|Devotion to Our Lady||
Read the serialized text (with additional commentary) below over several installments, or download the full text (without additional commentary) in the PDF file on the right.
Approval of His Eminence
the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon
Cardinal’s Palace, Lisbon March 4, 1936
We approve and recommend with all our heart the beautiful little book, Read Me or Rue, It by E. D. M. [These initials used by Fr. O’Sullivan stand for Enfant de Marie, that is, “Child of Mary” Ed.]
Although small, it is destined to do great good among Catholics, many of whom are incredibly ignorant of the great doctrine of Purgatory. As a consequence, they do little or nothing to avoid it themselves and little to help the Poor Souls who are suffering there so intensely, waiting for the Masses and prayers which should be offered for them.
It is our earnest desire that every Catholic should read this little book and spread it about as widely as possible.
[COMMENTS: The cardinal mentions "Catholics ... are incredibly ignorant of the great doctrine of Purgatory". The teaching on Purgatory is no rocket science and therefore there is little excuse for neglecting both the teaching and the acts of charity that this teaching would/should lead us to on behalf of the poor suffering souls in Purgatory. Hence, this neglect of both knowledge and consequent action will merely serve to increase our own Purgatory, with the added twist that God's justice will allow others to forget to pray and sacrifice for us, when we are in Purgatory, just as we forgot to pray and sacrifice for the poor souls while we were alive in this world].
“Read Me or Rue It”
This title is somewhat startling. Yet, dear reader, if you peruse this little book, you will see for yourself how well deserved it is. The book tells us how to save ourselves and how to save others from untold suffering. Some books are good and may be read with profit. Others are better and should be read without fail.
There are, however, books of such sterling worth, by reason of the counsels they suggest, the conviction they carry with them, the urge to action they give us, that it would be sheer folly not to read them.
Read Me or Rue It belongs to this class. It is for your best interest, Dear Friend, to read it and reread it, to ponder well and deeply on its contents. You will never regret it; rather, great and poignant will be your regret if you fail to study its few but pregnant pages.
[COMMENTS: The cardinal goes right for the jugular, right to the heart of the matter: "this book tells us how to save ourselves and how to save others from untold suffering:! What fool wants to pile on more and more suffering for the afterlife? Sadly, there are many such fools walking the Earth, oblivious to their own foolishness!]
Help! Help! They Suffer So Much!
1. We can never understand too clearly that every alms, small or great, which we give to the poor, we give to God. He accepts it and rewards it as given to Himself. Therefore, all we do for the Holy Souls, God accepts as done to Himself. It is as if we had relieved or released Him from Purgatory. What a thought! How He will repay us!
[COMMENTS: Holy Scripture tells us that God looks upon things done to others as being done to Himself and will reward accordingly: “And when the Son of man shall come in His majesty, and all the angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the seat of His majesty. And all nations shall be gathered together before Him, and He shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats: and He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on His left.
“Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: ‘Come, ye blessed of My Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took Me in; naked, and you covered Me; sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me!’ Then shall the just answer Him, saying: ‘Lord, when did we see Thee hungry, and fed Thee; thirsty, and gave Thee drink? And when did we see Thee a stranger, and took Thee in? Or naked, and covered Thee? Or when did we see Thee sick or in prison, and came to Thee?’ And the King answering, shall say to them: ‘Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these My least brethren, you did it to Me!’
“Then He shall say to them also that shall be on His left hand: ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave Me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave Me not to drink. I was a stranger, and you took Me not in; naked, and you covered Me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit Me!’ Then they also shall answer Him, saying: ‘Lord, when did we see Thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to Thee?’ Then He shall answer them, saying: ‘Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to Me!’ And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting” (Matthew 25:31-46).
2 As there is no hunger, no thirst, no poverty, no need, no pain, no suffering to compare with what the Souls in Purgatory endure, so there is no alms more deserving, none more pleasing to God, none more meritorious for us than the alms, the prayers, the Masses we give to the Holy Souls.
3. It is very possible that some of our own nearest and dearest ones are still suffering the excruciating pains of Purgatory and calling on us piteously for help and relief.
Is it not dreadful that we are so hardened as not to think more about them, that we are so cruel as to deliberately forget them! For the dear Christ’s sake, let us do all, but all, we can for them. Every Catholic ought to join the Association of the Holy Souls.
[COMMENTS: A family could even allocate a day or two to each family member, on which days that family member will pray and offer sacrifice for the poor suffering souls in Purgatory.]
“Have pity on me, have pity on me, at least you my friends, because the hand of the Lord hath touched me!” (Job 19:21).
This is the touching prayer that the Poor Souls in Purgatory address to their friends on Earth, begging, imploring their help, in accents of the deepest anguish. Alas, many are deaf to their prayers!
It is incomprehensible how some Catholics, even those who are otherwise devout, shamefully neglect the souls in Purgatory. It would almost seem that they do not believe in Purgatory. Certain it is that their ideas on the subject are very hazy.
Days and weeks and months pass without their having a Mass said for the Holy Souls! Seldom, too, do they hear Mass for them, seldom do they pray for them, seldom do they think of them! Whilst they are enjoying the fullness of health and happiness, busy with their work, engrossed with their amusements, the Poor Souls are suffering unutterable agonies on their beds of flame. What is the cause of this awful callousness? Ignorance: gross, inexplicable ignorance.
People do not realize what Purgatory is. They have no conception of its dreadful pains, and they have no idea of the long years that souls are detained in these awful fires. As a result, they take little or no care to avoid Purgatory themselves, and worse still, they cruelly neglect the Poor Souls who are already there and who depend entirely on them for help.
[COMMENTS: As a companion book or parallel reading to this book, Read Me, Or Rue It, you could also read a little each day from F.r Francis Xavier Schouppe;s book, Purgatory Explained, which thoroughly and extensively covers all the aspects of Purgatory].
Dear Reader, peruse this little book with care and you will bless the day that it fell into your hands.
WHAT IS PURGATORY?
It is a prison of fire in which nearly all [saved] souls are plunged after death and in which they suffer the intensest pain. Here is what the great Doctors of the Church tell us of Purgatory: So grievous is their suffering that one minute in this awful fire seems like a century.
St. Thomas Aquinas, the Prince of Theologians, says that the fire of Purgatory is equal in intensity to the fire of Hell, and that the slightest contact with it is more dreadful than all the possible sufferings of this Earth!
St. Augustine, the greatest of the Holy Doctors, teaches that to be purified of their faults previous to being admitted to Heaven, souls after death are subjected to a fire more penetrating, more dreadful than anything we can see, or feel, or conceive in this life “Though this fire is destined to cleanse and purify the soul,” adds St. Augustine, “still it is more acute than anything we could possibly endure on Earth.”
St. Cyril of Alexandria does not hesitate to say that “it would be preferable to suffer all the possible torments of Earth until the Judgment day than to pass one day in Purgatory.”
Another great Saint says: “Our fire, in comparison with the fire of Purgatory, is as a refreshing breeze.” The other holy writers speak in identical terms of this awful fire.
How Come the Pains of Purgatory are so Severe?
1. The fire we see on Earth was made by the goodness of God for our comfort and well‑being. Still, when used as a torment, it is the most dreadful one we can imagine.
2. The fire of Purgatory, on the contrary, was made by the Justice of God to punish and purify us and is, therefore, incomparably more severe.
3. Our fire, at most, burns this gross body of ours, made of clay; whereas, the fire of Purgatory acts on the spiritual soul, which is unspeakably more sensitive to pain.
4. The more intense our fire is, the more speedily it destroys its victim, who therefore ceases to suffer; whereas, the fire of Purgatory inflicts the keenest, most violent pain, but never kills the soul nor lessens its sensibility.
5. Unsurpassingly severe as is the fire of Purgatory, the pain of loss or separation from God, which the souls also suffer in Purgatory, is far more severe. The soul separated from the body craves with all the intensity of its spiritual nature for God. It is consumed with an intense desire to fly to Him. Yet it is held back. No words can describe the anguish of this unsatisfied craving.
What madness, therefore, it is for intelligent beings to neglect taking every possible precaution to avoid such a dreadful fate.
It is puerile to say that it cannot be so, that we cannot understand it, that it is better not to think or speak of it. The fact remains always the same ‒ whether we believe it, or whether we do not ‒ that the pains of Purgatory are beyond everything we can imagine or conceive. Those are the words of St. Augustine.
[COMMENTS: Therefore, how sad and callous are so many persons, who merely pray for a departed family member, relative or friend for a few days (if even that) after they have passed away. They forget (or never even knew because of their disinterest) that many, if not most, souls spend decades and even centuries in the fires of Purgatory. Why are they so remiss and negligent? It is because they think little of the gravity of sin, and therefore they cannot imagine, even in their wildest dreams, that God could punish the debt for forgiven sin in such a severe manner. Yet He does‒whether we know it or not, or like it or not! Let us shake ourselves out of our torpor, tepidity and lukewarmness. Perhaps simply holding you lukewarm finger over a flame might bring some realistic realization to your mind on what is really going on in Purgatory.]