Sunday, May 29, 2011

Book Excerpt: How To Avoid Purgatory

Tridentine Community News (May 29, 2011):
As a follow-up to our recent column about the Sabbatine Privilege, we would like to recommend a booklet by Fr. Paul O’Sullivan and published by Saint Benedict Press, “How To Avoid Purgatory”. Chapter 13 of this book has been widely republished on a number of web sites, and we reprint it below both for its own value and as an example of the contents of the rest of the booklet. Rarely has so much spiritually beneficial information been condensed into so few words.

To Avoid Purgatory, Do As Follows

1. In every prayer you say, every Mass you hear, every Communion you receive, every good work you perform, have the express intention of imploring God to grant you a holy and happy death and no Purgatory. Surely God will hear a prayer said with such confidence and perseverance.

2. Always wish to do God's will. It is in every sense the best for you. When you do or seek anything that is not God's will, you are sure to suffer. Say fervently, therefore, each time you recite the Our Father: “Thy will be done.”

3. Accept all the sufferings, sorrows, pains and disappointments of life, be they great or small: ill health, loss of goods, the death of your dear ones, heat or cold, rain or sunshine, as coming from God. Bear them calmly and patiently for love of Him and in penance for your sins. Of course, one may use all his efforts to ward off trouble and pain, but when one cannot avoid them let him bear them manfully.
Impatience and revolt make sufferings vastly greater and more difficult to bear.

4. Christ’s life and actions are so many lessons for us to imitate.
The greatest act in His life was His Passion. As He had a Passion, so each one of us has a passion. Our passion consists in the sufferings and labors of every day. The penance God imposed on man for sin was to gain his bread in the sweat of his brow. Therefore, let us do our work, accept its disappointments and hardships, and bear our pains in union with the Passion of Christ. We gain more merit by a little pain than by years of pleasure.

5. Forgive all injuries and offences, for in proportion as we forgive others, God forgives us. Go to Confession. This sacrament does more than “just” rid us of our sins; it gives us a tremendous increase in sanctifying grace. It wins for us a higher place in Heaven, with increased union with God. Each time we go to Confession, we are preserved from many dangers and misfortunes which might otherwise have befallen us. A devout Confession helps us to hear the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, and to hear and follow the advice of our guardian angels.

6. Avoid mortal sins and deliberate venial sins and break off all bad habits. Then it will be relatively easy to satisfy God’s justice for sins of frailty. Above all, avoid sins against charity and against chastity, whether in thought, word, or deed, for these sins (and the expiation for them) are the reason why many souls are detained in Purgatory for long years.

7. If afraid of doing much, do many little things, acts of kindness and charity, give the alms you can, cultivate regularity of life, method in work, and punctuality in the performance of duty; don’t grumble or complain when things are not as you please, don’t censure and complain of others; never refuse to do a favor to others when it is possible. These and suchlike acts are a splendid penance.

8. Do all in your power for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Pray for them constantly, get others to do so, join the Association of the Holy Souls and ask all those you know to do likewise. The Holy Souls will repay you most generously.

9. There is no more powerful way of obtaining from God a most holy and happy death than by weekly Confession, daily Mass and daily Communion. Masses may be arranged after or before someone’s death to expedite their time in Purgatory.

10. A daily visit to the Blessed Sacrament – it need only be three or four minutes – is an easy way of obtaining the same grace. Kneeling in the presence of Jesus with eyes fixed on the Tabernacle or Monstrance, sure that He is looking at us, let us for a few minutes repeat some little prayer like these: “My Jesus, mercy.” “My Jesus, have pity on me, a sinner.” “My Jesus, I love You.” “My Jesus, give me a happy death.”

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Mon. 05/30 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Feria of Eastertide)

Tue. 05/31 7:00 PM: High Mass at both St. Josaphat and Assumption-Windsor (Queenship of Mary)

Thu. 06/02 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Ascension Thursday)

Thu. 06/02 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Paul, Thamesville, Ontario (Ascension Thursday)
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for May 29, 2011. Hat tip to A.B.]

Books such as the above presuppose a great deal. Please: how many Catholics do you know outside a small circle of TAN Books patrons who seriously worry about Purgatory anymore?

Anyone with contacts among secularized Catholics, Protestants and sundry agnostics will be familiar with the seemingly innumerable hurdles that prevent many readers from giving a book like this a half-second's mental space. Certainly the majority in this class may be beyond help here and now, but perhaps a few Protestants and post-Vatican II Catholics may find helpful a straightforward Biblically-referenced apologetic such as John Salza's Biblical Basis for Purgatory (Saint Benedict's Press, 2009).

There are numerous other commendable, and even better and more thorough books on Purgatory, but most have also this same "disadvantage" of presupposing what such readers consider proper to the conclusion of an argument rather than an assumed premise. If this is your own situation, then by all means take up and read: Tolle, Lege! Blog readers are invited to suggest literature they have found helpful on this topic as well.


Ralph Roister-Doister said...

Has anyone ever seen an EMHC go to confession?

I'm just curious. I never have, and I attend a Saturday vigil mass, and come early.

Anonymous said...

Great question. Neither have I.

Vincent VAN DER WEERDEN said...

I thought the church no longer measures time in Purgatory?

Pertinacious Papist said...


I could be wrong, but although there has been some regrouping among some theologians about how to account for the sufferings of those who pass through Purgatory, this has done little to change the ineluctable temporal imagery with which we mortals seem to be saddled. I'm not sure how much difference the particular mode of measurement makes: the reality surely must remain the same.