Have you ever noticed how nowadays all dogs seem to go to heaven …. what happened?!?! I consider myself honest enough to say that I in no way see myself to be as holy as a Saint and deserving of an immediate stairway to heaven upon my death. Let me make myself clear, I am a practicing Catholic and do love my faith but the notion of me a sinner with all my imperfections going straight to heaven as if I was as pure as the driven snow, is just not honest. Allow me to say this another way, the next time you have to go to the funeral of a family member or friend and you here the priest talking about his or hers acceptance into heaven unquestionably. Remember that it would be more Christian to pray for the remission of their soul …. just in case he/she isn’t in heaven.
 And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection,  (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,)  And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them.
 With godliness: Judas hoped that these men who died fighting for the cause of God and religion, might find mercy: either because they might be excused from mortal sin by ignorance; or might have repented of their sin, at least at their death.
 It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.
 It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead: Here is an evident and undeniable proof of the practice of praying for the dead under the old law, which was then strictly observed by the Jews, and consequently could not be introduced at that time by Judas, their chief and high priest, if it had not been always their custom.
Before talking about Purgatory we must better understand what sin is. Thus we need to understand the difference between Venial and Mortal Sin.
Venial Sin is a sin of lesser matter than grave sin. It can also be a sin of grave matter in which the sinner did not fully consent to the sin or did not have knowledge that his actions where sinful. Venial sins will not destroy grace in the soul, and will not directly cause a person who dies in the state of venial sin to lose the promise of heaven. Yet, venial sin weakens a person’s will to avoid evil and thus may indirectly lead to mortal sin. Regardless, all sin is an offense against God and should be avoided.
Shows us that their is a lesser degree of guilt if we commit sin in ignorance
 If any one sin through ignorance, and do one of those things which by the law of the Lord are forbidden, and being guilty of sin, understand his iniquity,  He shall offer of the flocks a ram without blemish to the priest, according to the measure and estimation of the sin: and the priest shall pray for him, because he did it ignorantly: and it shall be forgiven him,  Because by mistake he trespassed against the Lord.
That their are varying degrees of justice based on the crime and spirit of the one committing the crime.
 You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not kill. And whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment.  But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall say, Thou Fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
 Shall be in danger of the judgment: That is, shall deserve to be punished by that lesser tribunal among the Jews, called the Judgment, which took cognizance of such crimes.
 Raca: A word expressing great indignation or contempt. Shall be in danger of the council … That is, shall deserve to be punished by the highest court of judicature, called the Council, or Sanhedrim, consisting of seventy-two persons, where the highest causes were tried and judged, which was at Jerusalem.
 Thou fool: This was then looked upon as a heinous injury, when uttered with contempt, spite, or malice: and therefore is here so severely condemned. Shall be in danger of hell fire– literally, according to the Greek, shall deserve to be cast into the Gehenna of fire. Which words our Saviour made use of to express the fire and punishments of hell.
States explicitly that all who are to be saved shall pass through the fire and be rewarded with heaven either forthrightly or after “he shall suffer loss” this clearly refers to Purgatorial fires as obviously the souls in hell cannot be saved.
 Every man’ s work shall be manifest; for the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire; and the fire shall try every man’ s work, of what sort it is.  If any man’s work abide, which he hath built there upon, he shall receive a reward.  If any man’ s work burn, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.
Here Saint John makes it clear that their are two very distinct degrees of sin with different consequences.
 He that knoweth his brother to sin a sin which is not to death, let him ask, and life shall be given to him, who sinneth not to death. There is a sin unto death: for that I say not that any man ask.  All iniquity is sin. And there is a sin unto death.
 A sin which is not to death: It is hard to determine what St. John here calls a sin which is not to death, and a sin which is unto death. The difference can not be the same as betwixt sins that are called venial and mortal: for he says, that if a man pray for his brother, who commits a sin that is not to death, life shall be given him: therefore such a one had before lost the life of grace, and been guilty of what is commonly called a mortal sin. And when he speaks of a sin that is unto death, and adds these words, for that I say not that any man ask, it cannot be supposed that St. John would say this of every mortal sin, but only of some heinous sins, which are very seldom remitted, because such sinners very seldom repent. By a sin therefore which is unto death, interpreters commonly understand a wilfull apostasy from the faith, and from the known truth, when a sinner, hardened by his own ingratitude, becomes deaf to all admonitions, will do nothing for himself, but runs on to a final impenitence. Nor yet does St. John say, that such a sin is never remitted, or cannot be remitted, but only has these words, for that I say not that any man ask the remission: that is, though we must pray for all sinners whatsoever, yet men can not pray for such sinners with such a confidence of obtaining always their petitions, as St. John said before, ver. 14. Whatever exposition we follow on this verse, our faith teacheth us from the holy scriptures, that God desires not the death of any sinner, but that he be converted and live, Ezech. 33. 11. Though men’s sins be as red as scarlet, they shall become as white as snow, Isa. 3. 18. It is the will of God that every one come to the knowledge of the truth, and be saved. There is no sin so great but which God is willing to forgive, and has left a power in his church to remit the most enormous sins: so that no sinner need despair of pardon, nor will any sinner perish, but by his own fault.
 A sin unto death: Some understand this of final impenitence, or of dying in mortal sin; which is the only sin that never can be remitted. But, it is probable, he may also comprise under this name, the sin of apostasy from the faith, and some other such heinous sins as are seldom and hardly remitted: and therefore he gives little encouragement, to such as pray for these sinners, to expect what they ask.
In order for a sin to be mortal, it must meet three conditions:
1) Mortal sin is a sin of grave matter
2) Mortal sin is committed with full knowledge of the sinner
3) Mortal sin is committed with deliberate consent of the sinner
This means that mortal sins cannot be done “accidentally.” A person who commits a mortal sin is one who knows that their sin is wrong, but still deliberately commits the sin anyway. This means that mortal sins are “premeditated” by the sinner and thus are truly a rejection of God’s law and love.
 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before unbelievers.  Already indeed there is plainly a fault among you, that you have lawsuits one with another. Why do you not rather take wrong? Why do you not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?  But you do wrong and defraud, and that to your brethren.  Know you not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers,  Nor the effeminate, nor liers with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor railers, nor extortioners, shall possess the kingdom of God.
 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury,  Idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects,
 Envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God.
 For know you this and understand, that no fornicator, or unclean, or covetous person (which is a serving of idols), hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
The Church also tells us that the sins of anger, blasphemy, envy, hatred, malice, murder, neglect of Sunday obligation, sins against faith (incredulity against God or heresy), sins against hope (obstinate despair in the hope for salvation and/or presumption that oneself can live without God or be saved by one’s own power) and sins against love (indifference towards charity, ingratitude, and/or hatred of God) also constitute grave matter.
Four other sins are considered grave also. These sins not only offend God, but men as well. Thus these four sins are called “the sins that cry to heaven for vengeance” and are likewise mortal sins. These grave sins are:
The voluntary murder (Genesis 4:10)
The sin of impurity against nature –Sodomy and homosexual relations (Genesis 18:20)
Taking advantage of the poor (Exodus 2:23)
Defrauding the workingman of his wages (James 5:4)
Finally, the capital sins are also considered grave matter. These sins are vices and are defined as contrary to the Christian virtues of holiness. They are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth.
Now clearly we don’t pray for the souls in hell as they have eternally rejected Christ through Mortal sin at the time of their death as neither do we pray for the fallen angels. The Dogma of Hell is the most terrible truth of our faith. There is a hell. Nothing, in fact, is more clearly revealed than the Dogma of Hell, and Jesus Christ proclaims it as many as fifteen times in the Gospel and many times over throughout all the Scriptures. Three general councils of the Church (Lyons I, 1245; Lyons II, 1274; and Florence, 1439) and Pope Benedict XII’s bull Benedictus Deus (1336) have taught that everyone who dies in a state of mortal sin goes immediately to suffer the eternal punishments of hell.
 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.
Among the Greek Fathers, Irenaeus, Basil, and Cyril of Jerusalem are typical in interpreting passages such as Matthew 22:14 as meaning that the majority will be consigned to hell. St. John Chrysostom, an outstanding doctor of the Eastern tradition, was particularly pessimistic: “Among thousands of people there are not a hundred who will arrive at their salvation, and I am not even certain of that number, so much perversity is there among the young and so much negligence among the old.”
 Your gold and silver is cankered: and the rust of them shall be for a testimony against you, and shall eat your flesh like fire. You have stored up to yourselves wrath against the last days.
Augustine may be taken as representative of the Western Fathers. In his controversy with the Donatist Cresconius, Augustine draws upon Matthew and the Book of Revelation to prove that the number of the elect is large, but he grants that their number is exceeded by that of the lost. In Book 21 of his City of God he rebuts first the idea that all human beings are saved, then that all the baptized are saved, then that all baptized Catholics are saved, and finally that all baptized Catholics who persevere in the faith are saved. He seems to limit salvation to baptized believers who refrain from serious sin or who, after sinning, repent and are reconciled with God.
 As Sodom and Gomorrha, and the neighbouring cities, in like manner, having given themselves to fornication, and going after other flesh, were made an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire.
Our Lady of Fatima to Lucy
As Our Lady spoke these last words, She opened Her hands once more, as She had done during the two previous months. The rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw as it were an ocean of fire.
Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. (It must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me.)
The demons could be distinguished (from the souls of the damned) by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent.
This vision lasted only a moment, thanks to our good Heavenly Mother who, at the first apparition, had promised to take us to Heaven. Without this promise, I think we would have died of fright.
“SO MANY ARE DAMNED!” Lucy herself, during her whole life, never ceased bearing witness to what she had seen. She never tired of repeating the great warning of July 13, 1917.
 And the smoke of their torments shall ascend up for ever and ever: neither have they rest day nor night, who have adored the beast, and his image, and whoever receiveth the character of his name
Heaven – The Church Triumphant
Now of course, the goal is to go to heaven and this is one of my favorite aspects of being Catholic. As Catholics we have inherited the knowledge and examples of countless people, over several millenia and beyond, who against all the odds, actually achieved sanctity and became living saints and beacons of light for all of us to know that we can do it also. For me it is so very important to reflect on the lives of the Saints, otherwise it would seem that God had set us to fail, despite our efforts.
How to be a Saint 101
 Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.
Not everyone will go to heaven
 And I say to you that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven:  But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
God makes it very clear what he expects from us
 Follow peace with all men, and holiness: without which no man shall see God.
Nothing unclean can come before the Lord in Heaven
 There shall not enter into it any thing defiled, or that worketh abomination or maketh a lie, but they that are written in the book of life of the Lamb.
Of course the Lord of the Universe and Creator of everything expects the most from us to receive the right to be with him in heaven for all eternity. But like a loving father he has given his bride the Church an arsenal of help for us to get to heaven despite our fallen nature and weaknesses. Namely, the Sacraments of the Eucharist, Reconciliation and Last Rites not to forget all the Indulgences the Church offers to her members in a variety of ways, devotions, Sacramental’s and of course my favorite, “Gregorian Masses”.
When we pray to the Saints – those who died in a state of grace, it is more of a communication to those closest with God and asking for them to intercede on our behalf. Obviously, they don’t need our prayers as they are already in heaven …. if anything it is us who need the prayers and that is exactly what they do for us
 And when he had opened the book, the four living creatures, and the four and twenty ancients fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints
 The prayers of saints: Here we see that the saints in heaven offer up to Christ the prayers of the faithful upon earth.
 And another angel came, and stood before the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer of the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar, which is before the throne of God.  And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints ascended up before God from the hand of the angel.
and my favorite
 See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.
Not only does Christ speak about Guardian Angels but also that the Guardian Angels will tell God what we are doing, you know that Christ had a great sense of humor.
Purgatory – The Church Suffering
So what is this Purgatory stuff all about??? Well I like to think that it has something to do with the fact that Christ was here on Earth for 33 years and that in that time he observed and saw just how silly and fallen we really are. Thus Purgatory is not a third option after death as some protestants would like to suggest and in fact is rooted in Scripture and Tradition. After we die, depending on how we have lived our lives, we have only two destinations we will be either going to 1) Hell or 2) Heaven (really don’t like those odds to be honest). Fortunately, Christ in his abundant mercy will not condemn us who commit small sins throughout our lives to eternal hell fire and in justice will not just give us a get out of hell free card either (which would basically condone anarchy).
But wait, doesn’t that make Purgatory a 3rd option ?? Actually no, Purgatory is more of an extension of the Heavenly option. Quite clearly we do not pray for anyone or anything in Hell as it would be as pointless as a meat eating vegetarian. Those in Heaven that we pray to, we do it rather in hope that they will intercede on our behalf. Which leads to the middle group, not bad enough for hell and not good enough for heaven ….. yet. They need to be cleansed of their Venial Sin before they can come before the majesty of Christ the King, they are all future Saints and this is for me such great news.
What happens in Purgatory stays in Purgatory. Yes, in purgatory we will be cleansed like gold in fire, so our souls will be freed from venial sin to a state of perfection in loving grace. We may enter Purgatory as sinners but we will leave as white as the driven snow . This is why I pray for Purgatory, not that I desire to suffer but rather that I see Purgatory as my best possibility of getting into heaven.
So lets try and remember to pray for all the souls in Purgatory that their time there will be shortened and that they will soon be in heaven and intercede on our behalf before God. One of the most charitable things we can do in our life is to pray for these souls and encourage others to do the same because you never know, we may one day find ourselves amongst them .
THE COUNCIL OF TRENT
Session XXV – which is the ninth and last under the Supreme Pontiff, Pius IV, begun on the third and closed on the fourth day of December, 1563
Decree Concerning Purgatory
Since the Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Ghost, has, following the sacred writings and the ancient tradition of the Fathers, taught in sacred councils and very recently in this ecumenical council that there is a purgatory, and that the souls there detained are aided by the suffrages of the faithful and chiefly by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar, the holy council commands the bishops that they strive diligently to the end that the sound doctrine of purgatory, transmitted by the Fathers and sacred councils, be believed and maintained by the faithful of Christ, and be everywhere taught and preached.
and here are some examples of Purgatory in Scripture
 Afflicted in few things, in many they shall be well rewarded: because God hath tried them, and found them worthy of himself.
 For gold and silver are tried in the fire, but acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation.
 Many shall be chosen, and made white, and shall be tried as fire: and the wicked shall deal wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand, but the learned shall understand
 And there shall be in all the earth, saith the Lord, two parts in it shall be scattered, and shall perish: but the third part shall be left therein.  And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined: and I will try them as gold is tried. They shall call on my name, and I will hear them. I will say: Thou art my people: and they shall say: The Lord is my God.
 And who shall be able to think of the day of his coming? and who shall stand to see him? for he is like a refining fire, and like the fuller’ s herb:  And he shall sit refining and cleansing the silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and shall refine them as gold, and as silver, and they shall offer sacrifices to the Lord in justice.
 And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers until he paid all the debt.
 In which also coming he preached to those spirits that were in prison:  Which had been some time incredulous, when they waited for the patience of God in the days of Noe, when the ark was a building: wherein a few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water.
 Spirits that were in prison: See here a proof of a third place, or middle state of souls: for these spirits in prison, to whom Christ went to preach, after his death, were not in heaven; nor yet in the hell of the damned: because heaven is no prison: and Christ did not go to preach to the damned.
I will leave you with two final thoughts, if you haven’t heard about the Brown Scapular and Our Lady’s promises attached to it or the Saint Gertrude prayer for the Souls in Purgatory then you should. But before I do, lets discuss the difference between public and private revelation.
Divine revelation, which is in the Word of God (the Bible and Sacred Tradition), this is binding on all the faithful and is necessary for our salvation, thus was completed, and therefore was concluded, with the death of the last apostle
Private revelation has continued since the death of the last apostle and is only binding on those it is personally revealed to, it must be approved by the Church and cannot contradict anything from Public Revelation.
Thus these are some examples of private revelation as written by the Church Fathers from as early as the 1st century.
“The vision which I saw, my brethren, was of the following nature . . . [An] old woman approached, accompanied by six young men . . . [And] she said to me . . . ‘Lo! do you not see opposite to you a great tower, built upon the waters, of splendid square stones?’ For the tower was built square by the six young men who had come with her. But myriads of men were carrying stones to it, some dragging them from the depths, others removing them from the land, and they handed them to these six young men. . . . [And the woman said:] ‘The tower which you see building is myself, the Church . . . the tower is built upon the waters . . . because your life has been and will be “saved through water” [1 Pet. 3:20–21] . . . the six young men . . . are the holy angels of God . . . the other persons who are engaged in carrying the stones . . . also are holy angels of the Lord . . . [And] when the tower is finished and built, then comes the end’” (The Shepherd 1:3:1–8 [A.D. 80]).
The Martyrdom of Polycarp
“While he [Polycarp] was thus at his prayers, three days before his arrest, he had a vision in which he saw flames reducing his pillow to ashes; whereupon he turned to his companions and said, ‘I must be going to be burnt alive.’ . . . [After his arrest, the crowd called] loud demands for the Asiarch Philip to let loose a lion at Polycarp. However, he told them that the rules would not allow him to do so, since he had already declared the beast-fighting closed; whereupon they decided to set up a unanimous outcry that he should have Polycarp burnt alive” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 5, 12 [A.D. 155]).
“For the prophetical gifts remain with us [Christians], even to the present time. And hence you [Jews] ought to understand that [the gifts] formerly among your nation have been transferred to us” (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 82 [A.D. 155]).
“In like manner we do also hear many brethren in the Church who possess prophetic gifts and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages and who bring to light for the general benefit the hidden things of men, and declare the mysteries of God” (Against Heresies 5:6:1 [A.D. 189]).
Constantine the Great
“And while he [the Emperor Constantine] was praying with fervent entreaty, a most marvelous sign appeared to him from heaven, the account of which it might have been hard to believe had it been related by any other person. But since the victorious emperor himself long afterwards declared it to the writer of this history [Eusebius], when he was honored with his acquaintance and society, and confirmed his statement by an oath, who could hesitate to accredit the relation, especially since the testimony of after-time has established its truth? He said that about noon, when the day was already beginning to decline, he saw with his own eyes a trophy of a cross of light in the heavens, above the sun, and bearing the inscription, ‘Conquer By This.’ At this sight he was struck with amazement, and his whole army also, which followed him on this expedition, and witnessed the miracle. He said [to me], moreover, that he doubted within himself what the import of this apparition could be. And while he continued to ponder and reason on its meaning, night suddenly came on; then in his sleep the Christ of God appeared to him with the same sign which he had seen in the heavens, and commanded him to make a likeness of that sign which he had seen in the heavens, and to use it as a safeguard in all engagements with his enemies. . . . [B]eing struck with amazement at the extraordinary vision, and resolving to worship no other God save him who had appeared to him, he sent for those who were acquainted with the mysteries of [God’s] doctrines and inquired who that God was and what was intended by the sign of the vision he had seen” (Eusebius, Life of Constantine 1:28–32 [A.D. 337]).
Anthony of Egypt
“[Anthony told his monks:] When, therefore, they [demons] come by night to you and wish to tell the future, or say ‘We are the angels,’ give no heed, for they lie. . . . But if they shamelessly stand their ground, capering, and change their forms of appearance, fear them not, nor shrink, nor heed them as though they were good spirits. For the presence either of the good or evil by the help of God can easily be distinguished. The vision of the holy ones is not fraught with distraction: ‘For they will not strive, nor cry, nor shall anyone hear their voice’ [Matt 12:19; cf. Is. 42:2]. But it comes quietly and gently that an immediate joy, gladness, and courage arise in the soul. For the Lord who is our joy is with them, and the power of God the Father” (Ambrose, Life of St. Anthony 35 [A.D. 359]).
“For even now miracles are wrought in the name of Christ, whether by his sacraments or by the prayers or relics of his saints . . . The miracle which was wrought at Milan when I was there . . . [and when people] had gathered to the bodies of the martyrs Protasius and Gervasius, which had long lain concealed and unknown but were now made known to the bishop Ambrose in a dream and discovered by him” (City of God 22:8 [A.D. 419]).
“[T]he martyrs, by the very benefits which are given to them that pray, indicate that they take an interest in the affairs of men . . . For not only by effects of benefits, but in the very beholding of men, it is certain that the confessor Felix . . . appeared when the barbarians were attacking Nola, as we have heard not by uncertain rumors but by sure witness” (ibid., 19). (The Care to be Had for the Dead 15 [A.D. 421]).
Patrick of Ireland
“And there truly [in Ireland] one night I heard in my sleep a voice saying to me, ‘You fast well; soon you will go to your fatherland.’ And again, after I very short time, I heard the heavenly voice saying to me, ‘Lo, your ship is ready.’ And it was not near at hand, but was distant, perhaps two hundred miles. And I had never been there, nor did I know any person living there. And thereupon I shortly took flight and left the man with whom I had been for six years. And I came in the strength of God, who prospered my way for good; and I met with nothing to alarm me until I reached that ship” (Confession of St. Patrick 17 [A.D. 452]).
“And once more, after a few years, I was in Britain with my family. . . . And there indeed I saw in a vision of the night a man whose name was Victoricus coming as it were from Ireland with countless letters. He gave me one of them, and I read the beginning of the letter, which was entitled ‘The Voice of the Irish.’ And while I was reading aloud the beginning of the letter, I thought that at that very moment I heard the voices of those who dwelt beside the Wood of Foclut [in Ireland], which is nigh unto the Western Sea. And thus they cried, as with one mouth, ‘We beseech you, holy youth, to come and walk once more among us!’” (ibid., 23).
“Let those who will, laugh and mock. I shall not be silent nor conceal the signs and wonders which were shown to me by the Lord many years before they came to pass, since he knows all things even before the world’s beginnings” (ibid., 45).
Lastly here are some of the various approved private revelations and the Saints they were given to
1061: Our Lady of Walsingham, England
1170-1221: Saint Dominic
1265: Saint Simon Stock
1302: Saint Gertrude the Great
1360: Saint Catherine of Sienna
1373: Saint Katherine of Sweden
1425: The Imitation of Christ
1531: Our Lady of Guadalupe
1558: Saint Theresa of Avilla
1567: Saint John of the Cros
1830: The Miraculous Medal
1846: Our Lady of La Salette
1858: Our Lady of Lordes
1859: Saint John Vianney
1862: Saint John Bosco
1879: Knock, Ireland
1917: Our Lady of Fatima, Portugal
1918: Saint Padre Pio
Our Lady of Mount Carmel to Saint Simon Stock in 1265
Mt. Carmel, near the modern port city of Haifa, Israel, is not far from where Christ grew up. This had been a holy mountain from the time of Elijah and Elisha in an uninterrupted succession and by the twelfth century it had become a home to Carmelite monastics with a particular devotion to the Virgin Mary as their patroness. By the end of the thirteenth century assorted political and religious strife had caused the Carmelites to depart from Mt. Carmel and travel to Europe. Some Carmelites established monasteries as far north as England.
It was in England in the thirteenth century that one Carmelite, St. Simon Stock, is said to have received the Brown Scapular from Our Lady after having written the beautiful Flos Carmeli prayer. In (small t) tradition, St. Simon Stock was also given Mary’s promise of final perseverance and the Sabbatine privilege to those who die wearing the Brown Scapular. Simply put, the Sabbatine privilege consists of the intercession of Our Lady to take the soul of the scapular wearer to heaven on the first Saturday after his death. As I said, small t tradition.
Now obviously this is does not mean that she will take the damned souls out of Hell but rather those in Purgatory stained with Venial Sins.
Our Lord to Saint Gertrude the Great 1302
Saint Gertrude had a deep empathy for the souls in Purgatory (the Church Suffering), the following prayer she was told by Christ that when she said it their would be released 1000 souls from purgatory each time she said it but that does not mean that this will occur when we say it.
The efficacy of ones prayers is directly related to the level of sanctity and virtue by the individual. That’s why we pray for the intercession of various saints. We believe their prayers before God are more efficacious than ours.
“Eternal Father I offer you the most precious blood of your divine son Jesus in union with the masses said throughout the world today for all the holy souls in purgatory for sinners everywhere sinners in the universal church those in my own home and within my family. Amen. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”
Lastly don’t forget the most efficacious prayer of all in releasing the holy souls from purgatory is the Holy Sacrifice of The Mass.
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