The following is a short anecdote from Month of the Souls in Purgatory by Abbé Berlioux, originally published in English in the year 1886. This book contains meditations and an example story for each day of the month. In an effort to preserve short inspiring stories from our Catholic past, every day for the month of November you can find the example story for the day published on the website under people/stories.
The same author also published similar books for the months of March (St. Joseph), May (Our Lady), and June (Sacred Heart). We are planning to publish the stories for these months in the future, as well as a collection of these four books as a set, so be sure to check back in a few months.
Below you will find the Preface followed by the Introduction, then the story for the day.
In the pride of life the world forgets the Holy Souls in Purgatory. In times of persecution, when death was near, men thought more and had more loving remembrance of the dead. It is to be feared that in these soft days we neither lay to heart as we ought the duty we owe to the Holy Souls, nor keep alive, day by day, the thought how soon we may be likewise in need of the suffrages of the faithful. This little book will help us to remember them and never to forget our own last end.
Card. Archbishop of Westminster
Oct. 13th, 1886.
To obtain relief for the souls of the faithful departed, and to benefit the living at the same time by so doing, is the two-fold object of this little work. It is well-known in the Christian world, that the prayers of the living are of use to the dead, but what is not sufficiently known is, that the suffrages of the dead themselves are of benefit to the living. Yes,
the power and gratitude of the holy souls are too little known and appreciated, and few think of having recourse to their intercession. Nevertheless their influence is so great that we should scarcely believe it, were we not convinced by daily experience.
It is true that the holy souls cannot merit for themselves, this being no longer in their power; but they have the means of making their precious merits of value to us. They can obtain nothing for themselves, but the prayers they offer for us in the midst of their sufferings avail with God. And if they can benefit us so much when in Purgatory, what will they not do for us when they are admitted into heaven! What gratitude will they not feel for their benefactors!
St. Liguori, Bellarmine, Suarez and most other theologians teach that it is lawful and useful to invoke the souls in Purgatory to obtain the graces and favours we need for soul and body.
St. Teresa used often to say, that every thing she asked God, through the intercession of the faithful departed, was granted to her. And we read in the life of St. Catharine of Bologna, that when she wanted very particularly to obtain any grace, she had always recourse to the suffering souls in Purgatory, asking them to present her petitions to God; and invariably her prayer was heard. She, moreover, declared positively that she had very often obtained favours through their intercession that had not been granted to her through the intercession of the saints.
The holy Curé of Ars, when speaking on the subject, said, “if people only knew how great the power of the souls in Purgatory is, and what graces may be obtained through their intercession, they would not be so much forgotten.” Oh! let us then pray often for them, so that they may often pray for us.
There are certain temporal favours which seem, more than others, to be granted to the intercession of the holy souls, for instance cures in cases of serious illnesses, preservation from dangers, the gain of a lawsuit, and the success of an important undertaking. God, knowing what importance mankind attaches to these graces of secondary interest, has placed the obtaining of them in the hands of the suffering souls, in order to induce us by this means to obtain assistance for them.
We have, then, everything to gain in this exchange of prayers with the souls of the
departed. What an admirable dispensation of’ Divine Providence, what a consoling article of faith, is that of the Communion of Saints! We by our prayers relieve and deliver the suffering souls from captivity, at the same time they offer to God their prayers, their lamentations, their sufferings, their previous merits, and God bestows upon us the most abundant blessings, both spiritual and temporal.
Stimulated by these advantages, held out to us in return for the faithful observance of the pious practices of this month, let us not fail each day, to visit in spirit, our friends and relatives who may be in Purgatory, as well as the poor souls who are the most abandoned and the most forgotten. Let us bring them some relief – let us hasten their deliverance.
Hear, O Lord, the prayers that we intend to offer Thee each day for the repose of the souls of the faithful departed, and grant to them rest, light, and peace. Hear also the prayers that these holy souls offer for us, so that we may obtain through their intercession the graces that we ask for. Audi nunc, Domine, orationem. mortuorum Israel.
The following account of a wonderful cure obtained through the intercession of the Souls in Purgatory during the Month of November is perfectly authentic: –
“During several years,” said the narrator of the fact, “I suffered from a very painful illness, which reduced my body to a skeleton, and my life was little else than a martyrdom, which could only end in the grave. I had consulted eminent medical men, but their remedies, with rare exceptions, gave no relief. I became still weaker, and finding I had nothing to hope for from science, I laid aside all remedies and determined to have recourse to the souls in Purgatory, who understand so well the mystery of suffering.
The month of November, which is especially consecrated to them, was about to begin, and I resolved to observe it with all possible fervour and end with a good communion. My relatives and many pious friends joined their prayers to mine. Every day towards evening we met at the foot of a statue of St. Joseph, and we asked with great confidence for two things–the deliverance of the poor souls in Purgatory and my cure. Towards the end of the first week I felt myself really better, and the last day of this blessed month I was able to go to church, and full of gratitude receive Holy Communion. My cure was complete; no trace was left of the painful illness from which I had suffered so long and which the physicians had pronounced as incurable. Unbounded thanks be rendered to the Holy Souls of Purgatory whose protection in my regard was so manifest and so visible.
What favours may we not also obtain for our dear departed and ourselves, if we devoutly celebrate this month. Let us, then, have courage and confidence.