Monthly Archives: January 2016


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How a poor boy became a Bishop, a Cardinal, and a Saint

Peter Damian lost both Father and Mother shortly after his birth. One of his brothers adopted him but treated him with unnatural harshness, forcing him to work hard and giving him poor food and scanty clothing.

One day Peter found a silver piece which represented to him a small fortune. A friend told him that he could conscientiously use it for himself as the owner could not be found.

The only difficulty Peter had was to choose what it was he most needed, for he was in sore need of many things.

While turning the matter over in his young mind it struck him that he could do a still better thing, viz, have a Mass said for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, especially for the souls of his dear parents. At the cost of a great sacrifice he put his thought into effect and had the Mass offered.

The Holy Souls repaid his sacrifice most generously. From that day forward a complete change became noticeable in his fortunes.

His eldest brother called at the house where he lived and, horrified at the brutal hardships the little fellow was subjected to, arranged that he be handed over to his own care. He clad him and fed him as his own child, educated and cared for him most affectionately. Blessing followed blessing. Peter’s wonderful talents became known and he was called to the priesthood, sometime after he was raised to the episcopacy and finally created Cardinal. Miracles attested his great sanctity so that after death he was canonised and made Doctor of the Church.

These wonderful graces came to him after that one Mass said for the Holy Souls.

An adventure in the Appenines

A group of priests were called to Rome to treat a grave business matter. They were bearers of important documents and a large sum of money was entrusted to them for the Holy Father. Aware that the Appenines, over which they had to pass, were infested by daring bandits, they chose a trusty driver. There was no tunnel through the mountains nor train in those days.

They placed themselves under the protection of the Holy Souls and decided to say profundis De profundis every hour for them.

When right in the heart of the mountains, the driver gave the alarm and, at the same time, lashed the horses into a furious gallop. Looking around, the priests saw fierce bandits at each side of the road with fixed rifles ready to fire. They were amazed that no shot rang out. They were completely at the mercy of the bandits.

After an hour’s headlong flight the driver stopped and, looking at the Priests, said: “I cannot understand how we escaped. These desperadoes never spare anyone.”

The Fathers were convinced that they owed their safety to the Holy Souls, a fact that was afterwards confirmed beyond doubt.

When their business was concluded in Rome, one of their number was detained in the Eternal City, where he was appointed chaplain to a Prison. Not long after, one of the fiercest brigands in Italy was captured, condemned to death for a long series of murders and awaited execution in the prison. Anxious to gain his confidence, the Chaplain told him of several adventures he himself had had and, finally, of his recent escape in the Appenines.

The criminal manifested the greatest interest in the story. When it was ended, he exclaimed: “I was the leader of that band. We thought that you had money and we determined to rob and murder you. An invisible force prevented each and all of us from firing, as we assuredly would have done had we been able.”

The chaplain then told him of how they had placed themselves under the protection of the Holy Souls and that they ascribed their deliverance to their protection.

The bandit found no difficulty in believing it. In fact, it made his conversion more easy. He died full of repentance.

How Pius IX cured a bad memory

The venerable Pontiff Pius IX appointed a holy and prudent religious Bishop of a diocese. The priest, alarmed at the responsibility put on him, begged earnestly to be excused.

His protests were in vain. The Holy Father knew his merits.

Overcome with apprehension the humble religious solicited an audience with the Pope, who received him most graciously. Once more he pleaded earnestly to be excused, but the Pope was immovable.

As a last recourse, Padre Tomaso told the Holy Father that he had a very bad memory which would naturally prove to be a grave impediment to the high office put on him.

Pius IX answered with a smile: “Your diocese is very small in comparison with the Universal Church, which I carry on my shoulders. Your cares will be very light in comparison with mine.

I, too, suffered from a grave defect of my memory but I promised to say a fervent prayer daily for the Holy Souls, who, in return, have obtained for me an excellent memory. Do you likewise, dear Father, and you will have cause to rejoice.”

– From: Read Me or Rue It, by E.D.M., approved of His Eminence the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon 4/6/1936, printed by Kerryman, Co Kerry, Ireland

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St Alphonsus Liguori says that though the Holy Souls cannot merit for themselves they can obtain for us great graces. They are not, formally speaking, intercessors as the Saints but, through the sweet Providence of God, they can obtain for us as astounding favours and deliver us from evils, sickness and dangers of every kind.

It is beyond all doubt, as we have already said, that they repay us a thousand times for anything we do for them.

The following facts, a few hundreds which we might quote, are sufficient to show what powerful and generous friends the Holy Souls are.

How a Girl found her Mother

A poor servant girl in France once heard a sermon on the Holy Souls which made an indelible impression on her mind. She was deeply moved by the thought of the intense and unceasing sufferings the souls endure and horrified to see how cruelly they are neglected and forgotten by their friends on Earth.

Among other things the preacher stressed was that many souls who are in reality near to their release – one Mass might suffice to set them free – are oftentimes long detained, it may be for years, just because the last needful suffrage has been withheld, or forgotten, or neglected!

With her simple faith Jeanne Mari resolved, that, cost what it may cost, she would have a Mass said to them, every month, especially for the soul nearest to Heaven. She earned little and it was sometimes difficult to keep her promise, but she never failed.

One one occasion she went to Paris with her mistress and there fell I’ll so that she was obliged to go to Hospital. Unfortunately the illness proved to be a long one and her mistress had to return home, hoping that her maid would soon rejoin her. When at last the poor servant was able to leave the Hospital all she had left of her scanty earnings was one franc!

What was she to do? Where to turn? Suddenly the thought flashed across her mind that she had not had her usual monthly Mass offered for the Holy Souls. But she had only one franc! That was little enough to buy her food. Yet her confidence that the Holy Souls would not fail her triumphed. She made her way into a Church and asked a priest, just about to say Mass, if he would offer it for the Holy Souls. He consented to do so, never dreaming that the modest alms offered was the only money the poor girl possessed.

At the conclusion of the Holy Sacrifice our heroine left the Church. A wave of sadness clouded her face, she felt utterly bewildered.

A young gentleman, touched by her evident distress, asked her if she was in trouble and if he could help her. She told her story briefly and ended by saying how much she desired work.

Somehow she felt consoled at the kind way in which the young man listened to what she said and fully recovered her confidence.

“I am delighted beyond measure,” he said “to help you. I know a lady who is even now looking for a servant. Come with me”, and so saying he led her to a house not far distant and bade her ring the bell, assuring her that she would find work.

In answer to her ring the lady of the house herself opened the door and inquired what she required. “Madam,” she said “I have been told that you are looking for a servant. I have no work and should be glad to get the place.”

The lady was amazed and replied: “Who could have told you that I need a servant? It was only a few minutes ago that I had to dismiss my maid, and that at a moment’s notice. You did not meet her?”

“No, Madam, the person that informed me that you required a servant was a young gentleman.”

“Impossible,” exclaimed the lady “no young man, in fact no one at all, could have known that I needed a servant.”

“But, Madam,” the girl answered excitedly “that is the young man who told me”, pointing to a picture on the wall.

” Why, child, that is my only son who has been dead for more than a year.”

“Dead or not,” asserted the girl with deep conviction in her voice “it was he who told me to come to you and he even led me to the door. See the scar over his eye, I would know him anywhere.”

Then followed the full story of how she had had Mass offered with her last franc for the Holy Souls, especially for the one nearest to Heaven.

Convinced at last of the truth of what Jeanne Marie told her, the lady received her with open arms. “Come,” she said “but not as my servant but as my dear daughter. You have sent my darling boy to Heaven. I have no doubt that it was he who brought you to me.”

– From: Read Me or Rue It, by E.D.M., approved of His Eminence the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon 4/6/1936, printed by Kerryman, Co Kerry, Ireland

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I. The first means is by joining the Association of the Souls in Purgatory. The conditions are easy:

a) Say a prayer every day for the Holy Souls.

b) Offer all the good works, prayers, sufferings and indulgences, of one day in each week, preferably Sunday, for them. There is no necessity to do anything new or extraordinary but just offer what one is accustomed to do on that day.

c) Give an alms every year for the Association:

d) Get as many people as possible to join the Association.

Those who wish to join and have not the Association in their parishes can send their names, address and annual alms to the Association in Travessa do Corpo Santo, 32, Lisbon, Portugal.

This Association is approved by the Cardinal Archbishop of Lisbon. [These details are given as printed in the booklet “Read Me or Rue It”, reference below.]

II. A second means of helping the Holy Souls is by having Masses offered for them. This is certainly the most efficacious way of relieving them.

III. Those who cannot get many Masses offered, owing to want of means, ought to assist at  as many Masses as possible for this intention.

A young man, who was earning a very modest salary, told the writer: “My wife died a few years ago. I got 10 Masses said for her. I could not possible do more but heard 1000 for her dear soul.”

IV. The recital of the Rosary with its innumerable indulgences, the Way of the Cross, which is also richly indulgenced, are excellent means of helping the Holy Souls.

Blessed John of Massias, as we saw, released from Purgatory more than a million souls, chiefly by reciting the Rosary and offering its innumerable indulgences for them.

V. Another easy and efficacious way is by the constant repetition of short indulgenced prayers. Many people have the custom to say 500, or 1000 times each day the ejaculation “Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in thee” or the one word “Jesus”. These are most consoling devotions and bring oceans of graces to those who practise them and give immense relief to the Holy Souls.

Those who say the ejaculation 1000 times a day gain many partial Indulgences! What a multitude of souls they can thus relieve! What will not be at the end of a month, a year, 50 years? And if they do not say the ejaculations what an immense number of graces and favours they shall have lost. It is quite possible and even easy to say these ejaculations 1000 times a day. But if one does not say them 1000 times let him say them 500 or 200 times.

VI. Still another powerful prayer is: Eternal Father, I offer you the most Precious Blood of Jesus with all the Masses being said this day all over the world for the Souls in Purgatory.

Our Lord showed St Gertrude  a vast number of souls leaving Purgatory and going to Heaven as a result of this prayer which the Saint was accustomed to say frequently during the day.

VII. The Heroic Act consists in offering to God in favour of the Souls in Purgatory all the works of satisfaction we practise during life and all the suffrages that will be offered for us after death. If God rewards so abundantly the most trifling alms given to a poor man in His name what an immense reward will He not give to those who offer all their works of satisfaction in life and death for the Souls He loves so dearly.

This Act does not prevent priests from offering Mass for the intentions they wish, or lay-people from praying for any persons or other intentions they desire. We counsel every one to make this act.

Alms help the Holy Souls

St Martin gave half his cloak to a poor beggar to find out afterwards that it was to Christ he had given it. Our Lord appeared to him and thanked him.

Blessed Jordan of the Dominican Order could never refuse an alms when it was asked in the name of God. One day he had forgotten his purse. A poor man implored an alms for the love of God. Rather than refuse him, Jordan, who was then a student, gave him a most precious girdle which he prized dearly. Shortly after he entered a church and found his girdle encircling the waist of Christ Crucified. He too, had given his alms to Christ. We all give our alms to Christ.


a) Let us give all the alms we can afford;

b) Let us have said all the Masses in our power;

c) Let us hear as many more as it is possible;

d) Let us offer all our pains and sufferings for the relief of the Holy Souls.

We shall thus deliver countless Souls from Purgatory, who will repay us ten thousand times over.

– From: Read Me or Rue It, by E.D.M., approved of His Eminence the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon 4/6/1936, printed by Kerryman, Co Kerry, Ireland

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God wishes us to help the Holy Souls in Purgatory

In any event, the Holy Souls are God’s dearest friends. He longs to help them, He desires most earnestly to have them in Heaven. They can never again offend Him and they are destined to be with Him for all Eternity. True, God’s justice demands expiation of their attachments and sins, but by an amazing dispensation of His Providence He places in our hands the means of assisting them, He gives us the power to relieve and even release them. Nothing pleases Him more than when we help them. He is as grateful to us as if we helped Himself.

Our Lady wants us to help them

Never did a Mother of this Earth love so tenderly a dying child, never did she strive so earnestly to soothe its pains, as Mary seeks to console Her suffering children in Purgatory, to have them with Her in Heaven. We give Her unbounded joy each time we take a soul out of Purgatory.

The Holy Souls will repay us a thousand times over

But what shall we say of the feelings of the Holy Souls themselves? It would be utterly impossible to describe their unbounded gratitude to those who help them! Filled with an immense desire to repay the favours done them they pray for their benefactors with a fervour so great, so intense, so constant that God can refuse them nothing. St Catherine of Bologna says: “I received many and very great favours from the Saints but still greater fervours from the Holy Souls.”

When they are finally released from their pains and enjoy the beatitude of Heaven, far from forgetting their friends on earth, their gratitude knows no bounds. Prostrate before the Throne of God they never cease to pray for those who helped them. By their prayers they shield their friends from the dangers and protect them from the evils that threaten them.

They will never cease these prayers until they see their benefactors safely in Heaven and will be for ever their dearest, sincerest and best friends.

Did Catholics only know what powerful protectors they secure by helping the Holy Souls they would not be so remiss in praying for them.

The Holy Souls will lessen our Purgatory

Another great grace that they obtain for their helpers is a short and easy Purgatory, or possibly its complete remission!

Blessed John of Massias, the Dominican lay brother, had a wonderful devotion to the souls in Purgatory. He obtained by his prayers, (chiefly by the recitation of the Rosary), the liberation of one million four hundred thousand souls!

In return they obtained for him the most abundant and extraordinary graces and came at the hour of his death to help and console him and accompany him to heaven.

This fact is so certain that it is inserted by the Church in the Bull of his Beatification.

Who were those helpers?

The learned Cardinal Baronius recounts a similar incident.

He was himself called to assist a dying gentleman. Suddenly a host of blessed spirits appeared in the chamber of death, consoled the dying man and chased away the devils who sought by a last desperate effort to compass his ruin.

When asked who they were they made answer that they were eight thousand souls whom he had released from Purgatory by his prayers and good works. They were sent by God, so they said, to take him to Heaven without his passing one moment in Purgatory.

She was fiercely tempted by the devil on her death bed

St Gertrude was fiercely tempted by the devil when she came to die. The evil spirit reserves a dangerous and subtle temptation for our last moments. As he could find no other ruse sufficiently clever with which to assail the Saint, he thought to disturb her beautiful peace of soul by suggesting that she would surely remain long years in Purgatory since, he reminded her, she had made over long ago all her suffrages to other souls. Our Blessed Lord, not content with sending His Angels and the thousands of souls she had released, to assist her, came Himself in person to drive Satan away and comfort His dear Saint. He told her that in exchange for all she had done for the Holy Souls He would take her straight to Heaven and would multiply a hundredfold all her merits.

They made a pact

Blessed Henry Suso, of the Dominican Order, made a compact with a fellow religious to the effect that one of the two died the survivor would offer two Masses each week for his soul and other prayers as well.

It so fell out that his companion died first and Blessed Henry commenced immediately to offer the promised Masses. These he continued to say for a long time. At last quite sure that the soul of his saintly friend had reached Heaven he ceased offering the Masses.

His friend appeared to tell him off

Great was his sorrow and consternation when the soul of the dead Brother appeared to him suffering intensely and chiding him for not celebrating the promised Masses.

He replied with deep regret that he had not continued the Masses believing that his friend must be enjoying the Beatific Vision and added that he had ever remembered him in prayer.

“O dear Brother Henry, please give me the Masses, for it is the Precious Blood of Jesus that I most need,” cried out the suffering soul.

Blessed Henry began anew and, with redoubled fervour, offered Masses and prayers for his friend until he received absolute certitude of his delivery.

Then it was his turn to receive graces and blessings of all kinds from the dear brother he had relieved, and very many times more than he could have expected.

– From: Read Me or Rue It, by E.D.M., approved of His Eminence the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon 4/6/1936, printed by Kerryman, Co Kerry, Ireland

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Why pray for the Poor Souls?

Our Lord’s great law is that we must love one another, genuinely and sincerely. The first great commandment is to love God with all our heart and soul. The second, or rather a part of the first, is to love our neighbour as ourselves. This is not a counsel or a mere wish of the Almighty. It is His great commandment, the very base and essence of His law. So true is it that He takes as done to Himself what we do for our neighbour, and refused to Him what we refuse to our neighbour.

We read in the Gospel of St Matthew (25:34-46) the words that Christ will address to the just on the Judgment day.

34 Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me to eat: I was thirsty and you gave Me to drink: I was a stranger, and you took Me in.

36 Naked, and you covered Me: sick, and you visited Me: I was in prison, and you came to Me.

37 Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee to drink?

38 And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee?

39 Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee?

40 And the king (God) answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to Me.

41 Then he shall say to them also that shall be on His left hand: depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels.

42 For I was hungry, and you gave Me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave Me not to drink.

43 I was a stranger, and you took Me not in: naked, and you covered Me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit Me.

44 Then they also shall answer him saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee?

45 Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these, neither did you do it to Me.

46 And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.

Some Catholics seem to think that this law has fallen into abeyance in these days of self assertion and selfishness, when everyone thinks only of himself and his personal aggrandisement. “It is useless to urge the law of love now-a-days,” they say “everyone has to shift for himself, or go under.”

No such thing. God’s great law is still and will ever be in full force. Nay, it is more than ever in our best interest.

We are bound to pray for the Holy Souls

We are always bound to love and help each other, but the greater the need of our neighbour, the more stringent and the more urgent this obligation is. It is not a favour that we may do or leave undone, it is our duty, we must help each other.

It would be a monstrous crime for instance to refuse the poor and destitute the food necessary to keep them alive. It would be appalling to refuse aid to one in the direst need, to pass by and not extend a hand to save a drowning man. Not only must we help others when it is easy and convenient, but we must make every sacrifice, when need be, to succour our brothers in distress.

Now who can be in more urgent need of our charity than the souls in Purgatory? What hunger, or thirst, or dire sufferings on this Earth can compare to their dreadful torments? Neither the poor, nor the sick, nor the suffering we see around us have any such urgent need of our succour. Yet we find many good hearted people who interest themselves in every other type of suffering, but alas! scarcely one who works for the Holy Souls.

Who can have more claim on us? Among them too, there may be our mothers and fathers, our friends and near of kin.

– From: Read Me or Rue It, by E.D.M., approved of His Eminence the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon 4/6/1936, printed by Kerryman, Co Kerry, Ireland

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Now we come to mortal sins

Many Christians unfortunately commit mortal sins during their lives, but though they confess them they make no due satisfaction for them, as we have already said.

The Venerable Bede appears to be of the opinion that those who pass a great part of their lives in the commission of grave sins and confess them on their death bed [though thus avoiding Hell], may be detained in Purgatory until even the last day.

St Gertrude in her revelations states that those who have committed many grave sins and have not done due penance, may not share in the ordinary suffrages of the Church for a very considerable time!


All those sins, mortal and venial, are accumulating for the 20, 30, 40, 60 years of our lives. Each and every one has to be atoned for after death.

Is it then any wonder that souls have to remain so long in Purgatory?

[N.B.: As anyone who is familiar with the Bible and Holy Apostolic Teaching knows, they can’t pray themselves out of Purgatory.]

– From: Read Me or Rue It, by E.D.M., approved of His Eminence the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon 4/6/1936, printed by Kerryman, Co Kerry, Ireland

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Venial sins

It would be difficult to calculate the immense number of venial sins that any Christian commits.

  • There are an infinite number of faults of self love, selfishness; thoughts, words, and acts of sensuality, too, in a hundred forms; faults of charity in thought, word and deed; laziness, vanity, jealousy, tepidity and innumerable other faults.
  • There are sins of omission which we pay so little heed to. We love God so little yet He has a thousand claims on our love. We treat Him with coldness, indifference, and base ingratitude. He died for each one of us. Do we ever thank Him as we ought? He remains day and night on the Altar waiting for our visits, anxious to help us. How seldom do we go to Him! He longs to come into our hearts in Holy Communion and we refuse Him entrance. He dies for us on the Altar every Morning at Mass and gives oceans of graces to those who assist at the Great Sacrifice. Yet many are too lazy to go to this Calvary! What an abuse of grace!
  • Our thoughts are mean and hard, full of self love. We have happy homes, splendid food, warm clothing, an abundance of all good things. Many around us live in hunger and misery and we give them so little while we spend lavishly and needlessly on ourselves.

Life is given us to serve God, to save our souls. Most Christians, however, are satisfied to give God a very small proportion of their time! The rest of the 24 hours is given to work, rest and pleasure. A small proportion to God, to our immortal souls, to the great work we have to do, viz, our salvation. The by far greatest proportion to this transitory life! Is it fair to God?

It may be alleged that our work, our rest, our sufferings are done for God!

They should be and then our merits would be, indeed, great. The truth is that many scarcely ever think of God during the day. The one engrossing object of their thoughts is self. They think and labour and rest and sleep to satisfy self. God gets a very little place in their day and in their minds. This is an outrage to His loving heart which is ever thinking of us.

– From: Read Me or Rue It , by E.D.M., approved of His Eminence the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon 4/6/1936, printed by Kerryman, Co Kerry, Ireland

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