DAILY CATHOLIC    FRI-SAT-SUN     November 12-14, 1999     vol. 10, no. 215


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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 four

        We can help the poor souls in purgatory by Masses, by prayers, and by other good works.

        Masses. The holy Sacrifice is the greatest help we can offer, because its effect depends on itself, and not on the piety of the priest who offers it. Whenever possible, Gregorian Masses should be offered; these consist of thirty Masses celebrated on consecutive days for some deceased person.

        If we cannot have a Mass said, we should at least hear Mass for our dear departed. A Mass has infinite merit, for it is the sacrifice of Our Lord Himself. It will surely avail our dead to offer for them God the Son Himself in Holy Mass.

        Prayers. We should pray with devotion for the poor souls. God does not regard the length of the prayer or the words so much as the love in the heart of the one who prays.

        There are special prayers enriched with indulgences, applicable to the souls in purgatory. We should also receive the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist for the poor souls. "Know ye that the Lord will hear your prayers if you continue in perseverance" (Judith 4:11).

        Alms-giving. No pompous funeral or profusion of flowers is of any avail for the poor souls in purgatory. As St. John Chrysostom says, "Not by weeping, but by prayer and almsgiving are the dead relieved."

        It is better to give to charity the money spent on idle and worldly show, which canot help the poor souls. Instead of sending costly wreaths to the family of a dead friend, it is an excellent custom instead to have Masses offered for his soul.

        The Heroic Act of Charity. By this Act a person surrenders, in behalf of the souls in purgatory, all the satisfaction made to God by his good works, including whatever satisfaction may be offered for him by others during his life and after.

        Those who make the Act may gain a plenary indulgence applicable only to the dead: (1) each day that they receive Holy Communion, if they have made their confession and visited a church or public oratory and prayed for the intentions of the Holy Father; (2) on Mondays if they attend Mass in supplication for the faithful departed, and fulfill the usual conditions.

        For making the Heroic Act of Charity, the following prayer is suggested: "O my God, I voluntarily offer to Thee through the mediation of Mary, all the works of satisfaction that I may make in this life, as well as all suffrages which may be offered for me, after my death, in behalf of thepoor souls in purgatory, placing myself entirely at Thy mercy."

        We should not, however, rely too much on the prayers and sacrifices that our relatives may offer for us after our death. Even granting that they will remember us oten and fervently in prayers, it is nevertheless true that works offered in suffrage for souls avail them only to a limited extent.

        God gives more value to a little voluntary penance done here on earth than to disciplines offered for that soul after death. As a Saint aptly said, "One Mass devoutly heard during life is worth more than a great sum left for the celebration of a hundred Masses after death."

      Tomorrow: The Souls of Purgatory part four

November 12-14, 1999       volume 10, no. 215


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