Duration estimated from the Practices of the Church
"My soul is as earth without water unto Thee." - Psalm 113:6
The long duration of the pains that souls may suffer in Purgatory is understood by the infallible Church, when she offers the holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the dead, not only at the time of the obsequies, but the third, seventh, ninth, and thirtieth day after death. She permits anniversaries which last for several centuries, authorizes and even promotes the foundations of perpetual service. Does this not tell us, clearly and explicitly, that these souls may have need of help and aid during long years and even to the end of time?
Say not, then, at a person's death, "She is happy! Behold her delivered from all evils!" This would be want of reflection on what she probably suffers in Purgatory, if she died reconciled with God. Great saints, saints who have wrought miracles, have passed through the expiatory flames. Leave no person, therefore, without the iielp of suffrages. Alas! how many souls, on account of badly enlightened piety or misunderstood veneration paid to their memory, groan in the flames of Purgatory, whilst they are invoked as being already in heaven!
Saint Gregory the Great - Thirty Masses
Whilst Saint Gregory the Great was Abbot in the monastery of Saint Andrew, one of the monks, named Justus, had treasured and carefully hidden three pieces of gold; but he revealed his fault on his death-bed. To punish this infraction of the rule which forbade all sentiment of proprietorship in an exemplary manner, Gregory forbade the community to visit the sick man and pray around him, as was customary; he sent but one priest to assist him and exhort him to penance. Justus detested his fault, and died with sentiments of the most lively compunction. The holy Abbot did not stop there: his zeal to maintain monastic discipline made him do that which Saint Macarius had done under similar circumstances: he commanded Justus to be buried, with the three pieces of gold, under a dunghill; but, as he had died penitent, Gregory did not wish him to be deprived of the prayers of the Church, but ordered the holy Sacrifice of the Mass to be offered for him during thirty consecutive days. We read in the works of this Saint that after the Mass of the thirtieth day Justus appeared to one of the brothers, and told him that he was about to be freed from the pains he had endured since his death.
Have a great devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and be of the number of those who propagate it. Pray often for the faithful departed to this compassionate Heart.
O Heart of Jesus, burning with love for these souls, why do I not ask of Thee their eternal happiness? Canst Thou refuse me, since Thou desirest it so ardently? Thou askest it Thyself of Thy Father, but Thy prayer and sacrifice can only be useful by the application I myself make of it for them. How can I see Thee immolated on the altar or annihilated in my heart for the salvation of the living and the dead, without thinking of those who have preceded me in life? And when I shall pay them and Thee, O Heart of my Saviour, this debt of charity, shall I not have reason to hope that Thou wilt one day inspire others with the same charity for me? When I shall serve to accomplish Thy designs and to satisfy Thy thirst for the welfare of all, canst Thou refuse to return me the good I will have done for Thee and to receive me, with those whom I have brought there, into Thy eternal tabernacles?
Meanwhile, deign to apply to them the indulgence attached to the follow ing offering:
My loving Jesus! I give Thee my heart, and I consecrate myself wholly to Thee, out of the grateful love I bear Thee, and as a reparation for all my unfaithfulness; and with Thy aid I purpose never to sin again.
- 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