DAILY CATHOLIC    THURSDAY     November 11, 1999     vol. 10, no. 214


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      Every day we present a short point that helps bring into focus the treasures of the Roman Catholic Church that comprise the great Deposit of Faith.

      It is no secret that over the past thirty years fewer and fewer know their Faith and it shows with the declining number of vocations, parish participation and attendance at Holy Mass. We have the new Catechism of the Catholic Church but for the common man, the one brought up on sound bites and instant gratification, it is more of a text book and that in itself prompts them to shy away from such a tome. So what's a loyal Catholic to do in evangelizing to fellow Catholics and understand their Faith? Our answer: go back to basics - to the great Deposit of Faith. We have the Baltimore Catechism which, for unknown and ridiculous reasons, was shelved after Vatican II. We have the Holy Bible but there are so many newer versions that the Douay-Rheims and Confraternity Latin Vulgate in English versions, the ones used for so long as the official Scriptural text authorized by the Church, seem lost in a maze of new interpretations that water down the Word. This is further complicated by the fact there are so few Douay-Rheims editions in circulation though it is available on the net at DOUAY-RHEIMS BIBLE. We have so many Vatican documents available at the Vatican web site and other excellent Catholic resource sites that detail Doctrine, Dogma and Canon Law. We have the traditions, and the means of grace but how do we consolidate all these sources into one where it is succinct and easy to understand? We have the perfect vehicle. It is called "My Catholic Faith", now out of print, that was compiled by Bishop Louis Laravoire Morrow and published by My Mission House. This work ties in Scriptural references, the Sacraments, Dogmas, Doctrines, Traditions, Church documents, Encyclical and Papal decrees to clearly illustrate the Faith in simple, solid and concise terms that all can understand and put into practice. We will quote from this work while adding in more recent events and persons when applicable since the book was written in the late forties during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII. We also quote from the Catholic Almanac published by Our Sunday Visitor for the Roman Curial offices.

    Nothing in Holy Mother Church's teaching has changed and therefore we feel confident that these daily "points of enlightenment" will help more Catholics better understand their faith, especially those who were not blessed with early formation of the faith in the home and their parish school. Regardless of where any Catholic is in his or her journey toward salvation, he or she has to recognize that the Faith they were initiated into at the Sacrament of Baptism is the most precious gift they have been given in life.


part three

        We should be generous in helping the poor souls in Purgatory, who long for God. The best thing we can do for them is to have Masses offered for them. The Church puts no limit to the time during which we may pray or offer Masses for the suffering souls in purgatory. If we cannot have a Mass said, we should at least hear Masses for our dear departed. If God so willed, a single Mass could release all the souls in purgatory. We should offer Masses especially on All Souls' Day and on the anniversaries of death of our relatives and friends.

        The souls in Purgatory suffer from a great longing to be united to God, and from other great pains. Their chief pain is the deprivation of the Beatific Vision, the vision of God in the glory of heaven. This temporary deprivation is a most severe punishment, because the poor souls already have a full knowledge of what they are missing.

        "As the hind longs for the running waters, so my soul longs for You, O God. Athirst is my soul for God, the living God. When shall I go and behold the face of God?" (Psalm 41:2,3).

        The general tradition of the Church is that they also suffer acutely in other ways. Saint Augustine believes that the sufferings of the poor souls are greater than the sufferings of all the martyrs. Saint Thomas believes the least pain there is greater than the greatest on earth.

        The greatness and the duration of a soul's sufferings in Purgatory vary according to the gravity of the sins committed. One who has lived a long life of sin, but is saved from hell only by a deathbed repentance, will stay in the purging fires of Purgatory longer, and suffer there more intensely than a child, who has committed only the venial sins of an ordinary child.

        That some souls stay long in Purgatory is implied by the fact that the Church puts no limit to the offering of Masses for the dead; some foundtions have been going on for centuries, offered for the repose of certain souls. St. Augustine believes that those stay longest in purgatory who have loved the goods of earth more. Some saints have held that certain holy souls in purgatory suffer no pain except their exclusion from the vision of God. Practiallly all are agreed that in purgatory the souls suffer most in those things in which they sinned most; as the "Imitation of Christ" says: "In what things a man hath most sinned, in those things shall he be most grievously tormented."

        The poor souls, however, have much to console them. They are certain of salvation and the love of God. They are free from temptation; they cannot commit the slightest sin, even of impatience.

        They have no worry, anxiety, or distress of mind, for they are sure of deliverance. They are comforted by the prayers of the angels and saints, and of the people on earth.

        All the souls in Purgatory will go to Heaven some day; they will stay in purgatory only as long as they have not atoned for all their sins.

        The poor souls cannot help themselves, for their time for meriting was ended at their death. They cannot therefore merit anything to satisfy for their sins.

        This is why we who can still merit by our good works should give some of them as suffrage for the poor souls, so that they may soon be delivered from their prison. We have the special obligation of helping with our prayers and sacrifices the souls of our dead relatives, friends, and benefactors.

        Although they cannot merit anything for themselves, the poor souls intercede for us with their prayers to God.

        Thus if we help them they repay us by their intercession. No one who has a devotion to the holy souls in Purgatory has ever asked for their intercession in vain.

        How can we then help the holy souls suffering the temporary torments of Purgatory during their cleansing process? In tomorrow's issue we will delve into those ways.

      Tomorrow: The Souls of Purgatory part four

November 11, 1999       volume 10, no. 214


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