Choose a topic from Vol 1:


God's existence known by reason
Nature of God
Providence of God and Problem of Evil


Nature of man
Existence and nature of the soul
Immortality of the soul
Destiny of the soul
Freewill of man


Nature of religion
Necessity of religion

The Religion of the Bible

Natural religion
Revealed religion
Mysteries of religion
Value of the Gospels
Inspiration of the Bible
Old Testament difficulties
New Testament difficulties

The Christian Faith

The religion of the Jews
Truth of Christianity
Nature and necessity of faith

A Definite Christian Faith

Conflicting Churches
Are all one Church?
Is one religion as good as another?
The fallacy of indifference

The Failure of Protestantism

Protestantism erroneous
Greek Orthodox Church
Salvation Army
Witnesses of Jehovah
Christian Science
Catholic intolerance

The Truth of Catholicism

Nature of the Church
The true Church
Hierarchy of the Church
The Pope
Temporal power
Outside the Church no salvation

The Catholic Church and the Bible

Not opposed to the Bible
The reading of the Bible
Protestants and the Bible
Bible Only a false principle
The necessity of Tradition
The authority of the Catholic Church

The Church and Her Dogmas

Dogmatic truth
Development of dogma
Dogma and reason
The Holy Trinity
Grace and salvation
The Sacraments
Holy Eucharist
The Sacrifice of the Mass
Holy Communion
Extreme Unction
The Millenium
Prayer for the Dead
The resurrection of the body
The general Judgment
The End of the World

The Church in Her Moral Teachings

Mental restriction
Ecclesiastical censures
Index of Prohibited Books
The Inquisition
Catholic Intolerance
Protestant services
Prohibition of drink
Sunday Observance
Convent life
Mixed Marriages
Birth control

The Church in Her Worship

Holy Water
Sign of the Cross
Liturgical ceremonial
Spiritual Healing
The use of Latin
Devotion to Mary
The Rosary
The Angelus
Devotion to the Saints
The worship of relics

The Church and Social Welfare

Poverty of Catholics
Catholic and Protestant countries
The Church and education
The Social Problem
The Church and Capitalism
The Church and the Worker

Prayer for the Dead

970. How do you know that you can help the souls in purgatory by your prayers?

God would not have inspired the Jews to pray for the departed if such prayers were of no avail. Christians have always prayed for the dead, a practice fully warranted by the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. And if we can pray for our dear ones who are in trouble in this life, our prayers can certainly follow them in their future difficulties. All prayer is addressed to the same God who is as present to the souls of our dear departed as He is to us.

971. Is your own personal conviction such that you will want others to pray for you?

It is. All who have the Catholic faith believe in prayer for the dead. It is not a doctrine for the laity only. And I sincerely hope that friends will pray for me and have Masses offered on my behalf when God has taken me from this world. I shall need them. Nothing defiled will enter heaven, and if at death one's soul is not absolutely perfect in virtue proportionately to the grace it has received, it is defiled by imperfection of some sort. "If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." 1 Jn. I., 8. Masses and prayers offered for me after my death will help to expiate such imperfections as I unfortunately possess.

972. So you expect to get redemption on the nod! You are fortunate.

I am. And not a soul will be saved who does not owe it to the death of Christ on the cross, and who will not admit that this was a purely free and gratuitous gift wholly undeserved by men. Mass merely applies the satisfactory value of Christ's death to my soul. Meantime, those who deny purgatory and the necessity of expiation wish to obtain salvation much more "on the nod," as you call it, than Catholics.

973. Joseph McCabe says that purgatory is the most lucrative doctrine ever invented by Priests.

He is the last man from whom you should seek information about the Catholic Church. I am a Priest, and know as much about the Catholic Church as Joseph McCabe ever did. And my judgment is not warped by hatred. The doctrine of purgatory was revealed by God. It is not a lucrative doctrine invented for financial reasons. Popes, Bishops, and Priests all believe in it on exactly the same footing as the faithful, and it is my consolation that many Priests have already promised to offer Mass for mc as soon as they hear of my death. And they will receive nothing for doing so.

974. Yet Priests accept offerings for Masses under false pretenses.

They do not. A Priest will accept an offering on the understanding that he will say a special Mass for the intentions of the person making the offering. In accepting an offering from one person he forfeits the support he would receive from another in exercising his ministry on that other's behalf.

975. It is a source of revenue which no Priest dare fail to utilize. The selling of Masses must be most profitable.

That remark shows that you do not understand the nature of Mass offerings at all. Priests do not sell Masses, and the people do not pay for Masses. The Mass cannot be bought or sold. Even were I to say that the Priest offers the Mass and is paid, not for the Mass, but for his time and services, any evil element such as you suggest would be excluded. It matters little whether a chaplain be given a salary for a year's service, or a special offering for a special service. However the explanation is deeper than that. In rtie Old Law the people brought tithes and percentages of their goods and dedicated them to God. The gift was directly made to God, and once given, ceased to belong to the giver and belonged entirely to God. Then God made use of these gifts for the support of His religious ministers, inviting them to be His guests. The same spirit characterizes Catholic practice. A Catholic wishes to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass to God. He is not compelled to do so. Now the Mass is a Sacrifice instituted by Christ, but it supposes the outward necessities, bread, wine, altar, vestments, and a living human being authorized by God to offer it in the name of Christ and of the Church. The Catholic offers to God all that is necessary, and indeed offers a personal sacrifice by contributing towards the upkeep of the altar and towards the very life of the Priest who is to stand at the altar on his behalf. Since he has made this offering to God, the Mass is applied according to his intention. Thus, when you attack the idea that the Priest sells the Mass to a Catholic, you are not attacking Catholic doctrine or practice at all.

976. Your harnessing purgatory to the idea of offering to God is most ingenious. So the Church is equal to God?

I do not harness purgatory to the idea of offerings to God. I give the simple Catholic explanation, according to the doctrine of Christ as recorded by St. Paul. "They that serve the altar partake with the altar. So also the Lord ordained that they who preach the gospel should live by the gospel." 1 Cor. IX., 13-14. And as a matter of fact purgatory does not necessarily come into it. It is a question of offering Mass for any intention whatever. Some Masses are offered for those we love and who have departed from this world. Nor is the Church made equal to God. She is but commissioned by God to attend to matters connected with His due worship. If I wished to give a friend a valuable plant, yet handed it to his gardener to be planted in his garden, I would not be elevating the gardener to the status of my friend.

977. How can you as an honest man support the extortion of hard-earned money from the poor?

I could not support extortion, but I can honestly say that only a person absolutely ignorant of things Catholic could imagine that money is extorted from the poor for Masses.

978. Don't Priests visit the bereaved and tell them that so many dollars are required per week for Masses?

No. Catholics are taught the truth from the pulpit in general. They are told that it is good to have Masses offered for the dead if possible; as indeed it is. Apart from that, the matter is left to the spontaneous desire of individuals. And they are never required to have such Masses offered.

979. If you do not extort, you press home the fact that, unless such Masses are said, the soul of the loved one will remain in purgatory.

That is not true. There are many ways in which we can help our deceased relatives and friends, apart from having Masses offered for them. We can offer our own assistance at Mass, and our Holy Communions; we can offer any prayers we wish, or our sufferings, and acts of Christian mortification. It is good to have Mass offered specially for them if possible. But that is not the only way in which we can help them. Nor has anyone ever maintained that a soul necessarily remains in purgatory until Masses shall have been offered.

980. Why don't Priests pray for the souls of the poor without payment of money which only the rich can afford?

Priests pray every day for the souls in purgatory without payment of money, and without any discrimination between the rich and the poor. When someone asks for a special intercessory Mass, offering the customary stipend, the Priest will comply with the request. But this is in addition to his personal prayers for the dead.

981. But would they say Masses for the poor?

Thousands of Masses are said every year for the poor by thousands of Priests, when no offering at all is made. As a matter of fact the law of the Church obliges a Parish Priest to offer Mass every Sunday and on every Holy Day of Obligation for his parishioners, excluding all private requests and offerings. And every Priest, in a spirit of charity, often offers Mass for the special intentions of poor people who cannot afford any offering.

982. The fact remains that the Catholic Church derives millions from Messes, as Joseph McCabe points out.

Naturally the offerings of millions of people would amount to millions. That s to be expected. A million people in Sydney contribute some millions yearly for various transport services; but the individual traveller is not unreasonably burdened, and the officials do not receive exorbitant remuneration. Your point proves nothing save the numerical strength of the Catholic Church, four hundred times as numerous throughout the world as the city of Sydney.

983. So purgatory has been able to extort millions!

It extorts nothing. The truth revealed by God inspires Catholics to have Masses offered for their departed friends and relatives. And those Catholics, who can afford to do so, desire by personal sacrifice to render the offering of the Sacrifice of the Mass their own special offering to God.

984. From offerings for Masses in England about a quarter of a million is raked in yearly.

Proportionately to their numbers that averages a penny per week from individual Catholics, and yields about sixty cents per week to the individual Priest.

985. In the United States it means a sum of between one and two millions a year.

The margin of difference is rather wide; however, taking the amount as two millions, on the Catholic population of the United States the average is again less than ten cents a year from the individual towards the support of Priests from this source. And at McCabe's maximum, the individual Priest would receive the average income of one dollar per week from such Mass-offerings.

986. Setting out the millions at so much per head is unsound, if ingenious. Not every one pays, and those who do are made to feel it.

My argument is not unsound. It is unsound to talk of millions without mentioning the distribution of the sources from which they come. Nor is any Catholic made to feel that he is paying. In fact, no Catholic is made to pay in any sense of the word, for there is no obligation to have Masses offered at all for one's personal intentions.

987. Can any honest man be proud of all this?

The New Testament says that he who serves the altar should live by the altar. And certainly the man who devotes the whole of his life to the welfare of his people can quite honestly accept a small percentage from the earnings of those to whose welfare he is devoted. The Priest has to live. He is more constantly at his work than the man who controls a transport system for the convenience of citizens and who derives his living from the small contributions of those who use those services. And the Priest's work is more important and more responsible. Moreover, the average Priest barely gets a living, and many have to be subsidized or they could scarcely live at all.

988. At any rate, has not the soul of a rich man a better chance than the soul of a poor man?

We cannot make such a comparison. The rich man who provides for the offering of Masses for the repose of his soul has a better chance of diminishing his purgatory than the rich man who makes no such provision.

989. I want my question answered. A rich man leaves $19000 for Masses for his soul. A poor man leaves but $1. Who has the better chance of entering heaven?

If both died in a state of unrepented mortal sin, neither of them has any chance. If both died in a state of grace, both will certainly enter heaven. All souls which depart this life in a state of grace will eventually enter heaven. However some souls need more purification in purgatory than others. The question, then, is whether the wealthier man will secure the more rapid purification, and enter heaven more easily than the poor man. Not necessarily. The $1 may easily have been the greater generosity relatively than the $1,000. The dispositions of the poor man could easily have been more pleasing to God than those of the rich man. The very poverty and suffering of the poor man in this life was already expiation; so much so that Christ practically says that heaven belongs almost by special right to the poor, declaring that the rich with their life of comfort and self-indulgence will enter heaven with great difficulty. The poor man might scarcely need the few Masses he asks, whilst the rich man, with all his Masses, may have far more to expiate. Then, too, the departed can benefit by Masses and prayers within certain limits only. Anything over and above those limits would be applied to other souls. St. Augustine clearly taught in the 4th century, "There is no doubt that our prayers can benefit those who so lived as to deserve to be benefited by them." He recommends sacrifice on their behalf, whether of the altar, or of prayers, or of almsgiving, adding, "Although they do not benefit all for whom they are offered, but those only who deserved during life to benefit by them." But we can safely leave the adjusting of all these things to God.

990. How do Priests know when a soul escapes from purgatory?

Souls do not escape from purgatory as criminals from jail. When they are sufficiently purified for the Vision of God they are admitted to heaven. And no one knows when this occurs, unless God gives a special revelation, a favor we have no right to ask.

991. Then you might he praying for a soul not in purgatory at dill

That is quite possible. Granted that we believe in purgatory, that our prayers can help the dead, and that we do not know for certain whether our dear ones are emancipated from their purifications or not, we continue praying for them. We give them, rather than ourselves, the benefit of any doubt. We argue that our prayers may possibly benefit them, not that they may possibly be wasted. And we would certainly risk saying too many for them rather than allow them to run the risk of being deprived of help.

992. On that score, Catholics would go on praying and having Masses said as long as they live.

Quite so. Is it a fault to be generous as long as one lives? And are such earnest prayers harmful? I am a Priest. My own mother has gone to God. I shall certainly offer Masses for her as long as I am able to do so and am free from other obligations. If, long before my death, her purification is finished and she is enjoying the happiness of heaven, I know that not a single prayer or Mass will be wasted. There are other souls in purgatory, and no Catholic begrudges the application of his prayers and sacrifices to other souls should his own dear ones have no need of them.

993. I must confess that I find all this rather baffling.

You are outside Catholicity, and no more understand the spirit of the Catholic religion than a man standing outside a Cathedral can discern the wonderful beauty of the stained glass windows. But a reasonable man would say, "Well, I can hardly expect to perceive the real sense and design from here. But there must be something in it, and if I cannot enter the building I must be content to be without an understanding of that window's real beauty." But you stand outside the building of Catholic doctrine, stare at practices you cannot expect to understand from outside, and express astonishment that you see nothing in them.



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