Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A Measure of Merit

It is well to remember to pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. One of my sisters has made the Heroic Act of Charity, a voluntary act where you offer to God (or to the Blessed Virgin), for the benefit of the souls in Purgatory, all the works of satisfaction you will perform during your life, and all the suffrage which will accrue to you after death. This act is commonly regarded not as a vow, but as an offering which can be revoked at will. It is based on the hope that God, in His goodness, and the souls, in their gratitude, will repay the generosity and charity of the one who makes the good deeds. So, through their intercession and the mercy of God, the one who has the courage to make the Heroic Act will be repaid for their meritorious acts.

This requires a degree of heroism that I don't possess. I believe those who make the Heroic Act have a special calling, and when I considered it, it just didn't seem right for me. Instead, I pray for the souls in Purgatory every day, and have Masses said for their souls every month. I feel this is the very least I can do, and I want to share a story with you about the importance of not neglecting our duty toward the souls in Purgatory.

St Antonius, the illustrious Archbishop of Florence, relates that a pious gentleman had died, who was a great friend of the Dominican Convent in which the saint resided. Many Masses and suffrages were offered for his soul. After a long time, the soul of the deceased appeared to St. Antoninus, suffering excruciating pains.

"Oh, my dear friend," exclaimed the Archbishop, "are you still in Purgatory, you who led such a pious and devout life?"

"Yes, and I shall remain there for a long time still, " replied the poor sufferer, "for when on earth, I neglected to offer suffrages for the souls in Purgatory. Now, God, by a just judgment has applied the suffrages which have been offered for me to those souls for whom I should have prayed."

"But God, too, in His justice will give me all the merits of my good works when I enter heaven: but first of all, I have to expiate my grave neglect in regard to others."
It is well to remember the words of Our Lord:
Luke 6:38 "For the measure you give will be the measure you get back."