Read Me or Rue it
by Fr. Paul O'Sullivan
* APPROVAL OF HIS EMINENCE THE CARDINAL PATRIARCH OF LISBON
* CHAPTER 1 : WHAT IS PURGATORY?
* CHAPTER 2 : CAN ALL THIS BE TRUE?
* CHAPTER 3 : HOW LONG DO SOULS REMAIN IN PURGATORY?
* CHAPTER 4 : WHY PRAY FOR THE POOR SOULS?
* CHAPTER 5 : HOW WE CAN HELP THE HOLY SOULS
* CHAPTER 6 : WHAT THE HOLY SOULS DO FOR THOSE WHO HELP THEM
* APPENDIX : THE BROWN SCAPULAR
APPROVAL OF HIS EMINENCE THE CARDINAL PATRIARCH OF LISBON
Cardinal's Palace, Lisbon March 4, 1936
We approve and recommend with all our heart the beautiful little book Read
Me or Rue It by E. D. M. [These initials used by Fr. O'Sullivan stand for
Engant de Marie, that is, "Child of Mary" Ed.]
Although small, it is destined to do great good among Catholics, many of
whom are incredibly ignorant of the great doctrine of Purgatory. As a
consequence, they do little or nothing to avoid it themselves and little to
help the Poor Souls who are suffering there so intensely, waiting for the
Masses and prayers which should be offered for them.
It is our earnest desire that every Catholic should read this little book
and spread it about as widely as possible.
"READ ME OR RUE IT"
This title is somewhat startling. Yet, Dear Reader, if you peruse this
little book, you will see for yourself how well deserved it is. The book
tells us how to save ourselves and how to save others from untold
suffering. Some books are good and may be read with profit. Others are
better and should be read without fail.
There are, however, books of such sterling worth by reason of the counsels
they suggest, the conviction they carry with them, the urge to action they
give us that it would be sheer folly not to read them.
Read Me or Rue It belongs to this class. It is for your best interest, Dear
Friend, to read it and reread it, to ponder well and deeply on its
contents. You will never regret it; rather, great and poignant will be your
regret if you fail to study its few but pregnant pages.
HELP, HELP, THEY SUFFER SO MUCH!
I. We can never understand too clearly that every alms, small or great,
which we give to the poor we give to God.
He accepts it and rewards it as given to Himself. Therefore, all we do for
the Holy Souls, God accepts as done to Himself. It is as if we had relieved
or released Him from Purgatory. What a thought! How He will repay us!
II. As there is no hunger, no thirst, no poverty, no need, no pain, no
suffering to compare with what the Souls in Purgatory endure, so there is
no alms more deserving, none more pleasing to God, none more meritorious
for us than the alms, the prayers, the Masses we give to the Holy Souls.
III. It is very possible that some of our own nearest and dearest ones are
still suffering the excruciating pains of Purgatory and calling on us
piteously for help and relief.
Is it not dreadful that we are so hardened as not to think more about them,
that we are so cruel as to deliberately forget them!
For the dear Christ's sake, let us do all, but all, we can for them.
Every Catholic ought to join the Association of the Holy Souls.
"Have pity on me, have pity on me, at least you my friends, because the
hand of the Lord hath touched me. " (Job 19:21).
This is the touching prayer that the Poor Souls in Purgatory address to
their friends on Earth, begging, imploring their help, in accents of the
deepest anguish. Alas, many are deaf to their prayers!
It is incomprehensible how some Catholics, even those who are otherwise
devout, shamefully neglect the souls in Purgatory. It would almost seem
that they do not believe in Purgatory. Certain it is that their ideas on
the subject are very hazy.
Days and weeks and months pass without their having a Mass said for the
Holy Souls! Seldom, too, do they hear Mass for them, seldom do they pray
for them, seldom do they think of them! Whilst they are enjoying the
fullness of health and happiness, busy with their work, engrossed with
their amusements, the Poor Souls are suffering unutterable agonies on their
beds of flame. What is the cause of this awful callousness? Ignorance:
gross, inexplicable ignorance.
People do not realize what Purgatory is. They have no conception of its
dreadful pains, and they have no idea of the long years that souls are
detained in these awful fires. As a result, they take little or no care to
avoid Purgatory themselves, and worse still, they cruelly neglect the Poor
Souls who are already there and who depend entirely on them for help.
Dear Reader, peruse this little book with care and you will bless the day
that it fell into your hands.
CHAPTER 1 : WHAT IS PURGATORY?
It is a prison of fire in which nearly all [saved] souls are plunged after
death and in which they suffer the intensest pain.
Here is what the great Doctors of the Church tell us of Purgatory:
So grievous is their suffering that one minute in this awful fire seems
like a century.
St. Thomas Aquinas, the Prince of Theologians, says that the fire of
Purgatory is equal in intensity to the fire of Hell, and that the slightest
contact with it is more dreadful than all the possible sufferings of this
St. Augustine, the greatest of the Holy Doctors, teaches that to be
purified of their faults previous to being admitted to Heaven, souls after
death are subjected to a fire more penetrating, more dreadful than anything
we can see, or feel, or conceive in this life
"Though this fire is destined to cleanse and purify the soul, " adds the
Holy Doctor, "still it is more acute than anything we could possibly endure
on Earth. "
St. Cyril of Alexandria does not hesitate to say that "it would be
preferable to suffer all the possible torments of Earth until the Judgment
day than to pass one day in Purgatory. "
Another great Saint says: "Our fire, in comparison with the fire of
Purgatory, is as a refreshing breeze. "
The other holy writers speak in identical terms of this awful fire.
HOW COMES IT THAT THE PAINS OF PURGATORY ARE SO SEVERE?
1. The fire we see on Earth was made by the goodness of God for our comfort
and well-being Still, when used as a torment, it is the most dreadful one
we can imagine.
2. The fire of Purgatory, on the contrary, was made by the Justice of God
to punish and purify us and is, therefore, incomparably more severe.
3. Our fire, at most, burns this gross body of ours, made of clay; whereas,
the fire of Purgatory acts on the spiritual soul, which is unspeakably more
sensitive to pain.
4. The more intense our fire is, the more speedily it destroys its victim,
who therefore ceases to suffer; whereas, the fire of Purgatory inflicts the
keenest, most violent pain, but never kills the soul nor lessens its
5. Unsurpassingly severe as is the fire of Purgatory, the pain of loss or
separation from God, which the souls also suffer in Purgatory, is far more
severe. The soul separated from the body craves with all the intensity of
its spiritual nature for God. It is consumed with an intense desire to fly
to Him. Yet it is held back. No words can describe the anguish of this
What madness, therefore, it is for intelligent beings to neglect taking
every possible precaution to avoid such a dreadful fate.
It is puerile to say that it cannot be so, that we cannot understand it,
that it is better not to think or speak of it. The fact remains always the
same -- whether we believe it, or whether we do not -- that the pains of
Purgatory are beyond everything we can imagine or conceive. These are the
words of St. Augustine.
CHAPTER 2 : CAN ALL THIS BE TRUE?
The existence of Purgatory is so certain that no Catholic has ever
entertained a doubt of it. It was taught from the earliest days of the
Church and was accepted with undoubting faith wherever the Gospel was
The doctrine is revealed in Holy Scripture and has been handed down by
Tradition, taught by the infallible Church and believed by the millions and
millions of faithful of all times.
Yet, as we have remarked, the ideas of many are vague and superficial on
this most important subject They are like a person who closes his eyes and
walks deliberately over the edge of a yawning precipice.
They would do well to remember that the best means of lessening our term in
Purgatory -- or of avoiding it altogether -- is to have clear ideas of it,
to think well on it and to adopt the means God offers for avoiding it.
Not to think of it is fatal. It is nothing else than preparing for
themselves a fearfully long and rigorous Purgatory.
THE POLISH PRINCE
A Polish prince who, for some political reason, had been exiled from his
native country bought a beautiful castle and property in France.
Unfortunately, he had lost the Faith of his childhood and was at the time
of our story engaged in writing a book against God and the existence of a
Strolling one evening in his garden, he came upon a poor woman weeping
bitterly. He questioned her as to the cause of her grief.
"Ah! Prince," she replied, "I am the wife of Jean [John] Marie, your former
steward, who died two days ago. He was a good husband to me and a faithful
servant to Your Highness. His sickness was long and I spent all our savings
on the doctors, and now I have nothing left to get Masses said for his
The Prince, touched by her grief, said a few kind words and, though
professing no longer to believe in a future life, gave her some gold coins
to have Masses said for her husband's soul.
Some time after, it was again evening, and the Prince was in his study
working feverishly at his hook.
He heard a loud rap at the door and without looking up called out to the
visitor to come in. The door slowly opened and a man entered and stood
facing the Prince's writing table.
On glancing up, what was not the Prince's amazement to see Jean Marie, his
dead steward, looking at him with a sweet smile.
"Prince, " he said, "I come to thank you for the Masses you enabled my wife
to have said for my soul. Thanks to the saving Blood of Christ, which was
offered for me, I am now going to Heaven, but God has allowed me to come
and thank you for your generous alms. "
He then added impressively: "Prince, there is a God, a future life, a
Heaven and a Hell. "
Having said these words he disappeared.
The Prince fell upon his knees and poured forth a fervent Credo ( I believe
in God.. ").
ST. ANTONINUS AND HIS FRIEND
Here is a narrative of a different kind, but not less instructive.
St. Antoninus, the illustrious Archbishop of Florence, relates that a pious
gentleman had died, who was a great friend of the Dominican Convent in
which the Saint resided. Many Masses and suffrages were offered for his
The Saint was very much afflicted when, after the lapse of a long time, the
soul of the poor gentleman appeared to him, suffering excruciating pains.
"Oh, my Dear Friend, " exclaimed the Archbishop, "are you still in
Purgatory, you who led such a pious and devout life?"
"Yes, and I shall remain there still for a long time, " replied the poor
sufferer, "for when on Earth I neglected to offer suffrages for the souls
in Purgatory. Now, God by a just judgment has applied the suffrages which
have been offered for me to those souls for whom I should have prayed. "
"But God, too, in His Justice, will give me all the merits of my good works
when I enter Heaven; but first of all, I have to expiate my grave neglect
in regard to others. "
So true are the words of Our Lord: "By that measure with which you measure,
it will be measured to you again. "
Remember, you who read these lines, that the terrible fate of this pious
gentleman will be the fate of all those who neglect to pray for and ù
refuse to help the Holy Souls.
CHAPTER 3 : HOW LONG DO SOULS REMAIN IN PURGATORY?
The length of time souls are detained in Purgatory depends on:
a) the number of their faults;
b) the malice and deliberation with which these have been committed;
c) the penance done, or not done, the satisfaction made, or not made for
sins during life;
d) Much, too, depends on the suffrages offered for them after death
What can safely be said is that the time souls spend in Purgatory is, as a
rule, very much longer than people commonly imagine.
We will quote a few of the many instances which are recounted in the lives
and revelations of the Saints.
St. Louis Bertrand's father was an exemplary Christian, as we should
naturally expect, being the father of so great a Saint. He had even wished
to become a Carthusian monk until he learned that it was not God's will for
When he died, after long years spent in the practice of every Christian
virtue, his saintly son, fully aware of the rigors of God's Justice,
offered many Masses and poured forth the most fervent supplications for the
soul he so dearly loved.
A vision of his father still in Purgatory forced him to intensify a
hundredfold his suffrages. He added most severe penances and long fasts to
his Masses and prayers. Yet eight whole years passed before he obtained the
release of his father.
St. Malachy's sister was detained in Purgatory for a very long time,
despite the Masses, prayers and heroic mortifications the Saint offered for
It was related to a holy nun in Pampluna, who had succeeded in releasing
many Carmelite nuns from Purgatory, that most of these had spent there
terms of from 30 to 60 years!
Carmelite nuns in Purgatory for 40, 50 and 60 years! What will it be for
those living amidst the temptations of the World and with all their
hundreds of weaknesses?
St. Vincent Ferrer, after the death of his sister, prayed with incredible
fervor for her soul and offered many Masses for her release. She appeared
to him at length and told him that had it not been for his powerful
intercession with God, she should have remained an interminable time in
In the Dominican Order it is the rule to pray for the Master Generals by
name on their anniversaries. Many of these have been dead several hundred
years! They were men especially eminent for piety and learning. This rule
would not be approved by the Church were it not necessary and prudent.
We do not mean to imply that all souls are detained equally long periods in
the expiatory fires. Many have committed lesser faults and have done more
penance. Therefore, their punishment will be much less severe.
Still, the instances we have quoted are very much to the point, for if
these souls who enjoyed the intimacy, who saw the example and who shared in
the intercession of great Saints during their lives and were aided by their
most efficacious suffrages after death were yet detained for such a length
of time in Purgatory, what may not happen to us who enjoy none of these
WHY SUCH LENGTHY EXPIATION?
The reasons are not difficult to find:
1. The malice of sin is very great. What appear to us small faults are in
reality serious offenses against the infinite goodness of God. It is enough
to see how the Saints wept over their faults.
We are weak, it may be urged. That is true, but then God offers us abundant
graces to strengthen our weakness, gives us light to see the gravity of our
faults, and the necessary force to
conquer temptation. If we are still weak, the fault is all our own. We do
not use the light and strength God so generously offers us; we do not pray,
we do not receive the Sacraments as we should.
2. An eminent theologian wisely remarks that if souls are condemned to Hell
for all eternity because of one mortal sin, it is not to be wondered at
that other souls should be detained for long years in Purgatory who have
committed countless deliberate venial sins, some of which are so grave that
at the time of their commission the sinner scarcely knows if they are
mortal or venial. Too, they may have committed many mortal sins for which
they have had little sorrow and done little or no penance. The guilt has
been remitted by absolution, but the pain due to the sins will have to be
paid in Purgatory.
Our Lord tells us that we shall have to render an account for each and
every idle word we say and that we may not leave our prison until we shall
have paid the last farthing. (Cf. Matt. 5:26.)
The Saints committed few and slight sins, and still they sorrowed much and
did severe penances. We commit many and grave sins, and we sorrow little
and do little or no penance.
It would be difficult to calculate the immense number of venial sins that
any Catholic commits.
a) There is an infinite number of faults of selflove, selfishness;
thoughts, words and acts of sensuality, too, in a hundred forms; faults of
charity in thought, word and deed; laziness, vanity, jealousy, tepidity and
innumerable other faults.
b) There are sins of omission which we pay so little heed to. We love God
so little, yet He has a thousand claims on our love. We treat Him with
coldness, indifference and base ingratitude.
He died for each one of us. Do we ever thank Him as we ought? He remains
day and night on the Altar, waiting for our visits, anxious to help us. How
seldom we go to Him! He longs to come into our hearts in Holy Communion,
and we refuse Him entrance. He offers Himself up for us on the Altar every
morning at Mass and gives oceans of graces to those who assist at the Great
Sacrifice. Yet many are too lazy to go to this Calvary! What an abuse of
c) Our hearts are mean and hard, full of selflove. We have happy homes,
splendid food, warm clothing, an abundance of all good things. Many around
us live in hunger and misery, and we give them so little; whereas, we spend
lavishly and needlessly on ourselves.
d) Life is given us to serve God, to save our souls. Most Christians,
however, are satisfied to give God five minutes of prayer in the morning,
five minutes at night! The rest of the 24 hours is given to work, rest and
pleasure. Ten minutes to God, to our immortal souls, to the great work we
have to do, viz., our salvation. Twenty-three hours and 50 minutes to this
transitory life! Is it fair to God?
It may be alleged that our work, our rest, our sufferings are done for God!
They should be, and then our merits would be indeed great. The truth is
that many scarcely ever think of God during the day. The one engrossing
object of their thoughts is self. They think and labor and rest and sleep
to satisfy self. God gets a very little place in their day and in their
minds. This is an outrage to His loving Heart, which is ever thinking of
NOW TO COME TO MORTAL SINS
e) Many Christians unfortunately commit mortal sins during their lives, but
though they confess them, they make no due satisfaction for them, as we
have already said.
The Venerable Bede appears to be of the opinion that those who pass a great
part of their lives in the commission of grave sins and confess them on
their deathbed may be detained in Purgatory even until the Last Day.
St. Gertrude in her revelations states that those who have committed many
grave sins and have not done due penance may not share in the ordinary
suffrages of the Church for a very considerable time!
All those sins, mortal and venial, are accumulating for the 20, 30, 40, 60
years of our lives. Each and every one has to be atoned for after death.
Is it, then, any wonder that souls have to remain so long in Purgatory?
CHAPTER 4 : WHY PRAY FOR THE POOR SOULS?
Our Lord's Great Law is that we must love one another, genuinely and
sincerely. The First Great Commandment is to love God with all our heart
and soul. The Second, or rather a part of the First, is to love our
neighbor as ourselves. This is not a counsel or a mere wish of the
Almighty. It is His Great Commandment, the very base and essence of His
Law. So true is this that He takes as done to Himself what we do for our
neighbor, and as refused to Himself what we refuse to our neighbor.
We read in the Gospel of St. Matthew (Matt. 25:34-46) the words that Christ
will address to the just on Judgment Day:
Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye
blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the
foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was
thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in:
Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and
you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we
see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? And when did
we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? Or
when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? And the king
answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to
one of these my least brethren, you did it to me. Then he shall say to them
also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into
everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was
hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to
drink. I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you covered me
not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit me. Then they also shall
answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a
stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee?
Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it
not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me. And these shall go
into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.
Some Catholics seem to think that this Law has fallen into abeyance in
these days of selfassertion and selfishness, when everyone thinks only of
himself and his personal aggrandizement.
"It is useless to urge the Law of Love nowadays, " they say, "everyone has
to shift for himself, or go under. "
No such thing! God's great Law is still and will ever he in full force.
Nay, it is more than ever necessary, more than ever our duty and more than
ever our own best interest.
WE ARE BOUND TO PRAY FOR THE HOLY SOULS
We are always bound to love and help each other, but the greater the need
of our neighbor, the more stringent and the more urgent this obligation is.
It is not a favor that we may do or leave undone, it is our duty: we must
help each other.
It would be a monstrous crime, for instance, to refuse the poor and
destitute the food necessary to keep them alive. It would be appalling to
refuse aid to one in direst need, to pass by and not extend a hand to save
a drowning man. Not only must we help others when it is easy and
convenient, but we must make every sacrifice, when need be, to succor our
brother in distress.
Now, who can be in more urgent need of our charity than the souls in
Purgatory? What hunger or thirst or dire sufferings on this Earth can
compare to their dreadful torments? Neither the poor nor the sick nor the
suffering we see around us have any such urgent need of our succor. Yet we
find many good-hearted people who interest themselves in every other type
of suffering, but alas, scarcely one who works for the Holy Souls!
Who can have more claim on us? Among them, too, there may be our mothers
and fathers, our friends and near of kin.
GOD WISHES US TO HELP THEM
In any event, they are God's dearest friends. He longs to help them; He
desires most earnestly to have them in Heaven. They can never again offend
Him, and they are destined to be with Him for all Eternity. True, God's
Justice demands expiation of their sins, but by an amazing dispensation of
His Providence He places in our hands the means of assisting them, He gives
us the power to relieve and even release them. Nothing pleases Him more
than for us to help them. He is as grateful to us as if we had helped
OUR LADY WANTS US TO HELP THEM
Never did a mother of this Earth love so tenderly a dying child, never did
she strive so earnestly to soothe its pains, as Mary seeks to console her
suffering children in Purgatory, to have them with her in Heaven. We give
her unbounded joy each time we take a soul out of Purgatory.
THE HOLY SOULS WILL REPAY US A THOUSAND TIMES OVER
But what shall we say of the feelings of the Holy Souls themselves? It
would be utterly impossible to describe their unbounded gratitude to those
who help them! Filled with an immense desire to repay the favors done them,
they pray for their benefactors with a fervor so great, so intense, so
constant that God can refuse them nothing St. Catherine of Bologna says: "I
received many and very great favors from the Saints, but still greater
favors from the Holy Souls. "
When they are finally released from their pains and enjoy the beatitude of
Heaven, far from forgetting their friends on Earth, their gratitude knows
no bounds. Prostrate before the Throne of God, they never cease to pray for
those who helped them. By their prayers they shield their friends from the
dangers and protect them from the evils that threaten them.
They will never cease these prayers until they see their benefactors safely
in Heaven, and they will be forever their dearest, sincerest and best
Did Catholics only know what powerful protectors they secure by helping the
Holy Souls, they would not be so remiss in praying for them.
THE HOLY SOULS WILL LESSEN OUR PURGATORY
Another great grace that they obtain for their helpers is a short and easy
Purgatory, or possibly its complete remission!
Saint John Massias, the Dominican lay brother, had a wonderful devotion to
the Souls in Purgatory. He obtained by his prayers (chiefly by the
recitation of the Rosary) the liberation of one million four hundred
In return, they obtained for him the most abundant and extraordinary graces
and came at the hour of his death to help and console him and accompany him
This fact is so certain that it was inserted by the Church in the bull of
The learned Cardinal Baronius recounts a similar incident.
He was himself called to assist a dying gentleman. Suddenly, a host of
blessed spirits appeared in the chamber of death, consoled the dying man
and chased away the devils who sought, by a last desperate effort, to
compass his ruin.
When asked who they were, they made answer that they were 8, 000 souls whom
he had released from Purgatory by his prayers and good works. They were
sent by God, so they said, to take him to Heaven without his passing one
moment in Purgatory.
St. Gertrude was fiercely tempted by the devil when she came to die. The
evil spirit reserves a dangerous and subtle temptation for our last
moments. As he could find no other ruse sufficiently clever with which to
assail the Saint, he thought to disturb her beautiful peace of soul by
suggesting that she would surely remain long years in the awful fires of
Purgatory since, he reminded her, she had long ago made over all her
suffrages to other souls. But Our Blessed Lord, not content with sending
His Angels and the thousands of souls she had released to assist her, came
Himself in person to drive away Satan and comfort His dear Saint. He told
St. Gertrude that in exchange for all she had done for the Holy Souls, He
would take her straight to Heaven and would multiply a hundredfold all her
Blessed Henry Suso, of the Dominican Order, made a compact with a fellow
religious to the effect that, when one of the two died, the survivor would
offer two Masses each week for his soul, and other prayers as well.
It so fell out that his companion died first, and Blessed Henry commenced
immediately to offer the promised Masses. These he continued to say for a
long time. At last, quite sure that the soul of his saintly friend had
reached Heaven, he ceased offering the Masses.
Great was his sorrow and consternation when the soul of the dead brother
appeared to him suffering intensely and chiding him for not celebrating the
promised Masses. Blessed Henry replied with deep regret that he had not
continued the Masses, believing that his friend must be enjoying the
Beatific Vision but he added that he had ever remembered him in prayer.
"O dear Brother Henry, please give me the Masses, for it is the Precious
Blood of Jesus that I most need!" cried out the suffering soul. Blessed
Henry began anew and, with redoubled fervor, offered Masses and prayers for
his friend until he received absolute certitude of his delivery.
Then it was his turn to receive graces and blessings of all kinds from the
dear brother he had relieved, and very many times more than he could have
CHAPTER 5 : HOW WE CAN HELP THE HOLY SOULS
I. The first means is by joining the Association of the Holy Souls. The
conditions are easy:
a) Have your name registered in the Book of the Association.
b) Hear Mass once a week (Sunday suffices) for the Holy Souls.
c) Pray for and promote devotion to the Holy Souls.
d) Contribute once a year an offering to the Mass Fund, which enables the
Association to have perpetual Masses said every month.
(If special Masses for the Holy Souls are desired, it is important to
mention how many Masses you want offered. )
Those who wish to join and do not have the Association in their parish can
send their name, address and annual alms to the Association of the Holy
Souls, Dominican Nuns of the Perpetual Rosary, Pius XII Monastery, Rua do
Rosario 1, 2495 Fatima, Portugal. This Association is approved by the
Cardinal Archbishop of Lisbon.
II. A second means of helping the Holy Souls is by having Masses offered
for them. This is certainly the most efficacious way of relieving them.
III. Those who cannot get many Masses offered, owing to the want of means,
ought to assist at as many Masses as possible for this intention.
A young man who was earning a very modest salary told the writer: "My wife
died a few years ago. I got 10 Masses said for her. I could not possibly do
more, but heard 1, 000 for her dear soul. "
IV. The recital of the Rosary (with its great indulgences) and making the
Way of the Cross (which is also richly indulgenced) are excellent means of
helping the Holy Souls.
St. John Massias, as we saw, released from Purgatory more than a million
souls, chiefly by reciting the Rosary and offering its great indulgences
V. Another easy and efficacious way is by the constant repetition of short
indulgenced prayers [applying the indulgence to the Souls in Purgatory].
Many people have the custom of saying 500 or 1,000 times each day the
little ejaculation, "Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in Thee!" or
the one word, "Jesus. " These are most consoling devotions; they bring
oceans of grace to those who practice them and give immense relief to the
Those who say the ejaculations 1,000 times a day gain 300,000 days
Indulgence! What a multitude of souls they can thus relieve! What will it
not be at the end of a month, a year, 50 years? And if they do not say the
ejaculations, what an immense number of graces and favors they shall have
lost! It is quite possible -- and even easy -- to say these ejaculations 1,
000 times a day. But if one does not say them 1,000 times, let him say them
500 or 200 times.
VI. Still another powerful prayer is:
"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the most Precious Blood of Jesus, with all
the Masses being said all over the world this day, for the Souls in
Our Lord showed St. Gertrude a vast number of souls leaving Purgatory and
going to Heaven as a result of this prayer, which the Saint was accustomed
to say frequently during the day.
VII. The Heroic Act consists in offering to God in favor of the Souls in
Purgatory all the works of satisfaction we practice during life and all the
suffrages that will be offered for us after death. If God rewards so
abundantly the most trifling alms given to a poor man in His name, what an
immense reward will He not give to those who offer all their works of
satisfaction in life and death for the Souls He loves so dearly.
This Act does not prevent priests from offering Mass for the intentions
they wish, or lay people from praying for any persons or other intentions
they desire. We counsel everyone to make this act.
ALMS HELP THE HOLY SOULS
St. Martin gave half of his cloak to a poor beggar, only to find out
afterwards that it was to Christ he had given it. Our Lord appeared to him
and thanked him.
Blessed Jordan of the Dominican Order could never refuse to give an alms
when it was asked in the Name of God. One day he had forgotten his purse. A
poor man implored an alms for the love of God. Rather than refuse him,
Jordan, who was then a student, gave him a most precious cincture or
"girdle" which he prized dearly. Shortly after, he entered a church and
found his cincture encircling the waist of an image of Christ Crucified.
He, too, had given his alms to Christ. We all give our alms to Christ.
a) Let us give all the alms we can afford;
b) Let us have said all the Masses in our power;
c) Let us hear as many more as is possible;
d) Let us offer all our pains and sufferings for the relief of the Holy
We shall thus deliver countless Souls from Purgatory, who will repay us ten
thousand times over.
CHAPTER 6 : WHAT THE HOLY SOULS DO FOR THOSE WHO HELP THEM
St. Alphonsus Liguori says that, although the Holy Souls cannot merit for
themselves, they can obtain for us great graces. They are not, formally
speaking, intercessors, as the Saints are, but through the sweet Providence
of God, they can obtain for us as astounding favors and deliver us from
evils, sickness and dangers of every kind.
It is beyond all doubt, as we have already said, that they repay us a
thousand times for anything we do for them.
The following facts, a few hundred of which we might quote, are sufficient
to show what powerful and generous friends the Holy Souls are.
HOW A GIRL FOUND HER MOTHER
A poor servant girl in France named Jeanne Marie once heard a sermon on the
Holy Souls which made an indelible impression on her mind. She was deeply
moved by the thought of the intense and unceasing sufferings the Poor Souls
endure, and she was horrified to see how cruelly they are neglected and
forgotten by their friends on Earth.
Among other things the preacher stressed was that many souls who are in
reality near to their release -- one Mass might suffice to set them free --
are oftentimes long detained; it may be for years, just because the last
needful suffrage has been withheld or forgotten or neglected!
With her simple faith, Jeanne Marie resolved that, cost what it might, she
would have a Mass said for the Poor Souls every month, especially for the
soul nearest to Heaven. She earned little, and it was sometimes difficult
to keep her promise, but she never failed.
On one occasion she went to Paris with her mistress and there fell ill, so
that she was obliged to go to the hospital. Unfortunately, the illness
proved to be a long one, and her mistress had to return home, hoping that
her maid would soon rejoin her. When at last the poor servant was able to
leave the hospital, all she had left of her scanty earnings was one franc!
What was she to do? Where to turn? Suddenly, the thought flashed across her
mind that she had not had her usual monthly Mass offered for the Holy
Souls. But she had only one franc! That was little enough to buy her food.
Yet her confidence that the Holy Souls would not fail her triumphed. She
made her way into a church and asked a priest, just about to say Mass, if
he would offer it for the Holy Souls. He consented to do so, never dreaming
that the modest alms offered was the only money the poor girl possessed. At
the conclusion of the Holy Sacrifice, our heroine left the church. A wave
of sadness clouded her face; she felt utterly bewildered.
A young gentleman, touched by her evident distress, asked her if she was in
trouble and if he could help her. She told her story briefly, and ended by
saying how much she desired work.
Somehow she felt consoled at the kind way in which the young man listened
to what she said, and she fully recovered her confidence.
"I am delighted beyond measure, " he said, "to help you. I know a lady who
is even now looking for a servant. Come with me. " And so saying he led her
to a house not far distant and bade her ring the bell, assuring her that
she would find work.
In answer to her ring, the lady of the house herself opened the door and
inquired what Jeanne Marie required. "Madam, " she said, "I have been told
that you are looking for a servant. I have no work and should be glad to
get the position. "
The lady was amazed and replied: "Who could have told you that I needed a
servant? It was only a few minutes ago that I had to dismiss my maid, and
that at a moment's notice. You did not meet her?"
"No, Madam. The person who informed me that you required a servant was a
young gentleman. "
"Impossible!" exclaimed the lady. "No young man, in fact no one at all,
could have known that I needed a servant. "
"But Madam, " the girl answered excitedly, pointing to a picture on the
wall, "that is the young man who told me!"
"Why, child, that is my only son, who has been dead for more than a year!"
"Dead or not, " asserted the girl with deep conviction in her voice, "it
was he who told me to come to you, and he even led me to the door. See the
scar over his eye; I would know him anywhere. "
Then followed the full story of how, with her last franc, she had had Mass
offered for the Holy Souls, especially for the one nearest to Heaven.
Convinced at last of the truth of what Jeanne Marie had told her, the lady
received her with open arms. "Come, " she said, "though not as my servant,
but as my dear daughter. You have sent my darling boy to Heaven. I have no
doubt that it was he who brought you to me. "
HOW A POOR BOY BECAME A BISHOP, A CARDINAL, AND A SAINT
St. Peter Damian lost both father and mother shortly after his birth. One
of his brothers adopted him, but treated him with unnatural harshness,
forcing him to work hard and giving him poor food and scanty clothing.
One day Peter found a silver piece, which represented to him a small
fortune. A friend told him that he could conscientiously use it for him
self, as the owner could not be found.
The only difficulty Peter had was to choose what it was he most needed, for
he was in sore need of many things.
While turning the matter over in his young mind, it struck him that he
could do a still better thing, viz., have a Mass said for the Holy Souls in
Purgatory, especially for the souls of his dear parents. At the cost of a
great sacrifice, he put this thought into effect and had the Mass offered.
The Holy Souls repaid his sacrifice most generously. From that day forward
a complete change became noticeable in his fortunes.
His eldest brother called at the house where he lived and, horrified at the
brutal hardships the little fellow was subjected to, arranged that he be
handed over to his own care. He clad him and fed him as his own child, and
educated and cared for him most affectionately. Blessing followed upon
blessing. Peter's wonderful talents became known, and he was rapidly
promoted to the priesthood; sometime after he was raised to the episcopacy
and, finally, created Cardinal. Miracles attested his great sanctity, so
that after death he was canonized and made a Doctor of the Church.
These wonderful graces came to him after that one Mass said for the Holy
AN ADVENTURE IN THE APENNINES
A group of priests was called to Rome to treat of a grave business matter.
They were bearers of important documents, and a large sum of money was
entrusted to them for the Holy Father. Aware that the Apennines, over which
they had to pass, were infested by daring bandits, they chose a trusty
driver. There was no tunnel through the mountains nor train in those days.
They placed themselves under the protection of the Holy Souls and decided
to say a De Profundis every hour for them.
When right in the heart of the mountains, the driver gave the alarm and at
the same time lashed the horses into a furious gallop. Looking around, the
priests saw fierce bandits at each side of the road with rifles aimed,
ready to fire. They were amazed that no shot rang out. They were completely
at the mercy of the bandits.
After an hour's headlong flight, the driver stopped and, looking at the
priests, said: "I can not understand how we escaped. These desperadoes
never spare anyone. "
The Fathers were convinced that they owed their safety to the Holy Souls, a
fact that was afterwards confirmed beyond doubt.
When their business was concluded in Rome, one of their number was detained
in the Eternal City, where he was appointed chaplain to a prison Not long
after, one of the fiercest brigands in Italy was captured, condemned to
death for a long series of murders and was awaiting execution in this
Anxious to gain his confidence, the chaplain told him of several adventures
he himself had had and, finally, of his recent escape in the Apennines. The
criminal manifested the greatest interest in the story. When it was ended,
he exclaimed: "I was the leader of that band! We thought that you had money
and we determined to rob and murder you. An invisible force prevented each
and all of us from firing, as we assuredly would have done had we been
The chaplain then told the brigand of how they had placed themselves under
the protection of the Holy Souls, and that they ascribed their deliverance
to their protection.
The bandit found no difficulty in believing it. In fact, it made his
conversion more easy. He died full of repentance.
HOW POPE PIUS IX CURED A BAD MEMORY
The venerable Pontiff, Pius IX, appointed a holy and prudent religious
named Padre Tomaso to be bishop of a diocese. The priest, alarmed at the
responsibility put upon him, begged earnestly to be excused.
His protests were in vain. The Holy Father knew his merits.
Overcome with apprehension, the humble religious solicited an audience with
the Pope, who received him most graciously. Once more he pleaded earnestly
to be excused, but the Pope was immovable.
As a last recourse, Padre Tomaso told the Holy Father that he had a very
bad memory, which would naturally prove to be a grave impediment in the
high office put upon him.
Pius IX answered with a smile: "Your diocese is very small in comparison
with the Universal Church, which I carry on my shoulders. Your cares will
be very light in comparison with mine.
"I, too, suffered from a grave defect of memory, but I promised to say a
fervent prayer daily for the Holy Souls, who, in return, have obtained for
me an excellent memory. Do you likewise, Dear Father, and you will have
cause to rejoice. "
THE MORE WE GIVE, THE MORE WE GET
A businessman in Boston joined the Association of the Holy Souls and gave a
large sum of money annually that prayers and Masses might be said for them.
The Director of the Association was surprised at the gentleman's
generosity, for he knew that he was not a rich man. He asked kindly one day
if the alms he so generously gave were his own offering or donations which
he had gathered from others.
"What I offer, Dear Fathers, " the gentleman said, "is my own offering. Be
not alarmed. I am not a very rich man, and you may think that I give more
than I am able to do. It is not so, for far from losing by my charity, the
Holy Souls see to it that l gain considerably more than I give. They are
second to none in generosity. "
THE PRINTER OF COLOGNE
The celebrated printer of Cologne, William Freyssen, gives us the following
account of how his child and wife were restored to health by the Holy
William Freyssen got the order to print a little work on Purgatory. When he
was correcting the proofs, his attention was caught by the facts narrated
in the book. He learned for the first time what wonders the Holy Souls can
work for their friends.
Just at that time his son fell grievously ill, and soon the case became
desperate. Remembering what he had read about the power of the Holy Souls,
Freyssen at once promised to spread, at his own expense, a hundred copies
of the book which his firm was printing. To make the promise more solemn,
he went to the church and there made his vow. At once a sense of peace and
confidence filled his soul. On his return home, the boy, who had been
unable to swallow a drop of water, asked for food. Next day he was out of
danger and soon completely cured.
At once, Freyssen ordered the books on Purgatory to be distributed, feeling
sure that it was the best way to obtain help for the suffering souls, by
interesting a hundred people in them. No one who knows what the Poor Souls
suffer can refuse to pray for them.
Time passed, and a new sorrow fell to the share of the printer. This time
his dear wife was stricken down and, despite every care, grew daily worse.
She lost the use of her mind and was almost completely paralyzed, so that
the doctor gave up all hope.
The husband, bethinking him of what the Holy Souls had done for his boy,
again ran to the church and promised to distribute 200 of the books on
Purgatory, begging in exchange the urgent succor of the Holy Souls.
Wonderful to relate, the mental aberration ceased, his wife's mind became
normal, and she recovered the use of her limbs and of her tongue. In a
short time she was perfectly restored to health.
THE CURE OF A CANCER
D. Joana de Menezes thus tells of her cure: She was suffering severely from
a cancerous growth in the leg and was plunged in grief.
Remembering what she had heard of the power of the Souls in Purgatory, she
resolved to place all her confidence in them and had nine Masses offered
for them. She promised, moreover, to publish news of her cure if it were
Gradually the swelling went down, and the tumor and cancer disappeared.
AN ESCAPE FROM BRIGANDS
Father Louis Manaci, a zealous missionary, had great devotion to the Souls
in Purgatory. He found himself obliged to set out on a dangerous journey,
but confidently asked the Holy Souls to protect him in the dangers that he
was likely to meet with. His road lay through a vast desert, which he knew
to be infested with brigands. While plodding along, saying the Rosary for
the Holy Souls, what was not his surprise, on looking around, but to find
himself surrounded by a bodyguard, as it were, of blessed spirits. Soon he
discovered the reason. He had fallen into an ambuscade of brigands, but the
Holy Souls at once surrounded him and drove off the miscreants, who sought
his life. The Holy Souls did not abandon him until he was well out of
A RETURN TO LIFE
The Prior of Cirfontaines gives us his story: "A young man of my parish
fell dangerously ill with a typhoid fever. His parents were overcome with
grief and asked me to recommend him to the prayers of the members of the
Association of the Holy Souls.
"It was Saturday. The boy was at death's door. The doctors had had recourse
to every remedy. All in vain. They could think of nothing more. They were
"I was the only one who had hope. I knew the power of the Holy Souls, for I
had already seen what they could do.
"On Sunday I begged the Associates of the Holy Souls to pray fervently for
our sick friend.
"On Monday the danger passed. The boy was cured."
READ AND WAKE UP!
"In my long life, " writes a priest, "I have noticed with amazement how few
Catholics give generously to the poor and needy, notwithstanding what Our
Blessed Lord commands them to do.
"I have also remarked that some Catholics are, indeed, very generous and
good. Some care for the poor, others look after the sick. Lepers,
consumptives, cancer patients, the mentally deficient, all have their
friends. Some prefer to help the young, the hearts of others go out to the
old. All the various classes of the poor and needy find champions --
though, as I have said, these are not nearly as many and generous as they
"The strangest thing of all is that I have never met one man or woman who
has dedicated himself or herself entirely, whole heartedly, to the greatest
of all charities, to the greatest of all the needy -- viz., the Holy Souls
in Purgatory. "There may be a few who do so, but in my long and very varied
experience, I have never met any. "
Alas, the words of this good priest are only too true!
We appeal to those who have not as yet dedicated themselves to any
particular form of charity to dedicate all their energies to the Holy
Souls. Let them do what they can personally, and also induce others to
The best way is to practice the counsels contained in this booklet and to
spread about hundreds of copies of this inexpensive little book and thus
make hundreds of friends for the Holy Souls. For who can read it and refuse
to help them?
THE BROWN SCAPULAR (The following official information was obtained from
the National Scapular center, Darien, Illinois, May 9, 1986. )
Two wonderful promises of Our Lady of Mount Carmel are available to those
who have been enrolled in the Brown Scapular.
The great promise of the Blessed Virgin Mary, given to St. Simon Stock on
July 16, 1251, is as follows: "Whoever dies wearing this scapular shall not
suffer eternal fire. "
Our Lady's second Scapular Promise, known as the Sabbatine Privilege (the
word "Sabbatine" meaning"Saturday"), was given by the Blessed Virgin Mary
to Pope John XXII in the year 1322 and is as follows: "I, the Mother of
Grace, shall descend on the Saturday after their death, and whomsoever I
shall find in Purgatory, I shall free. "
There are three conditions for obtaining this privilege: 1) the wearing of
the Brown Scapular; 2) the practice of chastity according to one's state of
life; 3) the daily recitation of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin
Those who cannot read can abstain from meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays
instead of reciting the Little Office. Also, any priest who has diocesan
faculties (this includes most priests) has the additional faculty to
commute (change) the third requirement into another pious work -- for
example, the daily Rosary.
Because of the greatness of the Sabbatine privilege, the Carmelite Order
suggests that the third requirement not be commuted into anything less than
the daily recitation of seven Our Fathers, seven Hail Marys, and seven
Glory Be to the Fathers.
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