THE HEROIC ACT OF LOVE
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.”