Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus: Returning Love for Love

"The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under My displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My Heart shall be their assured refuge at the last hour."

~ Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque ~

Reflection for 6/4/10

Saturday, August 28, 2010

St. Augustine: Purgatorial Punishments

"For our part, we recognize that even in this life some punishments are purgatorial--not, indeed, to those whose life is none the better, but rather the worse for them, but to those who are constrained by them to amend their life.

"All other punishments, whether temporal or eternal, inflicted as they are on every one by divine providence, are sent either on account of past sins, or of sins presently allowed in the life, or to exercise and reveal a man's graces. They may be inflicted by the instrumentality of bad men and angels as well as of the good. For even if any one suffers some hurt through another's wickedness or mistake, the man indeed sins whose ignorance or injustice does the harm; but God, who by His just though hidden judgment permits it to be done, sins not.

"But temporary punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by others after death, by others both now and then; but all of them before that last and strictest judgment. But of those who suffer temporary punishments after death, all are not doomed to those everlasting pains which are to follow that judgment; for to some, as we have already said, what is not remitted in this world is remitted in the next, that is, they are not punished with the eternal punishment of the world to come.

~ Saint Augustine, from City of God ~

Friday, August 27, 2010

St. Monica: "Remember Me at the Altar of the Lord"

"Bury my body wherever you will; let not care of it cause you any concern.
One thing only I ask you,
that you remember me at the altar of the Lord wherever you may be."

~ St. Monica ~

The day was now approaching when my mother Monica would depart from this life; you know that day, Lord, though we did not. She and I happened to be standing by ourselves at a window that overlooked the garden in the courtyard of the house. At the time we were in Ostia on the Tiber. And so the two of us, all alone, were enjoying a very pleasant conversation, "forgetting the past and pushing on to what is ahead.." We were asking one another in the presence of the Truth - for you are the Truth - what it would be like to share the eternal life enjoyed by the saints, which "eye has not seen, nor ear heard, which has not even entered into the heart of man." We desired with all our hearts to drink from the streams of your heavenly fountain, the fountain of life.

That was the substance of our talk, though not the exact words. But you know, O Lord, that in the course of our conversation that day, the world and its pleasures lost all their attraction for us. My mother said, "Son, as far as I am concerned, nothing in this life now gives me any pleasure. I do not know why I am still here, since I have no further hopes in this world. I did have one reason for wanting to live a little longer: to see you become a Catholic Christian before I died. God has lavished his gifts on me in that respect, for I know that you have even renounced earthly happiness to be his servant. So what am I doing here?"

I do not really remember how I answered her. Shortly, within five days or thereabouts, she fell sick with a fever. Then one day during the course of her illness she became unconscious and for a while she was unaware of her surroundings. My brother and I rushed to her side, but she regained consciousness quickly. She looked at us as we stood there and asked in a puzzled voice: "Where was I?"

We were overwhelmed with grief, but she held her gaze steadily upon us, and spoke further: "Here you shall bury your mother." I remained silent as I held back my tears. However, my brother haltingly expressed his hope that she might not die in a strange country but in her own land, since her end would be happier there. When she heard this, her face was filled with anxiety, and she reproached him with a glance because he had entertained such earthly thoughts. Then she looked at me and spoke: "Look what he is saying." Thereupon she said to both of us, "Bury my body wherever you will; let not care of it cause you any concern. One thing only I ask you, that you remember me at the altar of the Lord wherever you may be." Once our mother had expressed this desire as best she could, she fell silent as the pain of her illness increased.

~ Excerpt from the Confessions of Saint Augustine of Hippo ~

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Prayer and Acts of Mercy for the Dying


God's mercy is so abundant that He wants to shower it upon earth. He sent His only Son, Our Lord to redeem sinners at the cost of Calvary. Christ would have died on that Cross to redeem but one soul, yet the One Sacrifice was sufficient for all. Redemption, however, does not suffice for salvation, as St. Paul warns us to work out our salvation "in fear and trembling."

With the great Apostasy predicted by the Apostle to the Gentiles come upon us in these last days many souls are going to Hell: they either do not know how, or cannot pray for themselves.

But Jesus Christ is waiting and now is the acceptable time, if only we, who do believe and do pray would only make it a daily habit of unfathomable charity and mercy, to spiritually adopt an unknown dying sinner, asking God for the grace for that person to repent or ask for mercy in his last moments. As a pledge of our fidelity and trust in Christ's mercy, all we have to do is ask through our prayer offering, perhaps, if so moved, to offer the intention of our entire day, or to forego one small pleasure that is licit in exchange [not necessary but a gracious little work]; at the very least we should make the intention of bearing one inconvenience that day with more patience than is our usual wont, for the repentance of that soul.

Any formula of prayer can be used, but for those who prefer an assist, here is a short invocation that can be said for that soul:


O MOST MERCIFUL JESUS, lover of souls,
I beseech Thee, by the agony of Thy most Sacred Heart,
and by the sorrows of Thine Immaculate Mother,
wash clean in the Thy Blood the sinners of the whole world
who are to die this day.

Remember most especially the soul I spiritually adopt
with the intention of entrusting him or her to Thy Shepherd's care:
I beseech Thee for the grace to move this sinner,
who is in danger of going to Hell, to repent.
I ask this because of my trust in Thy great mercy.

If it should please Thy Majesty to send me a suffering this day
in exchange for the grace I ask for this soul,
then, it, too, shall please me very much,
and I thank Thee, Most Sweet Jesus, Shepherd and Lover of Souls;
I thank Thee for this opportunity to give mercy
in thanksgiving for all the mercies Thou hast shown me. Amen.

Heart of Jesus, once in agony, have mercy on the dying.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fr. J. C. Gavancho: Become a Saint Through God's Mercy and Confession

May, 2010
Mercy is when you ask for something and yet you cannot give anything in return. We beg for God's mercy, not his justice. Today, Divine Mercy Sunday, we take a closer look at mercy. Today's Gospel is that of the Sacrament of Confession. There are no saints who come to confession only once a year. Come to Confession and you will see the great news of Gods mercy in your life.

Fr. J.C. Gavancho, of the Archdiocese of Chicago, delivers compelling reasons in this homily to rely on God's mercy and come to the Sacrament of Confession.

God knows whether we will choose him or not, and yet He gives us life. This is Divine Mercy Sunday, and the message of St. Faustina Kowalska. Christ gave us the sacrament of Confession. The lives of the saints show that they did not go to Confession only once a year. Sainthood, holiness is impossible without the sacraments. Come to Confession once a month, and receive Communion in grace. We cannot go on with life without the precious gift of mercy.

This homily was brought to you by New Hope Publications, at http://www.new-hope-ky.org/.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi: Humility, Obedience, Prudence

St. Magdalen of Pazzi, so full of devotion for the dead, exhausted all the resources of Christian Charity on behalf of her mother, after the latter had departed this life. A fortnight after her death, Jesus, wishing to console His spouse, showed her the soul of her beloved parent. Magdalen saw her in Paradise, arrayed in dazzling splendour, and surrounded by saints, who appeared to take great interest in her. She heard the blessed soul give her three commands, which ever remained impressed upon her memory: "Take care, my daughter," she said, "to descend as low as possible in humility, to observe religious obedience, and to carry out with prudence all that it prescribes." Saying this, Magdalen saw her blessed mother vanish from sight, and she remained inundated with the sweetest consolation.

~ Excerpt from Purgatory: Illustrated by the lives and Legends of the Saints
by Fr. F.X. Shouppe, S.J. ~

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Apparition of Our Lady at Knock Preceded by 100 Masses for Souls in Purgatory

Archdeacon Cavanagh was parish priest of Knock at the time of the Apparition until his death in 1897. He was known to practice special devotion to Our Lady and in the early days of Knock Shrine he worked tirelessly to serve the ever-growing number of pilgrims.

Born in 1821 in Annaghdown (better known as Anach Cuain), Co. Galway, Bartholomew Cavanagh was one of 13 children. He was ordained in 1846 for the Archdiocese of Tuam and his first appointment was to Westport. He was appointed Parish Priest of Knock-Aghamore in 1867.

Some months before the Apparition, Archdeacon Cavanagh made known to his parishioners his plan to say one hundred masses for the souls in purgatory which our Blessed Mother wished released. These masses were completed shortly before the Apparition.

~ Excerpt from the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock . ~

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Marvels of Divine Mercy

FATHER RAVIGNAN, an illustrious and holy preacher of the Society of Jesus, also cherished great hope for the welfare of sinners carried away by a sudden death, when otherwise they had borne no hatred in the heart for the things of God. He lived to speak of the supreme moment, and it seems to have been his opinion that many sinners are converted in their last moments, and are reconciled to God without being able to give any exterior sign thereof. In certain deaths there are mysteries of Mercy where the eye of man sees nothing but strokes of Justice. As a last glimmer of light, God sometimes reveals Himself to those souls whose greatest misfortune has been to ignore Him; and the last sigh, understood by Him who penetrates hearts, may be a groan that calls for pardon; that is to say, an act of perfect contrition.

General Exelmans, a relative of this good father, was suddenly carried to the tomb by an accident, and unfortunately he had not been faithful in the practice of his religion. He had promised that he would one day make his confession, but had not had the opportunity to do so. Father Ravignan, who, for a long time had prayed and procured prayers for him, was filled with consternation when he heard of such a death. The same day, a person accustomed to receive supernatural communications thought he heard an interior voice, which said to him, " Who then knows the extent of God's mercy? Who knows the depth of the ocean, or how much water is contained therein? Much will be forgiven to those who have sinned through ignorance."

The biographer from whom we borrow this incident, Father de Ponlevoy, goes on to say, " Christians, placed under the law of Hope no less than under the law of Faith and Charity, we must continually lift ourselves up from the depths of our sufferings to the thought of the infinite goodness of God. No limit to the grace of God is placed here below; while there remains a spark of life there is nothing which it cannot effect in the soul. Therefore we must ever hope and petition God with humble persistency. We know not to what a degree we may be heard. Great saints and doctors have gone to great lengths in extolling the powerful efficacy of prayer for the dear departed, how unhappy soever their end may have been. We shall one day know the unspeakable marvels of Divine Mercy. We should never cease to implore it with the greatest confidence."

~ From Purgatory: Illustrated by the Lives and Legends of the Saints by Fr. F.X. Shouppe, S.J. ~

Thursday, August 19, 2010

St. John Eudes: The Life of Christ in Us

“Our wish, our object, our chief preoccupation must be to form Jesus in ourselves, to make his spirit, his devotion, his affections, his desires and his disposition live and reign there. All our religious exercises should be directed to this end. It is the work which God has given us to do unceasingly."

"The Christian life is a continuation and completion of the life of Christ in us. We should be so many Christs here on earth, continuing His life and His works, laboring and suffering in a holy and divine manner in the spirit of Jesus."

~ St. John Eudes ~

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

St. Charles Borromeo: Prayer to One's Guardian Angel for a Happy Death

My good angel: I know not when or how I shall die. It is possible I may be carried off suddenly, and that before my last sigh I may be deprived of all intelligence. Yet there are many things I would wish to say to God on the threshold of eternity. In the full freedom of my will today, I come to charge you to speak for me at that fearful moment. You will say to Him, then, O my good Angel:

That I wish to die in the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church in which all the saints since Jesus Christ have died, and out of which there is no salvation.

That I ask the grace of sharing in the infinite merits of my Redeemer and that I desire to die in pressing to my lips the Cross that was bathed in His Blood!

That I detest my sins because they displease Him, and that I pardon through love of Him all my enemies as I wish myself to be pardoned.

That I die willingly because He orders it and that I throw myself with confidence into His adorable Heart awaiting all His Mercy.

That in my inexpressible desire to go to Heaven I am disposed to suffer everything it may please His sovereign Justice to inflict on me.

That I love Him before all things, above all things and for His own sake; that I wish and hope to love Him with the Elect, his Angels and the Blessed Mother during all eternity.

Do not refuse, O my Angel, to be my interpreter with God, and to protest to Him that these are my sentiments and my will. Amen.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fr. William Doyle: Blessed Place of Purifying Fire

"From the cleansing fires of purgatory ascends the gentle pleading of the imprisoned souls, God's own dear captives, to us for help and mercy. The burning flames envelop them, but far more bitter, far more painful is the remembrance of their sinful deeds which have offended Him Whose love they now know so well. Gladly do they turn from His loving though offended gaze, and hasten to bury themselves and their shame deep in that blessed place of purifying fire. Well do they know now the foulness of sin, its black ingratitude towards their only true Friend, and gladly do they suffer now to atone for a life which was spent without love of Him.

"At last the hour of their release has come. God's justice is satisfied, their souls are purified in the fiery crucible. Swiftly to the place of suffering and banishment the faithful angel guardian speeds his way. How eagerly has he longed for this hour when he may bear his loving charge safely to its home of bliss to rest for ever in the bosom of Jesus! Long ago when yet that soul was an exile on this earth has he thought of this moment. Each fresh act of virtue, each victory over temptation, gave him joy; and when that soul fell, when Satan claimed it as his own, how earnestly that angel spirit pleaded for the erring soul and won it back to grace and God. "

~ Excerpt from A Year's Thoughts: Collected From the Writings of Father William Doyle, S.J. ~

A blog worth visiting: Remembering Fr William Doyle SJ

Friday, August 13, 2010

Eric Clapton: Tears in Heaven

Eric Clapton wrote this song after the death of his 4 year old son.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fr. Anthony Brankin: Satan's Personal Battles Against Each of God's Children

Fr. Anthony Brankin is pastor of St. Odilo Parish, Berwyn, Illinois.

Cardinal Mundelein commissioned Father William J. Roberts in April of 1927 to establish a new parish in Berwyn under the patronage of St. Odilo and officially honored the parish church as "The National Shrine of the Souls in Purgatory".

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Assisting the Souls in Purgatory: The Most Excellent of the Works of Mercy

"To assist the souls in Purgatory
is to perform the most excellent of the works of Mercy,
or rather it is to practise in a most sublime manner
all the works of Mercy together :
it is to visit the sick ;
it is to give drink to those who thirst for the vision of God;
it is to feed the hungry,
to ransom prisoners,
to clothe the naked,
to procure for poor exiles the hospitality of the Heavenly Jerusalem;
it is to comfort the afflicted,
to instruct the ignorant-
in fine, to practise all works of Mercy in one."

~ St. Francis de Sales ~

Monday, August 9, 2010

Are You Ready to Be Judged By God If You Were To Die Today ?

"The World Trade Center, symbol of economic power and prosperity, was snuffed out in a short span of time. All of the fallen faced their Creator without their home, their education, their investments or their car."

"As a Catholic priest I have often seen death close at hand. For almost twenty years, I have prayed at the side of little babies, children, teen-agers, adults in their prime, and adults in the twilight of their lives as they died. Death comes at any age.

"No matter how many advances science may bring to our contemporary world, no one will ever be able to keep people from dying. Dying is a part of life. It is part of our earthly existence.

"When we were little children we learned the simple, yet profound truth from our catechism lessons about our existence. Why did God make me? God made me to know him, to love him, to serve him in this world and to be happy with him in everlasting life. Here lies the plain truth about our life on earth. We will not be here forever.

"Life is like a bus ride. We move forward with our bags packed, hoping that when the bus stops and the door opens, we will be at the right location. We must remember the fundamental truth of Revelation: eternity consists of three states: heaven, purgatory and hell. To deny the existence of purgatory and hell is to deny Christianity. To tell people that everyone is going to heaven is to deprive them of the truth. It is a lie to tell people that everyone is saved. Moreover, when people accept this lie, the very lie may even endanger their eternal salvation because they will no longer be using the necessary means of salvation in order to gain eternal life.

“Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry. Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator” (Colossians 3: 5-10).

"One day each of us will stand before God for judgment. We will stand before God without a lawyer, without family and friends to support us. We will stand alone before Almighty God. Each day could be our last day on earth. We should each ask ourselves today, if I were to die today, how would God judge me? Is there any particular sin, attachment, or attitude that might be an obstacle to my eternal salvation? Rather than becoming sad when we consider our own death, the reality of leaving this life and facing God for judgment should lead us to continual conversion.

"Let us remember the words from this Sunday’s gospel passage: 'Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one's life does not consist of possessions' (Luke 12: 15)."

~ Fr. James Fargaglia: Excerpts from Stepping Stones to Eternity ~

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Pains of Purgatory Are Suited to the Faults to be Expiated

The life of Venerable Mother Frances of the Blessed Sacrament, a Religious of Pampeluna, presents several facts which show that the pains of Purgatory are suited to the faults to be expiated. This venerable servant of God had the most intimate communication with the souls in Purgatory, so that they came in great numbers and filled her cell, humbly awaiting each one in turn to be assisted by her prayers. Frequently, the more easily to excite her compassion, they appeared with the instruments of their sins, now become the instruments of their torture. One day she saw a Religious surrounded by costly pieces of furniture, such as pictures, arm-chairs, &c., all in flames. She had collected these things in her cell contrary to her vow of religious poverty, and after her death they became her torment.

A notary appeared to her one day with all the insignia of his profession. Being heaped around him, the flames which issued therefrom caused him the most intense suffering. " I have used this pen, this ink, this paper," said he, " to draw up illegal deeds. I also had a passion for gambling, and these cards which I am forced to hold continually in my hands now constitute my punishment. This flaming purse contains my unlawful gains, and causes me to expiate them."

From all this we should draw great and salutary instruction. Creatures are given to man as a means to serve God ; they must be the instruments of virtue and good works. If he abuse them, and make them instruments of sin, it is just they should be turned against him, and become the instruments of his chastisement.
~ Excerpt from Purgatory: Illustrated by the Lives and Legends of the Saints
by Fr. F.X. Shouppe. S.J. ~

Friday, August 6, 2010

Our Blessed Mother Visits and Encourages Souls in Purgatory

March 24, 1874. "Tomorrow, visit the Blessed Sacrament as often as you can. I shall accompany you. I will have the happiness of being near Our Lord. Yes, that relieves me.

March 25, 1874. "I am now in the second Purgatory. Since my death, I have been in the first, where one endures such great suffering. We also suffer in the second, but not nearly as much as in the first. Always try to be a help to your superior. Do not speak often. Wait until you are questioned before you answer.

May 1874. "I have been in the second Purgatory since the Feast of the Annunciation. On that day I saw the Blessed Virgin for the first time. In the first stage, we never saw her. The sight of her encourages us and this beloved Mother speaks to us of Heaven. While we see her, our sufferings are greatly diminished."

~ Sr. M.G., a soul from Purgatory: from An unpublished Manuscript on Purgatory ~

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

St. Jean Vianney: Helping Faithful Departed Souls

"We must say many prayers for the souls of the faithful departed,
for one must be so pure to enter Heaven."

"Yet how quickly we could empty Purgatory if we but really wished to."

"If we were thoroughly convinced of the torments of Purgatory,
could we then so easily forget our parents.......
if God would permit them to show themselves
we would we would see them cast themselves down at our feet
"My children", they would cry out,
"have mercy on us! Oh, do not forsake us!'."

~ St. Jean Vianney ~

~ For videos on the Life of St. Jean Vianney, click here. ~

Monday, August 2, 2010

St. Peter Julian Eymard: Purgatory is God's Mercy Toward Sinners

"The love which God feels for us is more merciful than benevolent because, sinners by nature, we have above all need of mercy. Besides it is His mercy which He reveals more than all His other attributes, on this earth, during our lifetime. This world is its empire; time, its kingdom.

"Mercy has left the Heavens. It has come down to earth to envelop and cover man. It is his atmosphere and his environment, the air which he breathes, the light which illumines him. We live on mercy.

"It rescues the sinner from that justice which should punish every sin; it arrests it, holds it up until death itself. It follows man, accompanies him everywhere he goes, never leaves him, not even after his death, for it follows him into purgatory. Purgatory is nothing but the last effort of the mercy of God toward the sinner, and there is written above the door of that flaming prison: “The Mercy of God!”
~ St. Peter Julian Eymard ~

Sunday, August 1, 2010

What Heaven Is Like

"I am going to try to make you understand, as far as you can upon earth, what Heaven is like. There are ever new feasts which succeed each other without interruption. There is happiness, always new and such, it would seem, as has never been enjoyed. It is a torrent of joy which flows unceasingly over the elect. Heaven is above all and beyond all — GOD: God loved, God relished, God delighted in; in one word, it is to be satisfied with God without ever being satisfied!

"The more a soul loves God on earth, the higher she advances in perfection, the more she will love and understand God in Heaven."

"All things pass and pass quickly. Do not fret so much about things that will end one day. Aim at what will never end. By our holy actions united to Jesus, let us embellish our heavenly throne. Let us raise it up a few steps nearer to Him whom we shall contemplate and love throughout eternity."

~ Sr. M.G., a deceased nun: Excerpts from An Unpublished Manuscript on Purgatory ~