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dead; for the souls consigned to this middle state have not reached the
term of their journey. They are still exiles from heaven, and are fit
subjects for divine clemency.

Is it not strange that this cherished doctrine should be called in
question by the levelling innovators of the sixteenth century, when we
consider that it is clearly taught in the Old Testament; that it is, at
least, insinuated in the New Testament; that it is unanimously
proclaimed by the Fathers of the Church; that it is embodied in all the
ancient liturgies of the Oriental and Western Church; and that it is
alike consonant with our reason and eminently consoling to the human

* * * * *

You now perceive that this devotion is not an invention of modern
times, but a doctrine universally enforced in the best and purest ages
of the Church.

You see that praying for the dead was not a devotion cautiously
recommended by some obscure or visionary writer, but an act of religion
preached and inculcated by all the great Doctors and Fathers of the
Church, who are the recognized expounders of the Christian religion.

You see them, too, inculcating this doctrine not as a cold and abstract
principle, but as an imperative act of daily piety, and embodying it in
their ordinary exercises of devotion.

They prayed for the dead in their morning and evening devotions. They
prayed for them in their daily office, and in the sacrifice of the
Mass. They asked the prayers of the congregation for the souls of the
deceased, in the public services of Sunday. And on the monuments which
were erected to the dead, some of which are preserved even to this day,
epitaphs were inscribed, earnestly invoking for their souls the prayers
of the living. How gratifying it is to our Catholic hearts, that a
devotion so soothing to afflicted spirits is, at the same time, so
firmly grounded on the tradition of ages.

That the practice of praying for the dead has descended from apostolic
times is also evident from the _Liturgus_ of the Church. A Liturgy
is the established form of public worship, containing the authorized
prayers of the Church. The Missal, or Mass-book, for instance, which
you see on our altars, contains a portion of the Liturgy of the
Catholic Church. The principal Liturgies are: The Liturgy of St. James
the Apostle, who founded the Church of Jerusalem; the Liturgy of St.
Mark the Evangelist, founder of the Church of Alexandria, and the
Liturgy of St. Peter, who established the Church in Rome. These
Liturgies are called after the Apostles who compiled them. There are,
besides, the Liturgies of St. Chrysostom and St. Basil, which are
chiefly based on that of St. James.

Now, all these Liturgies, without an exception, have prayers for the
dead, and their providential preservation serves as another triumphant
vindication of the venerable antiquity of this Catholic doctrine.

The Eastern and the Western churches were happily united until the
fourth and fifth centuries, when the heresiarchs Arius, Nestorius and
Eutyches withdrew millions of souls from the centre of unity. The
followers of these sects were called, after their founders, Arians,
Nestorians, and Eutychians, and from that day to the present the two
latter bodies have formed distinct communions, being separated from the
Catholic Church in the East, just as the Protestant churches are
separated from her in the West.

The Greek Schismatic Church, of which the present Russo-Greek Church is
the offspring, severed her connection with the See of Rome in the ninth

But in leaving the Catholic Church, these Eastern sects retained the
old Liturgies, which they use to this day....

During my sojourn in Rome, at the Ecumenical Council, I devoted a great
deal of my leisure time to the examination of the various Liturgies of
the Schismatic churches of the East. I found in all of them formulas of
prayers for the dead almost identical with that of the Roman Missal:
"Remember, O Lord, Thy servants who are gone before us with the sign of
faith, and sleep in peace. To these, O Lord, and to all who rest in
Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, light, and
peace, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Not content with studying their books, I called upon the Oriental
Patriarchs and Bishops in communion with the See of Rome, who belong to
the Armenian, the Chaldean, the Coptic, the Maronite, and Syriac rites.
They all assured me that the Schismatic Christians of the East among
whom they live have, without exception, prayers and sacrifices for the

Now, I ask, when could those Eastern sects have commenced to adopt the
Catholic practice of praying for the dead? They could not have received
it from us since the ninth century, because the Greek Church separated
from us then, and has had no communion with us since that time, except
at intervals, up to the twelfth century. Nor could they have adopted
the practice since the fourth or fifth century, inasmuch as the Arians,
Nestorians, and Eutychians have had no religious communication with us
since that period. Therefore, in common with us, they received this
doctrine from the Apostles.... I have already spoken of the devotion of
the ancient Jewish Church to the souls of the departed. But perhaps you
are not aware that the Jews retain to this day, in their Liturgy, the
pious practice of praying for the dead. Yet such in reality is the

Amid all their wanderings and vicissitudes of life, though dismembered
and dispersed, like sheep without a shepherd, over the surface of the
globe, the children of Israel have never forgotten or neglected the
sacred duty of praying for their deceased brethren.

Unwilling to make this assertion without the strongest evidence, I
procured from a Jewish convert an authorized Prayer-book of the Hebrew
Church, from which I extract the following formula of prayers which are
prescribed for funerals: "Departed brother! mayest thou find open the
gates of heaven, and see the city of peace and the dwellings of safety,
and meet the ministering angels hastening joyfully towards thee! And
may the High Priest stand to receive thee, and go thou to the end, rest
in peace, and rise again _into_ life! May the repose established
in the celestial abode... be the lot, dwelling, and the resting place
of the soul of our deceased brother (whom the spirit of the Lord may
guide into Paradise), who departed from this world, according to the
will of God, the Lord of heaven and earth. May the Supreme King of
Kings, through His infinite mercy, hide him under the shadow of His
wings. May He raise him at the end of his days, and cause him to drink
of the stream of His delights!"

I am happy to say that the more advanced and enlightened members of the
Episcopalian Church are steadily returning to the faith of their
forefathers, regarding prayers for the dead. An acquaintance of mine,
once a distinguished clergyman of the Episcopal communion, but now a
convert, informed me that hundreds of Protestant clergymen in this
country, and particularly in England, have a firm belief in the
efficacy of prayers for the dead, but for well-known reasons they are
reserved in the expression of their faith. He easily convinced me of
the truth of his assertion, particularly as far as the Church of
England is concerned, by sending me six different works published in
London, all bearing on the subject of Purgatory. These books are
printed under the auspices of the Protestant Episcopal Church; they all
contain prayers for the dead, and prove, from Catholic grounds, the
existence of a middle state after death, and the duty of praying for
our deceased brethren. [1]

[Footnote 1: See "Path of Holiness," Rivington's, London: "Treasury of
Devotion," Ibid; "Catechism of Theology," Masten, London.]

To sum up: we see the practice of praying for the dead enforced in the
ancient Hebrew Church, and in the Jewish synagogue of to-day. We see it
proclaimed age after age by all the Fathers of Christendom. We see it
incorporated in every one of the ancient Liturgies of the East and of
the West. We see it zealously taught by the Russian Church of to-day,
and by that immense family of schismatic Christians scattered over the
East. We behold it, in fine, a cherished devotion of two hundred
millions of Catholics, as well as of a respectable portion of the
Episcopal Church.

Would it not, my friend, be the height of rashness and presumption in
you to prefer your private opinion to this immense weight of learning,
sanctity, and authority? Would it not be impiety in you to stand aside
with sealed lips, while the Christian world is sending up an unceasing
_De profundis_ for departed brethren? Would it not be cold and
heartless in you not to pray for your deceased friends, on account of
prejudices which have no grounds in Scripture, tradition, or reason

* * * * *

Oh! far from us a religion which would decree an eternal divorce
between the living and the dead. How consoling is it to the Catholic,
to think that, in praying thus for his departed friend, his prayers are
not in violation of, but in accordance with, the voice of the Church;
and that as, like Augustine, he watches at the pillow of a dying
mother, so, like Augustine, he can continue the same office of piety
for her soul after she is dead, by praying for her. How cheering the
reflection that the golden link of prayer unites you still to those who
"fall asleep in the Lord," and that you can still speak to them and
pray for them!....

Oh! it is this thought that robs death of its sting and makes the
separation of friends endurable. And if your departed friend needs not
your prayers, they are not lost, but, like the rain absorbed by the
sun, and descending again in fruitful showers on our fields, they will
be gathered by the Sun of Justice, and they will come down in
refreshing showers of grace upon your head. "Cast thy bread upon the
running waters; for, after a long time, thou shalt find it again." [1]

[Footnote 1: Faith of our Fathers, chap. xvi.]



[Footnote 1: Answer to nine objections made.]

The Catholic Church does not believe that God created any to be damned
absolutely, notwithstanding their co-operation with the means of
salvation which were secured to them by the death of Jesus Christ; nor
any to be saved absolutely, unless they co-operate with those means.
Hence she has ever taught the doctrine which is inculcated in
Scripture, that heaven may be obtained by all who shall apply the means
which the Saviour of the World has left in His Church for that end: in
a word, that every man shall be judged according to his works. This
doctrine is consonant with the justice which must belong to the Deity.
She knows God is too pure to admit anything defiled into His heavenly
abode (Apoc. xxi. 27); and yet too just and merciful to punish a slight
transgression with the same severity as is due to an enormous crime.
Now, suppose two men to sin against God at the same time, the one by
the deliberate murder of his father - for the case is possible - and the
other, by a slight, almost inadvertent, falsehood; and suppose,
further, that they are both to appear before God the next moment to
answer for the deeds done in the flesh, I ask whether it is consistent
with the idea we have of divine justice to think that both will be
condemned to the same everlasting punishment? If it be, then there is
no more moral turpitude in parricide than in telling a trivial
falsehood, which injures no one, but still is offensive and displeasing
to God. But if it be not consistent with divine justice, then you must
admit the distinction of guilt, and consequently of punishment. Now,
that God exacts a temporary punishment for sin, after the guilt and
eternal punishment are remitted, appears from the testimony of His
Sacred Word. St. Paul teaches that the death of the body is a
punishment which the sin of our first parent entailed on his progeny;
and yet many who have been regenerated by baptism from that original
guilt, nevertheless die before they have committed any actual sin
whatever. The children of Israel had to leave their bones in the
wilderness, after the forty years' sojournment, as a punishment,
inflicted by the Almighty Himself, for sins which He had expressly
forgiven them. Num. xiv. 20, 22. David was forgiven his sin - and yet he
was punished for it, by the death of his child, whom he loved most
tenderly. He sinned by numbering his people; and although it was
forgiven him, he had still to choose his punishment - either war,
famine, or pestilence. If such be the dispensation of God to His
creatures in this world, why may it not be also after death? Will you
say it is because the body is the medium of suffering in this life?
This is not exactly true - the body, indeed, is the medium, in many
instances, through which the soul is made to suffer. But God inflicted
no corporal chastisement on David by taking his child - it was the
king's soul that was touched, and felt, and suffered. Does not the soul
remain susceptible of suffering after death; and may not God,
conformably with the examples here laid down, extend to it in a future
state the same salutary dispensation, for His own just and merciful
purposes? But you will ask what Scripture I can quote to show that He
really does so. Now, suppose I were to refer you to the same rule, and
demand from you the text by which you feel warranted to profane the
Sabbath, and sanctify the Sunday in its stead - what will you have to
answer in reply? Surely if the authority of the Catholic Church is
sufficient to authorize your _practice_ in the one case, it is
equally so with regard to my belief in the other. But our situations
are very different; because I admit the authority of the Church in both
instances, and I shall prove that her doctrine of Purgatory, so far
from opposing, is grounded on Scripture. Whereas you reject the Church,
you make, as you say, the Scripture the _only rule_ of your faith;
and yet when the Scripture says, "Thou shalt keep holy the Sabbath
day," you say I will not sanctify the Sabbath, but I will sanctify the
day after.... This tenet of belief is proved by every text of Scripture
in which it is implied that God will render to every man according to
his works.... If the word Purgatory has anything in it peculiarly
offensive, you will not be the less a Catholic for rejecting it, and
using the Scriptural word _prison_, provided you admit that such a
place exists; in which God after having forgiven the guilt and temporal
punishment of their sins, causes the souls of the imperfect just to
undergo, nevertheless, a temporary chastisement, as David did in this
life, before admitting them into the realms of felicity. Now, if this
be so, is it not rational to believe that the mercy of God will be
moved by the prayers of His faithful servants on earth, who intercede
in behalf of their departed brethren?... In a word, the economy of God
to His creatures even in this life is consistent with the doctrine of



The infallible Church, the spouse of the Holy Ghost, the Pillar and
Ground of Truth and the true teacher of the doctrine of Christ, has, in
the distribution of her feasts and festivals, set apart one day in the
year, the second of November, in favor of the suffering souls in
Purgatory. She calls on all her children to assemble around her sacred
altars, to assist and pray at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the
deliverance from Purgatory of the souls of those who, whilst dying in
peace with Our Lord, still had debts to pay to His infinite justice.

These debts were contracted by the commission of mortal sin, whose
grievous fault, though removed by the Sacrament of Penance, yet left on
the soul a debt which was not sufficiently atoned for, or by the
commission of venial sin not sufficiently repented of. Purgatory is one
of the great consoling doctrines of the Church of Christ. Only the pure
and perfect can enter Heaven; and how few persons leave this earth of
temptation, sin, and trouble in that state of purity and perfection! If
there were not a place of purification, how few could go straight to
Heaven! Nearly the whole human race would be deprived forever of the
beatific vision of God. God has chosen this way of exhibiting His
justice and mercy: His justice, by exacting the last particle of debt;
and His mercy, by saving the poor repentant sinner. God rewards every
one according to his works. Some are imperfect through want of pure
intention, through carelessness, vanity, or other causes, like the hay
and stubble adhering to gold and precious stones which dull their

* * * * *

Oh, how few are perfect, and how few do penance in proportion to their
sins! How few, in their dealing with their fellow-men, giving measure
for measure, goods equal to the money paid for them, or services equal
to the pay received! How many fail in charity, in words and actions!
How many prayers said carelessly and without thought, even at the most
solemn times! These will have to be repeated, as it were, in Purgatory.
How many will suffer from their want of charity and mercy to the poor,
and failing to pay their just dues to God's Church for the spiritual
favors they receive from it! "If we give you," says St. Paul,
"spiritual things, you should administer to us temporal things."...

All spiritual writers agree that the pains of Purgatory are intense,
yet the souls are satisfied to suffer till the last debt is paid. They
would not wish to enter Heaven with stains on their souls. God, in His
great mercy, has permitted some souls suffering in Purgatory to appear
to friends on earth to solicit their prayers and Masses, and to pay
their debts. This the Lives of the Saints and Ecclesiastical History at
all times attest. In these days when faith is fading from some minds,
even in the Church, it behooves especially the Bishops to remind the
faithful of their duties and obligations to their departed friends. It
is thought by some that an expensive funeral, with its many carriages,
and a grand monument over the grave, will satisfy all the requirements
of decency and of family love. Alas! if the dead could only speak from
their graves, they would cry out and say, "All these monuments and this
worldly pageantry only crush us. They only satisfy the vanity of the
living, but in no way alleviate our sufferings in Purgatory."...

But the Bishops must, from time to time, remind the people of their
duty towards God's servants suffering in Purgatory. In olden times,
when faith, love, and affection were stronger than now, devotion
towards the souls in Purgatory showed itself in numerous foundations in
favor of the souls in Purgatory. Churches and canonries where Masses
were celebrated every day by canons and monks, benefices for the
education of poor students, hospitals for the care of the sick,
periodical distribution of alms to the poor, to have rosaries and other
prayers said and pilgrimages made for the souls in Purgatory. All these
have been swept away by the ruthless hand of the civil power, wishing
to reform the Church; and even at the present day, when the Christian
soul is about to appear before the judgment-seat, there are legal
impediments in the way of his making by will donations for prayers or
Masses. Therefore, my dear people, whilst you are well make provision
for your own soul. Do not entrust it to the care of others who cannot
love you more than you love yourselves.

* * * * *

This doctrine of Purgatory has always been taught in the Church and
handed down from bishops and priests to their successors in the sacred
ministry, and by the voice of the people. "Stand fast, and hold the
tradition you have learned, whether by word or by our epistle." (II.
Thess. ii. 14.) Now prayers and Masses for the dead are to be found in
every ancient liturgy of the Church. There is no Oriental liturgy
without prayers for those who have departed in peace. The Apostolic
Constitutions - the most ancient and genuine work - speak largely of
prayers for the dead, for the conversion of sinners.

There are religious congregations and pious associations specially
devoted to the relief of the souls in Purgatory. St. Vincent de Paul
ordered the priests of his congregation never to go to meals without
first saying the _De Profundis_ for the souls in Purgatory. The
Church ends all the prayers of the divine office with: "May the souls
of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace." One
may turn away with a sad thought from a tomb on which is not engraved:
"May he rest in peace," or on which a cross - the emblem of our hope in
God and in a happy resurrection - does not figure.

We exhort you, beloved children in Christ, to entertain an earnest
charity towards the souls in Purgatory. You loved them during life; do
not let it be said: "Out of sight, out of mind." Love them in death or,
living, wishing earnestly to go to God. This charity will greatly help
yourselves. If a cup of cold water given to a servant of God shall not
go without its reward, how much more a cup of celestial grace, that
will shorten the time in the flames of Purgatory of a soul that most
ardently longs to see God, who desires it Himself with great love, and
will reward those who shorten the exile of His dear servants. "Those,"
says St. Alphonsus Liguori, "who succor the souls in Purgatory will be
succored in turn by the gratitude of those whom they have relieved, and
who enjoy sooner, by their prayers, the beatific vision of God."

* * * * *

The Council of Trent, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, has made
decrees on the subject which bind the consciences of the faithful. 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."

Though King David was assured, after his sincere repentance, that his
sin was forgiven, yet the Prophet told him that he had still to suffer
by the death of his child.

In the Twenty-fourth Session and Third Canon the Holy Council defines
that the Sacrifice of the Mass is propitiatory, both for the living and
the dead, for sins, punishments, satisfactions, and for other
necessities, according to Apostolic traditions; and the Bishop, when he
ordains, places the patena and chalice, with the bread and wine, in the
hands of the young priest and says to him: "Receive the power to offer
to God the Sacrifice of the Mass, as well for the living as for the
dead, in the name of the Lord. Amen."

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is, therefore, the most powerful means
of relieving the souls in Purgatory; next is the fervent performance of
the Stations of the Cross, to which so many indulgences are attached;
then other indulgenced prayers; for example, the Rosary. Alms to the
poor is another powerful means. "Blessed are the merciful, for they
shall obtain mercy."

There is another means which our ancestors loved - to educate a student
for the priesthood. St. Monica rejoiced, on her death-bed, that she had
a son to remember her every day at the altar. If you have not a son you
can adopt one, or subscribe, according to your means, to the Students'

It is the custom in many places - and we wish that it should be
introduced where it is not - to receive the offerings of the people on
All Souls' Day, or the Sunday previous, or subsequent, and the proceeds
to be computed and Masses offered up accordingly.

We attach the indulgences of the Way of the Cross to certain
crucifixes, and thus enable persons who cannot conveniently visit the
Church to make the Stations there, to gain the indulgences of the
Stations by reciting fourteen times the "Our Father" and "Hail Mary,"
with a "Glory be to the Father," etc., for each Station, and five "Our
Fathers" and "Hail Marys" in honor of the five Adorable Wounds, with
one for the intentions of the Pope.


[Footnote 1: Published by Burns & Oates, London.]


[The following passages are taken from a most excellent and valuable
work, "Purgatory Surveyed," edited by the late lamented Dr. Anderdon,

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