+St. John Chrysostom+
Various articles on this site explain the doctrine of the Mystical Body and how it is that we may be counted as members of that Body, even though we have no pope and we are not formally abjured from the heresies we may have committed as members of the NO or as Traditionalists (see https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/free-content/reference-links/2-the-church/are-traditionalists-members/).
The Catholic Encyclopedia defines the communion of saints as “the spiritual solidarity which binds together the faithful on earth, the souls in purgatory, and the saints in heaven in the organic unity of the same mystical body under Christ its head, and in a constant interchange of supernatural offices. The participants in that solidarity are called saints by reason of their destination and of their partaking of the fruits of the Redemption (1 Corinthians 1:2 — Greek Text).”
Under the subject ‘Church,’ the Catholic Encyclopedia states: “The Church is divided into the Church Militant, the Church Suffering, and the Church Triumphant… The doctrine of the visibility [of the Church] in no way excludes from the Church those who have already attained to bliss. These are united with the members of the Church Militant in one communion of saints. They watch her struggles; their prayers are offered on her behalf. Similarly, those who are still in the cleansing fires of purgatory belong to the Church. There are not, as has been said, two Churches; there is but one Church, and of it all the souls of the just, whether in heaven, on earth, or in purgatory, are members (Catech. Rom., I, x, 6). But it is to the Church only in so far as militant here below — to the Church among men — that the property of visibility belongs.”
Rt. Rev. W. Keppler, D.D., Bishop of Rottenburg, in his work The Poor Souls in Purgatory wrote in 1923: “’Pray for one another, that you may be saved, for the prayer of the just man availeth much’ (James 5:16). This advice and assurance of St. James applies not only within the limits of the Church Militiant on earth, but it extends to the Triumphant Church and the Suffering Church beyond. We invoke the Saints in Heaven, and they pray for us and send us graces, that we may obtain salvation. The saints in Heaven and the faithful on earth send help to the Poor Souls, that they may reach their final goal. The Poor Souls, in their turn, pray for us, and the prayer of these just souls availeth much for our salvation. Behold here the never-interrupted telephonic connection, the wonderful transmission of power from one realm of the Church to the others” (p. 170-71).
Rev. Clement Crock, in his discourses on the Apostles Creed, explains the phrase in that prayer “the communion of Saints,” writing: “…Every faithful Christian is included in the Church Militant.” And he defines the Church Militant as those who successfully wage spiritual combat each day. “The second group of the Communion of Saints is known as the Church Suffering. Its membership is composed of the suffering souls in Purgatory… We can safely conjecture that these souls can pray for us here on earth. But their own wounds, caused by their sins while on earth, can be healed only through suffering, or through our vicarious good works in their behalf. The last and highest division of the Communion of Saints is formed by the blessed in heaven and is known as the Church Triumphant. Not only is their time of strife and probation over, but they are already crowned as conquerors with an incorruptible crown of indescribable beauty. They are those who form as it were a continual triumphal procession around the throne of the Lamb, giving thanks for the grace of victory… And what a glorious throng they must form! …What a consolation for us to know that we are already united with those other two groups that form the Communion of Saints!
“What is the bond that binds these three groups together, making them one communion, members of one another? …This bond first of all must be in the mind, in the heart and in the soul. The thoughts of the blessed in heaven often go back to those whom they have left here below, mourning their going. It was here they fought and won their victory and here the foundations of their sanctity were laid. Surely they will remember us who have come forward to fill their places… The blessed in heaven often turn their thoughts to the holy souls in purgatory. Many among them have, perhaps, experienced the same purifying flames. …In turn the thoughts of the poor souls in purgatory, the Church suffering, must dwell a great deal upon the blessed in heaven… the object of all their hopes and longings. We are also taught that they frequently turn their thoughts to us below… And we, the Church Militant, …turn our thoughts and eyes… towards heaven and to the poor souls in purgatory… The Church Militant, Triumphant and Suffering, like a spider’s web, is knit firmly together by the more powerful bond of good deeds, mutual help and influence.”
If those in Heaven and Purgatory can be full-fledged members of the Mystical Body, yet be invisible, why is it so difficult for so many to believe that the Church in these times can still be members of that same Body, yet enjoy only a limited visibility? Many Traditionalists maintain that membership in Christ’s Mystical Body is available only to those who attend Mass and receive the Sacraments, and this is true. The error lies in their belief that they actually attend valid Masses and receive valid and licit Sacraments when they most certainly do not. Nor have they ever proven the validity of the orders they purportedly received during an interregnum in direct violation of Pope Pius XII’s Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, Pope Pius VI’s Charitas and Pope Pius IX’s Etsi Multa. These are infallible decisions and proclamations of the Roman Pontiffs and Ecumenical Councils which they cannot question. All these teachings and decisions are against their arguments, and none exist to support their claims.
St. Robert Bellarmine’s definition of the Church is often used by the Church Herself: “The Church is a union of men who are united by the profession of the same Christian faith and by participation in the same sacraments, under the direction of their LAWFUL pastors, especially of the one representative of Christ on earth, the Pope of Rome.”(de Eccl. Mil 2). To this definition, Pope Pius XII adds in Mystici Corporis that these members must also obey all the same laws. Of course Traditionalists get the first part right and conveniently ignore the most important part about lawful pastors and subjection to the Roman Pontiff. And they are oblivious to the fact that this is not all the Church expects of us, nor can it be limited to Mass and Sacraments. Pope Pius XII wrote in Mediator Dei: “The people must offer themselves as victims…This offering is not in fact confined merely to the liturgical Sacrifice. For the Prince of the Apostles wishes us, as Living Stones built upon Christ the cornerstone, to be able ‘as a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ,’” (I Peter 2: 5). This is what we must do today, to “fill up what is wanting to Christ’s passion.” We must assume all the dignities of that holy priesthood “in the absence of the hierarchy” as Pope Pius XII also commanded us to do.
If we pray the Mass of St. John, or say our Mass prayers in the absence of the True Mass; if we offer our very selves on this altar of sacrifice willingly and in a spirit of resignation to God’s will each day — in obedience to His signified will, His laws — isn’t the Sacrifice, then, still renewed spiritually in a continual way? In his The Mystery of Faith, Vol. I, Rev. de la Taille writes concerning chapters 5-16 of Apocalypse: “It is declared plainly that in the New Jerusalem which is to succeed the Church Militant, there would be neither Temple nor light, except God and the Lamb…Under these sacrificial symbols and metaphors we have an indication of some kind of heavenly and eternal worship,” consisting of Christ’s perpetual immolation eternally offered before the Throne of God.
St Gregory Nazianzan wrote: “What then? Will they forbid us their altars? Even so, I know of another altar, and the altars we see now are but a figure of it…All the activities ’round about that altar are spiritual; one ascends to it by contemplation. At this altar I shall stand, upon it I will make immolations pleasing to God, sacrifices, oblations, holocausts, better than those that are offered now…”(Ibid). St. Thomas writes: “The state of the New Law is intermediate between the state of the Old Law…and the state of glory, in which all truth will be fully and perfectly manifested. Then there will be no more sacraments; but now, inasmuch as we see only through a glass darkly, we have to enter into spiritual things through sensible signs.” So either we are being offered a foretaste of life in our Eternal Home, and the Church will eventually be restored; or we are being prepared for the end of the world proper and the commencement of the life to come in a very intimate way.
The Poor Souls in Purgatory
But as catacomb Catholics, visible members of the Church yet unseen by the world at large, are we really doing everything we can today to fully participate in the functions of the Mystical Body as Our Lord intended? Always in the Church there were the contemplative orders, hidden from the world and suffering in silence, also lay people dedicated to a life of prayer and suffering, who offered their prayers and very existence as a living sacrifice to save souls. They were the indispensable “living stones” relied upon by the missionaries and parish priests throughout the world to assist in the Church’s mission to procure the salvation of souls. Who has taken their place today? Who is left to pray for the conversion of sinners, the dying, the poor souls in Purgatory? Who? Only those of us who truly believe that we must now take the place of the many good souls who once labored for the Church can fill this void. Those of us who believe we must do our best to constitute that holy priesthood spoken of by Pope Pius XII are the ones called to this end times vocation. But where do we best direct our efforts?
While our contemporaries today are convinced that they must serve in the soup kitchens, care for the homeless, advocate for illegal immigrants and the mentally ill and generally champion the underdogs of the world, calling this charity toward their neighbors, they need to reassess their efforts. Certainly these efforts do not go without their reward, but the Church, if She functioned today, would not classify all these needy people as truly worthy of care. Even in the Middle Ages, the Church warned abbots of monasteries and abbesses of convents against being taken in by “sturdy beggars.” In many ways we cannot make a difference in their lives without their cooperation, which often they are unwilling or unable to give. This would be a special mission of the Church and should be a priority of those in power, but we know today that this cannot be reasonably expected. And we are not able to supply for this deficiency. Better that we remember them in our prayers and help in the situations closer to home we are better informed about when they arise, than to practice charity indiscriminately.
The Doctors of the Church tell us that charity can be performed in a much better fashion. According to Assist the Souls in Purgatory, a little booklet issued in the 1940s by the Benedictine Convent of Perpetual Adoration, (Clyde, Mo.), St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that mercy shown to the poor souls is more pleasing to God than if shown to the living. St. Francis de Sales also said, according to this booklet: “This one act of mercy towards the poor souls comprises the thirteen others, the spiritual and the corporal.” And finally, the booklet notes, St. Robert Bellarmine taught in one of his sermons: “He who espouses the cause of the Poor Souls and is charitable towards them performs a far greater act than if he had given a most generous alms to a poor person here on earth.” It is important today for Catholics to understand the truly dire consequences the Poor Souls are facing during these fearful times, when they have so few to advocate for them and there are no Masses to offer for their release.
All the works published on Purgatory confirm that the most efficacious means of securing the release of a soul from Purgatory is to offer Masses for them and assist at as many Masses as possible for them. This is the teaching of the Council of Trent. As catacomb Catholics we can certainly offer our spiritual Masses before the heavenly altar, but there also is a way that we can offer everything we do each day for the Poor Souls. Considering their extremity, those who feel called to this practice should embrace it. That practice is called the Heroic Act of Charity, and it consists in offering to God in favor of the Souls in Purgatory all the works of satisfaction (what we do to make up for our sins, either here or in purgatory), we practice during life and all the suffrages that will be offered for us after death” (Read Me or Rue It by Rev. Paul O’Sullivan, p. 26). This includes the indulgences attached to these works of satisfaction. One formula for this act reads as follows:
“Dear Lord, for the love of Thy Precious Blood, I wish to make an heroic offering of all the good works I do in life: in satisfaction for the temporal punishment do to my many sins, and of all the prayers offered up for me after death, in favor of those souls whom Our Blessed Mother wishes to deliver from the pains of Purgatory. Amen” (Jesus, Mary, Joseph Novena Manual, Fr. Stedman). Adding the Poor Souls to the intentions of our Morning Offering each day will keep their needs and our intentions in sharper focus.
While this act may seem daunting to those who make it, they are still free to pray for themselves, their friends and any other intentions. In all the works on Purgatory consulted for this article, the authors assure us that those who makes this act will be assisted by the Poor Souls when they die and during any time they themselves must spend in Purgatory. Numerous examples are given of the Holy Souls assisting such individuals at the hour of death and shortening their Purgatory. While certainly this is not a motive for making the act, it is a consolation that removes some of the fear of losing our own good works to remit the pains we will most likely suffer in Purgatory.
There also are several other ways to alleviate the sufferings of the Poor Souls, whether offering the Heroic Act or not. These are:
- Recitation of the Rosary — The rosary is one of the most indulgenced prayers in the treasury of the Church. A plenary indulgence may be gained at the end of a novena in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary. A partial indulgence may be gained for five years each time the rosary is said, ten years, once a day, when the rosary is said with others, five years each day a rosary is said in connection with a novena in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary. On the feast of the Holy Rosary, a plenary indulgence may be gained for each devout visit in front of an image of Our Lady. Plenary indulgences also have been granted for saying the Rosary each day during the octave of the feast, on the feast and after the octave.
- Prayer between the Rosary decades — As we have discussed in our previous blog entries and on the website, the current prayer commonly said during the Rosary decades is not the prayer given to the children at Fatima by Our Lady. That prayer, by all credible accounts, reads: “Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of hell, relieve the souls in Purgatory especially the most abandoned.” This is a different version of the prayer than was reported in the book, The Phantom Church in Rome, but further study leads us to believe it is the correct prayer. Catholics know that the third secret of Our Lady’s Fatima message predicted the infiltration and destruction of the Church and the terrible times that have followed. It would seem that the requests of Our Lady for recitation of the Rosary, also prayers and sacrifices were not heard by enough Catholics to prevent this frightful calamity we are now experiencing.
Our Lady knew the papacy would be overthrown and the Mass would cease. This is why she asked that this little prayer be inserted between the decades for the Poor Souls – it was their only hope of shortening their terrible sufferings. It explains why this prayer was falsified and those fighting to maintain the current prayer are so adamant about its authenticity. True Catholics know that it smacks of the teachings of Vatican 2, intimating that “all souls” may be saved by reciting this prayer during the rosary. Who cares about Purgatory of “all souls” can anticipate heaven?! It is not known how or why it was changed, but seeing what happened after 1960, when Lucia dos Santos said things would “become clearer,” we know that the fight was to shift the emphasis from anything that would indicate the Church had been hijacked by the usurpers. To this day, few accept the reality that Antichrist reigned from Rome just as Our Lady prophesied at La Salette, and his “line” has perpetuated his reign to this day.
- The Way of the Cross — Those who devoutly make the Way of the Cross gain a plenary indulgence.
- Other Indulgences — those wishing to gain an indulgence for themselves or the Poor Souls must possess the intention to gain the specified indulgence and be in the state of sanctifying grace. Short, indulgenced ejaculations are the easiest way to assist those in Purgatory. There are numerous of these ejaculations and other short prayers listed in the Raccolta that will help alleviate the torments of the Poor Souls.
- The Pardon Cross — One of the most richly indulgenced sacramentals is the Pardon Cross. the Pardon Cross is an indispensable recourse at the hour of death for those in the latter days, and a powerful aid for the souls in Purgatory. The following indulgences were bestowed upon the Pardon Crucifix by Pope St. Pius X in 1905 and approved in the pardon of the living and the souls in Purgatory in 1907. The lengths of the indulgences were repealed in the new Enchiridion, and the indulgences were granted to remit the guilt of the sin committed:
Whoever carries on his person the Pardon Crucifix, may thereby gain an indulgence:
- For devoutly kissing the Crucifix, an indulgence is gained.
- Whoever says one of the following invocations before this crucifix may gain each time an indulgence: “Our Father who art in heaven, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” “I beg the Blessed Virgin Mary to pray to the Lord our God for me.”
- Whoever, habitually devout to this Crucifix, will fulfill the necessary conditions of Confession and Holy Communion, may gain a Plenary Indulgence on the following feasts: On the feasts of the Five Wounds of our Lord, the Invention of the Holy Cross, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the Immaculate Conception, and the Seven Sorrows (Dolors) of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
- Whoever, at the moment of death, fortified with the Sacraments of the Church (something that does not apply when they are unavailable), or contrite of heart, in the supposition of being unable to receive them, will kiss this Crucifix and ask pardon of God for his sins, and pardon his neighbor, will gain a Plenary Indulgence.
- Almsgiving — Any acts of charity we perform on behalf of the Poor Souls will also count as works that will shorten their time in Purgatory.
- Reading Holy Scripture — 300 days for 15 minutes of reading; a plenary indulgence if these readings are continued for one month.
- Penance — Our Lord told Lucia dos Santos in 1943: “The sacrifice demanded by everyone is the fulfillment of his duties in life and the observance of My law. This is the penance that I now seek and require.” This is elaborated upon by a South American apostle who left us a wealth of teaching on the true nature of penance and how we may practice it today.
Rev. Mateo Crawley-Boevey’s apostolate was ordered by Pope St. Pius X, blessed by Pope Benedict XV, directed and expanded by Pope Pius XI and confirmed by Pope Pius XII. In his Jesus King of Love, Rev. Crawley-Boevey tells us: “If your health does not permit of your using instruments of penance, just live your life as God planned it for you. Such a course of action will be a more painful mortification than any bodily penance, but accept all with great love… Never doubt that the best of crosses, the safest, the most divine, is always that one which Jesus Himself ordains without consulting us. A cross which is not of our own choosing is undoubtedly the heaviest to bear, not because of the cross itself, for that which Our Lord sends us is always more bearable and sanctifying than one of our own making, but because we are so fickle and capricious, even in our efforts to attain sanctity…
“The severest penance, even in the cloister, is the physical pain and moral anguish which God, in his wisdom and mercy, ordains for our sanctification. This includes, illness, sorrows, inclemency of weather, work, contradiction and lack of resources. We can make use of these penitential garments a hundred times a day, even a hundred times an hour! …Calvary is to be met with even in our own homes, where we encounter the cruel sufferings of disappointments, loss of fortune, sorrow, even death itself… A chronic invalid may lead as penitent a life as a Carthusian. A mother whose heart, like that of Mary, is pierced with sorrows — yet who blesses and rejoices in her martyrdom — is a penitent and a martyr of the highest order, a real marvel of grace.” And yet, Rev. Crawley-Boevey notes, “Many flee in consternation at the slightest pinprick and refuse to taste even a drop of His bitter chalice.” Their only prayer, he quotes from St. Teresa of Avila, is “’From thy cross and my crosses deliver me O Lord!’”
Such is the nature of suffering and penance. How difficult it is today to fulfill our daily duties when so many other pressing matters demand our attention and time. And yet our best efforts in this process is the very thing God wishes to use for our sanctification and the deliverance of the Poor Souls from their penitential prison.
Our interaction with the Poor Souls
We know from Church teaching that those in Purgatory are there to expiate the temporal punishment for sin as well as the stains of venial sins. The saints and theologians teach they suffer the torments of a fire that far exceeds any conception we have of the pain suffered from earthly fire. Some are tormented alternately by ice and cold, then fire. Some suffer only briefly; others suffer for centuries, even until the end of the world. There are “special” types of Purgatory for certain souls and degrees of suffering in Purgatory. Some saints and holy people teach that certain parts of Purgatory can resemble paradise, and this may be the case, as St. Bede believed, of those nearing release from Purgatory and those whose sins were slight and more easily purged, as in the case of children.
It may surprise readers to know that in many ways the souls in Purgatory are much better off then we here below; we are more like them now than ever before in the history of the Church. Rev. Keppler, quoted above, tells us that they are in continual union with God, they are perfectly conformed to His will, they are perfectly content to be where they are for as long as God desires, they do not commit even the smallest faults, they are comforted by the angels, they are certain of their salvation, “and even their most bitter bitterness is wrapped in peace” (pgs. 56-57). These are the joys of the poor souls, as described by St. Bernardine of Siena; that and their joy in suffering and their assurance they will contemplate the Beatific Vision. “But not withstanding these advantages, their condition is very painful and truly deserving of our compassion” Keppler reminds his readers.
While they sorrow over no longer being able to atone for sins by penance on earth, which is why we must atone for them ourselves, there are other things they have in common with us. As Keppler quotes from a sermon on the Poor Souls: “Theirs is a miserable life. No bell calls them to the house of God, no altar chimes announce to them the moment of Consecration, they have no Sacrament of Penance, no Holy Communion…” (p. 194). This is only a recital of what we are lacking ourselves today. And we enjoy none of the joys Rev. Keppler attributes to these souls, namely, we are open to committing faults and even grievous sins, we struggle each day to remain in union with God and be conformed to His will, and we pray fervently that we will be able to avoid the fires of hell. Is it possible that in this conformity with the Poor Souls we are closer to them than ever, and that what St. Thomas Aquinas said about those living after the death of Antichrist — that they would serve their Purgatory on earth — could actually be true?
We can only pray that this is the case. That we have our prayers and penances yet to offer for them, and that these are the hard-won fruits of our loss of Mass and Sacraments, also our inability to look to the Holy Father for guidance, may mean more in way of sacrifices than the offering of Masses and Communions. We still have our spiritual Masses and Communions to offer and like the widow and her mite, we can pray this is more meaningful in God’s eyes because it is all we have. One thing many may not know and appreciate is that the Poor Souls wish to gain our friendship and according to the revelations of various saints, they will advocate for us for remembering them in prayer, especially when we ourselves leave this earth. According to Rev. Keppler, St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that the Poor Souls sympathize with the lot of their friends on earth, even though they do not know their exact circumstances. (Summa, 1a, ques. 8, ans. 8). He notes that the theologian Suarez and St. Robert Bellarmine conclude the Poor Souls can and do pray for the living (p. 87). He even opines that the Poor Souls can receive updated information about our state on earth from new arrivals there.
St. Catherine of Bologna and other saints and holy people testify that they have received great favors from the Poor Souls when they ask them to present their petitions to God the Father. We who are one body with these departed friends and brethren should address them as we would on earth, ask Our Blessed Mother and the saints in Heaven to succor them and beg Jesus to deliver them. Thus we will make good use of this wonderful “telephonic connection” that unites us all as members of Christ’s Mystical Body, in prayers, works, joys and sufferings each day. “Confidence in the Poor Souls and the practice of invoking them is deeply rooted in the hearts of our Catholic people,” Keppler wrote. “The blessed Cure of Ars used to say ‘Oh, if all of us but knew what a wonderful influence these Holy Souls have over the heart of God and what graces we can obtain through their intercession, they would not be so utterly forgotten; we must pray much for them, so that they may pray for us!’” (p. 89)… Keep up a continual intercourse with the Poor Souls in Purgatory. Let not a day pass without remembering them. ‘Make unto you friends… that when you shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting life (Luke 16:9)’” (p. 196).