works of charity, are released.

* * * * *

On another occasion, as she remarked that she had offered all her
merits for the dead, she said to Our Lord: "I hope, O Lord, that Thou
wilt frequently cast the eyes of Thy mercy on my indigence." He
replied: "What can I do more for one who has thus deprived herself of
all things through charity, than to cover her immediately with
charity?" She answered: "Whatever Thou mayest do, I shall always appear
before Thee destitute of all merit, for I have renounced all I have
gained or may gain." He replied: "Do you not know that a mother would
allow a child who was well clothed to sit at her feet, but she would
take one who was barely clad into her arms, and cover her with her own
garment?" He added: "And now, what advantages have you, who are seated
on the shore of an ocean, over those who sit by a little rivulet?" That
is to say, those who keep their good works for themselves, have the
rivulet; but those who renounce them in love and humility, possess God,
who is an inexhaustible ocean of beatitude.

* * * * *

On one occasion, while Mass was being celebrated for a poor woman who
had died lately, St. Gertrude recited five _Pater Nosters_, in
honor of Our Lord's five wounds, for the repose of her soul; and, moved
by divine inspiration, she offered all her good works for the increase
of the beatitude of this person. When she had made this offering, she
immediately beheld the soul in heaven, in the place destined for her;
and the throne prepared for her was elevated as far above the place
where she had been, as the highest throne of the seraphim is above that
of the lowest angel. The Saint then asked Our Lord how this soul had
been worthy to obtain such advantage from her prayers, and He replied:

"She has merited this grace in three ways: first, because she always
had a sincere will and perfect desire of serving Me in religion, if it
had been possible; secondly, because she especially loved all religious
and all good people; thirdly, because she was always ready to honor Me
by performing any service she could for them." He added: "You may
judge, by the sublime rank to which she is elevated, how agreeable
these practices are to Me."

A certain religious died who had always been accustomed to pray very
fervently for the souls of the faithful departed; but she had failed in
the perfection of obedience, preferring her own will to that of her
superior in her fasts and vigils. After her decease she appeared
adorned with rich ornaments, but so weighed down by a heavy burden,
which she was obliged to carry, that she could not approach to God,
though many persons were endeavoring to lead her to Him.

As Gertrude marvelled at this vision, she was taught that the persons
who endeavored to conduct the soul to God were those whom she had
released by her prayers; but this heavy burden indicated the faults she
had committed against obedience. Then Our Lord said: "Behold how those
grateful souls endeavor to free her from the requirements of My
justice, and show these ornaments; nevertheless, she must suffer for
her faults of disobedience and self-will." ...

Then the Saint beheld her ornament, which appeared like a vessel of
boiling water containing a hard stone, which must be completely
dissolved therein before she could obtain relief from this torment; but
in these sufferings she was much consoled and assisted by those souls,
and by the prayers of the faithful. After this Our Lord showed St.
Gertrude the path by which the souls ascend to heaven. It resembled a
straight plank, a little inclined; so that those who ascended did so
with difficulty. They were assisted and supported by hands on either
side, which indicated the prayers offered for them.

* * * * *

One day St. Gertrude asked Our Lord how many souls were delivered from
Purgatory by her prayers and those of her sisters. "The number,"
replied Our Lord, "is proportioned to the zeal and fervor of those who
pray for them." He added: "My love urges me to release a great number
of souls for the prayers of each religious, and at each verse of the
psalms which they recite, I release many."

* * * * *

When Mass was offered for the deceased Brother Hermann, his soul
appeared to St. Gertrude all radiant with light, and transported with
joy. Then Gertrude said to Our Lord: "Is this soul now entirely freed
from its sufferings?" Our Lord answered: "He is already free from much
suffering, and no human being can form an idea of his glory; but he is
not yet so perfectly purified as to be worthy to enjoy My presence,
though he is approaching nearer and nearer to this purity by the
prayers which are offered for him, and is more and more consoled and


_(From "Le Propagateur de la Devotion a Saint Joseph.")_

ST. FRANCIS DE SALES says: "We do not often enough remember our dead,
our faithful departed." Thus the Church, like a good mother, recalls to
us the thought of the dead when we have forgotten them, and therefore
she consecrates the month of November to the memory of the dead. This
pious and salutary practice of praying for an entire month for the dead
takes its rise from the earliest ages of the Church. The custom of
mourning _thirty days_ for the dead existed amongst the Jews. The
practice of saying thirty Masses on thirty consecutive days was
established by St. Gregory, and Innocent XI. enriched it with
indulgences. "God has made known to me," says the venerable sister
Marie Denise de Martignat, "that a devotion to the death of St. Joseph
obtains many graces for those who are agonizing, and that, as St.
Joseph did not at once pass into heaven - because Jesus Christ had not
opened its gates - but descended into Limbo, it is a most useful
devotion for the agonizing, and for the souls in Purgatory, to offer to
God the resignation of St. Joseph when he was dying and about to leave
Jesus and Mary in this world, and to honor the holy patience of this
great Saint waiting calmly in Limbo until Easter-day, when Jesus
Christ, risen and glorious, released him." And if St. Joseph consoles
the souls in Purgatory, none will be so dear to him as those who were
devout to him in life, and zealous in spreading a devotion to him.


[Footnote 1: Consoling Thoughts of St Francis de Sales. Arranged by
Rev. Father Huguet. Pp. 336-7.]

The opinion of St. Francis de Sales was that from the thought of
Purgatory we should draw more consolation than pain. The greater number
of those, he said, who fear Purgatory so much, do so in consideration
of their own interests and of the love they bear themselves rather than
the interests of God; and this happens because those who treat of this
place from the pulpit usually speak of its pains and are silent in
regard to the happiness and peace which are found in it....

When any of his friends or acquaintances died, he never grew weary of
speaking fondly of them and recommending them to the prayers of others.

His usual expression was: "We do not sufficiently remember our dead,
our faithful departed;" and the proof of it is that we do not speak
enough of them. We turn away from that discourse as from a sad subject.
We leave the dead to bury their dead. Their memory perishes from us
with the sound of their funeral-bell. We forget that the friendship
which ends even with death, is never true, Holy Scripture assuring us
that true love is stronger than death.

He was accustomed to say that in this single work of mercy the thirteen
others are assembled.

Is it not, he said, in some manner, to visit the sick, to obtain by our
prayers the relief of the poor suffering souls in Purgatory?

Is it not to give drink to those who thirst after the vision of God,
and who are enveloped in burning flames, to share with them the dew of
our prayers?

Is it not to feed the hungry, to aid in their deliverance by the means
which faith suggests?

Is it not truly to ransom prisoners?

Is it not truly to clothe the naked, to procure for them a garment of
light, a raiment of glory?

Is it not an admirable degree of hospitality, to procure their
admission into the heavenly Jerusalem, and to make them fellow-citizens
with the Saints and domestics of God?

Is it not a greater service to place souls in heaven than to bury
bodies in the earth?

As to spirituals, is it not a work whose merit may be compared to that
of counselling the weak, correcting the wayward, instructing the
ignorant, forgiving offenses, enduring injuries? And what consolation,
however great, that can be given to the afflicted of this world, is
comparable with that which is brought by our prayers to those poor
souls which have such bitter need of them?


The Catholic Church teaches that, besides a place of eternal torments
for the wicked and of everlasting rest for the righteous, there exists
in the next life a middle state of temporary punishment, allotted for
those who have died in venial sin, or who have not satisfied the
justice of God for sins already forgiven. She also teaches us that,
although the souls consigned to this intermediate state, commonly
called Purgatory, cannot help themselves, they may be aided by the
suffrages of the faithful on earth. The existence of Purgatory
naturally implies the correlative dogma - the utility of praying for the

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