Prayer/Meditation (and subsequent chapters)

The following excerpts are from a book entitled The Spiritual Combat. By Lorenzo Scupoli. A book that subsequently, St. Francis de Sales carried with him for 18 years!


PRAYER
WE HAVE SHOWN that distrustfulness of self, confidence in God, and proper application of the faculties of the soul are the indispensable weapons of conquest in the spiritual combat. Yet a far more important weapon is prayer, since by it are obtained, not only the above-specified virtues, but everything requisite for our salvation. Prayer is the channel of all Divine grace; by it God is compelled, as it were, to grant us the strength of Heaven, and destroy by our weak hands the fiercest of our foes. But in order to receive full benefit from our prayer, the following method should be observed:
1. We must desire sincerely to serve God with ardent fervor in the manner most agreeable to Him; and this desire will be enkindled within our breasts if we consider three things attentively. The first is that Almighty God deserves our homage and service by reason of the excellence of His sovereign being, His goodness, beauty, wisdom, power, and His ineffable, infinite perfection. The second is that God in Heaven became man on earth to consecrate a life of thirty-three years to the cause of our salvation. He condescended to dress our wounds with His own hands, and heal them, not with oil and wine, but with His own precious blood and immaculate body, torn and disfigured by cruel whips, thorns, and nails. The third point is our realization of the obligation to observe His law, and discharge every duty, since this is the only way we can expect to triumph over the devil, to become masters of ourselves, and children of God.

2. We must have a vibrant, living faith and a firm confidence that God will not refuse the assistance necessary to serve Him faithfully and work out our salvation. A soul rekindled with this holy confidence is like a sacred vessel, into which Divine Mercy pours the treasures of His grace; and the larger the vessel, the greater the abundance of Heavenly blessings it receives through prayer. For how can God, Whose power is limitless, and Whose goodness is alien to all deception, ever refuse His gifts to those whose petitions He has encouraged, and whose perseverance and faith He has promised to reward with the blessings of the Holy Spirit?

3. But our motive for prayer must be the will of God rather than the will of self. We must apply ourselves to this divinely appointed duty because He has commanded it, and we must wish no more than that which is in utter conformity to God’s plan. Thus, our intention will not be to make the Divine will subservient to our own, but rather, to transform the human will so that it is in complete harmony with the Divine. The reason for this humble accedence to the Divine will is the perversity of our own, tainted as it is with a blind self-love. Guided by ourselves alone, we would err and stumble, but the will of God, essentially just and holy, cannot be mistaken. Thus the will of God should be the will of men, since not to follow the former is to go astray. Let us, then, be most solicitous that all our petitions be agreeable to God, and if doubts arise concerning the concurrence of the human with the Divine, let a humble submission to Divine Providence accompany our requests. If, however, the things we ask are, by their very nature, pleasing to Him, such as grace, virtue, etc., then let us beg them with a view to pleasing and serving His Divine Majesty, rather than for any other consideration, however creditable.

4. If we wish our prayers to be efficacious, our actions must suit the petitions, and we must exert much energy in making ourselves worthy of the favors we ask. For prayer and interior mortification are inseparable, and he that seeks a particular virtue, without making a serious effort to practice it, only tempts God.

5. Before we ask anything of God, we ought to thank Him most humbly for the innumerable benefits He has graciously bestowed upon us. Let us say to Him: “O Lord, Who after creating me, didst mercifully pay the price of my redemption, delivering me from the fury of myriad enemies, come now to my assistance; and forgetting my past ingratitude, bestow upon me this favor I now ask.” If, however, at the very time we seek to attain a particular virtue, we find ourselves tempted to the contrary vice, let us thank God for granting us the opportunity of practicing the virtue in question, and look upon the occasion as a favor.

6. As the entire force and efficacy of prayer is attributed solely to the goodness of God, at the conclusion of our petitions we should constantly remember the merits of our Savior’s life and passion, and His promise to graciously hear our requests, with one or the other of these sentences:

A) “I beseech Thee, O Lord, through Thy infinite mercy, to grant my petition.”

B) “Through the merits of Thy Son, bestow this favor on me.”

C) “Be mindful, O God, of Thy promises, and hear my prayers.” Again, we may have recourse to the intercession of the blessed Mother and the other Saints; for they prevail much with God, Who is pleased to honor them, in proportion to the honor they accorded Him on earth.

7. We must persist in prayer, since God certainly cannot overlook our humble perseverance. For if the pleadings of the widow in the Gospel prevailed with the wicked judge, how can our pleadings be ignored by God, Who is infinitely good? Thus, although our favors may not be immediately granted, and may even appear to be ignored by God, we must not lose our confidence in His infinite goodness, nor desist from prayer. For God possesses both immense power and will to grant us those things conducive to our ultimate welfare. Therefore, if we are not wanting in ourselves, we shall inevitably obtain what we ask for, something better, or perhaps both. As for the rest, the more we churlishly think ourselves slighted by God, the more we should hold ourselves in contempt. But in considering our misery, we should contemplate the Divine mercy, and far from lessening our confidence in Him, we must increase it; for the steadier we remain in situations attended by fear and diffidence, the greater will be our merit. Finally, let us never cease to thank God, blessing equally His wisdom, His goodness, His charity, whether He grants or refuses our petition. Whatever happens, let us be undisturbed, contented and resigned to divine Providence in all things. 

MENTAL PRAYER

MENTAL PRAYER is the elevation of our minds to God, asking of Him either expressly or tacitly those things of which we stand in need. We ask for them expressly when we say in our hearts: “O my God, grant me this request for the honor of Thy holy name”; or “Lord, I am firmly convinced that this petition is Thy will, and for Thy greater honor, I ask this petition. Accomplish, therefore, Thy Divine will in me.” When harassed by the attacks of the enemy, let us say: “Come swiftly, O Lord, to my assistance lest I fall a prey to my enemy”; or “O God, my refuge and my strength, help me speedily, lest I perish.” When temptation continues, we must continue the same prayer, courageously resisting the foe; and when the fury of the combat has passed, let us address ourselves to the Almighty, imploring Him to consider our weakness in the face of the enemy’s strength: “Behold, my God, Thy creature, the work of Thy hands, a man redeemed by Thy precious blood. And behold Satan trying to carry him from Thee to utterly destroy him. It is to Thee I fly for aid, and it is in Thee that I place my entire confidence, for I know that Thou alone art infinitely good and powerful. Have pity on a miserable creature who stumbles blindly, though willfully, into the path of his enemies, as do all who forsake the assistance of Thy grace. Help me therefore, my only hope, O sole strength of my soul!” We tacitly ask favors of God when we present to Him our necessities, without making any particular request. Placing ourselves in His Divine presence, we acknowledge our incapacity to avoid evil or do good without His aid. We are nevertheless inflamed with a desire of serving Him. Thus we must fix our eyes upon Him, waiting for His assistance with unbounded confidence and utter humility. 

The confession of our weakness and the desire to serve Him, this act of faith so performed, is a silent prayer which will infallibly obtain our request from Heaven. The more sincere the confession, the more ardent the desire, and the more lively the faith, the greater will be the efficacy of the prayer before the throne of God. There is another method of prayer similar to this, but more concise, consisting as it does in but a single act of the soul. The soul presents her requests to the Almighty, adverting to a favor already asked and still sought, although not formally expressed. Let us endeavor to cultivate this kind of prayer, and employ it on all occasions; for experience will convince us that nothing is more easy, yet nothing more excellent and efficacious.

MEDITATION

WHEN A CONSIDERABLE length of time is to be spent in prayer, it is advisable to make a meditation on some feature of our Savior’s life or passion; the reflections naturally arising from such meditation should then be applied to the particular virtue we are striving to attain. If, for instance, you need patience, contemplate the mystery of your Savior scourged at the pillar.

Consider first the blows and revilements hurled at Him by the soldiers as they brutally drag their innocent victim to the appointed place as ordered.

Secondly, consider Him stripped of His garments, exposed to the piercing cold. 

Thirdly, picture those innocent hands, bound tightly to the pillar.

Fourthly, consider His body, torn with whips until His blood moistened the earth. And finally, envision the frequency of the blows, creating new wounds, reopening others on that sacred body. Dwelling on these or similar details, calculated to inspire in you a love of patience, you should try to feel within your very soul the inexpressible anguish so patiently borne by your Divine Master.

Then consider the excruciating agony of His spirit, and the patience and mildness with which that agony was endured by Him Who was ready to suffer even more for God’s glory and your welfare. Behold, then, your Master, covered with blood, desiring nothing more earnestly than your patient acceptance of affliction; and be assured that He implores for you the assistance of the Heavenly Father that you may bear with resignation, not only the cross of the moment, but the crosses to come. Strengthen, therefore, by frequent acts your resolution to suffer, with joy; and, raising your mind to Heaven, give thanks to the Father of mercies, Who didst send His only Son into this world to suffer indescribable torments, and to intercede for you in your necessities. Conclude your meditation by beseeching Him to grant you the virtue of patience, through the merits and intercession of this beloved Son in Whom He is well pleased.

ANOTHER METHOD OF MEDITATION

THERE IS ANOTHER method of prayer and meditation besides the one to which we have adverted. In this latter method, having considered the poignant sufferings of your Savior and His patient endurance of them, you proceed to two other considerations of equal importance. The one is the consideration of Christ’s infinite merits, and the other, of that satisfaction and glory which the eternal Father received from His obedience—an obedience unto death, even the death of the Cross. You must represent these two considerations to the Divine Majesty, as two powerful means of obtaining the grace you seek. This method is applicable, not only to all the mysteries of Our Lord’s passion, but to every exterior or interior act He performed in the course of His passion.
A METHOD OF PRAYER BASED ON THE INTERCESSION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN

BESIDES THE METHODS of meditation already mentioned, there is another which is addressed particularly to the Blessed Virgin. We first consider the eternal Father, then Jesus Christ Our Lord, and finally, the Blessed Mother. With regard to the eternal Father, there are two considerations. The first is the singular affection He cherished from all eternity for this most chaste Virgin whom He chose to be the mother of His Divine Son. The second is the eminent sanctity He was pleased to bestow upon her and the many virtues she practiced in her lifetime. 

Meditating on the affection of the eternal Father for our Lady, you must begin by raising your mind above all created beings; look forward to the vast expanses of eternity, enter into the heart of God, and see with what delight He viewed the person destined one day to become the mother of His Son; beseech Him by that delight to give you sufficient strength against your enemies, especially those who most grievously afflict you. Contemplate, then, the virtues and heroic actions of this incomparable Virgin; make an offering of each or all of them to God, as they are of such efficacy as to obtain for you divine assistance in your particular necessities. 

After this address yourself to Jesus, begging Him to be mindful of that loving mother who for nine months carried Him in her womb, and from the moment of His birth paid Him the most profound adoration. For this was her acknowledgment that this Child was at once God and man, her Creator and her Son. With compassion she saw Him poorly accommodated in a humble stable, nourished Him with her pure milk, kissed and embraced Him a thousand times with maternal fondness, and through His life and at His death, suffered for Him beyond expression. Present this picture to the Savior, that He may be compelled, as it were, by such powerful motives, to hear your prayers. Appeal to the Blessed Virgin herself, reminding her of her commission from all eternity, to be the Mother of Mercy and the refuge of sinners, and that after her divine Son, you place your greatest confidence in her intercession. Present to her the fact, asserted by the learned and confirmed by miracles, that no one ever called upon her with a lively faith, and was left unaided. Finally, remind her of the sufferings of her Son for your salvation, that she may obtain of Him the grace necessary to make proper use of His sufferings for the greater glory of that loving Savior.

God Bless BJS!!

Uniformity of God’s Will and the Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ

St. Alphonsus de Ligouri

O Jesus, my love, I am determined to love Thee as much as I can, and I wish to become a Saint; and I wish to become a Saint for this reason, in order to give Thee pleasure, and to love Thee exceedingly in this life and the next!

I can do nothing of myself, but Thou canst do all things; and I know that Thou wishest me to become a Saint. I see already that by Thy grace my soul sighs only for Thee, and seeks nothing else but Thee. I wish to live no more for myself; Thou desirest me to be wholly Thine, and I desire to be wholly Thine.

Come, and unite me to Thyself, and Thyself to me. Thou art infinite goodness; Thou art He Who hast loved me so much; Thou art, indeed, too loving and too lovely; how, then, can I love anything but Thee? I prefer Thy love before all the things of this world; Thou art the sole object, the sole end of all my affections.

I leave all to be occupied solely in loving Thee, my Redeemer, my Comforter, my hope, my love, and my all. I will not despair of becoming a Saint on account of the sins of my past life; for I know, my Jesus, that Thou didst die in order to pardon the truly penitent. I love Thee now with my whole heart, with my whole soul; I love Thee more than myself, and I bewail, above every other evil, ever having had the misfortune to despise Thee, my sovereign good.

Now I am no longer my own. I am Thine; O God of my heart, dispose of me as Thou pleasest. In order to please Thee, I accept of all the tribulations Thou mayest choose to send me—–sickness, sorrow, troubles, ignominies, poverty, persecution, desolation—–I accept all to please Thee: in like manner I accept of the death Thou hast decreed for me, with all the anguish and crosses which may accompany it: it is enough if Thou grantest me the grace to love Thee exceedingly.

Lend me Thy assistance; give me strength henceforth to compensate, by my love, for all the bitterness that I have caused Thee in past time, O only love of my soul!
O Queen of Heaven, O Mother of God, O great advocate of sinners, I trust in thee!

Efficacious Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

O my Jesus, You have said: “Truly I say to you, ask and it will be given you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you.” Behold I knock, I seek and ask for the grace of… (state intention) Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be; Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in Thee.

O my Jesus, You have said: “Truly I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father in My name, He will give it to you.” Behold, in Your name, I ask the Father for the grace of…Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be; Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in Thee.

O my Jesus, You have said: “Truly I say to you, heaven and earth will pass away but My words will not pass away.” Encouraged by Your infallible words I now ask for the grace of…Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be; Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in Thee.

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for Whom It is impossible not to have compassion on the afflicted have pity on us miserable sinners and grant us the grace which we ask of You, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, Your tender Mother and ours. Say the Hail, Holy Queen and add: St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for us.

This Novena prayer was recited every day by Saint Padre Pio for all those who asked his prayers. The faithful are invited to recite it daily, so as to be spiritually united with the prayer of Saint Padre Pio.

In a letter, Sister Lucy of Fatima wrote the following:
“About the other questions, if it will be convenient to insist in order to obtain the Consecration of Russia…

Intimately I have spoken to Our Lord about the subject and not too long ago I asked Him why He would not convert Russia without the Holy Father making the consecration. (He replied) ‘Because i want My whole Church to acknowledge that consecration as a triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary so that it may extend its cult later on and put the devotion to the Immaculate Heart beside the devotion to My Sacred Heart.'”

POPES OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

“A legitimate pope cannot contradict or deny what was first taught by Christ to His Church. An essential change constitutes the establishment of a new religion.” Tumultuous Times pg 274

Every “Pope” from John the 23rd forward has contradicted Christ and His Church. By their fruits you shall know them. The new religion that was established is called the Novus Ordo religion and was established at the 2nd Vatican Council. Find the truth!

No. Name

Reigned From

Reigned To

1. St. Peter 32 67
2. St. Linus 67 76
3. St. Anacletus (Cletus) 76 88
4. St. Clement I 88 97
5. St. Evaristus 97 105
6. St. Alexander I 105 115
7. St. Sixtus I — also called Xystus I 115 125
8. St. Telesphorus 125 136
9. St. Hyginus 136 140
10. St. Pius I 140 155
11. St. Anicetus 155 166
12. St. Soter 166 175
13. St. Eleutherius 175 189
14. St. Victor I 189 199
15. St. Zephyrinus 199 217
16. St. Callistus I 217 222
17. St. Urban I 222 230
18. St. Pontain 230 235
19. St. Anterus 235 236
20. St. Fabian 236 250
21. St. Cornelius 251 253
22. St. Lucius I 253 254
23. St. Stephen I 254 257
24. St. Sixtus II 257 258
25. St. Dionysius 260 268
26. St. Felix I 269 274
27. St. Eutychian 275 283
28. St. Caius — also called Gaius 283 296
29. St. Marcellinus 296 304
30. St. Marcellus I 308 309
31. St. Eusebius 309 310
32. St. Miltiades 311 314
33. St. Sylvester I 314 335
34. St. Marcus 336 336
35. St. Julius I 337 352
36. Liberius 352 366
37. St. Damasus I 366 383
38. St. Siricius 384 399
39. St. Anastasius I 399 401
40. St. Innocent I 401 417
41. St. Zosimus 417 418
42. St. Boniface I 418 422
43. St. Celestine I 422 432
44. St. Sixtus III 432 440
45. St. Leo I (the Great) 440 461
46. St. Hilarius 461 468
47. St. Simplicius 468 483
48. St. Felix III (II) 483 492
49. St. Gelasius I 492 496
50. Anastasius II 496 498
51. St. Symmachus 498 514
52. St. Hormisdas 514 523
53. St. John I 523 526
54. St. Felix IV (III) 526 530
55. Boniface II 530 532
56. John II 533 535
57. St. Agapetus I — also called Agapitus I 535 536
58. St. Silverius 536 537
59. Vigilius 537 555
60. Pelagius I 556 561
61. John III 561 574
62. Benedict I 575 579
63. Pelagius II 579 590
64. St. Gregory I (the Great) 590 604
65. Sabinian 604 606
66. Boniface III 607 607
67. St. Boniface IV 608 615
68. St. Deusdedit (Adeodatus I) 615 618
69. Boniface V 619 625
70. Honorius I 625 638
71. Severinus 640 640
72. John IV 640 642
73. Theodore I 642 649
74. St. Martin I 649 655
75. St. Eugene I 655 657
76. St. Vitalian 657 672
77. Adeodatus (II) 672 676
78. Donus 676 678
79. St. Agatho 678 681
80. St. Leo II 682 683
81. St. Benedict II 684 685
82. John V 685 686
83. Conon 686 687
84. St. Sergius I 687 701
85. John VI 701 705
86. John VII 705 707
87. Sisinnius 708 708
88. Constantine 708 715
89. St. Gregory II 715 31
90. St. Gregory III 731 741
91. St. Zachary 741 752
92. Stephen II 752 752
93. Stephen III 752 757
94. St. Paul I 757 767
95. Stephen IV 767 772
96. Adrian I 772 795
97. St. Leo III 795 816
98. Stephen V 816 817
99. St. Paschal I 817 824
100. Eugene II 824 827
101. Valentine 827 827
102. Gregory IV 827 844
103. Sergius II 844 847
104. St. Leo IV 847 855
105. Benedict III 855 858
106. St. Nicholas I (the Great) 858 867
107. Adrian II 867 872
108. John VIII 872 882
109. Marinus I 882 884
110. St. Adrian III 884 885
111. Stephen VI 885 891
112. Formosus 891 896
113. Boniface VI 896 896
114. Stephen VII 896 897
115. Romanus 897 897
116. Theodore II 897 897
117. John IX 898 900
118. Benedict IV 900 903
119. Leo V 903 903
120. Sergius III 904 911
121. Anastasius III 911 913
122. Lando 913 914
123. John X 914 928
124. Leo VI 928 928
125. Stephen VIII 929 931
126. John XI 931 935
127. Leo VII 936 939
128. Stephen IX 939 942
129. Marinus II 942 46
130. Agapetus II 946 955
131. John XII 955 963
132. Leo VIII 963 964
133. Benedict V 964 964
134. John XIII 965 972
135. Benedict VI 973 974
136. Benedict VII 974 983
137. John XIV 983 984
138. John XV 985 996
139. Gregory V 996 999
140. Sylvester II 999 1003
141. John XVII 1003 1003
142. John XVIII 1003 1009
143. Sergius IV 1009 1012
144. Benedict VIII 1012 1024
145. John XIX 1024 1032
146. Benedict IX 1032 1045
147. Sylvester III 1045 1045
148. Benedict IX 1045 1045
149. Gregory VI 1045 1046
150. Clement II 1046 1047
151. Benedict IX 1047 1048
152. Damasus II 1048 1048
153. St. Leo IX 1049 1054
154. Victor II 1055 1057
155. Stephen X 1057 1058
156. Nicholas II 1058 1061
157. Alexander II 1061 1073
158. St. Gregory VII 1073 1085
159. Blessed Victor III 1086 1087
160. Blessed Urban II 1088 1099
161. Paschal II 1099 1118
162. Gelasius II 1118 1119
163. Callistus II 1119 1124
164. Honorius II 1124 1130
165. Innocent II 1130 1143
166. Celestine II 1143 1144
167. Lucius II 1144 1145
168. Blessed Eugene III 1145 1153
169. Anastasius IV 1153 1154
170. Adrian IV 1154 1159
171. Alexander III 1159 1181
172. Lucius III 1181 1185
173. Urban III 1185 1187
174. Gregory VIII 1187 1187
175. Clement III 1187 1191
176. Celestine III 1191 1198
177. Innocent III 1198 1216
178. Honorius III 1216 1227
179. Gregory IX 1227 1241
180. Celestine IV 1241 1241
181. Innocent IV 1243 1254
182. Alexander IV 1254 1261
183. Urban IV 1261 1264
184. Clement IV 1265 1268
185. Blessed Gregory X 1271 1276
186. Blessed Innocent V 1276 1276
187. Adrian V 1276 1276
188. John XXI 1276 1277
189. Nicholas III 1277 1280
190. Martin IV 1281 1285
191. Honorius IV 1285 1287
192. Nicholas IV 1288 1292
193. St. Celestine V 1294 1294
194. Boniface VIII 1294 1303
195. Blessed Benedict XI 1303 1304
196. Clement V 1305 1314
197. John XXII 1316 1334
198. Benedict XII 1334 1342
199. Clement VI 1342 1352
200. Innocent VI 1352 1362
201. Blessed Urban V 1362 1370
202. Gregory XI 1370 1378
203. Urban VI 1378 1389
204. Boniface IX 1389 1404
205. Innocent VII 1406 1406
206. Gregory XII 1406 1415
207. Martin V 1417 1431
208. Eugene IV 1431 1447
209. Nicholas V 1447 1455
210. Callistus III 1445 1458
211. Pius II 1458 1464
212. Paul II 1464 1471
213. Sixtus IV 1471 1484
214. Innocent VIII 1484 1492
215. Alexander VI 1492 1503
216. Pius III 1503 1503
217. Julius II 1503 1513
218. Leo X 1513 1521
219. Adrian VI 1522 1523
220. Clement VII 1523 1534
221. Paul III 1534 1549
222. Julius III 1550 1555
223. Marcellus II 1555 1555
224. Paul IV 1555 1559
225. Pius IV 1559 1565
226. St. Pius V 1566 1572
227. Gregory XIII 1572 1585
228. Sixtus V 1585 1590
229. Urban VII 1590 1590
230. Gregory XIV 1590 1591
231. Innocent IX 1591 1591
232. Clement VIII 1592 1605
233. Leo XI 1605 1605
234. Paul V 1605 1621
235. Gregory XV 1621 1623
236. Urban VIII (-) 1623 1644
237. Innocent X (-) 1644 1655
238. Alexander VII 1655 1667
239. Clement IX 1667 1669
240. Clement X 1670 1676
241. Blessed Innocent XI 1676 1689
242. Alexander VIII 1689 1691
243. Innocent XII 1691 1700
244. Clement XI 1700 1721
245. Innocent XIII 1721 1724
246. Benedict XIII 1724 1730
247. Clement XII 1730 1740
248. Benedict XIV 1740 1758
249. Clement XIII 1758 1769
250. Clement XIV 1769 1774
251. Pius VI 1775 1799
252. Pius VII 1800 1823
253. Leo XII 1823 1829
254. Pius VIII 1829 1830
255. Gregory XVI 1831 1846
256. Ven. Pius IX 1846 1878
257. Leo XIII 1878 1903
258. St. Pius X 1903 1914
259. Benedict XV 1914 1922
260. Pius XI 1922 1939
261. Pius XII 1939 1958


Existence of Purgatory

 

Both reason and faith tell us that there is a middle ground of expiation, where the soul is cleansed from all stain of sin before it can enter the glory of heaven. “There shall not enter into it anything defiled” (Apoc. 21:27). Christ said, “Amen, I say to thee, thou will not come out from it until thou hast paid the last penny” (Matt. 5:26). Even persons who deny the existence of purgatory instinctively pray for their loved ones who have died. This would be great inconsistency if their reason did not tell them that their prayers would do the dead good. Prayers are useless for those in heaven or hell.

    What is purgatory? –Purgatory is a place of temporary punishment for those who die in the state of grace, but are guilty of venial sin, or have not fully satisfied for the temporal punishment due to their sins.

  1. Purgatory is a middle state where souls destined for heaven are detained and purified. Souls in purgatory cannot help themselves, for their time for meriting is past. But they can be helped by the faithful on earth, by prayers and other good works.In some places, at eight o’clock at night, the church bells sound, to admonish the faithful to pray for the souls in purgatory. This hour is in commemoration of Christ’s prayer in the garden. We should then kneel and pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and the Requiem aeternam: “Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them,” etc. 
  2. Belief in the utility of praying for the dead automatically includes belief in the existence of purgatory. If there were no purgatory, it would be useless to pray for the dead, because saints in heaven need no help, and those in hell are beyond aid.And we can be sure there will be no more purgatory after the General judgment; because the reason for its existence will have passed. 
  3. Purgatory is a place of temporary punishment for those who have died in venial sin, or who have not fully satisfied God’s justice for mortal sins already forgiven.
       

    1. A boy steals an apple from a stall in the market; this is a venial sin punishable in purgatory. Some argue that God is a good God, and will not punish such slight sins with the pains of purgatory. We must remember, nevertheless, that the judgments of God are different from those of men, as His holiness is far above human holiness.“My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are my ways exalted above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts.” Let us reverence God’s holiness and justice, as we have loving confidence in His mercy. 
    2. A man commits a cruel murder. This is a mortal sin which, unrepented and unconfessed, will send him to hell.The man repents, confesses, and obtains absolution for his sin; the guilt therefore is removed. But justice requires that he make up for the evil he has done; this atonement takes place in purgatory, unless he makes full satisfaction before death.

     

  4. The doctrine of purgatory is eminently consoling to the human heart. It consoles us when our loved ones die. Purgatory is a bond of union making us realize that death is not an eternal separation for the just, but only a loss of their bodily presence.Purgatory gives us an assurance that we are still in touch with our beloved dead. We are consoled by the knowledge that we can still help them with prayer, as in life we so helped them.
    Is the doctrine of the existence of purgatory reasonable? –The doctrine of the existence of Purgatory is not only reasonable, but its negation is eminently contrary to reason; it is taught in Holy Scripture, and has been taught by the Church from the very beginning.

  1. The doctrine of a middle state of purgation is taught in the Old Testament,and was firmly believed in by the Hebrews.After a battle, Judas Machabeus ordered prayers and sacrifices offered up for his slain comrades. “And making a gathering, he sent twelve drachms 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 for them. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins” (2 Mach. 12:43-46). 
  2. When Our Lord came on earth, He purified the Jewish Church of all those human changes that with the years had crept into its usages and beliefs. But He never reproved anyone for belief in a middle state of purgation, or prayers for the dead.On the contrary, Christ more than once implied the existence of purgatory. He said “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” (Matt. 12:32). When Our Lord said that a sin will not be forgiven in the next life, He left us to conclude that some sins will be thus forgiven. But in the next life, sins cannot be forgiven in heaven: “There shall not enter into it anything defiled” (Apoc. 21:27). Neither can sins be forgiven in hell, for out of hell there is no redemption. They must therefore be forgive middle state, Purgatory. 
  3. Belief in the existence of Purgatory is a continuous and solemn teaching of the Church. From St. Paul, the early Fathers, the Doctors of the Church, on through the ages, the Church has taught the existence of Purgatory, and the correlated doctrine of the usefulness of praying for the dead.From the beginning Christians prayed for the dead at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The oldest books used at Mass contain prayers for the dead.The doctrine of Purgatory was given solemn definition by the Council of Trent as follows: “There is a purgatory, and the souls there detained are assisted by the suffrages of the faithful, but especially by the most acceptable, sacrifice of the altar.”

    This dogmatic definition contains three points of faith that all Catholics are compelled to believe: (a) that there is a purgatory; (b) that after death souls suffer there for their sins; (c) that the living can extend assistance to such souls.

     

  4. Reason demands belief in the existence of purgatory. If a man dies with some slight stain on his soul, a sin of impatience, or an idle word, is he fit to enter heaven? God’s sanctity forbids it: “There shall not enter into it anything defiled” (Apoc. 21:27) . But must such a soul be consigned to hell? God’s mercy and justice forbid it.Therefore reason concludes the existence of a middle and temporary state of expiation, where the soul is cleansed from all stain of sin before it can be admitted into the perfect holiness and bliss of heaven. “Amen, I say to thee, thou wilt not come out from it until thou hast paid the last penny” (Matt. 5:26). 
  5. Among nearly all peoples there has persisted a belief that souls must undergo some sort of purification after death. This would point to the doctrine of purgatory.The Greek story of Prometheus implies a place of purgation. The Egyptians and others believed in the transmigration of souls. Legends and myths of all nations, as well as burial customs, indicate belief in the possibility of helping the dead.

Particular Judgment

 

Complete justice will not be done in this life, but in the next. Then everything will be weighed in the balance of God’s justice, and punished or rewarded. If on earth we have obeyed the commandments of God and of the Church we shall be given an eternal reward in heaven (1). If we have obeyed all the commandments, but die with unforgiven venial sin, or without having satisfied for forgiven mortal sin, we shall be sent to purgatory (2). Alas for us if we die with even one mortal sin! For then we shall be banished from the sight of God and suffer torments in hell forever (3).

    What is the judgment called which will be passed on each one of us immediately after death? –The judgment which will be passed on each one of us immediately after death is called the particular judgment.The existence of the particular judgment can be deduced from the parable of Dives and Lazarus; a soul is shown rewarded immediately after death.

  1. As soon as each soul leaves the body at death it undergoes the Particular judgment, at which its eternal destiny is decided. “We must all be manifested at the judgment seat of Christ.” “It is appointed unto men to die once, but after this comes the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). “Every one of us will render an account for himself to God” (Rom. 14:12).Let us remember that even while the relatives gather around the bed of the departed one, even while his body is still warm, the particular judgment is gone through and finished; the judgment is passed, and the soul gone to his reward or punishment. If we remember this, we shall be more fervent in praying for the dead, in helping others die a happy death, so that without fear they may meet God at the judgment. 
  2. Jesus Christ is the Judge at the Particular Judgment. Before Him each soul must stand. The soul will stand in the awesome presence of God the Son, to give an account of its whole life: of every thought, word, act, and omission.“Neither does the Father judge any man, but all judgment he has given to the Son” (John 5:22). 
  3. A man’s whole life will be spread before him like a great picture. He will remember everything, although he might have forgotten much at the moment of death. How he will wish then that he had done only good! We are not to suppose that the soul will go to heaven before Christ to be judged. God enlightens each soul in such a manner that it fully knows Christ has passed a true judgment on it.“Of every idle word men speak, they shall give account on the day of judgment” (Matt. 12:36). The judgment will embrace even the good which has been neglected: a strict account will have to be rendered of the use we made of the talents and graces given to us. Even good actions badly performed will come under scrutiny, careless communions, hasty confessions, etc. Only then shall we know the exactness with which God sees and measures every act, word, and even intention in our deepest thought. 
  4. The good and the evil that the soul has done will be weighed in the balance of God’s justice. Then the sentence will be passed by Jesus Christ alone, without the intervention of witnesses. This sentence is final and will never be reversed. The soul will learn the sentence, the reasons for it, and its absolute justice.“But of every one to whom much has been given, much will be required; and of him to whom they have entrusted much, they will demand the more” (Luke 12:48).
    What are the rewards or punishments appointed for men after the particular judgment? –The rewards or punishments appointed for men after the particular judgment are heaven, purgatory, or hell.“With what measure you measure, it shall be measured to you” (Matt. 7:2). As we have loved God and our fellow-men during life, so we shall be given the proper reward or punishment.

  1. He who dies in his baptismal innocence, or after having fully satisfied for all the sins he committed, will be sent at once to heaven.The just will enter into everlasting life (Matt. 25:46). Only those souls enter heaven who are free from all sin, and from the penalty due to sins which have been forgiven. Nothing defiled can enter heaven (Apoc. 21:27). 
  2. He who dies in the state of grace, but is in venial sin, or has not fully atoned for the temporal punishment due his forgiven sins, will be sent for a time to purgatory.The souls in purgatory are saints, because they are sure of going to heaven. In purgatory they cannot commit any more sin, not even the slightest. They only long for God. 
  3. He who dies in mortal sin, even if only with one single mortal sin, will be sent at once to hell.“For the hope of the wicked is as dust, which is blown away with the wind, and as a thin froth which is dispersed by the storm: and a smoke that is scattered abroad by the wind: and as the remembrance of a guest of one day that passeth by” (Wis. 5:15). By mortal sin a man cuts himself off from God. It is really he himself that sends himself to hell. God’s desire would be to see all His creatures with Him in heaven.
    How should we prepare for the judgment? –We should prepare for the judgment by being most careful to lead a good life and die a happy death. 

  1. We should do all the good we can, so that God may forgive the evil we may do. We should not only obey carefully all the Commandments of God and the Church, but do good works in prayer and alms-deeds, practicing charity for the love of God. How can we be careless about a matter of such importance, when we are absolutely certain of being judged by God! “For what shall I do, when God shall rise to judge?” (Job 31:14). 
  2. We should do voluntary works of penance, for love of God, in expiation of any sins we may have the misfortune to commit. The “Imitation of Christ” says on this topic: “In all things look to the end, and how thou wilt stand before the strict Judge, from Whom there is nothing hid; Who takes no bribes, and receives no excuses, but will judge that which is just. … Be, therefore, now solicitous for thy sins, that in the day of judgment thou mayest be in security with the blessed. … Then shall the poor and humble have great confidence, and the proud fear on every side. Then it will appear that he was wise in this world, who for Christ’s sake learned to be a fool and despised. … Then shall the flesh that was afflicted exult more than if it had always fared in delights. … Then a pure and good conscience shall bring more joy than learned philosophy. Then shall the contempt of riches far outweigh all treasures of the children of earth. … Learn to suffer now in little things, that thou mayest be delivered from more grievous sufferings. … All is vanity except to love and serve God alone” (Bk. I, chap. 24). 
  3. We should never go to sleep without being prepared never to awake on earth again, but in the presence of our judge. Let us examine our conscience every day, make acts of contrition for our sins, confess them, and resolve to avoid them in the future.

This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.God Bless BJS!!

Death

 

Respect for the dead requires that cemeteries be properly kept. We should remember that the bodies of the buried will one day rise again to join immortal souls and live forever with God. Respect for the dead would also advise us to give up the recent fad of dolling up corpses, painting their faces to make them seem alive, as if they were prepared for some flighty show.

    What happens at death? –At death the soul is separated from the body.

  1. The soul is judged by God, and rewarded with heaven, punished with hell, or sent for a time to be cleansed in purgatory. The body begins to corrupt and returns to the dust from which it came.St. Peter spoke of the body as a tabernacle for the soul: “the putting off of my tabernacle is at hand” (2 Pet. 1:14). At death, “the dust returns to its earth, from whence it came, and the spirit returns to God, Who gave it” (Eccles. 12:7). The only exceptions have been the bodies of Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin, which rose to join their souls, and are now in heaven. 
  2. All men must die, because death is a consequence of original sin. “Therefore as through one man sin entered into this world and through sin death, and thus death has passed into all men” (Rom. 5: 12) .By their sin our first parents lost the immortality of the body, for God condemned them to die. “Dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return” (Gen. 3:19). Even Jesus Christ and His Mother submitted to death. 
  3. No one knows when, where, or how he will die. All we know is that we shall die, and that when our hour strikes, nobody can take our place.God has mercifully hidden from us the hour of our death. If we knew when we should die, we might be overcome by fear when the moment approached. Some, besides, might lead sinful lives in the hope of repenting just before their death. 
  4. We must therefore always be ready to die. Death comes “as a thief in the night”, when we least expect it. We must live as if every moment were the last of life, always ready to appear before our Divine judge.“Therefore you must also be ready, because at an hour that you do not expect, the Son of Man will come” (Matt. 24:44).
    How should we prepare for death? –We should prepare for death by leading a good life, avoiding sin, and doing good. 

  1. We must keep in God’s grace and love, so that when the Angel of Death comes, we may welcome him as one who takes us home to see the face of our loving Father. The good do not fear death.Let us die with joy, saying to God, as Holy Simeon did: “Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word, in peace” (Luke 2:29). Let us imitate St. Paul, who says, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith. For the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord, the just Judge, will give to me in that day” (2 Tim. 4:7-8)St. Augustine exclaims: “O how sweet it is to die, if one’s life has been a good one!” For such as he, “to die is gain.” To the just man death is only a passing into a better life. It is a journey to his everlasting home, where his heavenly Father dwells. Death is to be feared only by the sinner, for it is the end of his earthly pleasures, and the beginning of his eternal punishment. 
  2. As a man lives, so he dies. Holy Scripture says: “As the tree falls, the trunk will lie” (Eccl. 11:3). We should often recall the thought of death and eternity so that we may avoid sin. “In all thy works remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin” (Ecclus. 7:40) . Those who put off reforming their lives in the hope of a death-bed repentance are like a traveler who starts packing when the train whistles for departure.Let us picture the death of a just man, one who all his life has done good and avoided evil. He has often seen people taken away suddenly, when they least expected it, and made up his mind to be always ready to die and face his judge. He has hoped he would, at the end of his life, die with the Last Sacraments, a priest, and his family by his side. But his obligations have taken him into the wilderness; there he is dying, with only the guide at his side. But he is at peace, and a smile is on his lips, for he is ready to die: being always in the state of grace, he is ready to meet his judge anywhere, any time. He knows the judge will smile, too, and welcome him as a good son, a friend. 
  3. We should also have our temporal affairs in order when we die. This is why adults should make a will in order that no confusion may arise as to the disposition of their property after their death. A sudden death is not to be desired, for then we may not be able to put in order our spiritual and temporal affairs.This is why in the Litanies we pray: “From a sudden and unprovided death, deliver us, O Lord!”
    What are cemeteries? –Cemeteries are the burial grounds for the dead.

  1. The word “cemetery” comes from the Greek, and means sleeping-place;there the bodies of the dead sleep till Judgment Day.It is the custom to engrave the letters R. I. P. (Requiescat in pace. May he rest in peace) on headstones. 
  2. Cemeteries are solemnly consecrated. Catholics should be buried in a Catholic cemetery, if there is one; at least the grave should be blessed.Some day the bodies of the just will rise in glory, and unite with their souls in heaven; is it befitting their high destiny to bury them like animals in unconsecrated ground? The bodies are buried facing the east, as a symbol of the hope the deceased placed in Christ, Light of the soul. 
  3. Cemeteries should be properly kept. They should be such as to invite everyone to go there and pray for the departed.We should go regularly to the cemetery to see to it that the graves of our beloved dead are clean and well kept, and to pray for them. If when they were alive we liked to visit them, why shouldn’t we continue to visit them even now that they are dead? Such visits would attest to our living faith in the immortality of the soul, and the resurrection of the body. It is true the souls of the dead are not in their graves, but the bodies there will some day be inhabited again by the souls. Our prayers in the presence of the bodies are the proof of our love for our dear dead. 
  4. Apostates, heretics, schismatics, the excommunicated, suicides, duellists, Masons, and public sinners, are not permitted to be buried in a consecrated Catholic cemetery.The refusal of the Church to give Christian burial to her bad children does not mean that she sentences them to damnation: judgment of the dead is in the hands of God. It is merely a public expression of her condemnation of sin, and a disciplinary measure so that her other children may avoid falling into such sins. Non-Catholics are not permitted burial in a Catholic cemetery, because since they did not belong to the Church during life, there is no reason for including them in the burial grounds for members of the Church, at death. 
  5. The Church forbids cremation not because it is in itself wrong or contrary to divine Law, but because it is in opposition to the Jewish and Christian tradition. In cases of great pestilences, when it is impossible to bury the dead in time to prevent wider spread, the Church permits cremation.Cremation has been advocated by anti-Christians with the express purpose of destroying belief in the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body. The Fathers of the Church defended the custom of burial, by reason of the resurrection of the body, and the respect due it as the temple of the Holy Spirit. The day may come when the Church may grant permission for cremation.

This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.God Bless BJS!!