Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Our next newsletter will be out in the beginning of July.

On Good Friday there are Indulgences that can be gained.. They are as follows:

A plenary indulgence can be gained to those who assist at Adoration of the Cross and kiss it in the solemn liturgical action on Good Friday.

(An indulgence can be gained by going to confession eight days before or after gaining the indulgence, by praying for the Holy Father (one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be) and with the intention of gaining the indulgence.)
(All indulgences can be gained for the Poor/Holy Souls in Purgatory)

Also, the following prayer


I adore You, O glorious Cross, which was adorned with the Heart and Body of my Savior Jesus Christ, stained and covered with blood. I adore You, O Holy Cross, out of love for Him, Jesus, who is my Savior and my God.

Pope Pius IX declared that reciting this prayer five times on Friday will free five souls from Purgatory and 33 souls by reciting it on Good Friday. This prayer should be recited before a crucifix with a contrite heart and praying a few minutes for the Pope.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Mt. 5:48 – You are therefore to be perfect even as your heavenly Father is perfect.
(We are only made perfect through purification, and in Catholic teaching, this purification, if not completed on earth, is continued in a state we call Purgatory.)

Heb 12:14 – Strive for peace with all men, and for that holiness without which no man will see God.
(Without holiness no one will see the Lord. We need final sanctification to attain true holiness before God, and this process occurs during our lives and, if not completed, in the state of Purgatory.)
Rev 21:27 – And there shall not enter into it (Heaven) anything defiled, nor he who practices abomination and falsehood, but those only who are written in the book of life of the Lamb.
(Nothing unclean shall enter Heaven. Even the propensity to sin is uncleanliness. It is amazing how many Protestants do not want to believe in Purgatory. Purgatory exists because of the mercy of God. If there were no Purgatory, this would also likely mean no salvation for most people. God is merciful indeed.)
Jam 1:13-16 – Everyone is tempted by being drawn away and enticed by his own passion. Then when passion has conceived, it bring forth sin; but when sin has matured, it begets death.
2 Sam 12:13-14 – And David said to Nathan; I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said to David: The Lord also hath taken away the sin. Thou shalt not die. Nevertheless, because thou hast given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, for this thing, the child that is born to thee shall surely die.
Matt. 5:26 – Amen, I say to thee, thou wilt not come out from it until thou hast paid the last penny.
(This verse alludes to a temporary state of purgation called a “prison.” There is no exit until we are perfect and the last penny is paid.)
Matt. 12:31-32 – Therefore, I say to you, that every kind of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this world or in the world to come.
(Jesus clearly provides that there is forgiveness after death. Forgiveness is not necessary in Heaven, and there is no forgiveness in hell. This proves that there is another state after death, and the Church for 2,000 years has called this state Purgatory.)
Mt. 12:36-37 – But I tell you, that of every idle word men speak, they shall give account on the day of judgment. For by thy words thou wilt be condemned.
2 Mac 12:46 – It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.
(The prayers for the dead help free them from sin and help them to the reward of Heaven. Those in Heaven have no sin, and those in hell can no longer be freed from sin. They are in Purgatory. Luther was particularly troubled with these verses because he rejected the age old teaching of Purgatory. As a result, he removed Maccabees from the canon of the Bible.)
1 Cor 3:14, 15, 17 – The fire will assay the quality of everyone’s work; if his work abides which he has built thereon, he will receive reward, if his work burns he will lose his reward, but himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
(Purgatory thus reveals the state of righteousness (v. 14), state of venial sin (v.15) and the state of mortal sin (v.17.)
1 Pet 3:18-20 – Put to death indeed in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit, in which also he went and preached to those spirits that were in prison.
(Jesus preached to the spirits in the “prison.” These are the righteous souls being purified for the beatific vision.)
1 Pet. 4:6 - But they will render an account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For to this end was the gospel preached even to the dead, that they may be judged indeed….
2 Tim 1:16-18 – May the Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus…May the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day.
(Onesiphorus is dead but Paul asks for mercy on him. But there is no need for mercy in Heaven, and there is no mercy given in hell. Where is Onesiphorus? He is in Purgatory.)

1 Cor 15:29-30 – Else what shall they do who receive Baptism for the dead? If the dead to not rise at all, when then do people receive Baptism for them?
(Paul mentions people being baptized on behalf of the dead, to atone for their sins. These people cannot be in Heaven because they are still with sin, but they also cannot be in hell because their sins can no longer be atoned for. They are in Purgatory.)

Luke 12:58-59 – As you go with your accuser before the magistrate make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last copper.
( This state is not Heaven or hell, because in Heaven there are no beatings, and in hell we will no longer live with the Master.)

Luke 6:19-31(In this story, we see that the dead rich man is suffering but still feels compassion for his brothers and wants to warn them of his place of suffering. But there is no suffering in Heaven or compassion in hell because compassion is a grace from God and those in hell are deprived from God’s graces for all eternity. So where is the rich man? He is in Purgatory.)

Heb. 12:23 (The spirits of just men who died in godliness are “made” perfect. They do not necessarily arrive perfect. They are made perfect after their death. But those in Heaven are already perfect, and those in hell can no longer be made perfect. These spirits were in Purgatory.)
Rev. 21:4 (God shall wipe away their tears, and there will be no mourning or pain, but only after the coming of the new Heaven and the passing away of the current Heaven and earth. But there is no mourning or pain in Heaven, and God will not wipe away their tears in hell. These are the souls experiencing Purgatory.)
Gen. 50:10; Num. 20:29; Deut. 34:8(Here are some examples of ritual prayer and penitent mourning for the dead for specific periods of time. The Jewish understanding of these practices was that the prayers freed the souls from their painful state of purification, and expedited their journey to God.)
Baruch 3:4Baruch asks the Lord to hear the prayers of the dead of Israel. Prayers for the dead are unnecessary in Heaven and unnecessary in hell. These dead are in Purgatory.)
Zech. 9:11(God, through the blood of His covenant, will set those free from the waterless pit, a spiritual abode of suffering which the Church calls Purgatory.)
Jude 1:20-23 – But as for you, beloved, build up yourselves upon your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto life everlasting. And some, who are judged, reprove; but others, save, snatching them from the fire.
(The people who are saved are being snatched out of the fire. People are already saved if in Heaven, and there is no possibility of salvation if in hell. These people are being led to Heaven from Purgatory.)
1 Peter 1:6-7(Peter refers to this purgatorial fire to test the fruits of our faith.
Rev. 3:18-19(Jesus refers to this fire as what refines into gold those He loves if they repent of their sins.)
Dan 12:10 – Many shall be chosen and made white and shall be tried as fire; and the wicked shall deal wickedly.
(Daniel refers to this refining by saying many shall purify themselves, make themselves white and be refined.)
Wis. 3:5-6 – . . . chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself. As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself. In the time of their visitation they shall shine . . .
(The dead are disciplined and tested by fire to receive their heavenly reward.
Sirach 2:5(For gold is tested in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation.)

Zech. 13:8-9 – And they shall be in all the earth, saith the Lord: two parts of it shall be scattered and shall perish, but the third part will be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire and will refine them as silver is refined, and I will try them as gold is tried.
(God says two thirds shall perish, and one third shall be left alive, put into the fire, and refined like silver and tested like gold.)
Mal. 3:2-3 – And who shall be able to think of the day of his coming? And who shall stand to see him? For he is like a refining fire and like the fuller’s herb. And he shall sit refining and cleansing the silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi and refine them as gold and silver: and they shall offer sacrifices to the Lord in justice.
(Also refers to God’s purification of the righteous at their death.)


Holy Water is a sacramental that remits venial sin. Because of the blessing attached to it, Holy Church strongly urges its use upon her children, especially when danger threatens, such as fire, storms, sickness and other calamities. Every Catholic home always should have in it a supply of holy water.
We do not take advantage of the benefits derived from holy water.


Untold spiritual wealth is concentrated in a tiny drop of blessed water.
And we give it so little thought!

Did we realize now, as we shall realize after death, the many benefits which may be derived from holy water, we would use it far more frequently, and with greater faith and reverence. Holy water has its great power and efficacy from the prayers of the Church, which its Divine Founder always accepts with complacency.

Following are some of the petitions the priest makes to God when he blesses water.

“O God, . . . grant that this creature of Thine (water) may be endowed with divine grace to drive away devils and to cast out diseases, that whatever in the houses or possessions of the faithful may be sprinkled by this water, may be free from everything unclean, and delivered from what is hurtful . . . Let everything that threatens the safety or peace of the dwellers therein be banished by the sprinkling of this water; so that the health which they seek by calling upon Thy Holy Name may be guarded from all assault.”


These prayers ascend to heaven each time you take holy water and sprinkle a drop either for yourself or for another, whether he be present or absent; and God’s blessings descend for soul and body.

Dispel the Devil

The devil hates holy water because of its power over him. He cannot long abide in a place or near a person that is often sprinkled with this blessed water.

Do Your Dear Ones Live At a Distance?

Holy water, sprinkled with faith and piety, can move the Sacred Heart to bless your loved ones and protect them from all harm of soul and body. When worry and fear take possession of your heart, hasten to your holy water font, and give your dear ones the benefit of the Church’s prayers.

The Holy Souls Long For It

Only in Purgatory can one understand how ardently a poor soul longs for holy water. If we desire to make a host of intercessors for ourselves, let us try to realize now some of their yearnings, and never forget them at the holy water font. The holy souls nearest to Heaven may need the sprinkling of only one drop to relieve their pining souls.

Remits Venial Sins

Because holy water is one of the Church’s sacramentals, it remits venial sin. Keep your soul beautifully pure in God’s sight by making the Sign of the Cross carefully while saying:

“By this holy water and by Thy Precious Blood wash away all my sins, O Lord.”

Imprimatur: U Albert G. Meyer
Archbishop of Milwaukee, Jan. 13, 1958

The Burning of Blessed Candles is Beneficial
To the Suffering Souls
Under the Christian dispensation the use of lights was retained not only when the sacred mysteries were celebrated at night during times of persecution, but also during the day. In the early Church those selected to take care of the lamps and candles were specially ordained for this purpose. This minor order of acolytes is still conferred by the Church. And because candles and lamps are used at divine service, the Church blesses them. The burning lamp or candle signifies Christ, the eternal Light, which we implore in our prayers to shine upon the departed. At the same time they are also a continue admonition for the living to remember their deceased brethren; they are an alms for the Suffering Souls symbolizing charity; for as the flame gradually consumes the blessed candle, thus charity reduces the torments of the purifying fire. St. Anthanasius lays great stress on this pious custom. He says, “Though the deceased is buried in the earth, thou must not omit to burn oil and wax on his grave, for this is pleasing to God and merits great reward. Oil and wax are an offering, the Holy Sacrifice is a propitiation, and alms given to the poor is an increase of recompense.”

The tombs, particularly those of the martyrs and saints, were adorned even at the time of the early persecutions. Hence St. Thomas, with St. John Damascene, declared that oil was among the gifts offered in early times for the relief of the departed. In the middle ages the custom prevailed and in certain countries, for instance in Southern Germany, has descended to our times, the custom, namely, of burning lamps on the graves throughout the year, or at least during certain seasons of the year. The Church sanctions this pious practice by recognizing provisions for this purposes, and by burning numerous lights at all her solemnities. This custom is observed particularly in places of pilgrimage, in convents, etc., where a number of lamps are kept burning day and night during Triduums or Novenas for the souls in Purgatory.

Finally, examples are not wanting to prove that this pious custom is acceptable to the souls in Purgatory, and legendary lore knows of touching incidents showing that God Himself sometimes gave evidence of His approval of this practice. A lamp at the tomb of St. Thomas the apostle continued burning during the fiercest storms, sometimes even after the oil was consumed. The same is related concerning St. Gregory and St. Constantine. The efforts of the evil spirit to extinguish the lamps of St. Genevieve, in Paris, were ineffectual; the symbol of virginity continued to shed its light.

A deceased person appeared to a relative and complained bitterly that the customary number of candles had not been offered at his funeral. Also, that pitiful moaning was heard in a house where it had been neglected one Saturday to light the customary “Poor Souls’ Candle.” A priest vouches for the following which he related to the author: A peasant of his acquaintance attempted during three nights to steal fruit from his neighbor’s orchard. Every time he came near the place, a light either came toward him, or moved in a circle around the house. Later he confessed his guilt to the owner, observing that the latter must have a vigilant guard. The man replied that he knew of no guard, except that it was his custom to burn a candle every evening for the Suffering Souls, and that these grateful spirits must have guarded his property.

(taken from Charity for the Suffering Souls
by Tan Books and Publishers)


If people knew the real value of Confession, they would be fighting to get into the Confessional.

This Sacrament of Reconciliation does much more than “just” rid us of our sins; it gives us a tremendous increase in sanctifying grace. It wins for us a higher place in Heaven, with increased union with God.

Each time we go to Confession, we are preserved from many dangers and misfortunes which might otherwise have befallen us.
Confession is reconciliation with God – we admit our faults, we confess our pride, we want to be again in union with Him – and from all this honest and sincere reformation of life will come God’s added grace. The power of Satan over us is diminished. We are helped to resist sin.

A devout Confession helps us to hear the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. It gives us added “spiritual muscles” and helps us to hear and follow the advice of our Guardian Angels. It rids us of mortal sin and gives us a greater desire to be free even of venial sin. It gives us a special preserving influenced against the fires of passion.

Pope Paul VI described Confession as: “…a school of moral wisdom, …a training ground for spiritual energy…” Pope Pius XII, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Philip Neri, Ven. Mary of Agreda and many others went to Confession every day. St. Francis of Rome went three times a day. These people knew how true it is that:
“Confession is good for the soul.”

As taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia

Purgatory (Lat., “purgare”, to make clean, to purify) in accordance with Catholic teaching in a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions. The faith of the Church concerning purgatory is clearly expressed in the Decree drawn up by the Council of Florence, and in the decree of the Council of Trent which defined: “Whereas the Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Ghost, has from the Sacred Scriptures and the ancient tradition of the Fathers taught in Councils and very recently in this Ecumenical synod that there is a purgatory, and that the souls therein are helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but principally by the acceptable Sacrifice of the Altar; the Holy Synod enjoins on the Bishops that they diligently endeavor to have the sound doctrine of the Fathers in Councils regarding purgatory everywhere taught and preached, held and believed by the faithful”. Further than this the definitions of the Church do not go, but the tradition of the Fathers be consulted to explain the teachings of the councils, and to make clear the belief and the practices of the faithful.


That temporal punishment is due to sin, even after the sin itself has been pardoned by God, is clearly the teaching of Scripture. God indeed brought man out of his first disobedience and gave him power to govern all things (Wis. x, 2), but still condemned him “to eat his bread in the sweat of his brow” until he returned unto dust. God forgave the incredulity of Moses and Aaron, but in punishment kept them from the “land of promise” (Num. xx, 12). The Lord took away the sin of David, but the life of the child was forfeited because David had made God’s enemies blaspheme His Holy Name (II Kings, xii, 13, 14). In the New Testament as well as the Old, almsgiving and fasting, and in general penitential acts are the real fruits of repentance (Matt. iii, 8; Luke xvii, 3; iii, 3). The whole penitential system of the Church testifies that the voluntary assumption of penitential works has always been part of true repentance and the Council of Trent reminds the faithful that God does not always remit the whole punishment due to sin together with the guilt. God requires satisfaction, and will punish sin, and this doctrine involves as its necessary consequence a belief that the sinner failing to do penance in this life may be punished in another world, and so not be cast off eternally from God.

Venial Sins

All sins are not equal before God, nor dare anyone assert that the daily faults of human frailty will be punished with the same severity that is meted out to serious violation of God’s law. On the other hand, whosoever comes into God’s presence must be perfectly pure for in the strictest sense His “eyes are too pure to behold evil”. For unrepented venial faults for the payment of temporal punishment due to sin at the time of death. The Church has always taught the doctrine of Purgatory. So deep was this belief ingrained in our common humanity that it was accepted by the Jews, and in at least a shadowy way by the pagans, long before the coming of Christianity.


The Catholic doctrine of Purgatory supposes the fact that some die with smaller faults for which there was no true repentance, and also the fact that the temporal penalty due to sin is at times not wholly paid in this life. The proofs for the Catholic position, both in Scripture and in Tradition, are bound up also with the practice of praying for the dead. Why pray for the dead, if there be no belief in the power of prayer to afford solace to those who as yet are excluded from the sight of God? So true is this position that prayers for the dead and the existence of a place of purgation are mentioned in conjunction in the oldest passages of the Fathers, who allege reasons for succoring departed souls. Those who have opposed the doctrine of Purgatory have confessed that prayers for the dead would be an unanswerable argument if the modern doctrine of a “particular judgment” had been received in the early ages. But one has only to read the testimonies hereinafter alleged to feel sure that the Father speak, in the same breath, of oblations for the dead and a place of purgation; and one has only to consult the evidence found in the catacombs to feel equally sure that the Christian faith there expressed embraced clearly a belief in judgment immediately after death.

Some stress too has been laid upon the objection that the ancient Christians had no clear conception of Purgatory, and that they thought that the souls departed remained in uncertainty of salvation to the last day; and consequently they prayed that those who had gone before might in the final judgment escape even the everlasting torments of hell. The earliest Christian traditions are clear as to the particular judgment, and clearer still concerning a sharp distinction between Purgatory and hell.

Old Testament

The tradition of the Jews is put forth with precision and clearness in II Maccabees. Judas, the commander of the forces of Israel, “making a gathering . . . sent twelve thousand drachmas of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead). And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. “It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins” (II Mach., xii, 43-46). At the time of the Maccabees the leaders of the people of God had no hesitation in asserting the efficacy of prayers offered for the dead, in order that those who had departed this life might feel pardon for their sins and the hope of eternal resurrection.

New Testament

There are several passages in the New Testament that point to a process of purification after death. Thus, Jesus Christ declares (Matthew 12:32): “And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come.” According to St. Isidore of Seville these words prove that in the next life “some sins will be forgiven and purged away by a certain purifying fire.” St. Augustine also argues “that some sinners are not forgiven either in this world or in the next would not be truly said unless there were other [sinners] who, though not forgiven in this world, are forgiven in the world to come”. The same interpretation is given by Gregory the Great and St. Bede and other eminent theological writers.

A further argument is supplied by St. Paul in I Cor., iii, 11-1,5: “For other foundation no man can lay, but that which is laid; which is Christ Jesus. Now if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay stubble: Every man’s work shall be manifest; for the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work, of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work burn, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.” While this passage presents considerable difficulty, it is regarded by many of the Fathers and theologians as evidence for the existence of an intermediate state in which the lighter transgressions will be burnt away, and the soul thus purified will be saved.


The doctrine that many who have died are still in a place of purification and that prayers avail to help the dead is part of the very earliest Christian tradition. Tertullian mentions prayers for the dead as an Apostolic ordinance, and in “De Monogamia” he advises a widow “to pray for the soul of her husband, begging repose for him and participation in the first resurrection”; he commands her also “to make oblations for him on the anniversary of his demise,” and charges her with infidelity if she neglect to succor his soul. This settled custom of the Church is clear from St. Cyprian, who forbade the customary prayers for one who had violated the ecclesiastical law. “Our predecessors prudently advised that no brother, departing this life, should nominate any churchman as his executor; and should he do it, that no oblation should be made for him, nor sacrifice offered for his repose.” Long before Cyprian, Clement of Alexandria had puzzled over the question of the state or condition of the man who, reconciled to God on his death-bed, had no time for the fulfillment of penance due his transgression. His answer is: “the believer through discipline divests himself of his passions and passes to the mansion which is better than the former one, passes to the greatest torment, taking with him the characteristic of repentance for the faults he may have committed after baptism. He is tortured then still more, not yet attaining what he sees others have acquired. The greatest torments are assigned to the believer, for God’s righteousness is good, and His goodness righteous, and though these punishments cease in the course of the expiation and purification of each one.”

In Origen the doctrine of Purgatory is very clear. If a man depart this life with lighter faults, he is condemned to fire which burns away the lighter materials, and prepares the soul for the kingdom of God, where nothing defiled may enter. “For if on the foundation of Christ you have built not only gold and silver and precious stones (I Cor. 3); but also wood and hay and stubble, what do you expect when the soul shall be separated from the body? Would you enter into heaven with your wood and hay and stubble and thus defile the kingdom of God; or on account of these hindrances would you remain without and receive no reward for your gold and silver and precious stones? Neither is this just. It remains then that you be committed to the fire which will burn the light materials; for our God to those who can comprehend heavenly things is called a cleansing fire. But this fire consumes not the creature, but what the creature has himself built, wood, and hay and stubble. It is manifest that the fire destroys the wood of our transgressions and then returns to us the reward of our great works.”

The Apostolic practice of praying for the dead which passed into the liturgy of the Church, is as clear in the Fourth Century as it is in the Twentieth. St. Cyril of Jerusalem describing the liturgy, writes: “Then we pray for the Holy Fathers and Bishops that are dead; and in short for all those who have departed this life in our communion; believing that the souls of those for whom prayers are offered receive very great relief, while this holy and tremendous victim lies upon the altar.” St. Gregory of Nyssa states that man’s weaknesses are purged in this life by prayer and wisdom, or are expiated in the next by a cleansing fire. “When he has quitted his body and the difference between virtue and vice is known he cannot approach God till the purging fire shall have cleansed the states with which his soul was infested. That same fire in others will cancel the corruption of matter, and the propensity to evil.” About the same time the Apostolic Constitution gives us the formularies used in succoring the dead. “Let us pray for our brethren who sleep in Christ, that God who in his love for men has received the soul of the departed one, may forgive him every fault, and in mercy and clemency receive him into the bosom of Abraham, with those who in this life have pleased God”. Nor can we pass over the use of the diptychs where the names of the dead were inscribed; and this remembrance by name in the Sacred Mysteries—(a practice that was from the Apostles) was considered by Chrysostom as the best way of relieving the dead.

The teaching of the Fathers, and the formularies used in the Liturgy of the Church, found expression in the early Christian monuments, particularly those contained in the catacombs. On the tombs of the faithful were inscribed words of hope, words of petition for peace and for rest; and as the anniversaries came round the faithful gathered at the graves of the departed to make intercession for those who have gone before. At the bottom this is nothing else than the faith expressed by the Council of Trent, and to this faith the inscriptions in the catacombs are surely witnesses.

In the Fourth Century in the West, Ambrose insists in his commentary on St. Paul (I Cor. iii) on the existence of Purgatory, and in his masterly funeral oration, thus prays for the soul of the departed emperor: “Give, O Lord, rest to Thy servant Theodosius, that rest Thou has prepared for Thy saints . . . I loved him, therefore will I follow him to the land of the living; I will not leave him till by my prayers and lamentations he shall be admitted unto the holy mount of the Lord, to which his deserts call him”. St. Augustine is clearer even than his master. He describes two conditions of men; “some there are who have departed this life, not so bad as to be deemed unworthy of mercy, nor so good as to be entitled to immediate happiness” etc., and in the resurrection he says there will be some who “have gone through these pains, to which the spirits of the dead are liable”. Thus at the close of the fourth century not only (1) were prayers for the dead found in all the Liturgies, but the Fathers asserted that such practice was from the Apostles themselves; (2) those who were helped by the prayers of the faithful and by the celebration of the Holy Mysteries were in a place of purgation; (3) from which when purified they “were admitted unto the Holy Mount of the Lord”. So clear is this patristic Tradition that those who do not believe in Purgatory have been unable to bring any serious difficulties from the writings of the Fathers. The passages cited to the contrary either do not touch the question at all, or are so lacking in clearness that they cannot offset the perfectly open expression of the doctrine as found in the very Fathers who are quoted as holding contrary opinions (Bellarmine).



The very reasons assigned for the existence of Purgatory make for its passing character. We pray, we offer sacrifice for souls therein detained that “God in mercy may forgive every fault and receive them into the bosom of Abraham”; and Augustine declares that the punishment of Purgatory is temporary and will cease, at least with the Last Judgment. “But temporary punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by others after death, by others both now and then; but all of them before that last and strictest judgment.”

Nature of Punishment

It is clear from the Liturgies and the Fathers above cited that the souls for whose peace sacrifice was offered were shut out for the time being from the sight of God. They were “not so good as to be entitled to eternal happiness”. Still, for them “death is the termination not of nature but of sin” (Ambrose); and this inability to sin makes them secure of final happiness. This is the Catholic position proclaimed by Leo X in the Bull “Exurge Domine” which condemned the errors of Luther.

Are the souls detained in Purgatory conscious that their happiness is but deferred for a time, or may they still be in doubt concerning their ultimate salvation? The ancient Liturgies and the inscriptions of the catacombs speak of a “sleep of peace”, which would be impossible if there was any doubt of ultimate salvation. Some of the Doctors of the Middle Ages thought uncertainty of salvation one of the severe punishments of Purgatory. (Bellarmine); but this opinion finds no general credit among the theologians of the medieval period, nor is it possible in the light of the belief in the particular judgment. St. Bonaventure gives as the reason for this elimination of fear and of uncertainty the intimate conviction that they can no longer sin: “Fear is cast out because of the strengthening of the will by which the soul knows it can no longer sin”, and St. Thomas says: “unless they knew that they are to be delivered, they would not ask for prayers”.


In the Bull “Exurge Domine” Leo X condemns the proposition: “There is no proof from reason or Scripture that they [the souls in Purgatory] cannot merit or increase in charity”. For them “the night has come in which no man can labor”, and Christian tradition has always considered that only in this life can man work unto the profit of his own soul. The Doctors of the Middle Ages while agreeing that this life is the time for merit and increase of grace, still some with St. Thomas seemed to question whether or not there might be some non-essential reward which the souls in Purgatory might merit. Bellarmine believes that in this matter St. Thomas changed his opinion and refers to a statement of St. Thomas. Whatever may be the mind of the Angelic Doctor, theologians agree that no merit is possible in Purgatory, and if objection be urged that the souls there merit by their prayers, Bellarmine says that such prayers avail with God because of merit already acquired: “They avail only in virtue of past merits as those who are now saints intercede for us not by merit but by prayer”.

Purgatorial Fire

St. Augustine speaks of the pain which purgatorial fire causes as more severe than anything a man can suffer in this life. Gregory the Great speaks of those who after this life “will expiate their faults by purgatorial flames,” and he adds “that the pain be more intolerable than any one can suffer in this life”. Following in the footsteps of Gregory, St. Thomas teaches that beside the separation of the soul from the sight of God, there is the other punishment from fire. St. Bonaventure not only agrees with St. Thomas but adds that this punishment by fire is more severe than any punishment which comes to men in this life. How this fire affects the souls of the departed the Doctors do not know, and in such matters it is well to heed the warning of the Council of Trent when it commands the bishops “to exclude from their preaching difficult and subtle questions which tend not to edification, and from the discussion of which there is no increase either in piety or devotion”.


Scripture and the Fathers command prayers and oblations for the departed, and the Council of Trent in virtue of this tradition not only asserts the existence of Purgatory, but adds “that the souls therein detained are aided by the suffrages of the faithful and principally by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar.” That those on earth are still in communion with the souls in Purgatory is the earliest Christian teaching, and that the living aid the dead by their prayers and works of satisfaction is clear from the tradition above alleged. That the Holy Sacrifice was offered for the departed was received Catholic Tradition even in the days of Tertullian and Cyprian, and that the souls of the dead, were aided particularly “while the sacred victim lay upon the altar” is the expression of Cyril of Jerusalem quoted above. Augustine says that the “prayers and alms of the faithful, the Holy Sacrifice of the altar aid the faithful departed and move the Lord to deal with them in mercy and kindness, and he adds, “this is the practice of the universal Church handed down by the Fathers.” Whether our works of satisfaction performed on behalf of the dead avail purely out of God’s benevolence and mercy, or whether God obliges himself in justice to accept our vicarious atonement, is not a settled question. Suarez thinks that the acceptance is one of justice, and alleges the common practice of the Church which joins together the living and the dead without any discrimination.


Many renowned theologians hold that the souls in Purgatory really pray for us, and that we may invoke their aid. The souls in Purgatory are holy, are dear to God, love us with a true love and are mindful of our wants; that they know in a general way our necessities and our dangers, and how great is our need of Divine help and divine grace”.


It is the traditional faith of Catholics that the souls in Purgatory are not separated from the Church, and that the love which is the bond of union between the Church’s members should embrace those who have departed this life in God’s grace. Hence, since our prayers and our sacrifices can help those who are still waiting in Purgatory, the saints have not hesitated to warn us that we have a real duty toward those who are still in purgatorial expiation. Holy Church, through the Congregation of Indulgences, 18 December 1885, has bestowed a special blessing on the so-called “heroic act” in virtue of which “a member of the Church militant offers to God for the souls in Purgatory all the satisfactory works which he will perform during his lifetime, and also all the suffrages which may accrue to him after his death” (Heroic Act, vol. VII, 292). The practice of devotion to the dead is also consoling to humanity and eminently worthy of a religion which seconds all the purest feelings of the human heart. “Sweet”, says Cardinal Wiseman, “is the consolation of the dying man, who, conscious of imperfection, believes that there are others to make intercession for him, when his own time for merit has expired; soothing to the afflicted survivors the thought that they possess powerful means of relieving their friend. In the first moments of grief, this sentiment will often overpower religious prejudice, cast down the unbeliever on his knees beside the remains of his friend and snatch from him an unconscious prayer for rest; it is an impulse of nature which for the moment, aided by the analogies of revealed truth, seizes at once upon this consoling belief. But it is only a fitting and melancholy light, while the Catholic feeling, cheering though with solemn dimness, resembles the unfailing lamp, which the piety of the ancients is said to have hung before the sepulchers of their dead.”

Portiuncula Indulgence

(excerpt reprinted with permission from The Catholic Hearth magazine,
"Our Lady Queen of the Angels," by Diana Serra Cary, July-August 1994, pp. 43-45.)

The first written document we have regarding this indulgence is dated October 31, 1277, some sixty years after the indulgence is said to have been granted. As a result, many different accounts have come down to us purporting to relate the vision of St. Francis and the way in which the Pope consented to grant this indulgence. Each author seems to relate a different version that St. Francis beheld. However, although the accounts differ in details, in substance they are the same. The one we present here is the one accepted by Jorgensen in his Life of St. Francis.

One time when Francis was kneeling in prayer before the image of Our Lady, he seemed to behold men and women from every corner of the world converging upon this obscure little chapel in the Umbrian forest. He had been praying for the forgiveness of the sins of mankind when suddenly the dark interior seemed illumined by the light of a million candles. Jesus and Mary appeared in the midst of a dazzling cloud of angels, and he heard a voice that fell like music on his soul, "What do you wish me to do to help poor sinners?" Francis hardly knew how to answer, but suddenly the words came tumbling out and he asked the Lord to grant a full pardon to all who came to visit the church of Portiuncula and made a good confession. It then seemed that Jesus was in favor of this. He turned smilingly to His Mother and she, in turn, nodded to St. Francis and smiled.

Typical of the saint's impetuosity and generosity of soul, he marched off to see the Pope and beg from him the coveted indulgence. The reigning Holy Father, Honorius III, was literally dumbfounded at the request to grant such a generous indulgence. At that time, the summer of 1216, plenary indulgences were rarely granted by the Church. The plenary indulgences that had been granted were given to those fighting men who took up the cross and the sword and went as crusaders to the Holy Land. Later, this hard won indulgence was extended to those who remained at home but helped the Crusaders in supplying men and alms.

Francis, however, was not to be refused. The Lord Himself had promised him, and the Roman Curia was bound to relent! The Pope finally yielded and left it to the astonished cardinals to limit the application of the new indulgence. The date set was from vespers of the first of August until sundown on the second. It is said that Francis chose this date because the feast of the Chains of St. Peter (his release from prison) is celebrated on the first of August, and Francis felt that sinners should also be freed from the chains of their sins on the day following this great feast. Furthermore, this date was the anniversary of the consecration of the Portiuncula chapel.

As Francis took his leave of the Holy Father, after obtaining the unprecedented privilege, the Pope is said to have asked if he did not wish some document to prove that his request had been officially granted. With characteristic Franciscan lightheartedness came the saint's reply: "I need nothing more than your word. Our Lady is the parchment, Christ the notary, and the angels our witnesses!"

When the first great August first arrived, seven bishops gathered in the little chapel of Our Lady of the Angels to dedicate it as "Our Lady of the Angels of the Portiuncula." And St. Francis, overjoyed, cried out to the crowd that overflowed the narrow building, "I want to make all of you go to heaven!"

But at the time there seemed something almost scandalous in this indulgence, and conservative prelates did little to make it known. In St. Francis' own lifetime the Portiuncula Indulgence was enjoyed by comparatively few Christians. Travel and communications were slow, and not even such good news as a plenary indulgence could travel swiftly over the mud-choked trails that passed for roads in thirteenth-century Europe. Later, of course, the indulgence was extended to all Franciscan churches on August first and second.

This chapel was the saint's favorite spot on earth. It was here he heard the Gospel that caused him to establish his First Order, following the command of Christ to go into the world and preach and baptize all men, taking neither gold nor script nor an extra cloak for the journey. Here Francis received his first Brothers, and from here he sent them into the world. In this chapel, St. Clare knelt before the image of Our Lady of the Angels, and on the floor her golden tresses fell beneath the scissors plied by Francis himself. Indeed, Francis placed such a high value on this chapel, which he had rebuilt with his own hands, that he wrote a special rule just for "Portiuncula."


He awoke one night in 1216 at the Portiuncola and an inspiration stronger than usual prompted him to arise and go into the little chapel. He knelt in prayer and, as he prayed, our Lord, accompanied by His Mother, appeared to him and bade him ask for that which he desired most. "0 God," he said, "although I m a great sinner, I beseech You to grant a full pardon of all sins to all who, having repented and confessed their sins, shall visit this church." And Jesus said to him: "Francis, you ask much, but you are worthy of greater things, and greater things you shall have."

Our Lord then granted Francis' request and told him to go to His Vicar for ratification of the indulgence. Honorius III, who was just beginning his Pontificate, was holding court at Perugia, and it was to him that Francis presented his petition.

Honorius was a spiritual, unworldly man, yet at such a request he hesitated. "Holy Father," Francis said urgently, "a little while ago I restored a chapel for you in honor of the Virgin Mother of Christ (the Portiuncula), and I beseech you to bestow on it an indulgence."

"For how many years do you want this indulgence?" the Pontiff inquired. "Holy Father," said Francis, "I ask not for years but for souls." "Just what do you want?" Honorius asked. "Holy Father," replied Francis, "the Lord has commanded me to ask you that all those who after confession shall visit the Portiuncula with contrite hearts may obtain full remission of the punishment due to the sins of their whole lives from the day of Baptism to the day they enter this church." Honorius pondered the extraordinary request, and said slowly three times: "I also, in the name of God, grant you the indulgence."
Honorius wanted to give Francis the document of the indulgence, but Francis saw no need for it. "What have you to show that this indulgence has been granted you?" the Pope asked in amazement as Francis prepared to depart for Assisi without any written confirmation of the great permission. "Holy Father," he replied, "Your word is enough for me. If this is the work of God, it is for Him to make His work manifest. I desire no other document. The Blessed Virgin Mary shall be the charter, Christ the notary, and the angels the witnesses." Some days later, before the Bishops of Umbria, Francis said: "Brethren, I want to send you all to Heaven!"

(for oneself or for a departed soul)

1. Sacramental Confession to be in God's grace (during the eight days before or after);
2. Participation in the Holy Mass and Eucharist.
3. Visit to a Franciscan Church, followed by PROFESSION OF FAITH, in order to reaffirm one's own Christian identity
4. Say the OUR FATHER, in order to reaffirm the dignity as child of God that one received in Baptism
5. A prayer for the Pope's intention, in order to reaffirm one's membership in the Church, of which the Roman Pontiff is the foundation and sign of visible unity.

Italian Bishops' Conference, Adult Catechism, n. 710

Sin not only destroys communion with God, but also compromises the interior state of persons and their relationship with other creatures. For a total repentance, it is not enough to be sorry and to receive the remission of faults. It is also necessary that reparation be made for the disorder provoked by sin, a disorder that usually continues after the sin. In this process of purification the penitent is not alone. The penitent participates in a mystery of solidarity, for which Christ and the Saints rejoice with one. God communicates to one the grace merited by others with the immense value of their existence, in order to effect one's reparation rapidly and effectively.
The Church has always exhorted the faithful to offer prayers, good works and sufferings for the conversion of sinners and for the repose of the faithful departed. During the first centuries, bishops reduced the duration and the severeness of public punishment, through the intercession of the witnesses of faith who survived tortures.

Progressively the consciousness grew that the power to bind and unbind, received from the Lord, included the faculty to free penitents from the residue left by already forgiven sins, by applying to them the merits of Christ and the Saints, in order to obtain the grace of a fervent charity. Priests grant this privilege to those who have the right interior disposition and have adhered to the prescribed norms. Participation in this penitential rite is a prerequisite to the concession of an indulgence.


Deep-rooted Indulgences; What the Pope Seems to Be Teaching
ROME, DEC. 8, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Less than eight months into his pontificate, Benedict XVI has offered the faithful a third opportunity to receive a plenary indulgence. The plenary indulgence, marking the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and the 40th anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council, follows the indulgences offered for the Year of the Eucharist and World Youth Day. Cardinal James Stafford, the Church's major penitentiary, told me he believed that the decrees are indicative of the Pope's deep roots in the great tradition of the first millennium of the Church and his seeking ways to bring ecclesiastical renewal through the sacrament of reconciliation. "One of the best ways to do that is through a recovery of the true understanding of indulgences within the Church," the cardinal said. "And that teaching is profoundly rooted in the teaching of the Church Fathers."
The first millennium, he told me, "is very much taken up with an understanding of everyone's need for the mercy of God through the redemptive washing of our sins through the blood of Christ." Cardinal Stafford, 73, said the Pope "is very aware that we need to return to a consciousness of the deep gratitude that we owe to Christ for the great price he has paid for us in our sinfulness. And one of the ways to do that is to recapture the original meaning of the exercise of the power of the keys of Peter." The early Church laid much emphasis on those words of Jesus to the first Pope -- "I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." The cardinal said that they saw the "primary exercise of these keys as relieving persons of the terrible burden of their own sinfulness through forgiveness, and the guilt that is due to their sins." "So the Holy Father is perceiving that it's important to recapture the experience of the first millennium and to some degree of the second also … as we see in the reform of the Catholic Church with the Council of Trent, especially in its Sixth Session dealing with justification, or how one is justified as a sinner before God," Cardinal Stafford said. The prelate described how, through these indulgences, the Pope helps us to reflect on our Church as a throne of grace and mercy, as well as the great community of God's people which is the "mediation of God's mercy and forgiveness here upon earth." Those interested in learning more could see Pope Paul VI's apostolic constitution "Indulgentiarum Doctrina."
(Taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church)

1471 The doctrine and practice of indulgences on the Church are closely linked to the effects of the sacrament of Penance.

What is an indulgence?

“An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.” (Paul VI)

An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part of the temporal punishment due to sin. Indulgences may be applied to the living or the dead.

To gain an indulgence, one must gain it on the usual conditions which is to go to Confession either 8 days before or 8 days after gaining the indulgence, receive Holy Communion and pray one Our Father, One Hail Mary and one Glory Be for the intentions of the Pope.


The Catholic Encyclopedia states the following Regarding Indulgences:

The Council of Trent defined that indulgences are “most salutary for Christian people” and that their “use is to be retained in the Church”. It is the common teaching of Catholic theologians that

· Indulgences may be applied to the souls detained in Purgatory; and
· That indulgences are available for them “by way of suffrage”

(1) St. Augustine declares that the souls of the faithful departed are not separated from the Church, which is the kingdom of Christ, and for this reason the prayers and works of the living are helpful to the dead. “If therefore”, argues St. Bellarmine, “we can offer our prayers and our satisfactions in behalf of those detained in Purgatory, because we are members of the great body of Christ, why may not the Vicar of Christ apply to the same souls the superabundant satisfaction of Christ and his saints—of which he is the dispenser?” This is the doctrine of St. Thomas who asserts that indulgences avail principally for the person who performs the work for which the indulgence is given, if they but secondarily may avail even for the dead, if the form in which the indulgence is granted be so worded as to be capable of such interpretation, and he adds “nor is there any reason why the Church may not dispose of its treasure of merits in favor of the dead, as it surely dispenses in favor of the living”.

(2) St. Bonaventure agrees with St. Thomas, but adds that such “relaxation cannot be after the manner of absolution as in the case of the living but only as suffrage. This opinion of St. Bonaventure, that the Church through its Supreme Pastor does not absolve the souls in Purgatory from the punishment due their sins, is the teaching of the Doctors. They point out that in case of those who have departed this life judgment is reserved to God.


That an indulgence may avail for those in Purgatory, several conditions are required:

The indulgence must be granted by the Pope.

There must be a sufficient reason for granting the indulgence, and this reason must be something pertaining to the glory of God and the utility of the Church, not merely the utility accruing to the Souls in Purgatory.
The pious work enjoined must be as in the case of indulgences for the living.

If the state of grace be not among the required works, in all probability the person performing the work may gain the indulgence for the dead, even though he himself be not in friendship with God. Suarez puts this categorically when he says: the state of grace is required only to remove some hindrance to the indulgence, and in the case of the Holy Souls there can be no hindrance. This teaching is bound up with the doctrine of the Communion of Saints, and the monuments of the catacombs represent the saints and martyrs as interceding with God for the dead. The prayers too of the early liturgies speak of Mary and of the saints interceding for those who have passed from this life. St. Augustine believes that burial in a basilica dedicated to a holy martyr is of value to the dead, for those who recall the memory of him who has suffered will recommend to the martyr’s prayers the soul of him who has departed this life.


The Catholic Church has introduced some innovations into her discipline of indulgences (Apostolic Constitution, January 1, 1967) and has approved a new revised Enchiridon of Indulgences, which contains the following provisions:

The number of plenary indulgences is greatly reduced and all partial indulgences are left undetermined as to time, e.g., no more 100 days, 300 days, 21 years, etc.

Requirements for gaining a plenary indulgence are:
the performance of the work prescribed,
the fulfillment of the three conditions: confession, communion, prayer for the intention of the Holy Father, and
a disposition of mind and heart which totally excludes all affection for sin.

One confession suffices to gain a number of plenary indulgences, but a distinct communion and prayer for the Pope’s intention s are required each time.

Deserving of special mention and of special interest to the ordinary Catholic are the following good works for the performance of which the faithful can gain a plenary indulgence each day of the year:

1. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for at least one half hour.
2. Devout reading of the Sacred Scriptures for at least a half hour.
3. Reciting the rosary (five decades suffice) in a church or public oratory or in a family group (block rosary), a religious community, or pious association.
4. Making the Way of the Cross (Fourteen Stations). Those impeded for any legitimate reason and unable to go from station to station, e.g.: the sick, crippled, at sea, house bound, can gain the same indulgence by spending at least one half hour in pious reading and meditation on the Passion and Death of Our Lord. They must, however, fulfill the conditions: confession, communion, and prayer for the Pope’s intentions.

It should be remembered that:

1. No one can gain more than one plenary indulgence each day.
2. All indulgences (plenary and partial) are applicable to the Poor Souls.
3. One Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be suffice as prayers for the intentions of the Pope, but the faithful are free to use any other prayer.

The Church stresses the importance of gaining indulgences. It is recommended, therefore, that the children of the Church make a formal intention, here and now, of gaining all possible partial indulgences, e.g., the many signs of the cross the average Catholic makes each day. We are urged to avail ourselves of the tremendous grace of a plenary indulgence as often as possible.

Many saints extol the practice of gaining indulgences. Their reasons for preferring indulgenced devotions is that they spiritualize their minds and quicken their faith. Indulgences lead us to pray in a manner and about subjects which the church desires. . . .by the same act we not only pray, but we revere the Keys of the Church, we honor Jesus, His Mother, and the saints, we get rid of our temporal punishment, and which is the greater thing, we release the dead and so glorify God.

(Taken from the Raccolta)
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

Merciful Lord, Jesus, grant them everlasting rest.

The faithful who devoutly recite the 129th Psalm, De Profundis or who say the Our Father, Hail Mary and the Eternal Rest, in supplication for the faithful departed, may gain an indulgence every day in November and a plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this pious practice is repeated daily for a month.

The faithful who devoutly recite the 50th Psalm, Miserere for the souls detained in Purgatory, may gain a plenary indulgence once a month on the usual conditions for the daily recitation of the same.

The faithful who devoutly offer prayers at any season of the year in intercession for the souls of the faithful departed, with the intention of so continuing for seven or nine successive days, may obtain a plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if they perform these devotions daily for the entire month. (Pius IX – Jan. 5, 1849)

The faithful who recite prayers or perform other devout exercises in supplication for the faithful departed during the month of November, may gain a plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if they perform these devotions daily for the entire month.

Those, who during the aforesaid month, take part in public services held in a church or public oratory in intercession for the faithful departed may gain a plenary indulgence, if they attend these exercises on at least fifteen days and, in addition, go to confession, receive Holy Communion and pray for the intentions of the Sovereign Pontiff (Jan. 17, 1888)

The faithful, as often as they visit a church or public oratory, or even a semi-public oratory (if they may lawfully use the same), in order to pray for the dead on the day on which the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed is celebrated or on the Sunday immediately following, may gain a plenary indulgence applicable only to the souls detained in Purgatory, on condition of confession and Communion, and the recitation six times during each visit of Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be for the intentions of the Sovereign Pontiff (June 25, 1914)

The faithful who during the period of eight days from the Commemoration of All Souls inclusive, visit a cemetery in a spirit of piety and devotion, and pray, even mentally, for the dead may gain a plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, on each day of the Octave, applicable only to the dead.

Those who make such a visit, and pray for the Holy Souls, on any day in the year, may gain an indulgence applicable only to the departed.

The faithful who make the Heroic Act of Charity (please see our section on the Heroic Act) in favor of the souls detained in Purgatory may gain a plenary indulgence, applicable only to the dead on any day that they receive Holy Communion, if they have made their confession and visited some church or public oratory and prayed for the intention s of the Sovereign Pontiff;’ and on any Monday of the year, or if some impediment arises, on the following Sunday, if they attend Mass in supplication for the faithful departed and moreover fulfill the usual conditions.

Priests who make the aforesaid heroic act may enjoy the indult of a personal privileged altar every day of the year (Sept. 30, 1852)

For more information on the Heroic Act of Charity, please see our section regarding the Heroic Act.

Other plenary indulgences can be gained on designated days. For example:

For those who assist at Adoration of the Cross and kiss it in the solemn liturgical action on Good Friday.

For those who on any Friday of Lent and Passiontide, after receiving Communion, [piously recite before an image of Christ crucified the prayer, “Look down upon me, good and gentle Jesus.” On all other days a partial indulgence is granted.


1030 All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. (Council of Florence 1439; Council of Trent 1563; Benedict XII 1336) The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire: (Cor 3:15; 1 Pet 1:7)

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come. (St. Gregory the Great)

1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: “Therefore (Judas Maccabeus) made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.” (2 Mac 12:46) From the beginning the church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. (Council of Lyons 1274) The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:

Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them. (St. John Chrysostom)

Anointing of the Sick

The anointing of the sick is administered to bring spiritual and even physical strength during an illness, especially near the time of death. It is most likely one of the last sacraments we will receive. A sacrament is an outward sign established by Jesus Christ to confer inward grace. In more basic terms, it is a rite that is performed to convey God’s grace to the recipient, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Catholic Church teaches that the Sacred Anointing of the Sick is one of the seven Sacraments of the New Testament, that it was instituted by Christ and that it is "alluded to in Mark (Mk. 6:13) and recommended to the faithful by James the Apostle.

The anointing of the sick conveys several graces and imparts gifts of strengthening in the Holy Spirit against anxiety, discouragement, and temptation, and conveys peace and fortitude (CCC 1520). These graces flow from the atoning death of Jesus Christ, for "this was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, ‘He took our infirmities and bore our diseases’" (Matt. 8:17).

In his steadfast love for us, the Lord gives us the sacraments involved in the last rites to comfort us in our final days and prepare us for the journey ahead. These include penance (or confession), confirmation (when lacking), anointing of the sick . . . and Viaticum (which is meant to be the last reception of Communion for the journey from this life to eternity). . . . How many may have avoided Purgatory had they received the anointing of the sick when dying.
Does a person have to be dying to receive this sacrament? No. The Catechism says, "The anointing of the sick is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived" (CCC 1514). It can also be given just prior to a serious operation. The anointing can also be given repeatedly to someone if his/her condition becomes worse as well as for the elderly whose frailty becomes worse.

Therefore we have the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. It gives us graces as strengthening, peace and courage to overcome the difficulties that are associated with disease, illness and dying. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit. It also creates a union with the Passion of Christ. Just as Christ suffered and was glorified, we also receive grace through suffering, a consequence of original sin, so that there is healing of the soul.

Like almost all sacraments bishops and priests are the ordinary ministers. The faithful are encouraged to call upon a priest to perform this sacrament when it is known that someone is sick and/or dying. The priest or bishop will pray in silence and then anoint the sick person with oil. The sacramental act begins with the priest administering a short rite of penance, signifying forgiveness and reconciliation. This is followed by a reading. Then, in silence, the priest lays his hands on the sick person, and anoints the forehead and palms with oil, saying:

‘Is anyone sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the Church; And let them pray over him, Anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord And the prayer of faith will save the sick man; And the Lord will raise him up; And if he has committed sins he will be forgiven’ (James 5:14-15).

Why it is important to call for a priest to administer the Sacrament of
Anointing of the Sick to a loved one who is near death?

1. The sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick takes away all mortal and venial sins, even if the person is unconscious. To hear the person's last confession and to provide them with the Viaticum (Holy Eucharist), prepares them for their journey to Our Lord. In addition, the apostolic pardon takes away any temporal punishment (purgatory time) that remains for the soul.
Apostolic Pardon: (to be given by a priest only):
"By the authority granted me by the Holy See, I hereby grant you full pardon and remission of all your sins: In the Name of the Father + and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

2. The devil at the time of death tempts the soul to despair by accusing it of its sins. Among other reasons, Our Lord instituted the Chaplet of Divine Mercy to drive him away at this time.

3. To restore the dying person to health. Although this is not a primary reason for the last sacrament, God sometimes allows a dying person to become fully recovered after receiving this sacrament, when the healing of the body is of spiritual benefit to the soul.

4. To save the soul of a person who is estranged from God by being in an unrepentant state of mortal sin. I have personal knowledge of such a case where a priest was called in to administer the last sacrament, where the dying person became repentant as a result of prayers from his family, especially the recitation of the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

5. To give the dying person the courage and strength to withstand their sufferings, knowing that they are fully prepared to meet Our Divine Savior.

If a person is unconscious should you call the priest? Yes! The priest will administer a conditional anointing which will take away all mortal and venial sins, and if he gives the apostolic pardon, all purgatory time will be removed.

Theologians differ as to when exactly the soul departs. Many teach that the soul remains for several hours in the vicinity of its body and can be conditionally anointed and given the apostolic pardon during this time.

The proper time for receiving this holy anointing has certainly arrived when the believer begins to be in danger of death because of illness or old age. The celebration of the Anointing of the Sick consists essentially in the anointing of the forehead and hands of the sick person (in the Roman Rite) or of other parts of the body (in the Eastern rite), the anointing being accompanied by the liturgical prayer of the celebrant asking for the special grace of this sacrament.
The special grace of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick has as its effects:
-the uniting of the sick person to the passion of Christ, for his own good and that of the whole Church;
-the strengthening, peace, and courage to endure in a Christian manner the sufferings of illness or old age;
-the forgiveness of sins, if the sick person was not able to obtain it through the sacrament of Reconciliation;
-the restoration of health, if it is conducive to the salvation of their soul;
-the preparation of passing over to eternal life.

Through the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick we are assured that God will raise us up, like Jesus, from our bed of pain and sickness and lead us to eternal life. Through it we are comforted when we feel most abandoned.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

In Memoriam

Pope John Paul II
April 2, 2005

St. Augustine

“But by the prayers of the Holy Church, and by the salvific sacrifice, and by the alms which are given for their spirits, there is no doubt that the dead are aided, that the Lord might deal more mercifully with them than their sins would deserve. The whole Church observes this practice which was handed down by the Fathers: that it prays for those who have died in the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, when they are commemorated in their own place in the sacrifice itself; and the sacrifice is offered also in memory of them, on their behalf. If, then, works of mercy are celebrated for the sake of those who are being remembered, who would hesitate to recommend them, on whose behalf prayers to God are not offered in vain? It is not at all to be doubted that such prayers are of profit to the dead; but for such of them as lived before their death in a way that makes it possible for these things to be useful to them after death”.

“Temporal punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by some after death, by some both here and hereafter, but all of them before that last and strictest judgment. But not all who suffer temporal punishments after death will come to eternal punishments, which are to follow after that judgment” (The City of God 21:13 [A.D. 419]).

St. Margaret Mary
“If only you knew with what great longing these holy souls yearn for relief from their suffering. Ingratitude has never entered Heaven.”

St. John Chrysostom

“Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice (Job 1:5), why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them” (Homilies on 1 Corinthians 41:5 [A.D. 392]).

“Weep for those who die in their wealth and who with all their wealth prepared no consolation for there own souls, who had the power to wash away their sins and did not will to do it. Let us weep for them, let us assist them in the extent of our ability, let us think of some assistance for them, small as it may be, yet let us somehow assist them. But how, and in what way? By praying for them and by entreating others to pray for them, by constantly giving alms to the poor on their behalf. Not in vain was it decreed by the apostles that in the awesome mysteries remembrance should be made of the departed. They knew that here there was much gain for them, much benefit, when the entire people stands with hands uplifted, a priestly assembly, and that awesome sacrificial Victim is laid out, how, when we are calling upon God, should we not succeed in their defense? But this is done for those who have departed in the faith, while even the catechumens are not reckoned as worthy of this consolation, but are deprived of every means of assistance except one. And what is that? We may give alms to the poor on their behalf” (Homilies on Philippians 3:9-10 [A.D. 402].

St. John Chrysostom also recommends to every Christian family that they have a box at some convenient place in their home and that they put into it pennies, which will be used to have masses said for the Poor Souls.


This devotion was originated in the Thirteenth Century. It recalls the Sorrows the Virgin Mother of God endured in compassion for the suffering and death of her Divine Son. The Seven Sorrows Chaplet consists of seven Hail Mary’s for each of the seven Sorrows. One Our Father is said before each group of seven Hail Mary’s. On the three beads of the rosary at the end, three Hail Mary’s are said in honor of the Tears of Our Sorrowful Mother. While reciting the prayers meditate upon:
The prophecy of holy Simeon who told Our Sorrowful Mother of the bitter passion and death of Jesus. (Our Father – Seven Hail Mary’s).
Our Sorrowful Mother is forced to flee into Egypt to save her beloved Son from the death decreed by Herod. (Our Father – Seven Hail Mary’s).
Our Sorrowful Mother is separated from Jesus for three long days while He is lost in Jerusalem. (Our Father – Seven Hail Mary’s).
Our Sorrowful Mother meets Jesus on the road to Calvary and sees Him fall under the cruel weight of the Cross. (Our Father – Seven Hail Mary’s).

Our Sorrowful Mother watches Jesus die on the Cross. (Our Father – Seven Hail Mary’s).

THE SIXTH SORROW - Mary Receives Jesus
Our Sorrowful Mother receives the dead body of Jesus in her arms. (Our Father – Seven Hail Mary’s).
Our Sorrowful Mother sees Jesus placed in the sacred tomb. (Our Father – Seven Hail Mary’s).
Three Hail Mary’s are said in honor of the Tears of Our Sorrowful Mother.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Gloria for
the intention of the Pope.
The Church has recognized and blessed the Chaplet of Our Lady of Sorrows. It is one among many to which indulgences have been attached. If it is recited fulfilling the conditions of the Church, a full or partial indulgence is granted.
To Obtain a Full Indulgence
Recite the Chaplet in front of the Blessed Sacrament
Recite the Chaplet every day for one month
Recite the Chaplet on Tuesday and Friday for the Souls in Purgatory
When you recite the Chaplet on September 15th, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, it can be said anywhere
Recite the Chaplet anywhere on Good Friday
When the Chaplet is recited anywhere at any time one can gain a partial indulgence. The Chaplet was granted a full or partial indulgence on May 28, 1942.
Promises of Jesus and Mary Regarding the
Chaplet of Our Lady of Sorrows
Whoever recites the Chaplet of Our Lady of Sorrows during their entire lifetime will receive the grace of complete and true repentance before death.
Whoever promises to recite the Chaplet once a day for 31 days - without interruption and without distractions , Jesus will forgive all the sins you have forgotten to confess since your childhood up to the 31st day of your Chaplet. Then you will be made accountable once more for whatever sins you may commit after the 31st day. This, however, does not exempt you from your obligation to confess all the sins you remember to a priest.


This act consists in ceding to the Souls in Purgatory all our works of satisfaction, that is to say, the satisfactory value of all the works of our life and of all the suffrages which shall be given to us after our death, without reserving anything to discharge our own debts. We deposit them in the hands of the Blessed Virgin, that she may distribute them, according to her good pleasure, to those souls which she desires to deliver from Purgatory.

It is an absolute donation in favor of the souls of all that we can give them; we offer to God in their behalf all the good we do, of what kind so ever, either in thought, words or works, all that we suffer meritoriously during this life, without excepting anything that we may reasonably give them, and adding even those suffrages which we may receive for ourselves after death.

It must be well understood that the matter of this holy donation is the satisfactory value of our works and in no way the merit which has a corresponding degree of glory in Heaven; for merit is strictly personal, and cannot be transferred to another.

Pope Benedict XIII, Pius VI, and Pius IX, have approved this heroic act, and have enriched it with indulgences and privileges, of which the principals are as follows:

The Indult of a Privileged Altar, personally, every day of the year to all priests who shall have made this offering.

A Plenary indulgence daily, applicable only to the departed, to all the faithful, who shall have made this offering, whenever they go to Holy Communion, provided they visit a church or public oratory, and pray there for some time for the intention of his Holiness.

A Plenary indulgence, every Monday, to all who hear Mass in aid of the Souls in Purgatory, provided they fulfill the other conditions mentioned above.

It is recommended that all true Christians cede to the faithful departed all the fruit of their good works which are at our disposal. We cannot make better use of them, since they render them more meritorious and more efficacious, as well as obtain grace from God for expiating our own sins and shortening the term of our Purgatory, or even acquiring an entire exemption there from.”

These words express the precious advantages of the Heroic Act; and in order to dissipate all subsequent fear which might arise in the mind, we add three remarks:

This act leaves us perfect liberty to pray for those souls in whom we are most interested; the application of these prayers is subject to the disposition of the will of God.

It does not oblige under pain of mortal sin, and can at any time be revoked. It may be made without using any particular formula; it suffices to have the intention, and to make it from the heart. Nevertheless it is useful to recite the formula of offering from time to time, in order to stimulate our zeal for the relief of the Holy Souls by prayer, penance, and good works.

The Heroic Act dues not subject us to the direful consequences of having to undergo a long Purgatory ourselves; on the contrary, it allows us to rely with more assured confidence on the mercy of God in our regard, as is shown by the example of St. Gertrude.

It is related that St. Gertrude made a complete donation of all her works of satisfaction in favor of the faithful departed, without reserving anything to discharge the debts which she herself might have contracted in the sight of God. Being at the point of death, and, like all the saints, considering with much sorrow the great number of her sins on the one end, on the other, remembering that she had employed all her works of satisfaction for the expiation of the sins of others, she was afflicted, lest, having given all to others and reserved nothing for herself, her soul, on its departure should be condemned to horrible suffering. In the midst of her fears our Lord appeared to her and consoled her saying: “Be reassured, my daughter, your charity towards the departed will be no detriment to you. Know that the generous donation you have made of all your works to the Holy Souls has been singularly pleasing to me; and to give you a proof thereof, I declare to you that all the pains you would have had to endure in the other life are now remitted; moreover, in recompense for your generous charity, I will so enhance the value of the merits of your works as to give you a great increase of glory in Heaven.”

Reasons for Making the Heroic Act

You gain many indulgences.

Souls are released from Purgatory; Heaven is filled with new saints who will glorify and praise God for all eternity, also on your behalf.

You will have the promise of Our Lord applied to you: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matt. 5, 7)

The Poor Souls will labor in Heaven that you may not be lost, nor suffer Purgatory at all, or at least be released from it soon.

The Blessed Virgin receives an increase of veneration, since she will be invoked as the Queen of the Poor Souls, and the dispenser of our merits to them. She will have a special affection for those who love and honor her in this way, both while they are in this world and after they have passed into eternity.

Formula of the Heroic Act

“O Holy and Adorable Trinity, desiring to cooperate in the deliverance of the Souls in Purgatory, and to testify my devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, I cede and renounce in behalf of those Holy Souls all the satisfactory part of my works, and all the suffrages which may be given to me after my death, consigning them entirely into the hands of the most Blessed Virgin, that she may apply them according to her good pleasure to those souls of the faithful departed which she desires to deliver from their sufferings. Deign, O my God, to accept and bless this offering which I make to Thee at this moment. Amen.”
Dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows
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