Saturday 29 November 2008

November - Month of the Holy Souls


This heroic act of charity in behalf of the souls in purgatory consists in a voluntary offering made in their favour by any one of the faithful of all works of satisfaction done by him in this life, as well as of all suffrages which shall be offered for him after his death; by this act he deposits them all into the hands of the Blessed Virgin, that she may distribute them in behalf of those holy souls whom it is her good pleasure to deliver from the pains of purgatory, at the same time that he declares that by this offering he only foregoes in their behalf the special and personal fruit of each satisfactory work; so that, being a priest, he is not hindered from applying the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass according to the intentions of those who give him alms. This heroic act of charity, called also a vow or oblation, was instituted by F. Gaspar Oliden, a Theatine; for although it was not unknown in former ages, it was he who propagated it, and it was at his prayer that it was enriched with many indulgences first by Pope Benedict XIII. in his decree of August 23, 1728; and then by Pope Pius VI., in a decree of Dec. 12, 1788; these indulgences were finally specified by our Sovereign Pontiff Pius IX, in a decree of the S. Congr. of Indulgences of Sept. 30, 1852. They are as follows:

i. An indult of a privileged altar, personally, every day in the year, to all priests who have made this offering.

ii. A plenary indulgence, applicable only to the departed, to all the faithful who have made this offering, whenever they go to Holy Communion, provided they visit a church or public oratory, and pray there for a time according to the mind of His Holiness.

iii. A Plenary indulgence, every Monday, to all who hear Mass in suffrage for the souls in purgatory, provided they visit the church, and pray as above.

iv. All Indulgences granted or to be granted, even though not applicable to the dead, which are gained by the faithful who have made this offering, may be applied to the holy souls in purgatory.

v. Lastly, the same Sovereign Pontiff, Pope Pius IX., having regard to the young who are not yet communicants, as well as to the poor sick, to those who are afflicted with chronic disorders, to the aged, to farm-labourers, prisoners, and others who are debarred from communicating and unable to hear Mass on Mondays, vouchsafed by another decree of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, of November 20, 1854, to declare that for all the faithful who cannot hear mass on Mondays, the mass heard on Sundays should be available for gaining the Indulgence no. iii; and that in favour of those who are not yet communicants, or who are hindered from communicating, he leaves it at the disposal of their respective ordinaries to authorise confessors to commute the works enjoined. And note lastly, that although this act of charity is denominated a vow in some printed tracts, in which also is given a formula for making the offering, no inference is to be drawn therefrom that this offering binds under sin; neither is it necessary to make use of the said formula, since, in order to share in the said indulgences, no more is required than a hearty act of our will.

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