Friday, November 11, 2005


One of the most popular images I have posted here is this detail from Memling's Last Judgment

Given the medieval tendency, seen in the Vision of Lazarus and in Dante, to make the eternal punishment fit the crime, what do you think this guy is getting punished for, and where do you think that flaming sword is going?

Money, Money, Money, Money, Money!!!

How the coming Episcopalian split is being prepared for: by teams of lawyers ready to battle over assets.

Peak Foliage Now In Boston

And along the coast.

But we have been so wind-blown, and August was so dry, that the foliage is not remarkable. In fact, it looks a little faded.

What we have now are really just the yellows and browns of November, October's reds and oranges having faded first. The good old oaks, the last to turn, just turn to brown and fill the yard with their crisp, thick texture.

I Finally Did It

The blogroll was getting out of hand. I do make an effort to get through all the blogs I link to at least once a week. But even I, who can remember what is up with just about every one of them, was beginning to have a hard time sorting through the list.

So, I have broken out a list of My Daily Reads, and put it at the top of the blogroll. The other Catholic blogs I link to are great blogs, and I don't want them to be offended, but I just don't get to them as often as I get to the ones listed as "daily reads."

Now I will be able to surf the blogroll more easily. And it gives me an excuse to include a new photo and quotation in the right-hand column!

Halloween Producer Killed In Jordan Bombing

I did not care for the Friday the 13th or Nightmare On Elm Street movies, which Halloween spawned, but Halloween and Halloween 2, at least, are classics.

I first heard about the plot of the original movie in sophmore year geometry class, when the teacher had left sick, and a few of us were gathered in the empty classroom with an unexpected free period. One guy had seen the movie on a date. It musn't have been much of a date, as he was able to recount every single happening in the movie in complete and accurate detail, so that, when I first saw it some years later on TV, it was as if I had seen it in the theater. That movie is a pre-Halloween staple for me, often played in the early afternoon of Halloween, while assembling bags of candy for the trick-or-treaters.

Requiescat in pace.

Another Great Blog Down

This morning's casualty report so far is like a "quiet" day on the Western Front.

Introibo is shutting down. Another seminarian blog gone. He will be missed.

The Edmund Fitzgerald

Both Dymphna's Well and Dyspeptic Mutterings remember the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, 30 years ago this week.

Requiescant in pace.

Father Ethan Is Shutting Down

Too much on his plate. He will be greatly missed. I have hugely enjoyed his blog.

He plans to be back, when things are quieter, with a blog oriented towards the deaf (one of the things keeping him busy is his studies in ASL). God bless Father's endeavours.

Details Of Document On Gay Priests Leaked

Seems to fall somewhat short of what has been the official posiiton of the Church, stated in the famous 1961 document, since time out of mind.

Fra Angelico Exhibit

At the Metrpolitan Museum of Art

Abigail Adams

The second First Lady, and the first American woman to be the wife of one and mother of another president (a category she shares with only Barbara Bush), was born on this day in Weymouth, Massachusetts in 1744.

General George S. Patton

Fittingly, on this day in 1885, General George S. Patton was born.

He served on the staff of Black Jack Pershing in Mexico and in World War I, and was an advocate of armored warfare theory before World War II. He was given the job of taking over a defeated US corps in North Africa, and turned it into a first-class unit.

He commanded the Seventh Army in the invasion of Sicily, and took Messina. Some bad publicity shelved him during the D-Day invasion, but he was soon given the command of the US Third Army, and lead the breakout from the Normandy/Brittany area across France. His forces turned 90 degrees to respond to the German offensive in Demember, 1944. His forces were pushing past the limits of the US zone of occupation when the war ended.

In peacetime, his realistic and politically incorrect attitude towards the Soviets earned him early retirement. But he died as the result of a car crash in Germany in December, 1946 before being sent home.

MCMXIV By Phillip Larkin

Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park,
The crowns of hats, the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August Bank Holiday lark;

And the shut shops, the bleached
Established names on the sunblinds,
The farthings and sovereigns,
And dark-clothed children at play
Called after kings and queens,
The tin advertisements
For cocoa and twist, and the pubs
Wide open all day--

And the countryside not caring:
The place names all hazed over
With flowering grasses, and fields
Shadowing Domesday lines
Under wheat's restless silence;
The differently-dressed servants
With tiny rooms in huge houses,
The dust behind limousines;

Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word--the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages,
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again.

Philip Larkin (1922-1985)
via Andrew Stuttaford in NRO's The Corner

How Tommy Atkins Got His Name

From the Imperial War Museum:

The origins of the term "Tommy Atkins" as a nickname for the British (or rather English) soldier are still nebulous and indeed disputed. A widely held theory is that the Duke of Wellington himself chose the name in 1843....

The Duke of Wellington's use of the expression is said to have been inspired by an incident during the Battle of Boxtel (Holland) against the French on September 1794. Wellington, (then Colonel Arthur Wellesley), led the 33rd Regiment of Foot, and at the end of the engagement Wellesley spotted among the wounded the right-hand-man of the Grenadier Company, a man of 6 ft 3 inches with twenty years' service. He was dying of three wounds - a sabre slash in the head, a bayonet thrust in the breast, and a bullet through the lungs.

He looked up at Wellesley and apparently thought his commander was concerned, because he said, "It's alright sir. It's all in a day's work," and then died.

The man's name was Private Thomas Atkins, and his heroism is said to have left such an impression on Wellington, that when he was Commander-in-Chief of the British Army he recalled the name and used it as a specimen on a new set of soldiers' documents sent to him at Walmer Castle for approval.

Rememberance Day

In the United Kingdom and its former colonies, today is Remembrance Day, essentially Memeorial Day for the war dead of Britain, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand , South Africa, and India.

We in the US think of our British cousins, when we do, as stalwart allies in common efforts. But Britain has gone it alone without the US when it was convinced the cause of freedom required it.

It was British redcoats who hemmed in Louis XIV, thwarted Bonaparte at Waterloo, and curbed the Czar in the Crimea. Britain brought civilization to a sizeable chunk of the globe. Britain along with France held the Kaiser's army at bay until the US deemed it appropriate to join in the fray. Britain stood alone against Hitler and Mussolini in 1940 and 1941. British troops fought Japan in Asia, and fought alongside us in Korea, Serbia, the Iraqi desert, and in Afghanistan. They are alongside us now in Iraq.

They stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us for 40 years, ready to prevent a Soviet blitzkrieg into Western Europe.

This is a day to remember also Tommy Atkins, soldiering on at Blenheim, Oudenarde, Malplaquet and Ramillies, Fontenoy and Culloden, Minden, Quebec, Warburg, Plassey, Ticonderoga, Bushy Run, and Wilhelmstahl, Bunker Hill, Long Island, Brandywine, Germantown, Camden, and Guilford Courthouse, Talavera, Busaco, Fuentes de Honoro, Cuidad Roderigo, Badajoz, Salamanca, Vittoria, the Pyrennes, Quatre Bras and Waterloo, Sevastopol, and the Sepoy Mutiny, Roarke's Drift, Ladysmith, and Omdurman, Ypres, Gallipoli, the Marne, and the Somme, Dunkirk, Crete, Gazala, Crusader, El Alamien, Dieppe, Goodwood, Epsom, and Arnhem, Goose Green and Desert Sabre.

This is a day to remember those who have fought for our sakes, for the effort to restrain tyranny, even long before we were born, or even before our country was born.

Barrell's 4th Foot holding back Jacobite Highlanders at Culloden, 1746

The Scots Greys slashing through D'Erlon's 1st French Corps at Waterloo

B Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Reg't of Foot defeating 5,000 Zulus at Rorke's Drift

Tommies moving up for 2nd Battle of Ypres

Charging into German fire at the Somme, at a cost of 54,000 casualties on the 1st day

Guards Armored Division moving up for Goodwood Offensive, Summer 1944

Victory in the Falklands, 1982

Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders with Warrior AFVs in Amara, Iraq, after a bayonet charge killed 35 Iraqis, 2003

Veterans' Day

As the importance of the anniversary of the end of World War I declined after the Second World War, the observance of November 11th in the United States was transformed into a day to honor those who have served the US in uniform. On this day, the President participates in services at Arlington National Cemetery, laying a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Soldier. All across America, small ceremonies are held to remember our veterans.

But for most Americans, with financial markets, banks, post offices, schools, and government offices closed, it is a day to get a head start on Christmas shopping, or get more sleep. That this day has been so transformed is a sad commentary on our culture.

It should be a day for thanking our veterans, and remembering what they lived through for our sakes.

In modern society, a small percentage of young men serve in uniform so that, when needed, they can protect their country and its people.

The military has been our safeguard since 1775, earlier if you count our struggles with the French and their Indian allies. In that time, the honor roll of battles is a long one.

From Trenton, Princeton, Saratoga, Stony Point, Vincennes, and Yorktown to Lake Erie, aboard the USS Constitution, and at New Orleans, to the Alamo, to Chapultapec to Vicksburg, Gettysburg, Lookout Mountain, Cold Harbor, Petersburg and Appomattox, to San Juan Hill and Manila Bay, to the Western Front in 1918, to Midway, Tunisia, Sicily, Monte Cassino, Omaha Beach, Nijmegen Bridge, the Battle of the Bulge, the Hurtgen Forest, the Crossing of the Rhine, Guadalcanal, Okinawa, Iwo Jima, Pusan, Inchon, the Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sanh, Ia Drang, Tet, Libya, Beirut, Grenada, Panama, Desert Storm, Serbia, and on the USS Cole, in Afghanistan, today in Iraq, and at ten thousand other places, the American serviceman has answered the call to arms and served with distinction.

Battle of Guilford Courthouse by H. Charles McBarron, Jr.

The 20th Maine Infantry Regiment at Fredericksburg

Charge of Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders up San Juan Hill

Captain Eddie Rickenbecker, ace pilot and Congressional Medal of Honor winner

Sherman of Patton's 4th Armored Division breaking through to Bastonge

Inchon landing zone on D+2

Signalling with a captured bugle, Ia Drang, February 1966

Helicopter landing zone in Grenada, 1983

The open left flank: M1 tanks on the move into Iraq, 1991

Downfall of a dictator: US troops and Iraqs topple Saddam's statue, April, 2003

My own father's World War II experience is probably fairly typical. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942, at the age of 22. He was assigned as base security at Alamagordo, New Mexico, guarding an airstrip in some way related to the Manhattan Project (but he didn't know that, then). For more than two years, his biggest worries were rattlesnakes, and convincing the PX clerk that, when he asked for "tonic," he wanted Coca Cola, not hair tonic (actually my father preferred a noxious brew you can still buy, though heaven knows who drinks it today, called Moxie).

The Battle of the Bulge created a huge need for combat infantry replacements, so in early 1945, he found himself on a liberty ship heading for Germany. He was assigned to the 69th Infantry Division, and took part in the battle for Germany. He won a Bronze Star for pulling a wounded comrade to cover while under enemy fire. In April, his luck ran out. While moving through the supposedly cleared town of Wiessenfels, in Saxony, near the historic battlefields of Jena and Auerstadt and Leipzig, he took a sniper's bullet an inch from his lower spine. He spent a few months in hospital in England, and then was sent back to Germany until he was demobilized.

While guarding a supply train, he was almost murdered by Russian soldiers intent on looting the train. After a liberty ship trip back to the US, he married my mom. The bullet remained in him, and began to give him difficulty again just a few months before he died (of a heart attack) in 1989.

If any generation of American servicemen had not done their duty, one shudders to think what would have become of the American experiment in democracy and capitalism.

Other cultures have held ours in contempt, and felt we would not make real warriors. As historian David Hackett Fischer wrote in his excellent account of the Battles of Lexington and Concord,Paul Revere's Ride:

The Regulars of the British Army and the citizen soldiers of Massachusetts looked upon military affairs in very different ways. New England farmers did not think of war as a game, or a feudal ritual, or an instrument of state power, or a bloodsport for bored country gentlemen...In 1775, many men of Massachusetts had been to war. They knew its horrors from personal experience. With a few exceptions, they thought of fighting as a dirty business that had to be done from time to time if good men were to survive in a world of evil....[M]ost New Englanders were not pacifists themselves. Once committed to what they regarded as a just and necessary war, these sons of Puritans hardened their hearts and became the most implacable of foes. Their many enemies who lived by a warrior- ethic always underestimated them, as a long parade of Indian braves, French aristocrats, British redcoats, Southern planters, German fascists, Japanese militarists, Marxist idealogues, and Arab adventurers have invariabley discovered to their heavy cost.

So for those who have served our country in uniform, we thank you for that service. American democracy depended upon you, and you came through. America is a better place for your service, though the memories may be painful to you, even more than 50 years later.

God bless you, and God bless the USA!

Armistice Day

At eleven minutes after the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, World War I ended.

It was a war entered into by most of Europe with jubilation 4 years before. The astonishing slaughter of the trenches in pointless battles at Verdun, Ypres, the Somme, the Argonne, the Marne, and Gallipoli turned the jubilation into bleak despair as Europe's generals could think of nothing better than to have an entire generation slaughtered and maimed, marched into machine-gun fire and left to hang on the barbed wire of no-man's land, while their governments ginned up what popular enthusiasm they could by proclaiming it a war to end all wars.

World War I ended Europe's dominance of the world.

It's outcome abruptly ended the rule of the Romanovs, Habsburgs, and Hohenzollerns.

It brought the menace of communism to reality in Russia.

It made the rise of Nazism in Germany possible.

It butchered innocence and optimism along with millions of young men.

The airplane, the tank, and the submarine for the first time became significant instruments of war.

Europe no longer had the self-confidence, or the money, to maintain colonial empires after the war, so most of mankind was swiftly cut adrift into the modern world without proper guidance in how to cope in it.

It brought the US and Russia to the fore of world power.

But the battle of attrition of that war wasn't properly concluded. The peace that was imposed was so mild, yet seemingly so harsh, that Germany was both motivated to, and able to attack again in 30 years, bringing on even greater human catastrophe, and dimming Europe's star, perhaps forever.

The day that ended that nightmare of a war has been commemorated solemnly ever since.

When I was a child there were still many World War I veterans alive. But, as Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy sang, "The old men still answer the call/But year after year, the numbers get fewer/Someday no one will march there at all." Today the youngest veteran of World War I is in his late 90s and very few people have contact with anyone who fought that grievous, bloody, pitiless war. Sadly, World War I has become a forgotten war.

The subsequent history of mankind has made a mock of the claim that "The Great War" would end all wars.

On a personal note, my grandfather and 2 of his brothers enlisted in the 1st Battalion, Connaught Rangers (formerly the 88th Regiment of Foot) in 1915. My grandfather was a gas casualty at Ypres, but survived the war. He died in 1936, 28 years before I was born.


Today the Church celebrates Saint Martin of Tours, one of the most important saints in western Christendom.

Martin was born in Pannonia around 325, and entered the Roman army's elite cavalry at an early age. Encountering a beggar while was stationed at Amiens, he divided his cloak with him. According to legend, the beggar revealed himself to be Christ himself.

Shortly after age 20, he was baptized and left the army, becoming an exorcist under the direction of Saint Hilary of Poitiers. He lived as a hermit on the island of Gallinaria, and returned to Gaul where he founded a monastery at Liguge, the first important monastery in the West. His monastery followed the Rule of Saint Basil.

In 371, he was forcibly carried off to become bishop of Tours. He had hidden from the delegation from Tours, but his hiding place, it is said, was revealed by a goose, hence the custom of eating goose on Martinmas.

He ruled the see of Tours for 26 years. In that time, he made numerous conversions in Berry, Touraine, Anjou, Beauce, Dauphiny, Paris, Luxembourg, Trier, and Sennonais. Wherever he went, he cast down idols, built churches, and left priests and monks to carry out his work.

In 397, worn out, he lay dying at Candes. His followers begged him to live. He struggled to say, "If God finds that I can still be of use to His people, I do not at all refuse to work and to struggle longer." He died with his face turned to Heaven.

He became almost immediately, the most popular saint in Chistendom. In France alone, 4,000 churches are dedicated to him, and over 500 villages are named for him.

Martinmas in Europe corresponds to the traditional time for slaughtering animals not intended to be kept alive through the winter. It also signals the time that the new vintage of wine is ready for drinking. Fresh beef and Beaujolais Noveau have traditionally meant feasting in Europe. So Martinmas has traditionally been a jolly time, a last opportunity to enjoy God's bounty before the fast of Advent starts.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Hallowmas Round-Up

What ground have we covered here since we began looking at Catholic (and some secular) Hallowmas customs? Quite a lot.

My tradional first post.

From The Imitation of Christ, "On Thoughts of Death"

The Irish Wake

The Ars Moriendi

Excerpt from Saint Alphonsus Liguori's Preparation for Death

The evolution of Colonial New England gravestones

Prayers for a happy and holy death

Recipes for a mostly-Irish Halloween

The Chaplet of the Dead

All Martyrs' Day?

Catholic ghost stories

Some of my New England-themed tales of the odd

Salem photo essay

The Lyke-Wake Dirge

Bosch's Death and the Miser

The Ghost's Lament (traditional reading for starting the Halloween festivities for me)

The Jack-O-Lantern


Antique Halloween Postcards

Capuchin Charnel House, Santa Maria de la Concezione, Rome

Litany of the Saints

For All the Saints

Indulgences For Praying For the Dead in November

Evora, Portugal bone chapel

All Souls' Day

The Dies Irae

Poem and prayer for the Holy Souls

A Litany For the Holy Souls

Souling Songs and Soul Bread

The traditional Office of the Dead (lavishly illustrated from various Books of Hours)

Novena For the Holy Souls In Purgatory
Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9

Read Me Or Rue It! by Father Paul O'Sullivan
Forward, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6

Chantry chapels

The Danse Macabre

Frau Welt

Tomb of Giovanni Battista Gisleni

Memorial Brasses

The Disputacion Betwyx the Body and Worms

Cadaver and Transi Tombs

Assorted Memento Mori

I did cover a lot of ground, but missed a few things that I meant to cover. Well, the Mexican and Filipino Days of the Dead, The Wagon of Death (my thanks to League of Evil Traditionalists collegue Darth Liturgicus for sending me the lyrics!), The Vision of Lazarus, Holy Innocents' graveyard, Paris, and potters' fields will wait until next Hallowmas.

Please take this opportunity to pray for the dead, and memento mori!

Back To the Fight

Don't let this happen to Holy Trinity church!
Via Catholic Church Conservation

Some Last Assorted Memento Mori

Resurrection of Dead (detail), Dreifaltigkeitskirche St. Erhard, former Friedhofskapelle (south wall), Dingolfing (Lower Bavaria)

Resurrection of Dead with charnel house and Armen Seelen, c.1690, Dreifaltigkeitskirche St. Erhard, former Friedhofskapelle, Dingolfing (Lower Bavaria)

Funerary Medallion of Thomas de Marchant et d'Ansembourg and his Wife Anne Marie de Neufonge (d.1728, 1734), Church of Tuntage, Luxembourg

Book of Hours, Use of Rome, France (probably Tours) c.1495-1500 for Claude I Mole
Page: Triumph of Death

One last cheery image from Pieter Bruegel, Triumph of Death (detail)

Cadaver Tombs

We will be completing our Hallowmastide review of Catholic death customs today, the Octave of All Souls, with a look at Cadaver and Transi Tombs.

We are all familiar with tomb effigies. They pop up in literature quite a bit, including in Washington Irving's Bracebridge Hall Christmas stories, and in Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honor trilogy.

Early 14th century tomb effigies from the church of St. Mary The Virgin, Pembridge, Herefordshire.

The cadaver tomb was fashionable in the 1400s. It depicts the deceased as a rotting corpse, often with carved worms, rats, snakes, and/or frogs happily devouring the corpse.

The transi tomb is a variation of the cadaver tomb. Usually, it shows the deceased in the full bloom of life above, then, below (as in yesterday's Disputacion Betwyx the Body and Worms) as a rotting, decaying, worm-eaten corpse.

15th Century cadaver tomb, Abbey of St. Vaast, Arras, France

Effigy of Francois I de la Sarra, d.1363, Chapel at La Sarraz, Vaud, Switzerland

Cadaver tomb of John Baret, St. Mary's church, Bury St. Edmund, Suffolk, 1450s. Scultped while Baret (a wool merchant) was alive. This is one of the most studied English cadaver tombs, and was featured in both Eamon Duffy's The Stripping of the Altars and in Paul Binski's Medieval Death. Part of the inspriction reads:
"He that will sadly behold me with his eye. May see his own morrow and learn for to die."

Transi tomb of Jean, Cardinal de la Grange, 1402, from Avignon Cathedral

Tomb of Jean, Cardinal de la Grange detail of the transi, 1402, from Avignon Cathedral (now in the Musée Calvet, Avignon)

Tomb of Archbishop Henry Chichele d.1443, Canterbury Cathedral

Transi tomb of Bishop Bishop Richard Fleming, Lincoln Cathedral
From the Lincoln Cathedral website:
"This cadaver tomb is meant to convey the message to the viewer that even a great man like the one lying here will end up as an emaciated corpse rotting away so think on about the life you are leading and where will you end up!"

Here is an article about the conservation of John Baret's tomb.

And you can see a whole bunch of mostly-English cadaver tombs at the Churchmouse site.

The Octave of All Souls

The conclusion of Read Me Or Rue It! by Father Paul O'Sullivan
CHAPTER VI : What the Holy Souls do for those who help them

St. Alphonsus Liguori says that, although 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 favors 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 hundred of which we might quote, are sufficient to show what powerful and generous friends the Holy Souls are.


A poor servant girl in France named Jeanne Marie 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 Poor Souls endure, and she was 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, she would have a Mass said for the Poor Souls 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 the 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 she 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 Jeanne Marie 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 position. "

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 who 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, pointing to a picture on the wall, "that is the young man who told me!"

"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, with her last franc, she had had Mass offered for the Holy Souls, especially for the one nearest to Heaven.

Convinced at last of the truth of what Jeanne Marie had told her, the lady received her with open arms. "Come, " she said, "though 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. "


St. 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 him self, 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, and educated and cared for him most affectionately. Blessing followed upon 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 a Doctor of the Church.

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


A group of priests was 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 Apennines, 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 rifles aimed, 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 can not 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 was awaiting 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 Apennines. 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 the brigand 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.


The venerable Pontiff, Pius IX, appointed a holy and prudent religious named Padre Tomaso to be bishop of a diocese. The priest, alarmed at the responsibility put upon 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 upon 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. "


A businessman 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 were his own offering or donations which he had gathered from others.

"What I offer, Dear Fathers, " the gentleman 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 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. When he was 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 the Poor Souls 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 paralyzed, 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 succor of the Holy Souls.

Wonderful to relate, the mental aberration ceased, his wife's mind became normal, and she recovered the use of her limbs and of her tongue. In a short time she was perfectly restored to health.


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 news of her cure if it were granted.

Gradually the swelling went down, and the tumor and cancer disappeared.


Father Louis Manaci, a 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 with brigands. While plodding along, saying the Rosary for the Holy Souls, what was not his surprise, on looking around, but to find himself surrounded by a bodyguard, as it were, 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.


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."


"In my long life, " writes a priest, "I have noticed with amazement how few Catholics give generously to the poor and needy, notwithstanding what Our Blessed Lord commands them to do.

"I have also remarked that some Catholics are, indeed, very generous and good. Some care for the poor, others look after the sick. Lepers, consumptives, cancer patients, the mentally deficient, all have their friends. Some prefer to help the young, the hearts of others go out to the old. All the various classes of the poor and needy find champions -- though, as I have said, these are not nearly as many and generous as they should be.

"The strangest thing of all is that I have never met one man or woman who has dedicated himself or herself entirely, whole heartedly, to the greatest of all charities, to the greatest of all the needy -- viz., the Holy Souls in Purgatory. "There may be a few who do so, but in my long and very varied experience, I have never met any. "

Alas, the words of this good priest are only too true!

We appeal to those who have not as yet dedicated themselves to any particular form of charity to dedicate all their energies to the Holy Souls. Let them do what they can personally, and also induce others to help.

The best way is to practice the counsels contained in this booklet and to spread about hundreds of copies of this inexpensive little book and thus make hundreds of friends for the Holy Souls. For who can read it and refuse to help them?

Souls Drawn From Purgatory to Heaven Via the Mass, English manuscript early 1400s.

Novena For the Holy Souls In Purgatory

Ninth Day:
My God! How was it possible that I, for so many years, have borne tranquilly the separation from Thee and Thy holy grace! O infinite Goodness, how long-suffering hast Thou shown Thyself to me! Henceforth, I shall love Thee above all things. I am deeply sorry for having offended Thee; I promise rather to die than to again offend Thee. Grant me the grace of holy perseverance, and do not permit that I should ever again fall into sin. Have compassion on the holy souls in Purgatory. I pray Thee, moderate their sufferings; shorten the time of their misery; call them soon unto Thee in heaven, that they may behold Thee face to face, and forever love Thee. Mary, Mother of Mercy, come to their aid with thy powerful intercession, and pray for us also who are still in danger of eternal damnation.

Say one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and the Prayer to Our Suffering Saviour for the Holy Souls in Purgatory below

Prayer to Our Suffering Saviour for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemani, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the immense pain which Thou didst suffer in breathing forth Thy Blessed Soul, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

(Recommend yourself to the Souls in Purgatory and mention your intentions here)

Blessed Souls, I have prayed for thee; I entreat thee, who are so dear to God, and who are secure of never losing Him, to pray for me a miserable sinner, who is in danger of being damned, and of losing God forever. Amen.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Disputacion Betwyx the Body and Worms

Memento Mori

Memorial Brasses

As more and more prominent laypeople and churchmen desired to be buried closer and closer to the altar of the parish church or cathedral, tombs began to overshadow altars, which was understandably not acceptable to the Church. The Dominicans came up with a solution in the slab monument laid flat with the floor, with, instead of an effigy sticking up, an etching of the deceased. As time went on, the stone slabs gave way to the more permanent brass etchings.

Memorial or monumental brasses were a favorite target of protestant rebels in the 16th and 17th centuries. England was the number one market for memorial brass (which was manufactured in Germany and exported throughout Europe). Some of the finest work was done in France. But the sheer number of memorial brasses sent to England and etched there has made one associate memorial brass with England. Several thousand examples of this sort of tomb have survived, despite the best efforts of puritan iconclasts.

The Catholic Encyclopedia has this to say about memorial brasses.

And be sure to check out the Monumental Brass Society's site as well.

The first example is 19th century, John Hardman. I'm starting off with him because he was a close associate of A.W.N. Pugin, and a Catholic. In fact, he was the man who did new memorial brasses for Pugin. He died in 1867 and was buried at St. Mary's Convent, Handsworth, Birmingham. All that remains of Hardman's memorial is this rubbing, as the convent was destroyed by German bombing in World War II.

This next, from the 15th century, is of a knight and his lady, from St Peter, West Firle, East Sussex

From Ulcombe's All Saints' parish church, a 15th century memorial to Sir William Maydeston

Prior Thomas Nelond, 1432,Cowforld, Sussex

Joan de Cobham, c. 1305-10, Cobham, Kent

The MBS had to do some investigating to figure out whose memorial this one is.
It is that of Walter Hawke, Master of Wardens of the Collegiate Church dedicated to the Holy Trinity at Tattershall. He died in 1517.

For the Octave of All Souls

From Read Me Or Rue It! by Father Paul O'Sullivan
CHAPTER V : How can we help the Holy Souls?

The first means is by joining the Association of the Holy Souls. The conditions are easy:

a) Have your name registered in the Book of the Association.
b) Hear Mass once a week (Sunday suffices) for the Holy Souls.
c) Pray for and promote devotion to the Holy Souls.
d) Contribute once a year an offering to the Mass Fund, which enables the Association to have perpetual Masses said every month.
(If special Masses for the Holy Souls are desired, it is important to mention how many Masses you want offered. )

Those who wish to join and do not have the Association in their parish can send their name, address and annual alms to the Association of the Holy Souls, Dominican Nuns of the Perpetual Rosary, Pius XII Monastery, Rua do Rosario 1, 2495 Fatima, Portugal. This Association is approved by the Cardinal Archbishop of Lisbon.

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.

Those who cannot get many Masses offered, owing to the 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 1,000 for her dear soul. "

The recital of the Rosary (with its great indulgences) and making the Way of the Cross (which is also richly indulgenced) are excellent means of helping the Holy Souls.
St. John Massias, as we saw, released from Purgatory more than a million souls, chiefly by reciting the Rosary and offering its great indulgences for them.

Another easy and efficacious way is by the constant repetition of short indulgenced prayers [applying the indulgence to the Souls in Purgatory]. Many people have the custom of saying 500 or 1,000 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; they bring oceans of grace to those who practice 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 favors they shall have lost! It is quite possible -- and even easy -- to say these ejaculations 1,000 times a day. But if one does not say them 1,000 times, let him say them 500 or 200 times.

Still another powerful prayer is:
"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the most Precious Blood of Jesus, with all the Masses being said all over the world this day, 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.

The Heroic Act consists in offering to God in favor of the Souls in Purgatory all the works of satisfaction we practice 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 everyone to make this act.


St. Martin gave half of his cloak to a poor beggar, only 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 to give 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 cincture or "girdle" which he prized dearly. Shortly after, he entered a church and found his cincture encircling the waist of an image of Christ Crucified. He, too, had given his alms to Christ. We all give our alms to Christ.

Let us give all the alms we can afford;
Let us have said all the Masses in our power;
Let us hear as many more as is possible;
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.

Novena For the Holy Souls In Purgatory

Eighth Day:
Oh my God! I also am one of these ungrateful beings, having received so much grace, and yet despised Thy love and deserved to be cast by Thee into hell. But Thy infinite goodness has spared me until now. Therefore, I now love Thee above all things, and I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee. I will rather die than ever offend Thee. Grant me the grace of holy perseverance. Have compassion on me and, at the same time, on the holy souls suffering in Purgatory. Mary, Mother of God, come to their aid with thy powerful intercession.

Say one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and the Prayer to Our Suffering Saviour for the Holy Souls in Purgatory below.
Prayer to Our Suffering Saviour for the Holy Souls in Purgatory
O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemani, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the immense pain which Thou didst suffer in breathing forth Thy Blessed Soul, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

(Recommend yourself to the Souls in Purgatory and mention your intentions here)

Blessed Souls, I have prayed for thee; I entreat thee, who are so dear to God, and who are secure of never losing Him, to pray for me a miserable sinner, who is in danger of being damned, and of losing God forever. Amen.

German graveyard Memento Mori statue.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

For the Octave of All Souls

From Read Me Or Rue It! by Father Paul O'Sullivan

CHAPTER IV : 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 neighbor 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 this that He takes as done to Himself what we do for our neighbor, and as refused to Himself what we refuse to our neighbor.

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

Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 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: Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? And the king 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. 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. For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink. 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. 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? Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me. 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 selfassertion and selfishness, when everyone thinks only of himself and his personal aggrandizement.

"It is useless to urge the Law of Love nowadays, " they say, "everyone has to shift for himself, or go under. "

No such thing! God's great Law is still and will ever he 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 always bound to love and help each other, but the greater the need of our neighbor, the more stringent and the more urgent this obligation is. It is not a favor 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 succor 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 succor. 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.


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 for us to help them. He is as grateful to us as if we had helped Himself.


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.


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 favors done them, they pray for their benefactors with a fervor so great, so intense, so constant that God can refuse them nothing St. Catherine of Bologna says: "I received many and very great favors from the Saints, but still greater favors 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 they will be forever 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.


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

Saint John 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 was 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 8, 000 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 long ago made over all her suffrages to other souls. But 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 away Satan and comfort His dear Saint. He told St. Gertrude 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. Blessed Henry replied with deep regret that he had not continued the Masses, believing that his friend must be enjoying the Beatific Vision but he 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 fervor, 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.

Novena For the Holy Souls In Purgatory

Seventh Day:
God, Father of Mercy, satisfy this their ardent desire! Send them Thy holy Angel to announce to them that Thou, their Father, are now reconciled with them through the suffering and death of Jesus, and that the moment of their deliverance has arrived.

Say one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and the Prayer to Our Suffering Saviour for the Holy Souls in Purgatory below.
Prayer to Our Suffering Saviour for the Holy Souls in Purgatory
O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemani, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the immense pain which Thou didst suffer in breathing forth Thy Blessed Soul, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

(Recommend yourself to the Souls in Purgatory and mention your intentions here)

Blessed Souls, I have prayed for thee; I entreat thee, who are so dear to God, and who are secure of never losing Him, to pray for me a miserable sinner, who is in danger of being damned, and of losing God forever. Amen.

France Declares State of Emergency

Now there will be curfews.

How do you stop mob violence? Not with promises of yet-more-generous welfare handouts. Not with promises of a kinder, gentler nation. Not with concessions of any kind. Napoleon's "whiff of grapeshot" is the only way.

In search of cheap labor, France, as well as the rest of Europe, has created quite a problem for itself, allowing huge immigrant waves of Moslems into white, Christian Europe. You can claim that the US is doing the same thing with hispanic immigration, except for one thing: almost all hispanics are Christian.

If hispanics become a very significant part of the US culture, there would not be much of an impact, beyond some additional influence of Spanish on the English language, and, maybe, some agitation for reunification with Mexico in the southwest. But the only way the southwest states are ever going to be reunified with Mexico will be after the US conquers and annexes Mexico :).

How do the French solve the problem of an indigestible Moslem bone stuck in its throat. Repatriation. Harsh? Yes. Brutal? Maybe. Un-PC? Absolutely. But if France, and the rest of Europe does not want to see itself redefined as a group of Islamic republics in a hundred years, it must be done.

The French have to ask themselves, seriously, do they really want to see their grandchildren absorbed and forced to submit (which is the meaning of "Islam") to the Umma, and governed by Sharia? If not, the time to reverse the situation is now. Otherwise, it will be too late. Repatriate the hard cases, work hard to bring about greater assimilation (conversion to Catholicism and acceptance of the French language) for those who remain, and shot the rioters on sight.

Let's face it, to be French is to be Catholic. That is what the French people are. Louis XIV drove out most of the protestants. The Jewish people were mostly wiped out by Hitler with the disgraceful collaborationists of Vichy. The intellectuals have no religion beyond materialism and hedonism, but demographically, they are irrelevant. But the French people are Catholic. If people from Moslem countries want to "become French" conversion to Catholicism is part of the process of assimilation. If they don't want to "become French" they don't belong in France.

One Catholic Judge, Two Very Different Parishes

Interesting look at the two parishes Judge Alito attends. Let's hope that, in Washington, he'll attend Mass at the indult Mass with Justice Scalia (and sometimes Justice Thomas), rather than with Justice Kennedy.

Monday, November 07, 2005


While openly gay bishop Gene Robinson's presence is tearing the Anglican Communion apart, he is saying that the possible ban on gay men in Catholic seminaries is "vile" and the best thing that ever happened to the Episcopal Church.

Well, I suppose if your objective is to make the Episcopal Church the Gay Movement at Prayer, he might be right. In the meantime, Rome will happily take in all the disgusted serious Christians who are outraged at the "gaying" of the Anglican Communion in the US, Canada, and UK, provided they renounce the various errors Anglicanism involves.

Bishop Robinson will, I think, bring us more than one Ronald Knox.

Current Reading

This weekend, I started John Allen's new book, Opus Dei.

I have to say that, so far at least, Allen has been scrupulously fair to The Work. His book is not a hatch-job, like so many of the books about Opus Dei. If you are interested in learning more about this brand of Catholic spirituality, with its emphasis on making sacred the mundane things of life through excellence and through traditional Catholic devotion (reminding me very much of Saint Theresa's "Little Way,") read Allen's book.

This year, I read Saint Josemaria's The Way and The Furrow, and, frankly, I found much to admire in the spirituality laid out there. I read that a bishop, whose name escapes me now, compared The Way to a modern version of The Imitation of Christ. And I think the comparison is justified. And that is saying a lot, as The Imitation is the second most-read explicitly Catholic book after The Holy Bible.

I think there are three groups open to lay people within the Church that have a lot that appeals to me. Opus Dei is one. The Militia Templi is another. And the Confraternity of Penitents is a third. There is a chance that someday, I may end up in one of them. I think I am more inclined towards one of these movements than towards third-order or oblate status with one of the religious orders. But, we shall see.

For the Octave of All Souls

Read Me Or Rue It! by Father Paul O'Sullivan

CHAPTER III : How long do souls remain in Purgatory?

The length of time souls are detained in Purgatory depends on:

1. the number of their faults;
2. the malice and deliberation with which these have been committed;
3. the penance done, or not done, the satisfaction made, or not made for sins during life;
4; Much, too, depends on the suffrages offered for them after death

What can safely be said is that the time souls spend in Purgatory is, as a rule, very much longer than people commonly imagine.

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 rigors of God's Justice, offered many Masses and poured forth the most fervent supplications for the soul he so dearly loved.

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 father.

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 Pampluna, who had succeeded in releasing many Carmelite nuns from Purgatory, that most of these had spent there terms of from 30 to 60 years!

Carmelite nuns in Purgatory for 40, 50 and 60 years! What will it be for those living amidst the temptations of the World and with all their hundreds of weaknesses?

St. Vincent Ferrer, after the death of his sister, prayed with incredible fervor 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 who shared in the intercession of great Saints during their lives and were aided by their most efficacious suffrages after death were yet detained for such a length of time in Purgatory, what may not happen to us who enjoy none of these wonderful privileges?


The reasons are not difficult to find:

The malice of sin is very great. What appear to us small faults are in reality serious offenses 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 God so generously offers us; we do not pray, we do not receive the Sacraments as we should.

An eminent theologian wisely remarks that if souls are condemned to Hell for all eternity because of one mortal sin, 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. Too, they may have committed 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. (Cf. Matt. 5:26.)

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.

There is an infinite number of faults of selflove, 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 we go to Him! He longs to come into our hearts in Holy Communion, and we refuse Him entrance. He offers Himself up 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 hearts are mean and hard, full of selflove. 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; whereas, 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 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 50 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 labor 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.


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 deathbed may be detained in Purgatory even until 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?

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