The Communion of Saints
"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord." - Apocalypse 14:13
For the virtuous, the Supreme Judge has reserved heaven and its ineffable joys.
For the wicked, He has prepared hell and its unheard-of torments.
Where do those go who pass from this life having to atone for light faults which we call venial sins, or to suffer the temporal punishment for great sins of which the offence has been pardoned and the eternal punishment remitted by absolution? Into a place of expiation called Purgatory. Such is the belief of the Church decided iu the Council of Trent: *' If any one says that, by the grace of justification, the guilt and eternal pain are so far remitted to the penitent that there remains no more temporal punishment to be suffered in this world, or hereafter in Purgatory, before entering the kingdom of heaven, let him be anathema!"
It is then true, O my God! that Thy justice exacts pain, punishment, and expiation for each fault committed, and that it watches at the gate of heaven to witiidraw and to drive away from this place of innocence and peace those whose sins, not yet effaced, offend Thy gaze. Yes, whilst the Church Militant combats and merits, the Church Triumphant rejoices and sings without ceasing. Holy! holy! holy! The Church Suffering expiates in sorrow and cries, Pardon! pardon! mercy! However, she is not abandoned either in heaven or on earth, because the saints in heaven console and encourage their suffering brothers by the hope of happiness; and the just of the Church Militant may aid and even deliver them by their prayers, sacrifices, and expiations made in common: this is what constitutes the Communion of Saints. O ad- mirable intercourse between the living son and the deceased father, between mother and daughter, husband and wife, the Hving and the dead!
Madame de Strafford, a sincere Protestant, having some doubts on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and Purgatory, went to talk them over with Mgr. de la Mothe, Bishop of Amiens, who, without disputing with her, believed it his duty to undeceive her by speaking thus: "Madame, you know the Protestant Bishop of London, and you have confidence in him. Very well; I pray you repeat to him that which I am going to tell you: ^The Bishop of Amiens told me a thing which ought to astonish me; it is that if you can deny that Saint Augustine, whom we look upon, like him, as one of the greatest Doctors, said Mass and prayed for the dead, particularly for his mother, he himself will become a Protestant.' '* This advice was followed. Tiie Anglican prelate said nothing, except that she had inhaled a contagious air vvliich had deluded her. Madame de Strafford concluded that the Protestant bishop answered nothing, because he had nothing to answer. She herself became a Catholic.
Take the resolution never to finish the day without being in a state in which you would wish to die.
O my Jesus, adorable Chief of the Church, I bless and thank Thee for having establislied, between the members who compose it in heaven, in Purgatory, and on earth, those bonds of charity which death will not destroy. We rejoice in the happiness of our brothers who are in glory; tiiey present to Thee our desires and prayers, and ask, for us and with us, the graces we stand in need of to imitate them and obtain the same reward. Thoti wishest also that we should be affected by the lot of those of our brothers who liave not a share in this happiness, because they have not yet discharged their debts to Thy formidable justice. This is why we pray Thee to apply to them the indulgences of the following ejaculatory prayer:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts: the earth is full of Thy glory. Glory be to the Father, glory be to the Son, glory be to the Holy Ghost.
An Indulgence of One Hundred Days, once a day. An Indulgence of One Hundred Days, three times every Sunday, as well as on the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity and during its octave.
- text taken from by Father Celestin Cloquet, translated by a Sister of Mercy, with the Imprimatur of Archbishop Michael Augustine Corrigan, Archdiocese of New York, 18 October 1886