Mrs. James Sadlier.

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asleep while sacred lessons were being read, and saw, in a dream, a
monk all clad in armor, shining like red-hot iron in a furnace. The old
man asked him who he was. He was told that he was one of the monks of
the convent; that he was in Purgatory, and had yet to endure this fiery
armor for ten years more, for having injured the reputation of another.

* * * * *

Another reason why these holy prisoners and debtors to the divine
justice are really _poor_ is because they are not able, in the
least, to assist themselves. A sick man afflicted in all his limbs, and
a beggar in the most painful and most destitute of conditions, has a
tongue left to ask for relief. At least they can implore Heaven; it is
never deaf to their prayer. But the souls in Purgatory are so poor that
they cannot even do this. Those cases in which some of them were
permitted to appear to their friends and ask assistance are but
exceptions. To whom is it they should have recourse? Is it, perhaps, to
the mercy of God? Alas! they send forth their sighs in plaintive
voices.... But the Lord does not regard their tears, nor heed their
moans and cries, but answers them that His justice must be satisfied to
the last farthing.

* * * * *

Oh, what cruelty! A sick man weeps on his bed and his friend consoles
him; a baby cries in his cradle and his mother at once caresses him; a
beggar knocks at the door for an alms and receives it; a malefactor
laments in his prison, and comfort is given him; even a dog that whines
at the door is taken in; but these poor, helpless souls cry day and
night from the depths of the fire in Purgatory: "Have pity on me, have
pity on me, at least you, my friends, because the hand of the Lord hath
smitten me;" and there is none to listen! Oh, what great cruelty, my

But it seems to me that I hear these poor souls exclaim: "Priest of the
Lord, speak no longer of our sufferings and pitiable condition. Let
your description of it be ever so touching, it will not afford us the
least relief. When a man has fallen into the fire, instead of
considering his pains, you try at once to draw him out or quench the
fire with water. This is true charity. Now, tell Christians to do the
same for us. Tell them to give us their feet, by going to hear Mass for
us; to give us their eyes, by seeking an occasion to perform a good
work for us; to give us their hands, by giving an alms for us, or by
often making an offering for the 'intention' of Masses in our behalf;
to give us their lips, by praying for us; to give us their tongue, by
requesting others to be charitable to us; to give us their memory, by
remembering us constantly in their devotions; to give us their body, by
offering up for us to the Almighty all its labors, fatigues, and

We read in the Acts of the Apostles, that the faithful prayed
unceasingly for St. Peter when he was imprisoned, and that an Angel
came and broke his chains and released him. "We, too, should be good
angels to the poor souls in Purgatory, and free them from their painful
captivity by every means in our power."

* * * * *

In the time of St. Bernard, a monk of Clairvaux appeared after his
death to his brethren in religion, to thank them for having delivered
him from Purgatory. On being asked what had most contributed to free
him from his torments, he led the inquirer to the church, where a
priest was saying Mass. "Look!" said he; "this is the means by which my
deliverance has been effected; this is the power of God's mercy; this
is the saving Sacrifice which taketh away the sins of the world."
Indeed, so great is the efficacy of this Sacrifice in obtaining relief
for the souls in Purgatory, that the application of all the good works
which have been performed from the beginning of the world, would not
afford so much assistance to one of these souls as is imparted by a
single Mass. To illustrate: The blessed Henry Suso made an agreement
with one of his brethren in religion that, as soon as either of them
died, the survivor should say two Masses every week for one year, for
the repose of his soul. It came to pass that the religious with whom
Henry had made this contract, died first. Henry prayed every day for
his deliverance from Purgatory, but forgot to say the Masses which he
had promised; whereupon the deceased religious appeared to him with a
sad countenance, and sharply rebuked him for his unfaithfulness to his
engagement. Henry excused himself by saying that he had often prayed
for him with great fervor, and had even offered up for him many
penitential works. "Oh, brother!" exclaimed the soul, "blood, blood is
necessary to give me some relief and refreshment in my excruciating
torments. Your penitential works, severe as they are, cannot deliver
me. Nothing can do this but the blood of Jesus Christ, which is offered
up in the Sacrifice of the Mass. Masses, Masses - these are what I

* * * * *

Another means to relieve the souls in Purgatory is to gain indulgences
for them. A very pious nun had just died in the convent in which St.
Mary Magdalen of Pazzi lived. Whilst her corpse was exposed in the
church, the Saint looked lovingly upon it, and prayed fervently that
the soul of her sister might soon enter into eternal rest. Whilst she
was thus wrapt in prayer her sister appeared to her, surrounded by
great splendor and radiance, in the act of ascending into heaven. The
Saint, on seeing this, could not refrain from calling out to her:
"Farewell, dear sister! When you meet your Heavenly Spouse, remember us
who are still sighing for Him in this vale of tears!" At these words
our Lord Himself appeared, and revealed to her that this sister had
entered heaven so soon on account of the indulgences gained for her.

[Footnote 1: Vita S. Magd. de Pazzi, L. I., chap, xxxix.]

Very many plenary indulgences can be gained for the souls in Purgatory,
if you make the Stations of the Cross. The merit of this exercise, if
applied to these souls, obtains great relief for them. We read in the
life of Catherine Emmerich, a very pious Augustinian nun, that the
souls in Purgatory often came to her during the night, and requested
her to rise and make the Stations for their relief. It is also related
in the life of the venerable Mary of Antigua, that a deceased sister of
her convent appeared to her and said: "Why do you not make the Stations
of the Way of the Cross for me?" Whilst the servant of the Lord felt
surprised and astonished at these words, Jesus Christ Himself spoke to
her, thus: "The exercise of the Stations is of the greatest advantage
to the souls in Purgatory; so much so that this soul has been permitted
by Me, to ask of you its performance in behalf of them all. Your
frequent performance of this exercise to procure relief for these souls
has induced them to hold intercourse with you, and you shall have them
for so many intercessors and protectors before My justice. Tell your
sisters to rejoice at these treasures, and the splendid capital which
they have in them, that they may grow rich upon it."

* * * * *

After St. Ludgarde had offered up many fervent prayers for the repose
of the soul of her deceased friend Simeon, Abbot of the monastery of
Toniac, Our Lord appeared to her, saying: "Be consoled, My daughter; on
account of thy prayers, I will soon release this soul from Purgatory."
"O Jesus, Lord and Master of my heart!" she rejoined, "I cannot feel
consoled so long as I know that the soul of my friend is suffering so
much in the Purgatorial fire. Oh! I cannot help shedding most bitter
tears until Thou hast released this soul from its sufferings." Touched
and overcome by this fervent prayer, Our Lord released the soul of
Simeon, who appeared to Ludgarde all radiant with heavenly glory, and
thanked her for the many fervent prayers which she had offered up for
his delivery. He also told the Saint that, had it not been for her
fervent prayers, he should have been obliged to stay in Purgatory for
eleven years....

Peter, the venerable Abbot of Cluny, relates an event somewhat similar.
There was a monk at Cluny, named Bernard Savinellus. One night as he
was returning to the dormitory, he met Stephen, commonly called
Blancus, Abbot of St. Giles, who had departed this life a few days
before. At first, not knowing him, he was passing on, till he spoke,
and asked him whither he was hastening. Bernard, astonished and angry
that a monk should speak, contrary to the rules, in the nocturnal
hours, and in a place where it was not permitted, made signs to him to
hold his peace; but as the dead abbot replied, and urged him to speak,
the other, raising his head, asked in amazement who he might be. He was
answered, "I am Stephen, the Abbot of St. Giles, who have formerly
committed many faults in the Abbey, for which I now suffer pains; and I
beseech you to implore the lord Abbot, and other brethren, to pray for
me, that by the ineffable mercy of God, I may be delivered." Bernard
replied that he would do so, but added that he thought no one would
believe his report; to which the dead man answered, "In order, then,
that no one may doubt, you may assure them that within eight days you
will die;" he then disappeared. The monk, returning to the church,
spent the remainder of the night in prayer and meditation. When it was
day, he related his vision to St. Hugo, who was then abbot. As is
natural, some believed his account, and others thought it was some
delusion. The next day the monk fell sick, and continued growing worse,
constantly affirming the truth of what he had related, till his death,
which occurred within the time specified.

* * * * *

Besides prayer and other acts of devotion we can offer up for the poor
souls, we may especially reckon _alms-deeds_; for since this is a
work of mercy, it is more especially apt to obtain mercy for the poor
souls. But not the rich alone can give alms, but the poor also, since
it does not so much depend on the greatness of the gift. Of the poor
widow who gave but one penny, Our Lord said; that she had given more
than all the rich who had offered gold and silver, because these
offered only of their abundance, whilst the poor widow gave what she
saved from her daily sustenance....

The venerable servant of God, Father Clement Hoffbauer, of the
Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, who died in Vienna in the year
1820, and whose cause of beatification has already been introduced,
once assisted a man of distinction in death. A short time afterwards
the same man appeared to his wife in a dream, in a very pitiable
condition, his clothes in rags and quite haggard, and shivering with
cold. He begged her to have pity on him, because he could scarcely
endure the extreme hunger and cold which he suffered. His wife went
without delay to Father Hoffbauer, related her dream, and asked his
advice on this point. The confessor, enlightened by God, immediately
understood what this dream meant, and what kind of assistance was
especially needed and asked for by this poor soul. He accordingly
advised her to clothe a poor beggar. The woman followed the advice, and
soon after her husband again appeared to her, dressed in a white
garment, and his countenance beaming with joy, thanking her for the
help which she had given to him.

* * * * *

We can assist the poor souls not only by prayers, devotions, exterior
works of penance, alms-deeds, and other works of charity, but we can
also aid them by _interior mortifications_. Everything which
appears to us difficult, and which costs us a sacrifice, the pains of
sickness, and all the sufferings and troubles of this life, may be
offered up for these poor souls...

The only son of a rich widow of Bologna had been murdered by a
stranger. The culprit fell into her hands, but the pious widow was far
from taking revenge by delivering him up to the hands of justice. She
thought of the infinite love of our Saviour when He died for us upon
the cross, and how He prayed for His executioners when dying. She,
therefore, thought that she could in no way honor the memory of her
dear son better, and that she could do nothing more efficient for the
repose of his soul, than by granting pardon to the culprit, by
protecting him, and by even adopting him as her son and heir to all her
riches. This heroic self-denial, and the sacrifice which she thereby
offered to Our Lord in memory of His bitter Passion, was so pleasing to
God, that, in reward thereof, He remitted to her son all the pains of
Purgatory. The happy son then appeared to his mother in a glorified
state, at the very moment when he was entering heaven. He thanked her
for having thus delivered him from the sufferings of Purgatory much
sooner than any other good work could have effected it.

* * * * *

Those who give themselves up to immoderate grief at the loss of beloved
friends, should bear this in mind also: instead of injuring their
health by a grief which is of no avail to the dead, they should
endeavor to deliver their souls from Purgatory by Masses, prayers, and
good works; nay, the very thought that they thus render to the souls of
their beloved friends the greatest possible act of charity, will
console them and mitigate their sorrow. For this reason St. Paul
exhorts the Thessalonians not to be afflicted on account of the
departed, after the manner of heathens who have no hope.

* * * * *

Thomas Cantipratensis relates of a certain mother, that she wept day
and night over the death of her darling son, so much so that she forgot
to assist his soul in Purgatory. To convince her of her folly, God one
day permitted her to be rapt in spirit, and see a long procession of
youths hastening towards a city of indescribable beauty. Having looked
for her son in vain for some time, she at last discovered him walking
slowly along at the end of the procession. At once her son turned
towards her, and said: "Ah, mother, cease your useless tears! and if
you truly love me, offer up for my soul Masses, prayers, alms-deeds,
and such like good works." Then he disappeared, and his mother, instead
of any longer wasting her strength by foolish grief, began henceforth
to give her son proofs of a true Christian and motherly love, by
complying with his request. (L. II. Appar., 5, 17.)

Among the appointments to the Italian Episcopate made by our Holy
Father Pope Pius IX. was that of an humble and holy monk, hidden away
in a poor monastery of Tuscany. When he received his Bulls he was
thrown into the greatest affliction. He had gone into religion to be
done with the world outside; and here he was to be thrown again into
its whirlpool. He made a novena to Our Blessed Lady, invoking her help
to rid him of the burden and the danger. Meantime, he wrote a letter to
the See of Rome setting forth reasons why he ought not to be asked to
accept, and also sending back the Bulls, with a positive _noluit_,
but Rome would not excuse him. Then he went in person to see the Pope,
and to implore leave to decline, which he did, even with tears. Among
other reasons, the good monk said that of late he had a most miserable
memory. "That is unfortunate," said the Holy Father, "for after your
death, if you continue so, no one will ever refer to you as Monsignor
- - -, _of happy memory_! but that will be no great loss to you."
Then, seeing the intense grief of the nominated Bishop, the Holy Father
changed his tone and said: "At one time of my life I, also, was
threatened with the loss of my memory. But I found a remedy, used it,
and it has not failed me. _For the special intention of preserving
this faculty of memory I have said every day a 'De Profundis' for the
souls in Purgatory_. I give you this receipt for your use; and now,
do not resist the will of him who gives you and the people of your
diocese his blessing."

It is a new revelation that our Holy Father Pius IX. was ever
threatened with loss of memory. Of all his faculties of mind there was
not one that excited such general astonishment as his wonderful memory.

* * * * *

The following incident took place at Dole, in France: One day, in the
year 1629, long after her death, Leonarda Colin, niece to Hugueta Roy,
appeared to her, and spoke as follows: "I am saved by the mercy of God.
It is now seventeen years since I was struck down by a sudden death. My
poor soul was in mortal sin, but, thanks to Mary, whose devoted servant
I had ever striven to be, I obtained grace, in the last extremity, to
make an act of perfect contrition, and thus I was rescued from hell-
fire, but by no means from Purgatory. My sufferings in those purifying
flames are beyond description. At last Almighty God has permitted my
guardian angel to conduct me to you in order that you may make three
pilgrimages to three Churches of our Blessed Lady in Burgundy. Upon the
fulfillment of said condition, my deliverance from Purgatory is
promised." Hugueta did as she was requested; whereupon the same soul
appeared in a glorified state, thanking her benefactress, and promising
to pray for her, and admonishing her always to remember the four last

The Greek Emperor Theophilus was, after his death, condemned to the
pains of Purgatory, because he had been unable to perform the penances
which, towards the end of his life, he had wished to perform. His wife,
the pious Empress Theodora, was not satisfied with pouring forth
fervent prayers and sighs for the repose of his soul, but she also had
prayers and Masses said in all the convents of the city of
Constantinople. Besides this, she besought the Patriarch St. Methodius,
that for this end he would order prayers to be said by both the clergy
and the people of the city. Divine mercy could not resist so many
fervent prayers. On a certain day, when public prayers were again
offered up in the church of St. Sophia, an Angel appeared to St.
Methodius, and said to him: "Thy prayers, O Bishop, have been heard,
and Theophilus has obtained pardon." Theodora, the Empress, had, at the
same time, a vision, in which our Lord Himself announced to her that her
husband had been delivered from Purgatory. "For your sake," He said,
"and on account of the prayers of the priests, I pardon your husband."

* * * * *

In the life of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque it is related that the
soul of one of her departed sisters appeared to her, and said: "There
you are, lying comfortably in your bed; but think of the bed on which I
am lying, and suffering the most excruciating pains." "I saw this bed,"
says the Saint, "and I still tremble in all my limbs at the mere
thought of it. The upper and lower part of it was full of red-hot sharp
iron points, penetrating into the flesh. She told me that she had to
endure this pain for her carelessness in the observance of her rules.
'My heart is lacerated,' she added, 'and this is the hardest of my
pains. I suffer it for those fault-finding and murmuring thoughts which
I entertained in my heart against my superiors. My tongue is eaten up
by moths, and tormented, on account of uncharitable words, and for
having unnecessarily spoken in the time of silence. Would to God that
all souls consecrated to the service of the Lord could see me in these
frightful pains! Would to God I could show them what punishments are
inflicted upon those who live negligently in their vocation! They would
indeed change their manner of living, observing most punctually the
smallest point of their rules, and guarding against those faults for
which I am now so much tormented.'"



"My daughter is just now dead; but come, lay thy hand upon her, and she
shall live." - St. Matt. ix. 18.

Such was the entreaty made by the ruler to our Lord in the Gospel, and
such are the words that the Lord says to us during the month of
November, in behalf of the poor souls in Purgatory. These souls have
been saved by the Precious Blood, they have been judged by Jesus Christ
with a favorable judgment, they are His spouses, His sons and
daughters - His children. He cries to us: "My children are even now
dead; but come, lay your hands upon them, and they shall live." What
hand is that which our Lord wants us to lay upon His dead children?
Brethren, it is the hand of prayer. Now, it seems to me that there are
three classes of persons who ought to be in an especial manner the
friends of God's dead children; three classes who ought always to be
extending a helping hand to the souls in Purgatory. First, the poor,
because the holy souls are poor like yourselves. They have no work -
that is to say, the day for them is past in which they could work and
gain indulgences and merit, the money with which the debt of temporal
punishment is paid; for them the "night has come when no man can work."
They are willing to work, they are willing to pay for themselves, but
they cannot; they are out of work, they are poor, they cannot help
themselves. They are suffering, as the poor suffer in this world from
the heats of summer and the frosts of winter. They have no food; they
are hungry and thirsty; they are longing for the sweets of heaven. They
are in exile; they have no home; they know there is abundance of food
and raiment around them which they cannot themselves buy. It seems to
them that the winter will never pass, that the spring will never come;
in a word they _are poor_. They are poor as many of you are poor.
They are in worse need than the most destitute among you. Oh! then, ye
that are poor, help the holy souls by your prayers. Secondly, the rich
ought to be the special friends of those who are in Purgatory, and
among the rich we wish to include those who are what people call
"comfortably off." God has given you charge of the poor; you can help
them by your alms in this world, so you can in the next. You can have
Masses said for them; you can say lots of prayers for them, because you
have plenty of time on your hands. Again remember, many of those who
were your equals in this world, who, like yourselves, had a good supply
of this world's goods, have gone to Purgatory because those riches were
a snare to them. Riches, my dear friends, have sent many a soul to the
place of purification. Oh! then, those of you who are well off, have
pity upon the poor souls in Purgatory. Offer up a good share of your
wealth to have Masses said for them. Do some act of charity, and offer
the merit of it for some soul who was ensnared by riches, and who is
now paying the penalty in suffering; and spend some considerable
portion of your spare time in praying for the souls of the faithful

And lastly, sinners and those who have been converted from a very
sinful life ought to be the friends of God's dead children. Why?
Because, although the souls in Purgatory cannot pray for themselves,
they can pray for others, and these prayers are most acceptable to God.
Because, too, they are full of gratitude, and they will not forget
those who helped them when they shall come before the throne of God.
Because sinners, having saddened the Sacred Heart of Jesus by their
sins, cannot make a better reparation to it than to hasten the time
when He shall embrace these souls whom He loves so dearly, and has
wished for so long. Because sinners have almost always been the means
of the sins of others. They have, by their bad example, sent others to
Purgatory. Ah! then, if they have helped them in, they should help them

You, then, that are poor, you that are rich, you that have been great
sinners, listen to the voice of Jesus; listen to the plaint of Mary
during this month of November; "My children are now dead; come lay thy
prayers up for them, and they shall live." Hear Mass for the poor
souls; say your beads for them; supplicate Jesus and Mary and Joseph in
their behalf. Fly to St. Catherine of Genoa and beg her to help them,
and many and many a time during the month say with great fervor: "May
the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in
peace." - _Five-Minute Sermons for Low Masses_.


[Footnote 1: From the "Original, Short and Practical Sermons for every
Feast of the Ecclesiastical Year."]


On the Feast of All Souls, and whenever we are reminded of Purgatory,
we cannot help thinking of the dreadful pains which the souls in

Online LibraryMrs. James SadlierPurgatory → online text (page 9 of 35)