Monday, 15 June 2015
The Heroic Act of Charity for the Suffering Souls. § 64. Motives for Makinging the Heroic Act of Charity. Part 2.
525. The soul of this Christian, then, perceives more and more clearly what inexhaustible blessings it owes to this heroic act of charity. It becomes aware that it possessed in it a most valuable means for the attainment of perfection. During his life on earth he took great pains to avoid mortal sin entirely, and venial sin as much as possible; for the latter weakens charity and makes good works for the Suffering Souls less efficient. The more he considered the benefits of this act, the more he prayed and labored; for whosoever makes this act finds it an incentive to greater zeal in prayer and in the performance of good works of all kinds. By this means he attained for his soul a greater degree of glory. Now he only regrets that he did not know the value of this exercise better: how much greater zeal he would have exhibited!—Oh, that we would earnestly reflect on this, how differently we would make use of our precious time! — How we would pray, fast and give alms! How greatly we would prize Holy Mass, confession and communion! —If we did but reflect on this truth, we could not be so slothful. "With desolation is all the land made desolate: because there is none that considereth in his heart." (Jerem. xii. 11.)
526. Only now does this soul receive a true conception of that great power at the throne of God, the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, by which it was protected and assisted in its last moments on earth.—It is related in the life of St. Bridget that she most fervently invoked the assistance of the Blessed Virgin for her dying son. From a revelation she learned that before his death, through Mary's intercession, he had been filled with a love of God so ardent that his soul went straight to heaven; also, that the Blessed Virgin had hastened his death, to rescue him from the attacks with which satan had intended to assault him in his last moments. — Now this Blessed Mother hastens to receive the soul with outstretched arms, as St. Jerome declares: "Mary does not only assist her devout clients at the moment of death, but she also meets them on their way to heaven, to encourage them,"—St. Vincent Ferrerius also says, "The Blessed Virgin receives the souls of the dying."
527. Mary thus addresses the soul of her client: "Come, my servant! Thou hast so often invoked me to aid the most forsaken souls in Purgatory; thy whole life was devoted to this purpose. I accepted thy suffrages and united them with my own intercession ; and we were both heard. And because thou didst leave to me the choice of the souls to be released, I took thee under my protection and shielded thee from divine justice. By my intercession thou wast declared free from all punishment as a reward for thy confiding trust in the merciful Mother of the just Judge. Come, my servant, receive thy heavenly robe and take possession of the eternal mansions of my Son, where I reign as Queen. As a heroic child of thy heavenly Mother thy place shall be at my side."—Only now does he receive full knowledge of Mary's clemency and mercy. He never expected such a reward for services so insignificant. Now he comprehends what St. Bonaventure declares: "Oh, happy those who obtain Mary's favor; the Blessed in heaven already regard them as their associates. For he that is known to be a client of Mary is inscribed in the book of life."
528. The soul of this Christian, after being clothed with the robes of immortal glory, remembers that a dear friend of his is still suffering in Purgatory; and he almost regrets that he did not give everything to that soul for the purpose of releasing it from its torments. But Mary remarks, "O my son, do not grieve ! I know very well thy desire; but I also know thy duty towards thy relatives and friends, imposed on thee by my Divine Son. My Son's will is also mine. As thou didst place thy atonements into my hands, I was careful to serve thee well. I had regard for thy relatives, friends and benefactors in the order in which thou wast beholden to them before God. Thou couldst never have made a just distribution. How soon didst thou cease praying for thy deceased Father confessor, because thou thoughtst him no longer in need of intercession. The same was the case with regard to thy father, mother, etc. Thou didst think only of thy friend; but in order not to act unjustly and partially, thou didst leave the distribution of thy atonements to me. And therein thou hast acted wisely; and thou hast doubled the atoning value of thy works. Behold, all those whom thou hast aided shall come with their guardian angels and holy patrons to greet thee."
529. Scarcely has Mary ceased speaking, when the friends and relatives—and they seem to be thousands in number—appear in the company of their guardian angels and patron saints, for the purpose of conducting the soul to its place in heaven.—Can it therefore be contrary to the love we owe to ourselves to make the heroic act of charity? Would it not rather be against this love not to make it ? To cede all our works of atonement and all our indulgences to the souls in Purgatory is therefore a devotion that perfectly and most beautifully accords with the honor of God, with the interests of Jesus, and with the love of ourselves; a devotion that embraces the Church triumphant, militant and suffering. What a joy for the soul of this heroic Christian to see the great number of heavenly friends gained by this act of charity! Experience now proves that the performing of this act has been to his own interest.
530. Among the souls coming to meet him are those of his parents. His guardian angel now reminds him that he had ceased praying for them to soon; but that in virtue of the heroic act of charity this deficiency was more than made good again. Parents and child now embrace each other; they thank God for His great clemency and mercy towards them: "Praise, thanks and glory for evermore to the Most Holy Trinity; to the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Thanks also, and God's grace and blessing to those who make this heroic act of charity, and thereby offer their meritorious works for the greater glory of God." All the souls, together with their angels and patrons, join with their benefactor in this act of homage; and as a token of gratitude for his generosity every soul presents to him a gift, after which they lead him to the place prepared for him in heaven. Arrived there, he now comprehends very clearly how instead of losing he gained immensely by the heroic act of charity; for by renouncing his atoning merits he gained the special love of the Most Holy Trinity, of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of all the saints; and now he also begins to experience the fulfilment of the words of Christ, "Good measure and pressed down, and shaken together and running over they shall give unto your bosom." (Luke vi. 38.) His gratitude to God is boundless; and in his gratitude he immediately addresses to God a petition—he implores mercy for the Suffering Souls. The dawn of a blissful eternity has arrived for this Christian: he enjoys the beatific vision of God; but he also sees the torments of the souls in Purgatory, sees their tears and hears their sighs. He sees also the doings of men on earth. And the more he contemplates the infinite greatness of God, the better he understands the cause of that yearning with which the Holy Souls are filled; the more he is convinced of the neglect shown towards them on earth. A holy sorrow pervades him who had been so charitable in mortal life; his desire to help the Suffering Souls draws him, together with all the saints and heavenly spirits, to the throne of the Just Judge, there to offer his most fervent intercession. "O God of mercy," thus he prays, "it was Thy holy will to call me to Thy heavenly mansions. If Thou hadst willed, or at least hadst given me the choice, to suffer for Thy loving spouses in Purgatory, I should, gladly have led the most abject and miserable life. Willingly would I descend into Purgatory even not to suffer there to the end of the world. But as Thou hast ordained otherwise, I adore and praise Thy holy will. But deign, O most benign God, to move the hearts of the faithful on earth to this work of charity. Raise up loving hearts, hearts ready to follow the example of Thy disinterested love ! Move to charity many self-sacrificing hearts, that they may place at Thy disposal the entire treasury of their atoning merits in favor of the Suffering Souls in Purgatory ! There are many zealous Christians on earth. Inspire some of them with holy ardor that they may make known to the world the salutary effects of the heroic act of charity for the Suffering Souls!"—And may you, good reader, so please God, belong to the number of those who are thus aroused!