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Fr. Paul O'Sullivan, O.P.
F O R E W O R D
This title is somewhat startling, yet dear Reader, if you peruse the little book you will see for yourself how well deserved it is.
The book tells us how to save ourselves and how to save others from untold suffering.
Some books are good and may be read with profit.
Others are better and should be read without fail.
There are, however, books of such sterling worth by reason of the counsels they suggest, the conviction they carry with them, the urge to action they give us that it would be sheer folly not to read them.
Read me or Rue it belongs to this class.
It is for your best interest, dear friend, to read it and re-read it, to ponder well and deeply on its contents. You will never regret it, rather great and poignant will be your regret if you fail to study its few but pregnant pages.
Have Pity on me, have pity on me at least you my friends for the hand of the Lord is heavy upon me. This is the touching prayer that the poor souls in Purgatory address their friends on Earth, begging, imploring their
help, in accents of the deepest anguish. Alas! many are deaf to their prayers.
It is incomprehensible how some Catholics, even those who are otherwise devout, shamefully neglect the souls in
Purgatory. It would almost seem that they do not believe in Purgatory. Certain it is that their ideas on the subject are
Days and weeks and months pass without their having a Mass said for the holy souls! Seldom too, do they hear
Mass for them, seldom do they pray for them, seldom do they think of them! Whilst they are enjoying the fullness of
health and happiness, busy with their work, engrossed with their amusements, the poor souls are suffering unutterable
agonies on their beds of flame.
What is the cause of this awful callousness? Ignorance, gross, inexplicable ignorance.
People do not realize what Purgatory is. They have no conception of its dreadful pains and they have no idea of the
long years that souls are detained in these awful fires. As a result they take little, or no care to avoid Purgatory
themselves, and worse still, they cruelly neglect the poor souls who are already there and who depend entirely on them
Dear Reader, peruse this little book with care and you will bless the day that it fell into your hands.
WHAT IS PURGATORY?
It is a prison of fire in which nearly all souls are plunged after death and in which they suffer the intensest pain. Here is what the great Doctors of the Church tell us of Purgatory.
So grievous is their suffering that one minute in this awful fire seems like a century.
St. Thomas of Aquin, the Prince of Theologians, says that the fire of Purgatory is equal in intensity to the fire of
Hell, and that the slightest contact with it is more dreadful than all the possible sufferings of this Earth!
St. Augustine, the greatest of the Holy Doctors, teaches that to be purified of their faults previously to being admitted to Heaven, souls after death are subjected to a fire more penetrating, more dreadful than anything we can see, or feel, or conceive in this life.
Though this fire is destined to cleanse and purify the soul, adds the Holy Doctor, <still it is more acute than anything we could possibly endure on Earth.
St. Cyril of Alexandria does not hesitate to say:
that it would be preferable to suffer all the possible torments of Earth until the Judgment day, than pass one day in Purgatory.
Another great Saint says:
Our fire, in comparison with the fire of Purgatory is as a refreshing breeze. The other Holy Writers speak in identical terms of this awful fire.
How comes it that the pains of Purgatory are so severe?
1st The fire we see on Earth was made by the goodness of God for our comfort and well being. Still, when used as a torment it is the most dreadful one we can imagine.
2nd The fire of Purgatory, on the contrary, was made by the justice of God to punish and purify us and is, therefore, incomparably more severe.
3rd Our fire, at most, burns this gross body of ours, made of clay, whereas the fire of Purgatory acts on the spiritual soul, which is unspeakably more sensitive to pain.
4th The more intense our fire is the more speedily it destroys its victim who, therefore, ceases to suffer, whereas the fire of Purgatory inflicts the keenest, most violent pain but never kills the soul nor lessens its sensibility.
5th Unsurpassingly severe as is the fire of Purgatory the pain of loss or separation from God, which the souls also suffer in Purgatory, is far more severe. The soul separated from the body craves with all the intensity of its spiritual nature for God. It is consumed with an intense desire to fly to Him. Yet it is held back. No words can describe the anguish of this unsatisfied craving.
What madness, therefore, it is for intelligent beings to neglect taking every possible precaution to avoid such a dreadful fate.
It is puerile to say that it can't be so, that we cannot understand it, that it is better not think, or speak of it. The fact remains always the same, whether we believe, it or whether we don't, that the pains of Purgatory are beyond everything we can imagine or conceive. These are the words of St. Augustine.
CAN ALL THIS BE TRUE?
The existence of Purgatory is so certain that no Catholic has ever entertained a doubt of it. It was taught from the earliest days of the Church and was accepted with undoubting faith wherever the Gospel was preached.
The doctrine is revealed in Holy Scripture, and has been handed down by Tradition, taught by the infallible Church and believed by the millions and millions of faithful of all times.
Yet, as we have remarked, the ideas of many are vague and superficial on this most important subject. They are like a person who closes his eyes and walks deliberately over the edge of a yawning precipice.
They would do well to remember that the best means of lessening our term in Purgatory, or of avoiding it altogether, is to have clear ideas of it, to think well on it and to adopt the means God offers for avoiding it.
Not to think of it is fatal. It is nothing else than preparing for themselves a fearfully long and rigorous Purgatory.
The Polish Prince.
A Polish Prince, who, for some political reason, had been exiled from his native country, bought a beautiful castle and property in France.
Unfortunately he had lost the faith of his childhood and was at the time of our story engaged in writing a book against God and the existence of a future life.
Strolling one evening in his garden he came on a poor woman weeping bitterly. He questioned her as to the cause of her grief.
Ah! Prince, she replied, I am the wife of Jean Marie, your former steward, who died two days ago. He was a good husband to me and a faithful servant to your Highness. His sickness was long and I spent all our savings on the doctors and now I have nothing left to get Masses said for his soul.
The Prince, touched by her grief, said a few kind words and, though professing to no longer believe in a future life, gave her some gold coins to have Masses said for her husband's soul.
Some time after, it was again evening, and the Prince was in this study working feverishly at his book.
He heard a loud rap at the door and, without looking up, called out to the visitor to come in. The door slowly opened and a man entered and stood facing the Prince's writing table.
On glancing up what was not the Prince's amazement to see Jean Marie his dead steward, looking, at him with a sweet smile.
Prince, he said, I come to thank you for the Masses you enabled my wife to have said for my soul. Thanks to the saving Blood of Christ, which was offered for me, I an now going to Heaven, but God has allowed me to come and thank you for your generous alms.
He then added impressively: Prince there is a God, a future life, a Heaven and a Hell.
Having said these words he disappeared.
The Prince fell on his knees and poured forth a fervent: Credo.
St Antoninus and his friend.
Here is a narrative of a different kind but not less instructive.
St. Antoninus, the illustrious Archbishop of Florence, relates that a pious gentleman and a great friend of the
Dominican Convent in which the Saint resided, died. Many Masses and suffrages were offered for his soul. The Saint was very much afflicted when, after the lapse of a long time, the soul of the poor gentleman appeared to
him, suffering excruciating pains.
Oh my dear friend exclaimed the Archbishop, are you still in Purgatory, you who led such a pious and devout
Yes, and I shall remain there still for a long time, replied the poor sufferer, for when on Earth, I neglected to offer
suffrages for the souls in Purgatory. Now God by a just judgment, has applied the suffrages which have been offered
for me to those souls for whom I should have prayed.
But God, too in his justice will give me all the merits of my good works when I enter Heaven, but first of all I have
to expiate my grave neglect in regard to others.
So true are the words of Our Lord: By that measure with which you measure, it will be measured to you again. Remember you who read these lines, that the terrible fate of this pious gentleman will be the fate of all those who
neglect to pray for and refuse to help the holy souls.
HOW LONG DO SOULS REMAIN IN PURGATORY?
The length of time souls are detained in Purgatory depends on:
a) the number of their faults;
b) on the malice and deliberation with which these have been committed;
c) on the penance done, or not done, the satisfaction made, or not made for sins during life;
d) Much, too, depends on the suffrages offered for them after death.
What can be safely said is that the time souls spend in Purgatory, as a rule, is very much longer than people
We will quote a few of the many instances which are recounted in the lives and revelations of the Saints. St. Louis Bertrand's father was an exemplary Christian, as we should naturally expect, being the father of so great a
Saint. He had even wished to become a Carthusian monk until he learned that it was not God's will for him. When he died, after long years spent in the practice of every Christian virtue, his saintly son fully aware of the
rigours of God's justice, offered many Masses and poured forth the most fervent supplications for the soul he so
A vision of his father still in Purgatory forced him to intensify a hundredfold his suffrages. He added most severe
penances and long fasts to his Masses and prayers. Yet eight whole years passed before he obtained the release of his
St. Malachy's sister was detained in Purgatory for a very long time despite the Masses, prayers and heroic
mortifications the Saint offered for her!
It was related to a holy nun in Famphluna, who succeeded in releasing many Carmelite nuns from Purgatory that
most of these had spent there terms of from thirty to sixty years!
Carmelite nuns in Purgatory for forty, fifty and sixty years! What will it be for those living midst the temptations of
the World and with all their hundreds of weaknesses?
St. Vincent Ferrer, after the death of his sister, prayed with incredible fervour for her soul and offered many Masses
for her release. She appeared to him at length and told him that, had it not been for his powerful intercession with God,
she should have remained an interminable time in Purgatory.
In the Dominican Order it is the rule to pray for the Master Generals by name on their anniversaries. Many of these
have been dead several hundred years! They were men especially eminent for piety and learning. This rule would not
be approved by the Church were it not necessary and prudent.
We do not mean to imply that all souls are detained equally long periods in the expiatory fires. Many have
committed lesser faults and have done more penance. Therefore their punishment will be much less severe. Still the instances we have quoted are very much to the point, for if these souls who enjoyed the intimacy, who saw
the example and shared in the intercession of great Saints during their lives and who, after death, were aided by their
most efficacious suffrages, yet were detained for such a length of time in Purgatory what may not happen to us who
enjoy none of these wonderful privileges?
Why such lengthy expiation?
The reasons are not difficult to find.
1. The malice of sin is very great. What appears to us small faults are in reality serious offences against the infinite
goodness of God. It is enough to see how the Saints wept over their faults.
We are weak, it may be urged. That is true, but then God offers us abundant graces to strengthen our weakness, gives us light to see the gravity of our faults and the necessary force to conquer temptation. If we are still weak the fault is all our own. We do not use the light and strength He so generously offers us, we do not pray, we do not receive the sacraments, as we should.
2. An eminent Theologian wisely remarks that if souls are condemned to Hell because of one mortal sin for all eternity, it is not to be wondered at that other souls should be detained for long years in Purgatory who have committed countless deliberate venial sins, some of which are so grave that at the time of their commission the sinner scarcely knows if they are mortal or venial. They may have committed, too, many mortal sins for which they have had little sorrow and done little or no penance. The guilt has been remitted by absolution, but the pain due to the sins will have to be paid in Purgatory.
Our Lord tells us that we shall have to render an account for each and every idle word we say and that we may not leave our prison until we shall have paid the last farthing.
The Saints committed few and slight sins and still they sorrowed much and did severe penances. We commit many and grave sins and we sorrow little and do little or no penance.
It would be difficult to calculate the immense number of venial sins that any Catholic commits. a) 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.
b) 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 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!
c) Our hearts 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.
d) Life is given us to serve God, to save our souls. Most Christians, however, are satisfied to give God five minutes of prayer in the morning, five minutes at night! The rest of the 24 hours is given to work, rest and pleasure. Ten minutes to God, to our immortal souls, to the great work we have to do, viz, our salvation. Twenty three hours and fifty minutes 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.
Now to come to mortal sins.
e) 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 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?
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. Mathew (c. 25 V 34-46) the words that Christ will address 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 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 every one thinks only of himself and his personal aggrandizement. It is useless to urge the law of love now-adays they say every one 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 necessary; more than ever our duty and more than ever our own 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 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 brother 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.
God wishes us to help them.
In any event they 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 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: d received many and very great favours from the Saints but still greater favours 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.
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.
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 the awful fires of Purgatory since, he reminded her, she had made over long ago all her suffrages to others 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.
Blessed Henry Suso, of the Dominican Order, made a compact with a fellow religious to the effect that when 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.
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.
HOW WE CAN HELP THE HOLY SOULS.
I. The first means is by joining the Association of the Souls of 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.
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 possibly 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 of saying 500, or 1000 times each day the little 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 ejaculations 1.000 times a day gain 300.000 days Indulgence! What a multitude of souls they can thus relieve! What will it 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 of 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.
WHAT THE HOLY SOULS DO FOR THOSE WHO HELP THEM. 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 are 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 of 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 Marie resolved, that, cost what it might cost, she would have a mass said for 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.
On one occasion she went to Paris with her mistress and there fell ill 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 needed 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.
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 this 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 on blessing. Peter's wonderful talents became known and he was rapidly promoted 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 canonized 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 of 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 a 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 this 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 as 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 in 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 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.
The more we give, the more we get.
A business man in Boston joined the Association of the Holy Souls and gave a large sum of money annually that prayers and Masses might be said for them.
The Director of the Association was surprised at the gentleman's generosity for he knew that he was not a rich man. He asked kindly one day if the alms he so generously gave was his own offering, or, donations which he gathered from others.
What I offer, dear father, he said, is my own offering. Be not alarmed. I am not a very rich man and you may think that I give more than I am able to do. It is not so, for far from losing by my charity the Holy Souls see to it that I gain considerably more than I give. They are second to none in generosity.
The Printer of Cologne.
The celebrated printer of Cologne, William Freyssen gives us the following account of how his child and wife were restored to health by the Holy Souls.
William Freyssen got the order to print a little work on Purgatory. Correcting the proofs his attention was caught by the facts narrated in the book. He learned for the first time what wonders the Holy Souls can work for their friends.
Just at that time his son fell grievously ill and soon the case became desperate. Remembering what he had read about the power of the Holy Souls, Freyssen at once promised to spread, at his own expense, a hundred copies of the book which his firm was printing. To make the promise more solemn he went to the Church and there made his vow. At once a sense of peace and confidence filled his soul. On his return home, the boy, who had been unable to swallow a drop of water, asked for food. Next day he was out of danger and soon completely cured.
At once Freyssen ordered the books on Purgatory to be distributed feeling sure that it was the best way to obtain help for the suffering souls, by interesting a hundred people in them. No one who knows what they suffer can refuse to pray for them.
Time passed and a new sorrow fell to the share of the printer. This time his dear wife was stricken down and, despite every care grew daily worse. She lost the use of her mind and was almost completely paralysed, so that the doctor gave up all hope.
The husband, bethinking him, of what the Holy Souls had done for his boy, again ran to the Church and promised to distribute 200 of the books on Purgatory, begging in exchange the urgent succour of the Holy Souls.
Wonderful to relate the mental aberration ceased, his wife's mind became normal, she recovered the use of her limbs, and of her tongue. In a short time she was perfectly restored to health.
The cure of a Cancer.
D. Joana de Menezes thus tells of her cure.
She was suffering severely from a cancerous growth in the leg and was plunged in grief.
Remembering what she had heard of the power of the Souls in Purgatory she resolved to place all her confidence in them and had nine Masses offered for them. She promised moreover to publish her cure if it were granted.
Gradually the swelling went down and the tumour and cancer disappeared.
An escape from Brigands.
Father Louis Manaci, zealous Missionary, had great devotion to the souls in Purgatory. He found himself obliged to set out on a dangerous journey but confidently asked the Holy Souls to protect him in the dangers that he was likely to meet with. His road lay through a vast desert which he knew to be infested by brigands. Whilst plodding along, saying the Rosary for the Holy Souls, what was not his surprise, on looking round, to find himself surrounded as by a bodyguard of blessed spirits. Soon he discovered the reason. He had fallen into an ambuscade of brigands but the Holy Souls at once surrounded him and drove off the miscreants who sought his life. The Holy souls did not abandon him until he was well out of danger.
A return to Life.
The Prior of Cirfontaines gives us his story.
A young man of my parish fell dangerously ill with a typhoid fever. His parents were overcome with grief and
asked me to recommend him to the prayers of the members of the Association of the Holy Souls.
It was Saturday. The boy was at death's door. The doctors had had recourse to every remedy. All in vain. They could think of nothing more. They were in despair.
I was the only one who had hope. I knew the power of the Holy Souls, for I had already seen what they could do.
On Sunday I begged the Associates of the Holy Souls to pray fervently for our sick friend.
On Monday the danger passed. The boy was cured.
REASONS FOR BEING A CATHOLIC
Will any Religion Do?
IF you are going to live here for ever, or if when you die that is the end and there is no hereafter, then perhaps you can afford to live without a religion. Religion is the guide which teaches you how to live, and what God requires you to do, in order that you may gain a reward when your life is finished, and escape the punishment you will deserve if you have not lived your life aright. Will any religion do to enable you to save your soul and avoid hell? If a friend promises you a present on condition that you paint a picture for him, it will not matter whether the picture is the portrait of a person or the view of a city. But if your friend makes a condition that you shall not have the present unless you paint the portrait of some individual, it will be useless to ask him for the reward if you present him with the picture of a place. Whether any religion will do to obtain the kingdom of heaven will depend on whether God has placed any conditions for giving this reward or not.
Are there any Conditions for being saved?
THAT God has placed certain conditions all are agreed. The Ten Commandments contain some of them, and others are mentioned in Christ's teaching. If we do not fulfil these conditions, can we really expect the reward? Now here arrives our first difficulty. God places certain conditions, which you must fulfil to save your soul, but how are you to know for certain what those conditions are? for different men tell you they lie in different things, some teaching exactly what others deny. Surely it is rather hard to be told that you will receive a reward provided you take care to fulfil certain conditions, if, when you ask what those conditions are, everyone you speak to tells you something different. Do you think Christ intended this when He founded His religion?
Now the Catholic Church claims to teach you with absolute certainty what the conditions are for gaining the kingdom of heaven; in other words, exactly what the religion is that Christ made when He came to earth. And this is the reason, if you find that claim to be true, why you should be a Catholic
Who is the Teacher?
It is assumed that Christians believe that Christ was a Divine Being, that He was truly God, that He took our flesh and nature, and lived for a time on this earth, that He died for the sins of the world on a cross, and that He instructed the disciples He had gathered round Him to go into the whole world and preach the truths that He had taught them. So far at least it would seem that all Christians are agreed. The Catholic Faith teaches that this little body of apostles which Christ chose, and to whom He entrusted the teaching of the religion He founded, was what we call 'the Church.' This 'Church.' made by Christ had the following duties and privileges :
(1) It was to be a teacher (St Matt. xxviii. 19).
(2) It was to teach all nations (St Matt. xxviii. 19).
(3) It was to last until the end of the world (St Matt. xxviii. 20).
(4) It was to be kept by the Holy Spirit from teaching error, or decaying (St John xiv. 26, xvi. 13).
(5) It was always to be a visible body, and perfectly united in its teaching (St John xvii. 20, 21). If the above statements about the Church as designed by Christ be true, it will follow that it exists today; that it can teach the truths of Christianity with certainty, being guided by the Holy Ghost; that it is teaching all nations; that it is a body that can be seen; and that it is united in its government and religious teaching. Those Christian bodies which do not profess this Catholic Faith say that Christ's promises to the apostles were for their lifetime only, that it was intended they should write the New Testament, and that from it we should learn our religion and what Christ taught; and lastly, that although He intended all Christians to form one united body, this wish is not carried out owing to the wickedness of men. Now put it to your ordinary sense: which of these two plans is the more likely to be true? Remember that Christ was God. As such He could look into the future, and He could see what men would say about His religion after He had gone back to Heaven. He knew that they could not teach by themselves with certainty, and that as time went on they would be at a loss to know exactly what were the doctrines of the religion which He founded. Also, being God, He had infinite power, and so could design any sort of religion He liked, and could make any kind of safeguards to prevent it from falling into error or decaying.
Christ having infinite knowledge and infinite power, what sort of a religion would you expect Him to found? Is it not more probable that He left 'a Church'-that is, a teaching body that cannot teach wrong-to instruct you, than that He left a book out of which you were to help yourself?
Objections to a Divine Teacher
OUR reason seems to tell us therefore that Christ instituted a 'Church' to teach men His religion, and that He made this teacher so that it could not teach anyting but what He wished. At this point the following objection is often made 'Christ did not teach anything at all, and therefore there is nothing to believe. He said: Believe on the Lord and thou shalt be saved,' and Whosoever calleth on the name of the Lord shall be saved'; and this shows that mere believing on Christ is enough to save our souls, and if we succeed in doing that, we don't want anything more.' Are you quite sure we do not want anything else? Christ told His disciples to 'go into the whole world,' and, 'to preach the gospel to every creature; he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be condemned.' Here we see that Christ says that besides believing, it is of importance to be baptized, and this proves at once that He taught some doctrine. If you again object that those words do not really mean that men must be baptized in order to be saved, this only proves in another way what is being said about the need of a teaching body to tell us truly what Christ intended us to believe and do. For if I allow your objection to the full, namely, that Christ never taught anything at all, still we want someone to teach us that much, and to teach it so that we may be absolutely sure that the statement is true. For supposing we are believing that Christ never taught any particular doctrines, and all the time we are mistaken on this point, what may happen to us? If baptism is of importance, if without it we cannot be saved, what will be our fate when this life is over
Is not the Bible the Divine Teacher?
ONCE more you object: 'Surely if I stick to the Bible and believe all that it teaches me, I cannot be wrong. It is inspired, it is God's Word; what can you want better than that?' What the Bible says cannot possibly be wrong, because, as you say, it is inspired; but what you and your friends make the Bible say may not be correct. Being a written book, it can be explained in different ways, and you know that persons so explain it that they make it teach opposite doctrines. It cannot therefore be the sure and certain way to know what Christ taught, and what we must believe in order to be saved. Nor is it true that it is only on little and unimportant things that men explain the Bible differently. As an example, take the text on baptism, of which we have been speaking. The Church of England says it means that you cannot be saved unless you are baptized. The Non-conformists teach that it means nothing of the kind, and that men can be saved without baptism. Both cannot be right; and whoever is wrong, is wrong on a matter so grave that it affects eternal salvation. A book, however good, cannot be your sure and certain teacher, because you can interpret what is written by your own ideas. Only a living teacher, with a living voice, that stands in the place of Christ Himself, can speak to you in a way that you cannot misunderstand.
How to find the Divine Teacher
IF Christ laid down conditions for gaining the kingdom of heaven, and if He wishes everyone to obtain that reward, it will follow, as we have seen, that He must make some sure and certain means by which we may know what those conditions are.
And not only must He make these certain means for teaching us how to save our souls, but more than that, He must show us how to know these means when we see them. In other words, it will be no use to tell you that a person can direct you with certainty to the house you want to find, unless you are told at the same time how to find or know the person who can give you this direction.
When therefore, Christ made His Church to teach men what to believe and do in order to save their souls, He was bound at the same time to point out this Church by some certain mark, so that all might know where to get this necessary information,
First Mark of the Divine Teacher
THERE are two signs or marks (among others) set by Christ upon His Church so that all might know her. First, she was to teach all nations: 'Teach ye all nations' (St Matt. xxviii. 19) was Christ's command to His apostles, or the 'Church,' as it is called. Now the only religious body in the world that 'teaches all nations' is the Catholic Church. It is true that Protestantism, in its different forms, is very widespread, but you will find, with slight exception, that the Established Church and the various Nonconformist sects follow the English race, and, as a rule, are only the religions of those countries belonging to England. These sects are not the religion of all nations, but chiefly of England and its foreign possessions, and of the English people. And they have only been the religion of England for about 380 years, for up to that time this country was as Catholic as any other, and in full communion with the Roman Church. They are clearly, therefore, not 'teaching all nations.' The Catholic Church exactly fulfils this command of Our Lord. There is no country in the civilized world where you do not find this Church, and find it claiming to 'teach.'
Second Mark of the Divine Teacher
THE second mark by which to know the true religion is unity. After the Last Supper Our Lord prayed for His disciples that they might remain united in one teaching, and He gives as His reason that the world might believe that He was sent by God (St John xvii. 17-21). The whole object then of this mark of unity was to prove to the world the truth of Christ's work. And it does prove it clearly, for the reason that no one but a Divine Being could make a body of men who should all teach the same thing. 'So many men, so many minds,' is a common saying, and we all know that 'opinions differ.' Now Our Lord seems to say: ' If I can make a body of men who shall all teach what I have taught them in exactly the same way, without addition of their own, or changing My words according to their opinions, then, because no human being can do this, I shall be showing the world that I came forth from God.'
The Work of a Divine Workman
REMEMBER that the teaching of the Catholic Church is the same throughout the world. Wherever you may go you will find each doctrine of the Catholic Faith being taught and believed in exactly the same way. Bishops and priests, no matter what their race or language, can celebrate at the altar of a Catholic church anywhere in the world-and everywhere the laity will find the same holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and the same Sacraments. Here then is a perfect unity of faith and unity of organization, so perfect in fact, that the ordinary Protestant refuses to believe that such a unity exists on earth. Surely the Catholic Church is thus showing the world that she is the handiwork of a Divine Being
The Work of Human Workmen
COMPARE this unity of the Catholic Faith with the disunion to be found in the Protestant sects. Each Protestant believes what he likes, and there is no 'Church' or teaching authority to say to him, 'You are believing what is right,' or 'You are believing what is wrong.' once you find that Protestantism is split into sects of all kinds, and these sects again are split up among themselves. Take the Church of England as an example. It is divided into at least two parties, the High and the Low Church. The former teaches among other things, that after the words of consecration in their Communion service, Christ is truly present in the bread and wine. The Low Church section deny this altogether, and say that the bread and wine remain after the consecration as they were before and that no change takes place. You may therefore have a High Church minister giving what he calls the Body of Christ to a Low Church communicant, who receives it saying it is only bread. Or you may have a Low Church minister giving what he declares to be merely bread to a person who receives it as the Body of Christ. As one or other of these statements is false about a most serious matter, surely if an authority able to teach exists, here is a place where it should make itself heard. But no authority exists among those outside the Catholic Church that ventures to ' teach,' even in so grave a case as this. Hence you can find Protestants of all kinds of religious opinions in this country, some of them holding things to be necessary for salvation which others say are of no consequence. This want of unity of belief among those outside the Catholic Church makes the world ask whether the Founder of Christianity could possibly have been divine if His work could become such a failure; and thus, on account of these divisions, Protestantism cannot possibly be the witness to mankind that Christ was the Son of God.
Can the Divine Teacher Fail?
You have but one excuse, if you agree so far, for not being a Catholic. It is this: 'Christ,' you say, did indeed make His Church as you describe; He told it to teach all nations, He gave it the Holy Spirit to prevent it teaching wrongly, and He gave it the mark of unity that all might easily know it. But although the Church was formed perfectly, in course of time it failed; owing to the wilfulness of men, they split the Church up, and now she exists in pieces only; and being in pieces, she cannot act any longer as the teacher of the world.' This objection is common enough, and it really means that Christ did not make a perfect Church, but that He made it so weak and imperfect that under the first strain it broke up. Do you not think it would have been better if He had never made a teaching Church at all than to have made one such as you describe? What was the use of Christ adding fresh conditions to those already given for obtaining the kingdom of heaven, if a few years after His death there was to be no certainty as to what those conditions were? We were better without such a Church. And can you not see that a guide, to be of any use at all, is most needed in times of difficulty and danger, not in times when things just go smoothly and with ease? If a friend undertook to guide you to a distant place on a dark night, and went on before with a lantern to show you the way, what would you think of him, if, just when the road became dangerous and there was a chance of making a false step, he blew out the light and went back to his house and left you to your fate? Yet this is what those say who admit the Church was to be the guide of men, but state at the same time that when in the past certain difficulties arose, then the Holy Spirit ceased to protect the Church and left her to her fate, and since that time she has not been able to teach the world. A little thought ought to show that this so-called objection is not one at all, and cannot be used as a reason for your staying outside the unity of the Catholic Church.
Suffering and Sacrifice
AND there is one more matter that requires consideration, if, from what you have read you see that you ought to be a Catholic. It is possible that if you make this great change in your religious belief, you will have to suffer for it. Our Divine Lord has told us plainly what it means if we would ' be His disciples.' In the early ages of Christianity the death penalty was the frequent reward of those who became converts, and although today this extreme punishment is not likely to be yours, still you may be made to suffer keenly if you become a Catholic. 'A man's enemies shall be those of his own household,' said our Blessed Lord, and those words of His are often true now. If you had wished to leave the religious body to which you belong, in order to become a member of some sect probably you would have met with little opposition. Possibly had you wished to be a Jew or even a Mahometan, less objection would be made to your taking such a step as to your becoming a Catholic. Hundreds of converts in this country have been turned out of their homes, deprived of their livelihood, prevented from inheriting family estates, and otherwise cruelly treated by their relations and friends, for no other crime than that they wished to practise the Catholic religion.
Why is it that this religion is thus singled out and treated so differently from other bodies calling themselves religious? It is because it claims to be the one true religion; and hence, if this claim be correct, none of the sects have standing room, and they resent it accordingly. Yet is not this treatment exactly what we should expect, if the Catholic Faith is the true religion? Our Blessed Lord said to His disciples: 'They will put you out of the synagogues; yea, the hour cometh that whosoever killeth you will think that he doth a service to God.' He has told us, 'Ye shall be hated by all men for My name's sake,' and that as He was persecuted, and as all manner of things were said against Him falsely, so would the world persecute and vilify His followers, for 'the servant is not to be above his master.' 'If the world hate you, know that it hath hated Me before you.' Hence our Blessed Lord has promised you persecution if you become a member of His Church. But He has promised you a great reward as well: 'There is no man who hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or lands, for My sake and for the gospel, who shall not receive an hundred times as much now in this time. . . . and in the world to come, life everlasting.' So that if by becoming a Catholic you may be called on to make great sacrifices, you see it is worth it; and to refuse to submit to the teaching Church when your mind and heart are convinced of the truth of her claims is to run a very grave risk, for 'what will it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? '
Conclusion LASTLY, you should bear this in mind. Difficulties of all kinds about the Catholic religion will present themselves. 'How am I to believe in prayers to the Blessed Virgin and the saints, or in purgatory, or in confession, or a dozen more things?' you exclaim. The answer is very simple. Does the Church exist today which teaches you with perfect truth? If it does, then you have only to believe humbly what that Church teaches, as you would have listened to one of the Twelve Apostles telling you what you had to do in order to save your soul without question and without doubting. Whatever that Church says to you must be true because, as we have seen, Christ planned it for the very purpose of teaching you with absolute certainty what it was needful you should know to gain everlasting life. If this teaching Church does not exist somewhere today, then it does not much matter what you believe. You may make up a religion for yourself, with bits from the Bible, and bits from history, and bits from your own fancy; but at best it will be only guess-work, and you cannot say with certainty 'This is necessary for me to use to save my soul.' And the strongest argument of all that can be put forward for this Divine Teacher, the Catholic Church, is that she, and she alone of all the religions you will meet with in this country, claims not only to be the descendant of the apostles, but the divinely-inspired teacher of Christianity to mankind. No other religion dares to make this claim, and she has made it for nineteen centuries and defied contradiction. If, then, you are in earnest to find the true religion which was taught by the Twelve Apostles, you must search in the first place for the Church which to-day claims to teach 'all nations.' If you use a religion which is local, which is used by those only who are of your own country and race, you ought to begin to suspect that you have not the religion of 'all nations.' And further, if you find you are uncertain what to believe about the greater doctrines of Christianity, and that those who belong to the same religious body as yourself differ widely from you in many things which they hold or deny, then you may feel certain that you are outside that Church whose unity of doctrine was to last till the end of the world.
Finally, you must pray for that great gift, 'the obedience of faith,' as St. Paul calls it, by which we are enabled to submit our proud wills to the sweet and easy teaching of Christ, as made known to us by that Church which He left on earth to show men the way to Heaven with perfect confidence and safety.
A Prayer to ask for the Grace of Divine Faith
O LORD, who has said 'Unless you become as little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven,' make me, I beseech Thee, as obedient as a little child in submitting my will and understanding to the teaching authority of Thy Church, that so I may merit to obtain this kingdom which Thou hast promised.
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