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 himself, 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 Souls.
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 cannot 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 prison.
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 able.”
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 Souls.
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 granted.
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 danger.
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 in despair.
“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 should be.
“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 ? that is to say, 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 help.
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 Mary.
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.