November Devotion: The Holy Souls in Purgatory

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November Devotion: The Holy Souls in Purgatory

Since the 16th century Catholic piety has assigned entire months to special devotions. As a reminder of our duty to pray for the suffering faithful in Purgatory, the Church has dedicated the month of November to the Holy Souls. The Holy Souls are those who have died in the state of grace but who are not yet free from all punishment due to their unforgiven venial sins and all other sins already forgiven for which satisfaction is still to be made. They are certain of entering Heaven, but first they must suffer in Purgatory. The Holy Souls cannot help themselves because for them the night has come, when no man can work (John 9:4). It is our great privilege of brotherhood that we can shorten their time of separation from God by our prayers, good works, and, especially, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.


INVOCATION Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

FOR THE SOULS IN PURGATORY My Jesus, by the sorrows Thou didst suffer in Thine agony in the Garden, in Thy scourging and crowning with thorns, in the way to Calvary, in Thy crucifixion and death, have mercy on the souls in purgatory, and especially on those that are most forsaken; do Thou deliver them from the dire torments they endure; call them and admit them to Thy most sweet embrace in paradise. Our Father, Hail Mary, Eternal rest, etc.

FOR ALL THE DECEASED By Thy resurrection from the dead, O Christ, death no longer hath dominion over those who die in holiness. So, we beseech Thee, give rest to Thy servants in Thy sanctuary and in Abraham’s bosom. Grant it to those, who from Adam until now have adored Thee with purity, to our fathers and brothers, to our kinsmen and friends, to all men who have lived by faith and passed on their road to Thee, by a thousand ways, and in all conditions, and make them worthy of the heavenly kingdom. Byzantine Liturgy

DE PROFUNDIS The psalmist is crying out here from the depression that grips him because of his sense of sin. He tells God that no man could be forgiven should strict justice be demanded; but, since God is forgiving and merciful, the psalmist (Israel) will hope for redemption from iniquities. We, who know the mercy of God far better than the g Israelites, may pray this psalm with even greater trust in God. The Church uses this psalm in the liturgy as her official prayer for the souls in Purgatory. Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord; Lord, hear my, voice! Let Your ears be attentive to my voice in supplication: If You, O Lord, mark iniquities, Lord, who can stand? But with You is forgiveness, that You may be revered. I trust in the Lord; my soul trusts in His word. My soul waits for the Lord more than sentinels wait for the dawn. More than sentinels wait for the dawn, let Israel wait for the Lord, For with the Lord is kindness and with Him is plenteous redemption; And He will redeem Israel from all their iniquities. Psalm 130

THE MISERERE This psalm is a marvelous act of contrition, confession, and supplication by a repentant sinner. It was composed by David after his sin with Bethsabee. In reparation David promises to lead others back to God by telling them of the ways of divine justice. Instead of offering God an external sacrifice which he knows He will not accept, he offers instead the sacrifice of a contrite and humble heart, a sacrifice that will always be most pleasing in the eyes of God. Have mercy on me, 0 God, in Your goodness; in the greatness of Your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me. For I acknowledge my offense, and my sin is before me always: “Against You only have I sinned, and done what is evil in Your sight”– That You may be justified in Your sentence, vindicated when You condemn. Indeed, in guilt was I born, and in sin my mother conceived me; Behold, You are pleased with sincerity of heart, and in my inmost being You teach me wisdom. Cleanse me of sin with hyssop, that I may be purified; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear the sounds of joy and gladness; the bones You have crushed shall rejoice. Turn away Your face from my sins, and blot out all my guilt. A clean heart create for me, 0 God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Cast me not out from Your presence, and Your holy spirit take not from me. Give me back the joy of Your salvation, and a willing spirit sustain in me. I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall return to You. Free me from blood guilt, 0 God, my saving God; then my tongue shall revel in Your justice. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim Your praise. For You are not pleased with sacrifices; should I offer a holocaust, You would not accept it. My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, 0 God, You will not spurn. Be bountiful, O Lord, to Sion in Your kindness by rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem; Then shall You be pleased with due sacrifices, burnt offerings and holocausts; then shall they offer up bullocks on Your altar. Psalm 50

FOR THE SOULS IN PURGATORY O Lord, who art ever merciful and bounteous with Thy gifts, look down upon the suffering souls in purgatory. Remember not their offenses and negligences, but be mindful of Thy loving mercy, which is from all eternity. Cleanse them of their sins and fulfill their ardent desires that they may be made worthy to behold Thee face to face in Thy glory. May they soon be united with Thee and hear those blessed words which will call them to their heavenly home: “Come, blessed of My Father, take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

Prayer Source: Prayer Book, The by Reverend John P. O’Connell, M.A., S.T.D. and Jex Martin, M.A., The Catholic Press, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, 1954

Instruction On The Feast Of All Saints

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Instruction On The Feast Of All Saints
[November 1]

The Church’s Year
By Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine

Why has the Church instituted this festival?

To give praise to God in His saints, (Ps. cl.) and to pay to the saints themselves the honor which they merit for having made it the work of their earthly life to promote the honor of God. 2. To impress vividly upon our minds that we are members of that holy Catholic Church which believes in the communion of saints, that is, in the communion of all true Christians, who belong to the Church triumphant in heaven, to the Church suffering in purgatory, or to the Church militant upon earth; but, more particularly, to cause us earnestly to consider the communion of the saints in heaven with us, who are yet battling on earth.

3. To exhort us to raise our eyes and hearts, especially on this day, to heaven, where before the throne of God is gathered the innumerable multitude of saints of all countries, times, nationalities and ranks of life, who have faithfully followed Christ and left us glorious examples of virtues, which we ought to imitate. This we can do, for the saints, too, were weak men, who fought and conquered only by the grace of God, which will not be denied to us.

4. To honor those saints, for whom during the year there is no special festival appointed by the Church. Finally, that in consideration of so many intercessors God may grant us perfect reconciliation, may permit us to share in their merits, and may grant us the grace to enjoy with them, one day, the bliss of heaven. Continue reading

All Saints Day

All Saints Day

The Church day by day gives special veneration to one or more of the holy men and women who have helped to establish it by their blood, develop it by their labors, or edify it by their virtues. But, in addition to those whom the Church honors by special designation or has inscribed in her calendar, how many martyrs are there whose names are not recorded! How many humble virgins and holy penitents! How many unknown anchorites and monks, Christian fathers and mothers, young children snatched away in their innocence! How many courageous Christians, whose merits are known only to God and His heavenly court!

Should we forget those who remember us in their intercession? Are not some among them our ancestors? members of our immediate family? our friends and fellow-Christians, with whom we have lived in daily companionship? In fact, all of Heaven is but one family — Our Lord’s, as He Himself said: Who is My mother and who are My brethren? And stretching forth His hand towards His disciples, He said, Behold My mother and My brethren! For whoever does the Will of My Father in heaven, is My brother and sister and mother. Today we have the opportunity to thank God, if at other times we forget, for their aid and their love. And today we adore Him with them, for the grace which raised them to their present joy. The Church requires this homage of us, by making this day a holy day of obligation for all. Our place, too, is awaiting us in this home of eternal light, peace and love, if we persevere to the end in the fulfillment of God’s holy Will.

Reflection: Let us be solicitous to render ourselves worthy of that chaste generation, so beautiful amid the glory where it dwells. (Cf. Wisdom 4:1)

Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).

St. Wolfgang

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St. Wolfgang, Bishop of Ratisbon

RADERUS derives this saint’s pedigree from the most illustrious families of Suabia; but the ancient author of his life published by Mabillon assures us, that his parents were of a middle condition in the world. He was a native of Suabia, and at seven years of age was put into the hands of a neighbouring virtuous ecclesiastic; but some time after removed to the abbey of Richenaw (in Latin Augia), founded by Charles Martel in 724, near Constance, united in 1536 to the bishopric of Constance. This monastery was at that time a most flourishing school of learning or piety, which furnished many churches with eminent pastors. In this house our saint contracted an intimacy with a young nobleman called Henry, brother to Poppo, bishop of Wurtzburg, who had set up a great school in that city, and engaged an Italian professor, called Stephen, to leave his own country to give lectures there. It was Wolfgang’s earnest desire never to know any other employment but that of Mary, and to spend his life in the contemplation and praises of his Creator; but Henry, who was charmed with his virtue and other great qualifications, could not bear to be separated from him, and prevailed upon him to bear him company to this new school at Wurtzburg. Once when a difficult passage in an author raised a contest among the scholars about the sense, Wolfgang explained it with so much perspicuity and evidence, that in all perplexing difficulties the rest had recourse to him, rather than to the master. This raised in him a jealousy against the saint, and made him many ways persecute him. Wolfgang, by silence, patience, and meekness, made his advantage of all the contradictions and humiliations he met with, thinking no happiness greater than the means and opportunities of subduing his passions, and gaining a complete victory over himself; but observing how easily petty jealousies, envy, resentments, vanity, and other dangerous passions prevailed among both masters and scholars, he lamented to see those who professed themselves lovers of wisdom, so much strangers to it, and more addicted to the meanest and most ungenerous passions of the human mind than the most ignorant and boorish among the common people; so that, perverting their very studies and science, they made them the means, not of virtue, but of sin, and the nourishment of their most dangerous passions, for want of studying to know and perfectly vanquish themselves, without which even the best food of the mind is converted into the worst poison. What can poor scholars do in such a school, but contract from their tender years the contagious spirit of the masters by their example and conversation? The misfortune of others (which was the more grievous by the usual blindness that attended it), and the sight of his danger of falling insensibly into the same, served the more to alarm the saint; who was therefore more watchful, and kept the stricter guard over all the motions of his own heart; and whilst, by tender charity, he studied to be blind to the faults of others, he judged and condemned himself the more severely. In the apprehension of his own weakness, he was desirous of finding a holy monastery of mortified religious men, sincerely dead to the world and themselves, whose example might be a spur to him in the necessary duty of dying to himself without dangerous temptations or trials. But such a society is not to be found in this life; it is even necessary that our patience, meekness, and humility be exercised by others here, that they may be made perfect. Nor is there any company of saints in which trials fail. This is the very condition of our hire in the divine service, and of our apprenticeship to heaven. We can never be like the angels and saints; we can never bear the image of God, unless by humility, patience, and meekness, we learn perfectly to die to ourselves; nor are these virtues to be learned, or the spirit of Christ to be put on, but by bearing well contradictions. Henry perceived this inclination of Wolfgang for a monastic life, and engaged him to serve his neighbour; and being himself chosen archbishop of Triers in 956, he pressed the saint to accompany him thither. 1 Continue reading