Nov. 2: Feast of All Souls
If God allowed me to pass on only three things to others they would
be the Divine Mercy, the Morning Offering and devotion to the Holy
Souls, in that order. That explains my shameless re-run of this All
Souls' Day post.
First, a great quote:
"We must not make purgatory into a flaming concentration camp on the
brink of hell, or even a hell for a short time. It is
blasphemous to think of it as a place where a petty God exacts the
last pound or ounce of flesh.... St. Catherine of Genoa, a
mystic of the 15th century, wrote that the fire of purgatory
is God's love burning the soul so that, at last, the soul
is wholly aflame. It is the pain of wanting to be made totally
worthy of One who is seen as infinitely lovable, the pain of desire
for union that is now
absolutely assured, but not yet fully tasted" (Leonard Foley,
O.F.M., Believing in Jesus)
I beg the indulgence [now that is neither a Freudian slip nor a
pun!!] of all our readers to who belong to traditions which do not
believe in prayers for the dead. Given today's feast and the
content, this is going to be a very Catholic message, but we have
many Catholics in our midst, some of whom could well need to hear it.
For Catholics in union with Rome, Purgatory is a defined dogma, a
reality we cannot deny. How it happens, how long the purification
and cleansing lasts, these matters are less clear, but we have not,
as a Church abandoned the concept of Purgatory, nor could we. It is
de Fide, a permanent fixture of Catholic faith. It could be a flash
of brilliance in a twinkling, as is fashionable today to hope, but
it could be otherwise, too. We simply do not know and
our wishes in the matter, however charitable, are not normative!
We also believe that in the cleansing, however brief or long, the
soul has lost all ability to help itself. Help can come only from
our prayers and those of the Church on earth for the Church
Suffering, the Holy Souls. Hence, ANY assistance given them is held
by them in literally eternal gratitude. Their prayers of
intercession, I KNOW, from my own personal experience over years,
are very, very powerful with God. I have never had them refuse me
any good thing. Never.
I often think that their gratitude is even greater these days, when
so many Catholics have abandoned the practice of praying for them
or offering good works or indulgences for them. If you have a heart
for the underdog and neglected, for Heaven's sake (literally!!) take
another look at praying for the Holy Souls who await their final
entry to Heaven. Prayer for them is a work of mercy you can do any
day, at any time. Corporal works of mercy sometimes may be out of
our means or scope, but spiritual ones, never so!
So yes, this day there is a special urgency, but every year, every
day, stop forgetting the Holy Souls if you have been doing so in
the past. They are great friends to have and they need us so badly.
We can make the daily intention to gain all the indulgences we can
that day and offer them for the Souls. What a great good is offered
us to undertake every day.
Now, though you were all forewarned, this part is REALLY Roman
Catholic. A plenary (full) indulgence, applicable only to the Holy
Souls, may be gained by those who under the usual conditions and
having gone to Confession and Communion, visit a cemetery and say
there some prayer of any kind for the Holy Souls. This indulgence
may be gained on the feast itself and daily for 7 days thereafter.
Go for it!
If you have never tried the practice of saying a prayer for those
buried in every cemetery you pass, do so. I confess that I didn't
do that for most of my life, but I do now and it has become a
practice very dear to me. I got my first good example of it when
riding with the late Fr. Ernest Schultz of Saint Leo Abbey, himself
a convert. He used to bless the graves in cemeteries as we drove
past. I never forgot his example, but I am ashamed to say how long
it took for me to follow it regularly.
Last, but not least, a simple prayer, said to have been given to
our own St. Gertrude the Great, OSB! The revelation apparently is
contested by some as unverifiable, but I am willing to hope on the
side of mercy. Jesus is reputed to have told her that 1,000 souls
would be released for each repetition of this prayer, hence it is
sometimes known as the 1,000 Souls Prayer. It is one of my
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.
It is short, sweet and easily memorized!
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
A blessed Easter to all! Christ is risen, truly He is risen!!
Prayers, please, for the spiritual and temproal welfare of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Luke, house sale - his house has been on the market for over a year and he really needs to sell it and downsize after the end of a long-term relationship.
Deo Gratias, V. has been offered and very limited place next year on the post-graduate course of his dreams...now he needs the money to pay for it.
Funding for D. to further his studies, or inspiration for something even better.
Continued prayers for baby Grace and her family. She is stable but still on oxygen in the house 24/7, and is waiting to see a specialist.
Jual, young mother of three battling breast cancer. Nodules found in her lung. Having surgery Sunday.
Prayers for safe journey, and back, for an extended family going on a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land for almost 2 weeks, and prayers for a wonderful time.
Lord help us all
as You know and will. God's will is best. All is mercy and grace.
God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL
April 8, August 8, December 8
Chapter 55: On the Clothes and Shoes of the Brethren
For bedding let this suffice:
a mattress, a blanket, a coverlet and a pillow.
The beds, moreover, are to be examined frequently by the Abbot,
to see if any private property be found in them.
If anyone should be found to have something
that he did not receive from the Abbot,
let him undergo the most severe discipline.
And in order that this vice of private ownership
may be cut out by the roots,
the Abbot should provide all the necessary articles:
cowl, tunic, stockings, shoes, belt,
knife, stylus, needle, handkerchief, writing tablets;
that all pretext of need may be taken away.
Yet the Abbot should always keep in mind
the sentence from the Acts of the Apostles
that "distribution was made to each according as anyone had need"
In this manner, therefore,
let the Abbot consider weaknesses of the needy
and not the ill-will of the envious.
But in all his decisions
let him think about the retribution of God.
There is a tendency, both within the cloister and without, to hunt
for dramatic ascetic practices, while ignoring the truly more
difficult matters that lack the fanfare. Lights! Camera! Action! We
must always be wary of the Nora Desmonds of our hearts, who are
always willing to say, a la Sunset Boulevard: "I'm ready for my close-
up now, Mr. DeMille." How we do love to star, even at self-
Well, there's two bad pieces of new for Ms. Desmond et al. First the
penances we choose are usually not the most effective ones. The
best ones are imposed by God or our situation of daily duty and they
become tremendous means of grace when we patiently embrace them.
Second, the ones we do choose can be terrible risks for pride, which
undoes our efforts so insidiously.
What on earth does this have to do with the current chapter? Easy-
and very, very hard, too! The great ascesis here is to aim at
limiting ourselves to "all the necessary articles." There is a
challenge here for everyone from Abbot Primate to newest Oblate
novice. It is a challenge we shall likely never meet fully in life,
so it is something we can always be profitably picking at!
Do you know anyone at all, in any vocation, who has absolutely
nothing beyond what they need? I have known a few; alas I cannot
say it of myself. I think this is an area where we can all look at a challenging
grace-filled ascetic struggle that is placed on us by the Holy Rule.
Down-sizing actually feels great, once one gets over the consumerist
terror of doing so! One will quickly find that, in this area, less
really *IS* more, (unlike poetry and art, architecture and liturgy,
alas...! Minimalism there gets old fast...) We become freer when we
let go of things which hold us more than we realize.
We can get buried in things we are saving to complete unfinalized
plans that will never come to fruition, and while we save them, we
are disheartened by our own failure to use them. Jettison, m'dears,
jettison. As the one Desert Father used to say to the brethren,"Flee,
brothers, flee!" so do I say: "Jettison!"
This has the further charm of fitting well into a depressive's sofa
paralysis, too. Recall how I told you about that resolution to make
three things, no matter how tiny, better each day? Works here, too!
And you will often find to your delight that the trip to dumpster or thrift
shop donation includes 7, 8, or more things!
Keep chipping away and the mountain of our false hearts' desires,
beloveds. And one day may all those chips be ground to sand and may
we stand together on level, smooth quartz
sand, confronted by nothing but the dazzling ocean of God's
unfathomable mercy and love!
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]