Purgatory Explained, Part 2, Chapter 12

painting of 'Blessed Henry Suso', c.1636-1638, by Francisco de Zurbarán, oil on canvas, 209x154 cm, Museo de Bellas Artes, Seville, SpainArticle

Means of Assisting the Souls in Purgatory – Holy Mass – The Religious of Citeaux delivered by the Sacred Host – Blessed Henry Suso

No; of all that we can do in favor of the souls in Purgatory, there is nothing more precious than the immolation of our Divine Saviour upon the altar. Besides being the express doctrine of the Church, manifested in her Councils, many miraculous facts, properly authenticated, leave no room for doubt in regard to this point. We have already spoken of the Religious who was delivered from Purgatory by the prayers of Saint Bernard and his community. This Religious, whose regularity was not all that could be desired, had appeared after his death to ask the assistance of Saint Bernard. The holy Abbot, with all his fervent disciples, hastened to offer prayers, fasts, and Masses for the poor departed brother. The latter was speedily delivered, and appeared, full of gratitude, to an aged Religious of the community who had specially interested himself in his behalf. Questioned as to the suffrage which had been most profitable to him, instead of replying, he took the old man by the hand, and, conducting him to the church where Mass was being celebrated, “Behold,” said he, pointing to the altar, “the great redeeming power which has broken my chains; behold the price of my ransom: it is the Saving Host, which takes away the sins of the world.” (L’Abbe Postel, Le Purgatoire, chap. 5; cf. Rossign., Merv., 47)

Here is another incident, related by the historian Ferdinand of Castile, and quoted by Father Rossignoli. There was at Cologne, among the students in the higher classes of the university, two Dominican Religious of distinguished talent, one of whom was Blessed Henry Suso. The same studies, the same kind of life, and above all the same relish for sanctity, had caused them to contract an intimate friendship, and they mutually imparted the favors which they received from Heaven.

When they had finished their studies, seeing that they were about to be separated, to return each one to his own convent, they agreed and promised one another that the first of the two who should die should be assisted by the other for a whole year by the celebration of two Masses each week – on Monday a Mass of Requiem, as was customary, and on Friday that of the Passion, in so far as the Rubrics would permit. They engaged to do this, gave each other the kiss of peace, and left Cologne.

For several years they both continued to serve God with the most edifying fervor. The brother whose name is not mentioned was the first to be called away, and Suso received the tidings with the most perfect sentiments of resignation to the Divine will. As to the contract they had made, time had caused him to forget it. He prayed much for his friend, imposing new penances upon himself, and many other good works, but he did not think of offering the Masses which he had promised.

One morning, whilst meditating in retirement in the chapel, he suddenly saw appear before him the soul of his departed friend, who, regarding him with tenderness, reproached him with having been unfaithful to his word, given and accepted, and which he had a perfect right to rely upon with confidence. Blessed Suso, surprised, excused his forgetfulness by enumerating the prayers and mortifications which he had offered, and still continued to offer, for his friend, whose salvation was as dear to him as his own. “Is it possible, my dear brother,” he added, “that so many prayers and good works which I have offered to God do not suffice for you?” “Oh! no, dear brother,” replied the suffering soul, “that is not sufficient. It is the Blood of Jesus Christ that is needed to extinguish the flames by which I am consumed; it is the August Sacrifice which will deliver me from these frightful torments, I implore you to keep your word, and refuse me not that which injustice you owe me.”

Blessed Suso hastened to respond to the appeal of the suffering soul; and, to repair his fault, he celebrated, and caused to be celebrated, more Masses than he had promised.

On the following day several priests, at the request of Suso, united with him in offering the Holy Sacrifice for the deceased, and continued this act of charity for several days.

After some time the friend of Suso again appeared to him, but now in a very different condition; his countenance was joyful, and surrounded with beautiful light. “Oh! thanks, my faithful friend,” said he; “behold, by the Blood of my Saviour I am delivered from my sufferings. I am now going to Heaven to contemplate Him whom we so often adored together under the Eucharistic veil.” Suso prostrated himself to thank the God of all mercy, and understood more than ever the inestimable value of the August Sacrifice of the Altar. (Rossignoli, Merv., 34, and Ferdinand de Castile).

MLA Citation