Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The Condition of the Suffering souls in Purgatory, by Rev. John A. Nageleisen. On the Means of Relieving the Suffering Souls. Part 32.

§ 47. What is Better—to Found one or more Masses for Our Deceased, or to Devote the Amount to Manual Stipends?

269. "Founding a Mass" means to invest a certain sum of money for the purpose of having a Mass celebrated annually or monthly for all time to come, or for a definite number of years. Manual stipends are alms for Masses to be celebrated for a soul immediately after death.—We find the answer to the above question in Pasqualigo's work on "The Holy Sacrifice of Mass."—Although some are of the opinion that foundations are preferable to manual stipends, this author favors the general opinion of the theologians, which contends that manual stipends should be preferred. He supports this opinion by the doctrine that the atoning fruit for the remission of punishment is always obtained by him for whom the Sacrifice is offered, provided he is capable and well disposed. This is always the case with the Souls in Purgatory. The more Masses are said, and the earlier after death they are said, the more speedily will the soul be released from Purgatory ; hence, as far as the atoning effect comes into consideration, it is preferable to devote the amount to manual stipends. Concerning this matter St. Thomas says, "As pertaining to this question, we must distinguish well between the value which an action has in virtue of the acting person and that which it has of itself. In ordering Masses, whether manual or founded ones, the person ordering receives his reward as soon as the order has been given; but the effect caused by the Mass as such is obtained only when it is offered as a propitiatory Sacrifice. Alms given to the poor for a departed soul move to intercession only after they have been received.''

270. Another question, answered by Pasqualigo, must not escape our consideration. It is this: "Are thirty Masses, said on one day, of more benefit to a soul than thirty Masses said on thirty consecutive days?" The answer is : Concerning the atoning effect there is the only difference that in the former case the effect is obtained at once, while in the latter case it is distributed over thirty days. In this case, however, the perseverance in the celebration of the Sacrifice is added to the atonement, and this may undeniably exert some influence with God, the same as prayer would do in such a case ; and hence it is possible that thirty consecutive Masses may be sufficient for the release of a soul from Purgatory, while on the contrary, they would not have had the same effect without this perseverance. From this it is evident that founded Masses, like manual stipends, are sustained by grave reasons. Although the Suffering Souls receive a more speedy relief by the latter, the former nevertheless have advantages not to be overlooked. The founding of annual, monthly or weekly Masses for a certain time or forever is very meritorious, because the celebration of Mass for so long a time is an augmentation of divine worship. Besides, the founding of Masses is ever characteristic of devotion and charity, because thereby the service of God is promoted, and poor priests and churches are assisted for a certain time or forever. Hence the theologian Quarti favors such foundations.

271. Other good works may also be founded for the relief of the Suffering Souls; for instance charities, churches, convents, schools, etc. Such foundations are indeed very salutary and beneficial, but care must be taken that they are made in such a manner that the attainment of their effect is rendered morally certain. If the conditions of such foundations are liable to misconstruction, litigations, circumventions, etc., are the result; and no wonder then, that persons become distrustful of exposing their benefactions to such dangers.—There is nothing to offset and ennoble the accumulation of property so much as the bequeathing of it to charitable and humane purposes, provided such bequests be made from supernatural motives.— What is more consoling than to be morally certain that long after our mortal remains have mouldered in the grave, our souls will be refreshed in Purgatory or enjoy their reward in heaven, while our good work for the relief of suffering in this and the next world is still going on ?

272. Such foundations are living monuments of which it can truly be said that they are "more durable than brass they are lasting by reason of their very nature and object. Monuments in the shape of works of art receive their value not only from the artist who conceived and fashioned them according to the rule of esthetics, but also from their ethical fitness, as indicating the character of the person to whose memory they were raised. Foundations made in a spirit of Christian charity have for their patron Jesus Christ, who alone can give them a true and everlasting value; they are moral works of art inspired by the Divine Artist who conceived and executed the works of creation and redemption. What, then, can redound more to His honor, than to raise to Him such" monuments as Masses, prayers, charities, etc., for the relief of the Suffering Souls ? In the religion of Jesus Christ we find the material for such monuments, and His spouse, Holy Mother Church, lends her hand for their execution.

273. What a consolation for a child to have the memory of a dear father, a beloved mother perpetuated by such a monument! When our dear departed relatives, yes, when perhaps we ourselves are already enjoying that supreme bliss which knows no end--may it not be possible that the spiritual monument we founded on earth will continue to glorify God and His Church? and that it will be a consolation for us even in the eternal mansions, as also for our descendants in this vale of tears ?

To reach a practical conclusion concerning manual stipends and foundations of Masses, we say : Have as many Masses said for your deceased immediately after their death as your circumstances will allow; then, instead of squandering your money on an extravagant funeral and a costly monument, devote it to make a pious foundation, thereby to obtain the release of your dear ones from Purgatory, and to aid all the Suffering Souls. Thus you will gain for them the benefit of both kinds of suffrage, and at the same time raise to them and to yourself a truly Christian monument.