Sunday, February 11, 2007

Novena for the Holy Souls - Day 8

More On the "Heroic Act"
(Source: Catholic Encyclopedia)
"A decree of the Sacred Congregation of Indulgences dated 18 December, 1885, and confirmed the following day by Leo XIII, says:
The Heroic Act of Charity in favour of the souls detained in purgatory consists in this, that a member of the Church militant, either using a set formula or simply by an act of his will, offers to God for the souls in purgatory all the satisfactory works which he will perform during his lifetime, and also all the suffrages which may accrue to him after his death. Many Christians devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, acting on the advice of the Theatine Regular Cleric Father Gaspar Olider, of blessed memory, make it a practice to deposit the said merits and suffrages as it were into the hands of the Blessed Virgin that she may distribute these favours to the souls in purgatory according to her own merciful pleasure."
The Heroic Act is usually considered a vow, but it differs in its nature because it can be revoked at any time. It is rather an offering made to God and to Mary. This point has been decided by the Sacred Congregation of Indulgences, 20 Feb., 1907, in answer to a question regarding the Heroic Vow:
"A special vow "never to revoke the Act" would probably be binding, because its subject matter is an act of the personal will of which man can freely dispose, whereas he has not the disposal of his satisfactory works in favour of the departed; that depends on God; for man it is only a matter of pious desire, and only in this sense a votum. It always remains doubtful to what extent God accepts the oblation, and it is certain that the holy souls altogether lack the power of accepting it. The practice of the Heroic Act is based on the communion of saints, in virtue of which the good deeds of one member of Christ's body benefit all other members. Its meritoriousness results from the more intense charity (love of God and His suffering friends) which inspires it, and on which the intrinsic perfection of all our good deeds depends. Its heroicity arises from the willingness it involves to take upon one's self the dreadful pains of purgatory for the love of one's neighbour, although there remains the reasonable hope that God in His goodness, and the sainted souls in their gratitude, will not allow the punishment to be exacted to the full." (Emphasis added)
Keep in mind, the taking of this vow entails our willingness endure a longer purgatory since we have given away all our satisfactory works. All that we have done in our lives that could be weighted against our debt of sins we would have volunatarily donated to other poor souls. So, in order to take the vow we must be willing to undergo a longer purgatory to pay our own debts. The trick here is this - will God indeed suffer us to suffer more due to charity? God will NOT be outdone in charity, "Charity doth cover a multitude of sins" (Tobit) if we have given everything to help others, we can have great trust that God will use our charity at our particular judgement to cover our sins, thus we may be blessed to actually have a shorter purgatory or in His generosity to avoid it altogether! Tomorrow I will post more thoughts on the Heroic Vow along with the formula prayer.
O Lord God almighty, I pray Thee by the precious blood shed by
Our Lord Jesus Christ on His most holy cross of sacrifice
to release many suffering souls from Purgatory.
Let Thine justice be appeased and accept my humble
prayer as payment of thier debts due to sin.
Have mercy my Lord and let them enter into Thy Glory.
Our Father, Hail Mary...
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
may eternal light shine upon them, may they rest in peace. Amen+
Meditations on the End of Man
Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.
(Ps 128:2)

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