Heaven, Hell, Purgatory & Limbo

Heaven & Limbo

"Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called, and should be the sons of God.  Therefore the world knoweth not us, because it knew not Him.  Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God; and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be.  We know, that, when He shall appear, we shall be like to Him:  Because we shall see Him as He is."  (1 John 3:1-2)


  1. What is Heaven? The place of perfect happiness in the next world.


    "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for those that love Him."   

    (1 Corinthians 2:9)


  2. Who will go to Heaven? Only those who have Sanctifying Grace in their souls at the moment of death.


    "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."    (Matthew 25:34)


  3. What is the happiness of Heaven? It will consist in seeing God face to face and possessing Him in divine love.


    "We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face.  Now I know in part:  But then I shall know even as I am known."   

    (1 Corinthians 13:12)


  4. Why is the happiness of Heaven perfect? Because God made you for Himself and you can find perfect satisfaction in Him alone.


    "Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee."    (St. Augustine)


  5. Will everyone have the same happiness in Heaven? No, the happiness of some will be greater than that of others, but everyone will be as happy as he can be.


  6. Why will some have greater happiness than others? Because some will see God more clearly.


    "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will render to every man according to his works."  

    (Matthew 16:27)


  7. Why will some see God more clearly? Because they died with more Sanctifying Grace on their souls.


    "And every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labor."    (1 Corinthians 3:8)


  8. How, then, should you spend your time on Earth? Try to get as much Sanctifying Grace in your soul as you can before you die.


    "Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto life everlasting, which the Son of man will give you."    (1 Corinthians 3:8) "The night cometh, when no man can work."    (John 9:4)


  9. Will there be any sorrow or pain in Heaven? No, nor will there be any sickness, temptation, or sin, but complete, unending joy.


    "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes:  and death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more."   

    (Apocalypse 21:4)


  10. Will you know your family and friends in Heaven? Yes, and also the Angels and Saints.


    "Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners:  But you are fellow citizens with the saints, and the domestics of God."  

     (Ephesians 2:19)


  11. What would keep you from getting into Heaven? Dying with a serious (mortal) sin on your soul.


    "And there shall not enter into it any thing defiled, or that worketh abomination or maketh a lie, but they that are written in the book of life of the Lamb."    (Apocalypse 21:27)


  12. How often should you pray to get to Heaven? Every day, since getting to Heaven is the purpose of life.


    "As the heart panteth after the fountains of water; so my soul panteth after Thee, O God.  My soul hath thirsted after the strong living God; when shall I come and appear before the face of God?"    (Psalm 41:2-3)






  13. What is Limbo exactly? The residence of those souls excluded from Heaven through no fault of there own; because of the ancient belief that it was situated near the confines of Hell. Theologians distinguished a two-fold Limbo: the Limbo of the Fathers (Limbus patrum) , where the just that died before Christ, were detained until Heaven, which had been closed in punishment for the sin of Adam, was reopened by the Savior, Jesus Christ; and the Limbo of infants (Limbus infantium), where those who die in original sin, but without personal mortal sin, are deprived of the happiness which would come to them in the supernatural order, but not the happiness in the natural order.


  14. What is the chief difference between Heaven and Limbo? The souls in Heaven see God face to face; whereas, those in Limbo do not. Seeing God face to face is called the Beatific Vision.  It contains all possible happiness and is unending.



  1. You will never get bored or used to heaven because God is unlimited in every way.  Nothing on this earth can completely satisfy you, whether it is money or fame or pleasure, since everything created is limited.

  2. Thinking often of Heaven, putting it before everything else, will give you the correct scale of values, as well as peace of mind in this world.



"The Son of Man shall send His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all scandals, and them that work iniquity.  And shall cast them into the furnace of fire:  there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."  (Matthew 13:41-42)


  1. What is Hell? The place in the next world where the souls of the damned are condemned to suffer forever with the devils.


    "If any one abide not in Me, he shall be cast forth as a branch, and shall wither, and they shall gather him up, and cast him into the fire, and he burneth."    (John 15:6)


  2. How do you know there is a Hell? The Bible and Tradition (and Jesus too) often speak of the everlasting punishments of Hell.


    "Then He shall say to them also that shall be on His left hand:  Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels.  And these shall go into everlasting punishments:  But the just, into life everlasting."    (Matthew 25:41-46)


  3. Who will go to Hell? Those who die with mortal sin on their souls, that is, without Sanctifying Grace.


    "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the pool of fire."    (Apocalypse 20:15)


  4. Does anyone ever get out of Hell? No, Hell is a place of "everlasting punishment." (Matthew 25:46)


    "And the smoke of their torments shall ascend up for ever and ever:  neither have they rest day nor night."    (Apocalypse 14:11)


  5. What are the pains of Hell? Separation from God, torture by fire, regret, and the companionship of the devils.


    "Before I go, and return no more, to a land that is dark and covered with the mist of death:  a land of misery and darkness, where the shadow of death, and no order, but everlasting horror dwelleth."    (Job 10:21-22)


  6. What is the pain of separation from God? To be separated from God, the Source of all love and happiness, will be the greatest pain in Hell.


    "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven, with the angels of His power:  In a flame of fire, giving vengeance to them who know not God, and who obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.   Who shall suffer eternal punishment in destruction, from the face of the Lord, and from the glory of His power."    (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)


  7. Is there real fire in Hell? Yes, Jesus often spoke of the "unquenchable fire" of Hell and says that the damned souls will be "salted with fire" (Mark 9:43), which is "everlasting fire" (Matthew 25:41).


    "If any one abide not in me, he shall be cast forth as a branch, and shall wither, and they shall gather him up, and cast him into the fire, and he burneth."    (John 15:6)


  8. How does the fire of Hell differ from the fire here on earth? The fire in Hell burns without consuming (it does not burn up your body, so the pain never ends) and can torture not only the body but the soul as well.


    "Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished."    (Mark 9:47)

    "Humble thy spirit very much:  For the vengeance on the flesh of the ungodly is fire and worms." (Ecclesiasticus 7:19)


  9. What is the pain of regret? The pain of regret means that you will be tortured forever with the thought that you had so many chances to save your soul and be happy with God, but lost Heaven because of mortal sin.


  10. What is the pain of companionship of the devils? Your companions in Hell will be the devils and the other lost souls, who will always hate you and mock you for being such a fool.


    "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."    (Matthew 25:41)


  11. Are the pains of Hell the same for all? All the souls in Hell will have the same type of punishment, but the degree of suffering will differ according to the number and kind of sins committed.




  1. Think often of Hell and the possibility of your going there.  Pray every day that you will not die with mortal sin on your soul.  Say the Act of Contrition every night:


    "O my God, I am very sorry for having offended Thee, and I hate all of my sins, because I fear the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell, but most of all because my sins offend Thee, my dear God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love.  I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, do penance, and amend my life.   Amen."


  2. Presumption is the sin committed by people who think that a good God will not punish a sinner with the torments of Hell.  God, being a just judge, has to reject those who choose to separate themselves from Him by mortal sin.


  3. The horror of Hell helps us understand the evil of mortal sin.  Mortal sin is the greatest evil in the universe.



"And the day following Judas [Machabeus] came with his company, to take away the bodies of them that were slain, and to bury them with their kinsmen, in the sepulchres of their fathers.  And they found under the coats of the slain some of the donaries of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbiddeth to the Jews:  So that all plainly saw, that for this cause they were slain.  Then they all blessed the just judgment of the Lord, who had discovered the things that were hidden.  And so betaking themselves to prayers, they besought Him, that the sin which had been committed might be forgotten.  But the most valiant Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves from sin, forasmuch as they saw before their eyes what had happened, because of the sins of those that were slain.  And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, (for if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead), and because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them.  It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins."  (2 Machabees 12:39-46)


  1. What is Purgatory? A place and state of temporary punishment in the next world.  Hell, on the other hand, is a place of eternal or everlasting punishment.


  2. What does the word "Purgatory" mean? It means "cleansing" (or "purging").  Purgatory is a place where the soul is cleansed of unforgiven venial sin and/or the "debt" of sins already forgiven but not yet made up for.


    "If any one abide not in Me, he shall be cast forth as a branch, and shall wither, and they shall gather him up, and cast him into the fire, and he burneth."    (John 15:6)


  3. How do you know there is a Purgatory? The constant teaching and practice of the Catholic Church, based on the Bible and tradition, and even common sense, prove the existence of Purgatory.


  4. How does common sense indicate the existence of Purgatory? Only people with mortal sin go to Hell, and on the other hand, no one can enter Heaven with even the smallest sin.  Therefore, there must be a place in the next world where lesser sins can be taken off the soul.


  5. Who will go to Purgatory? People who die with Sanctifying Grace in their souls, but --

    1. who die with venial sin on their souls, or

    2. who have not completed (satisfied for) the punishment still due to their already forgiven sins.


  6. What is meant by the "punishment still due to sin"? This means that, even though God forgives your sins, He still requires that you be punished for them (i.e. "pay" for them), either in this life or in the next.


    For example:  A boy playing ball in his yard breaks his neighbor's window.  He goes and tells the lady he is sorry, and she forgives him but she tells him he will still have to pay for the window.


  7. Do you suffer in Purgatory? Yes.  Besides not being allowed to see God face to face, the souls in Purgatory suffer a great deal. "The fire of Purgatory", says St. Augustine, "is more terrible than man can suffer in this life."


  8. How long will you have suffer in Purgatory? That depends on the number and seriousness of the sins to be atoned for.


    "My soul hath thirsted after the strong living God; when shall I come and appear before the face of God."    (Psalm 41:3)


  9. Where do you go when you leave Purgatory? To Heaven to see God and enjoy Him forever.


    "Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not come out from thence till thou repay the last farthing."    (Matthew 5:26)


  10. Will Purgatory ever end? Yes, at the Last Judgment.  After that all souls will be in either Heaven or Hell forever.


  11. Can you help the souls in Purgatory?  You can shorten their stay by having Masses said for them, by praying for them and by doing good works for them.


    "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)


  12. Does the Bible say anything about praying for the dead?  Yes.  We read that Judas Machabeus, "sent twelve thousand drachmas of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifices to be offered for the sins of the dead."  (2 Machabees 12:43)


  13. How can you avoid Purgatory? Avoid even the smallest faults, do penance for sins already forgiven, gain indulgences and receive the Sacrament of Extreme Unction.




  1. All Souls' Day is the day set aside by the Church for special prayers and Masses for all the souls suffering in Purgatory.  It is celebrated every year on November 2.


  2. The souls in Purgatory cannot help themselves.  We should help them by our prayers and sacrifices.  They, in turn, can and do pray for us.


  3. The souls in Purgatory are known as the Poor Souls

 For Prayers for the Poor Souls in Purgatory...Click Here

                                         How to Avoid Purgatory
                                                                                    By Fr. Paul O'Sullivan






Our Lord came on earth expressly to give us a perfect Redemption. He gave us a Law of Love, a Religion in every way to suit our human hearts, destined to make us holy and happy. His Commandments, counsels and promises all breathe peace, joy, mercy and love.The idea that nearly all of us shall, notwithstanding, have to pass a period more or less long in the excruciating fires of Purgatory after death seems to be at variance with this all-merciful and all-loving plan of our Divine Lord.It is true that we are weak and fall many times and that God's justice is rigorous and exacting, but it is equally certain that God's mercy and love are above all His works. It is no less certain that Our Lord has given us abundant grace and strength to save us from sin and many (and most efficacious) means of satisfying for any sins that we may have committed. This last fact seems to be almost entirely overlooked, or imperfectly understood by the majority of Catholics. Of course, those who go on deliberately sinning and who make no effort to correct their faults and refuse to use the many wonderful means God offers them for satisfying for sin, condemn themselves to Purgatory. The object of this little book is to show how we can avoid Purgatory by using the means God has so generously offered us, and, secondly, to show that the use of these means is within the reach of every ordinary Christian. The careful perusal of these pages will be a source of much benefit and consolation to all who read them. The author offers them to the loving Heart of Jesus and asks Him to bless

Chapter 1


Many think that it is practically impossible for the ordinary Christian to avoid Purgatory. Go there we all must--so they say. They laughingly remark: "It will be well for us if we ever get there" Alas! When too late they will recognize how terribly rash their words were. As a consequence of such fatalistic ideas, many make no serious effort to avoid Purgatory, or even to lessen the term they may have to pass there. Thank God all do not hold such gloomy views.


a) How all can notably shorten their period of expiation in Purgatory; b) And how they may even avoid Purgatory altogether. These pages are well worth reading and re-reading. The fact is that a great number of souls go to Purgatory and remain there for long years simply because they had never been told how they could have avoided it.    The means we suggest are easy, practical and within the reach of all.
Moreover, far from being irksome, the use of these means will only serve to make our lives on this earth holier and happier and will take away the exaggerated fear of death which terrifies so many. We ask you, Dear Reader, to put this little booklet into the hands of all
your friends. You cannot do them a greater service.

Chapter 2


The reason why we have to pass through Purgatory after death is that we have committed sins and have not made satisfaction for them. Every individual sin must be expiated--in this life or the next! Not even the slightest shadow of sin or evil can enter the all-holy presence of God. The graver, the more frequent the sins, the longer will be the period of expiation and the more intense the pain. It is not God's fault, nor God's wish, that we go to Purgatory! The fault is all our own. We have sinned and have not made satisfaction. Even after our sin, God, in His infinite goodness, places at our disposal many easy and efficacious means by which we may considerably lessen our term of expiation, or even entirely cancel it. Most Christians, with incomprehensible rashness, neglect these means and so
have to pay their debts in the dreadful prison house of Purgatory. We will briefly enumerate some of the principal means by which we can avoid Purgatory-or at least lessen its severity and duration.

Chapter 3


The First Means of avoiding Purgatory is manifestly to remove the cause which sends us there, which is sin.It may not be easy to refrain from all sin, even the smaller sins, but every ordinary Christian can, by the frequent use of the Sacraments, easily
abstain from mortal sin. Secondly, we can all avoid deliberate and grave venial sin. It is an awful thing to offend the good God deliberately. Deliberation intensifies enormously the malice of sin and offends God much more than faults of weakness, or sins committed when we are off our guard. Lastly, we must use our best endeavors to break off bad habits. Habits, like deliberation, add seriously to the malice of sin A deliberate falsehood is very much worse than a hasty lie of excuse, and a lie resulting from the inveterate habit of lying is very much worse than a casual lie. A lady once told us how she had, when younger, the habit of constantly speaking ill of her neighbors. Having heard a sermon on the subject, she made a strong resolution never to do so again, and kept it. That simple, strong resolution changed the whole trend of her life and saved her from thousands of sins, and most surely from a long and painful Purgatory.

Who cannot make a like resolution and keep it?

If a Christian avoids, as he easily can, these three classes of sin, viz., mortal sins, deliberate and grave venial sins, and habits of sin, it will be relatively easy for him to atone for faults of frailty, as we shall presently see.


We would be well advised to pronounce with special emphasis and fervour, every time we say the Our Father, the words:"Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us"These are the very words of God Himself and repeated frequently and
fervently will certainly obtain for us pardon of our sins.

Chapter 4


The Second Means of avoiding Purgatory is to satisfy for our sins in this  life by doing penance. "Do penance or you shall all likewise perish" Do penance, or you will burn long years in Purgatory, is a fact that there is no getting away from. This is a terrifying thought and one that makes the bravest man shudder. Which of us does not tremble when he thinks of those who have been burnt to death in a slow fire? What fear would not be ours if we had to face a similar death? Yet their suffering was of relatively short duration. The incomparably fiercer fire of Purgatory, which we may have to face, may last 20, or 50 or 100 years! Many people have such a horror of penance that they never even dream of practicing it. It is like the fear that children have of ghosts, a very great but a very unfounded fear. Their idea is that penance is something awful They think perhaps of the severe penances of the great Saints and of course are afraid to attempt anything of a like kind.

The Second Means: Penance

God does not ask us, as a rule, to do what is heroic. When He does, He gives us all the strength necessary, as in the case of the Saints. He asks each one to do a little. If we are afraid of doing much, and it is only natural that some should be, let us do at least a little. No one but a coward is afraid to do a little, especially if he gets much in exchange. The easy road to Heaven of Saint Therese, the Little Flower, is to do many little things. God was infinitely pleased with the widow's mite; He will be equally pleased with our little penances. As a result of little mortifications, we can deliver ourselves from the awful fires of Purgatory and amass rich merits for Heaven. To go into the matter further, there is not much difficulty about mortification or penance, notwithstanding the absurd fear that people have of it. Penance is not only easy, it is useful and necessary, and it will bring us very great happiness. Not to do penance is the greatest penance of all. As a matter of fact, every man of the world naturally, spontaneously mortifies himself. The first principle, for instance, of politeness and good breeding
is to sacrifice our whims and tastes for the sake of others. The selfish man is a boor; the generous man is the idol of all. Again, the only way of securing good health is to eschew the most appetising viands when they do us harm and to make use of plain foods when they do us good. Overeating is the cause of the vast majority of sickness and premature deaths.

To take another example. The secret of success is strenuous, methodical, regular work. Now generosity, self-denial, method, regularity are other forms of very genuine but practical mortification. Yet no man can get on without them. To insist on our own likes and dislikes, to do only as we please, is to lead a life bristling with difficulties, in which every duty is a burden, every good act an effort and a labor. Boy scouts and girl scouts are bound to do a kind act every day, even though it costs them a big effort. Christians should surely do more. Daily
acts of self-restraint, of patience with others, of kindness to others, the exact fulfillment of duty are splendid penances and a great aid to


If we are afraid to do much, let us do many little things.

Chapter 5


The Third Means of avoiding Purgatory is very easy. It consists in making a virtue of necessity, by bearing patiently what we cannot avoid, and all the more since suffering, borne patiently, becomes easy and light. Suffering, if accepted with calmness and for God's sake, loses all its sting. If received badly, in the spirit of revolt and with repugnance, it is intensified a hundredfold, and becomes almost intolerable.
Everyone in this vale of tears has to face sorrows innumerable and infinite in variety. Crosses light and crosses heavy are the lot of us all. Strange as it may seem, these sorrows, which most of us would gladly dispense with, are in truth God's greatest graces. They are the little share He offers us of His Passion and which He asks us to bear for love of Him and as penance for our sins. Borne in this spirit they will lessen considerably our time in Purgatory and very possibly completely remove it--with this difference, that Purgatory, even a Purgatory of 50 or 100 years, will in no wise increase our merits in Heaven; whereas, every pain and sorrow and disappointment in this life will lessen our suffering in Purgatory, and also bring us more happiness and glory in Heaven. How sad it is that so many Christians, for want of thought, make their sufferings a thousand times worse than they are and lose all the immense merits that they could so easily gain.


Let us suffer with calmness and serenity for the love of God. We shall thus
save ourselves from Purgatory.

Chapter 6


The Fourth Means by which we can lessen our time in Purgatory, or avoid it altogether, is by frequent Confession, Communion and daily assistance at Mass. Confession applies to our souls the Precious Blood of Christ, wipes out our sins, gives us light to see their malice, fills us with horror of sin and, above all, it gives us strength to avoid it. In Holy Communion we receive the God of infinite mercy and love, the God of all sanctity, who comes expressly to pardon our sins and help us to sin no more. He visited the house of Zaccheus once, and in that one visit, Zaccheus obtained complete pardon of all his sins How is it possible that the same God of goodness and sweetness can come, not into our houses, but into our very hearts in Holy Communion and not give us the same and even greater graces. He visited Zaccheus once, He visits us every day if we allow Him. Many, alas, never feel, never grasp the immense joys and consolation of Holy Communion. The Mass is identical with the Sacrifice of Calvary, in its essence, in its value, in the graces it bestows. The Sacrifice of Calvary was sufficient to save all the world, millions and millions of souls, and was also sufficient to save countless other sinful worlds, had they existed. By assisting at Mass, we can apply all these oceans of graces to our own souls, and that not once, but every day.


Let us go to Mass and Holy Communion every day. We can do nothing better. One day with Mass and Communion is worth a hundred days without them.



The Fifth Means of avoiding Purgatory is asking God for this grace. Some wise Catholics have a really great, if simple secret, which is well worth learning and using for our own benefit. God promises us in the most solemn and deliberate way (and He cannot fail to do what He promises) that He will give us everything we ask in prayer, if it is good for us. Now two conditions, especially, make prayer infallible, namely perseverance and faith. God cannot refuse such a prayer. These Catholics we speak of pray expressly every day of their lives that
God will free them from Purgatory. In every single prayer they say, in every Mass they hear, in every good act they perform, they have the express intention of asking God first of all and with all their hearts to deliver them from Purgatory. How? That is for God to decide.
It is not easy to see how God can possibly refuse such constant, unceasing prayer. The fact that such prayers are said daily and many times in the day, for 20, 30, 50 years, shows that they are said with undoubting faith and magnificent perseverance. We exhort all our readers to adopt this practice. The more they know and think on Purgatory, the more fervently will they make this prayer.


Every time we say the Hail Mary let us say with all the fervor of our hearts the words: "Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen"

Chapter 8


A Sixth Means of avoiding Purgatory is given us by some great saints: They say that when a sick person becomes aware that he is dying and offers to God his death with perfect resignation, it is very likely that he will go straight to Heaven. Death is the awful punishment of sin, and when we accept it, as of course we ought to do, with submission and resignation, our act pleases God so much that it may satisfy perfectly for all our sins. The idea of Pope St. Pius X was the same when he granted a plenary indulgence at the hour of death to those who say at least after one Holy Communion the following prayer:

"Eternal Father, from this day forward, I accept with a joyful and resigned heart the death it will please You to send me, with all its pains and sufferings"

It will be better still to say this prayer after every Holy Communion we receive. It is for our best interest to accept God's will in everything that happens to us in life and in death. Nothing can be easier when we remember that God always wishes what is best for us. If we do what God does not will, we shall surely suffer.


Each time we repeat the Our Father, let us say with special fervor the words: Thy will be done. In all our troubles, small and great, let us do likewise. Thus everything will gain us merit. By this simple act we change sorrow into joy, the worries of life into gold for Heaven.


The Seventh Means of avoiding Purgatory is Extreme Unction: God Himself has given us a Sacrament, the end of which is to take us directly to Heaven. This Sacrament is Extreme Unction, which according to St. Thomas and St. Albert was instituted especially to obtain for us the grace of a holy and happy death and to prepare us for immediate entrance into Heaven. Many Catholics do not understand this most consoling doctrine, and because they do not understand it, they prepare themselves insufficiently for the reception of Extreme Unction and so lose many of its great graces. Every Sacrament properly received produces its effect. Baptism cleanses us from Original Sin and any other actual sins that may have been committed by adults before receiving the Sacrament. The Sacrament of Holy Orders gives a priest all his tremendous powers. Matrimony makes man and woman husband and wife. In the same way Extreme Unction, if devoutly received, prepares the dying Christian for immediate entrance into Heaven, thus delivering him from Purgatory. How foolish it is, therefore, to put off receiving this Sacrament until very late, when the dying person is too exhausted to receive it with full knowledge of what he is doing and with due fervor and devotion. The moment of death is the supreme moment in our lives. It is the moment which decides our fate for all Eternity.


Let us use every means in our power to secure a happy and holy death, especially by receiving most devoutly, and as soon as possible, Extreme Unction.

Chapter 10


God in His infinite mercy and compassion offers us a most wonderful and easy means for lessening or canceling our Purgatory. Fully aware of our weakness, and knowing, too, how fearful many are of penance, He opens wide the treasury of His Goodness and offers us most
abundant Indulgences in exchange for some small act of devotion. For one recitation of short ejaculatory prayers, He grants 100 or 300 or
more days Indulgence. These we may say hundreds of times in the day. Those who say the little ejaculation: "Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in Thee" one hundred times a day gain 30,000 days Indulgence. Those who say it 1,000 times, as many do, gain 300,000 days Indulgence each day! Nothing can be easier than to acquire the habit of saying this little prayer all day long, countless times each day.
Then, for each Hail Mary of the Rosary, one gains more than 2,000 days Indulgence! Besides an immense number of Partial Indulgences, there are very many Plenary (full, complete) Indulgences which may be gained during life and at the hour of death. These are specially given by the Church to enable us to avoid Purgatory. These Indulgences can be applied to our own souls, and we shall thus directly make satisfaction for our sins. Or, we may apply them to the souls in Purgatory, who will see to it that we do not lose by our generosity.


Let us strive to gain all possible Indulgences.

Chapter 11


Among the extraordinary graces which Catholics gain by becoming members of a Third Order is a share in many Masses and prayers.

To mention, for instance, the Third Order of Saint Dominic, Pope Benedict XV, himself a Tertiary, said: "One of the easiest and most effectual ways of reaching a high degree of sanctity is by becoming a Dominican Tertiary" The members of this order receive during life a share every day in thousands of Masses and prayers, and after death, when, alas, so many are neglected by their relatives, those who are members of this Third Order have a share daily in thousands of other Masses and prayers, this for as long as they remain in Purgatory!

Among the many beautiful characteristics of the Order of St. Dominic is its intense devotion and love for the Holy Souls, especially for the souls of its members, friends and benefactors. So true is this that a young Italian nobleman who consulted the Pope as to which religious order he would do well to enter received for answer: "My dear son, you may with much profit join any of the Orders, for in each you will find abundant means of becoming a Saint. After death, however, be a Dominican" The Holy Father meant to imply that the suffrages given after death to their deceased members are, indeed, most abundant in the Dominican Order.

The conditions of becoming a member of this order are so easy and the advantages so many that half the world would become Dominican Tertiaries did they know these advantages.

Chapter 12


The Holy Souls whom we relieve or release by our Masses and good works pray for us with such indescribable fervour that God cannot refuse to hear their prayers. One of the principal graces they ask for their friends is that these shall have little or no Purgatory. No one knows better than they the awful intensity of the Purgatorial flames; no one, therefore, can pray for us as they do. Let us remember that:

a) God thanks as done to Himself what we do to others. When we relieve or release any of the Holy Souls, we relieve or release, as it were, God Himself. How ready, therefore, will He not be to hear the prayers offered by these souls for us.

b) Our Blessed Lord lays down clearly the great law: "By that measure by which you measure, it will be measured to you again" In proportion, consequently, to our generosity towards the Holy Souls will God's mercy and generosity be towards us. Those who work heart and soul for the relief of the Holy Souls may thus well hope that their Purgatory will be entirely remitted, or notably lessened. On the other hand, those who neglect the Holy Souls may justly fear a severe judgment and a long Purgatory.


Let everyone without fail join the Association of the Holy Souls. All the members of the family should do so. The conditions are very easy. If the Association is not established in your Parish, write to: Association of the Holy Souls, Dominican Nuns of the Perpetual Rosary, Pius XII Monastery, Rua do Rosario 1, 2495 Fatima, Portugal, which is one of the centers of the devotion. St. James the Apostle gives another very effectual method of avoiding or lessening our stay in Purgatory. He says: "He who saves a soul, saves his own, and satisfies for a multitude of sins"

If someone were fortunate enough to save the life of a King's only son, the heir to his throne, from a horrible death, what reward might he not expect to receive from the grateful monarch? No King, however, could be as grateful to and anxious to reward the person who saved his son as God is grateful and ready to reward the person who saves one soul from Hell. All of us may, in a thousand different ways, save not one but many souls from Hell. For instance :

1. We can do so by praying earnestly for them. How often does not a mother save her son's soul by her fervent prayers. We can save souls by giving good advice and also by our good example. How many boys owe their sterling qualities to the wise counsels of a good Father or friend!

2. Another efficacious method of saving souls is by propagating the Faith, viz., Catholic Action. The incredible ignorance, apathy and indifference of Catholics is the evil of the day! It is the bounden duty of Catholics to spread about thousands and thousands of pamphlets of all kinds, full of life, vigor and burning interest, crisp, incisive, clear and strong. Otherwise, these are useless. Each pamphlet or leaflet must carry a message straight to the heart of the reader, rousing him, convincing him, galvanizing him into action.

Chapter 13


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 labours 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.

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 little 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 way more powerful of obtaining from God a most holy and happy death than by weekly Confession, daily Mass and daily Communion.

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, 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"

Chapter 14


I. The first means is by joining the Association of the Holy Souls. The conditions are easy.


Approved by the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, June, 1936

1. The members are asked to send their full name and address to: Association of the Holy Souls, Dominican Nuns of the Perpetual Rosary, Pius XII Monastery, Rua do Rosario 1, 2495 Fatima, Portugal.

2. The members must offer up a Mass once a week for the Holy Souls (Sunday's Mass can fulfil this obligation).

3. The members pray for and promote devotion to the Holy Souls. (We recommend the booklets Read Me or Rue It and How to Avoid Purgatory.)

4. The members are asked to contribute a yearly alms to the Mass Fund. The alms is used to have Masses said for the Holy Souls every month.

5. A second means of helping the Holy Souls is having Masses offered for them. This is certainly the most efficacious way of relieving them.

6. Those who cannot get many Masses offered, owing to want of means, ought to assist at as many Masses as possible for this intention.
A young man who was earning a very modest salary told the writer: "My wife died a few years ago. I got 10 Masses said for her. I could not possibly do more but heard 1,000 for her dear soul "

7. The recital of the Rosary (with its great indulgences) and the Way of the Cross (which is also richly indulgenced) are excellent means of helping the Holy Souls. St. John Massias, as we saw, released from Purgatory more than a million souls, chiefly by reciting the Rosary and offering its great indulgences for them.

8. Another easy and efficacious way is by the constant repetition of short indulgenced prayers, offering up the indulgences for the Souls in
Purgatory. Many people have the custom of saying 500 or 1,000 times each day the little ejaculation, "Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in Thee" or the one word, "Jesus" These are most consoling devotions and bring oceans of graces to those who practice them and give immense relief to the Holy Souls. Those who say the ejaculations 1,000 times a day gain 300,000 days Indulgence! What a multitude of souls they can thus relieve! What will it not be at the end of a month, a year--or 50 years? And if they do not say the ejaculations, what an immense number of graces and favors they shall have lost. It is quite possible and even easy to say these ejaculations 1,000 times a day. But if one does not say them 1,000 times, let him say them 500 or 200 times.

9. Still another powerful prayer is: "Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, with all the Masses being said all over the world this day, for the Souls in Purgatory." Our Lord showed St. Gertrude a vast number of souls leaving Purgatory and going to Heaven as a result of this prayer which the Saint was accustomed to say frequently during the day.

10. The Heroic Act consists in offering to God in favor of the Souls in Purgatory all the works of satisfaction we practice during life and all the suffrages that will be offered for us after death. If God rewards so abundantly the most trifling alms given to a poor man in His name, what an immense reward will He not give to those who offer all their works of satisfaction in life and death for the souls He loves so dearly. This Act does not prevent priests from offering Mass for the intentions they wish, or lay people from praying for any persons or other intentions they desire. We counsel everyone to make this act.


St. Martin of Tours gave half of his cloak to a poor beggar, only to find out afterwards that it was to Christ he had given it. Our Lord appeared to him and thanked him. Blessed Jordan of the Dominican Order could never refuse an alms when it was asked in the name of God. One day he had forgotten his purse. A poor man implored an alms for the love of God. Rather than refuse him, Jordan, who was then a student, gave him a most precious belt or cincture which he prized dearly. Shortly afterwards, he entered a church and found his cincture encircling the waist of an image of Christ Crucified. He, too, had given his alms to Christ. We all give our alms to Christ.


a) Let us give all the alms we can afford; b) Let us have said all the Masses in our power; c) Let us hear as many more as is possible; d) Let us offer all our pains and sufferings for the relief of the Holy Souls. We shall thus deliver countless souls from Purgatory, who will repay us ten thousand times over.


Appendix I


Two wonderful promises of Our Lady of Mount Carmel are available to those who have been enrolled in the Brown Scapular.

The great promise of the Blessed Virgin Mary, given to St. Simon Stock on July 16, 1251, is as follows: "Whoever dies wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire." Our Lady's second Scapular Promise, known as the Sabbatine Privilege (the word "Sabbatine" meaning "Saturday"), was given by the Blessed Virgin Mary to Pope John XXII in the year 1322 and is as follows: "I, the Mother of
Grace, shall descend on the Saturday after their death, and whomsoever I shall find in Purgatory, I shall free."

There are three conditions for obtaining this privilege: 1) the wearing of the Brown Scapular; 2) the practice of chastity according to one's state of life; 3) the daily recitation of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Those who cannot read can abstain from meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays instead of reciting the Little Office. Also, any priest who has diocesan faculties (this includes most priests) has the additional faculty to commute (change) the third requirement into another pious work--for example, the daily Rosary.

Because of the greatness of the Sabbatine privilege, the Carmelite Order suggests that the third requirement not be commuted into anything less than the daily recitation of seven Our Fathers, seven Hail Marys, and seven Glory Be to the Fathers.


Baptism of Christ, by Carracci

The Sacrament of Baptism

"And there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.  This man came to Jesus by night, and said to Him:  Rabbi, we know that Thou are come a teacher from God; for no man can do these signs which Thou dost, unless God be with him.  Jesus answered, and said to him:  Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again, He cannot see the kingdom of God.  Nicodemus saith to Him:  How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb, and be born again?  Jesus answered:  Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."  (John 3:1-5)

bulletWhat is Baptism? Baptism is the Sacrament which makes you a Christian and a member of the Catholic Church and gives you the right to receive the other Sacraments.

bulletWhat does Baptism do to your soul?

  1. It takes away all sin:  Original Sin, plus mortal and venial sins. "Do penance and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins."    (Acts 2:38)
  2. It puts Sanctifying grace into your soul for the first time.
  3. It brings the Holy Ghost to dwell in your soul.
  4. It makes you a member of the Catholic Church.
  5. It enables you to receive the other Sacraments.

bulletWhy do you have to be baptized?  Because Jesus Christ said: "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."    (John 3:5)

bulletWhat kind of sin is it to delay your Baptism? A serious (mortal) sin. "Why tarriest thou?  Rise up, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins."    (Acts 22:16)

bulletWhat do you have to do to be baptized?

  1. You have to take a full course of instructions in the Catholic religion;
  2. Give up all seriously sinful habits;
  3. Have the right intention. The "right intention" means that you wish to become a Catholic because the Catholic Church is the only true Church.

bulletWho gives Baptism? Ordinarily, the priest, but anyone can baptize in an emergency. 

bulletHow is Baptism given? It is given by pouring water over the forehead of the person to be baptized and, while pouring the water, saying, "I baptize thee in the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost"  (Matthew 28:19), while having at least the minimum intention to do what the Church wants you to do by performing this sacramental act.

        Baptism can also be given by immersion or sprinkling, but in all cases the water has to flow over the head or forehead (not just the hair).

bulletWhat are sponsors (Godparents) for? Sponsors at Baptism are supposed to see that their godchildren stay faithful to their religious duties.

bulletWhy do you take the name of a Saint at Baptism? You take a Saint's name to have that Saint watch over you and to have someone to imitate.

bulletDo babies have to be baptized? Yes, because they have Original Sin on their souls, which means they have no Sanctifying Grace.

bulletHow soon should a baby be baptized? Within two or three weeks of its birth. It is a mortal sin to delay the Baptism of a baby for a long time.



bulletMake arrangements with your priest a week before the baby's Baptism.  The baby's godfather and godmother should be good Catholics.

bulletAn expectant mother in a hospital should tell the doctors and nurses that she is a Catholic and that, if there is any danger to the life of the baby, they should send for a priest right away.  In case of real emergency, somebody should baptize the baby.

bulletIf your were baptized in a Protestant church, you will probably still have to go through the Catholic ceremony of Baptism.  This is called conditional Baptism.  The reason for this is to make sure that you are really baptized.  It is practically impossible to find out if your Protestant Baptism was done according to the intention of Christ, since many Protestant ministers consider Baptism merely a sort of initiation ritual or symbol that produced no effect in the soul.

The Manner in which a Lay Person is to Baptize in Case of Necessity
Pour common water on the head or face of the person to be baptized say while pouring it:
"I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

The Sacrament of Confession

"Now when it was late that same day, the first of the week, and the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them:  'Peace be to you.'  And when He had said this, he shewed them His hands and His side.  The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord.  He said therefore to them again:  'Peace be to you.  As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you.'  When He had said this, He breathed on them; and He said to them:  'Receive ye the Holy Ghost.  Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.'"  (John 20:19-23)

bulletWhy did God the Father send His Son into the world?  To save man from his sins. "Thou shalt call His name Jesus.  For He shall save His people from their sins."    (Matthew 1:21)

bulletDoes Jesus Christ have the power to forgive sins? Yes, Jesus has the power to forgive sin because He is God.

bulletDid Jesus Christ forgive sins while on earth? Yes, He forgave the sins of the paralyzed man (Luke 5:18-26), the woman taken in adultery (John 8:1-11), the sinful woman (Luke 7:39-50) and the good thief (Luke 23:39-43).

bulletDid Jesus Christ give anyone the power to forgive sin? Yes, to His Apostles on Easter Sunday night.

"Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained."    (John 20:23)

bulletDid Jesus want His Apostles to hand down this power to others? Yes, because He died to save all men from their sins.

"This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, Who will have all men to be saved."    (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

bulletHow did the Apostles hand down this power to others? By making other men bishops and priests. After the Apostles died, the bishops have continued to hand down the power of forgiving sin, during the past 2,000 years, through the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

bulletWho has the power to forgive sin today? All bishops and priests of the Catholic Church can forgive sin.

bulletWhat is the Sacrament of Penance? Penance is the Sacrament by which the sins committed after Baptism are forgiven.

bulletWhat do you have to do to have your sins forgiven?  You have to be truly sorry for them and confess them to a Catholic priest.

"He that hideth his sins, shall not prosper:  but he that shall confess, and forsake them, shall obtain mercy."    (Proverbs 28:13)

bulletWhy do you have to confess your sins to a priest? This is the way Jesus Christ wants sin to be forgiven.  Otherwise, Christ would not have given His priests the power to forgive sin.

bulletWhy does the priest have to know what sins you have committed? He has to know whether he is to forgive your sins or "retain" them. If you are truly sorry, he will grant you forgiveness (called "absolution"); if not, he must retain them (that is, refuse to give you absolution).

bulletDoes the priests only pray that your sins will be forgiven? No, the priest, by the power given him, actually takes the sins off your soul (called "absolution"). "For what I have pardoned...  I have done it in the person of Christ."    (2 Corinthians 2:10)

bulletCan you be sure that your sins are forgiven in Confession? Yes, if you have properly confessed them and are sorry for them.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all iniquity."    (1 John 1:9)

bulletWhat does Confession do for your soul? Besides taking sin off your soul, Confession also--

  1. Puts Sanctifying Grace back into your soul, if you were in mortal sin, absolution of sin
  2. Makes the grace grow in you, extra strength to stay away from the same or similar sins in the future.
  3. Gives you an exorcism, to keep evil spirits away from you

bulletCan all sins be forgiven in Confession? Yes, if you are truly sorry for them.

bulletWhat is meant by "being sorry for your sins"? "Being sorry" means--

  1. that you wish you had not committed the sins
  2. that you sincerely promise not to commit those sins again
  3. that you promise to stay way from any person, place, or thing that easily leads you into sin.

bulletWhat kind of sorrow do you have to have to be forgiven? Religious sorrow, that is, you must be sorry because you dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell (imperfect sorrow), and/or because you have offended the infinitely good God (perfect sorrow). Therefore, to have your sins forgiven, it is not enough to be sorry because your sins have caused you to lose your job or some money.  The sorrow has to be religious.  Sorrow for sin is called contrition.  You do not have to feel the sorrow with your emotions.

bulletWhy do you not have to be afraid of Confession? You do not have to be afraid because--

  1. you may go to any priest you want
  2. in the confessional, a screen hides you from the priest
  3. the priest is never allowed to tell anyone any sin he has ever heard in Confession.  This secrecy is called the "Seal of Confession."

bulletWhat sins do you have to confess? All your mortal sins.

bulletWhat kind of sin is it deliberately to omit telling a mortal sin in Confession? A mortal sin of sacrilege.  This is called making a bad Confession. To undo a bad Confession, you have to confess that you made a bad Confession, confess the omitted mortal sin (s), and confess any other mortal sins you have committed since then (including Communions received in the state of mortal sin).

bulletWhat should you do if you forget to confess a mortal sin? You must tell it in your next Confession and tell the priest that you forgot it. But the sin is forgiven and you may receive Communion in the meantime.

bulletWhat do you do if you have no mortal sins to confess? Tell your venial sins and/or mention some sin already told in a previous Confession.

bulletHow often do you have to go to Confession? At least once a year during Lent.

If you ever commit a mortal sin, say the Act of Contrition right away and go to Confession as soon as possible.  If you have  perfect contrition for the mortal sin and intend to confess it in Confession, God forgives you and takes away the sin right away,  but you may not receive Holy Communion until you confess it in Confession.

bulletHow often does a good Catholic go to Confession? Once a week, if possible, but at least once a month. Remember that in Confession you receive grace from the Sacrament of Penance.  Besides, in Confession you receive special helps to overcome the temptations that bother you most.



bulletIn Confession the eternal punishment (Hell) is taken away, but all of the temporal punishment due to your sins is not always taken away.  "Temporal punishment" means that, even though all your sins are forgiven through the Sacrament of Penance, God still requires that you be punished for your sins, either in this life or in Purgatory.  So, Confession does not make sinning easier.  One of the chief ways by which you can make up for your sins is by gaining indulgences.

bulletIf you are in danger of death and cannot go to Confession right away, be sure to make an act of perfect contrition; say the Act of Contrition, or simply tell God you are sorry for all your sins because they offend Him, Who is all good, and beg His mercy.  If somebody else (whether Catholic or not) is in danger of death, it is a great act of charity to help him to be sorry for offending God and to beg God's mercy.

The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion)

"I am the bread of life.  Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead.  This is the bread which cometh down from Heaven; that if any man eat of it, he may not die.  I am the living bread which came down from Heaven.  If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give, is My flesh, for the life of the world."

   "The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying:  How can this man give us His flesh to eat?"

   "Then Jesus said to them:  Amen, amen I say unto you:  Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you.  He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath everlasting life:  and I will raise Him up in the last day."

   "For My flesh is meat indeed:  and My blood is drink indeed.  He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, abideth in Me, and I in him.  As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth Me, the same also shall live by Me.  This is the bread that came down from Heaven.  Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead.  He that eateth this bread, shall live forever.  These things he said, teaching in the synagogue, in Capharnaum." 
(John 6:48-60)



"And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke:  and gave to His disciples, and said:  Take ye, and eat.  This is My body.  And taking the chalice, He gave thanks, and gave to them, saying:  Drink ye all of this.  For this is My blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto the remission of sins."  (Matthew 26:26-28)
bullet What is the Holy Eucharist? The Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament in which Jesus Christ is really and physically present under the appearances of bread and wine.

"The chalice of benediction, which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?  And the bread, which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord?"    (1 Corinthians 10:16)


bullet Why is it also called "the Blessed Sacrament"? Because it is the most blessed of all the Sacraments, since it is Jesus Christ Himself.


bullet When did Jesus make this Sacrament? At the Last Supper, on the night before He died.


bullet How could Jesus change bread and wine into His Body and Blood? Jesus Christ is God and therefore can do anything. He told the Apostles that this was His Body and Blood. It also shows God's example of humility, by using bread and wine for our consumption as a way to come directly to his children.


bullet Did the bread and wine change their appearance? No, the appearances of the bread and wine (taste, smell, color, size, shape, weight) did not change, even though the bread and wine were actually changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus. The entire substance of the bread and wine are changed into the substance of the Body and Blood of Jesus; thus the bread and wine no longer exist.  This change is called Transubstantiation.


bullet Are both the Body and Blood of Christ present under the appearances of bread alone? Yes, it is the living Christ who is present; that is, His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity are present both under the appearance of bread and under the appearance of wine.


bullet Did Jesus give anyone the power of changing bread and wine into His body and Blood?  Yes, to His twelve Apostles at the Last Supper, when He told them, "Do this for a commemoration of me."


bullet Did Jesus ordain that His Apostles hand this power down to others? Yes, because He wanted all men to eat His Flesh and drink His Blood.

"Amen, amen, I say to you:  Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you."    (John 6:54)  (Here, "Life" means Sanctifying Grace.)


bullet How did the Apostles hand down this power? They handed it down by making other men priests and bishops through the Sacrament of Holy Orders. 


bullet When does the priest change bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ?
   At Mass, when he says, "This is My Body," and "This is the chalice of My Blood..."


bullet Where is the Blessed Sacrament kept? In a little safe (called a tabernacle) on the altar.

"And my tabernacle shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."    (Ezechiel 37:27)


bullet What is Holy Communion? Receiving the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.


bullet What is necessary to receive Holy Communion worthily?
  1. You have to be a baptized Catholic...
  2. have no mortal sin on your soul...
  3. be fasting.


bullet Do you have to go to Confession first every time you receive Communion?  No, unless you have mortal sin on your soul.


bullet What kind of sin is it to receive Communion unworthily? To do so knowingly and willingly is a mortal sin called a sacrilege.


bullet What does "fasting" mean? "Fasting" means that, for three hours before receiving Communion, you have to stop eating solid food and drinking all liquids except water. You may take water, and if sick, medicine any time before receiving.  You must stop chewing gum at least one hour before.  Until the 1950s, the Church required fasting from midnight before Communion; this rule was later shortened to three hours for food and one hour for liquids (with water being allowed at any time). It is very praiseworthy to continue observing the traditional fast from midnight.


bullet How often do you have to receive Communion?  At least once a year, during the Easter Season, that is, any time from the 6th Sunday before Easter to the 8th Sunday after Easter.  This is called your Easter Duty.

The 6th Sunday before Easter is called the First Sunday of Lent; the 8th Sunday after Easter is called Trinity Sunday.


bullet What kind of sin is it to miss your Easter Duty? A mortal sin.


bullet How often does a good Catholic receive Communion?   A good Catholic receives Communion every Sunday, or every day, if possible, but only once on the same day.


bullet What does Holy Communion do for your soul? It makes the Sanctifying Grace in your soul grow.

"Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you."    (John 6:54)


bullet What else does Communion do for you?
  1. Communion unites you with Jesus. "He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, abideth in Me and I in him."    (John 6:57)
  2. It is food for your soul, to help you love God and obey His laws. "Give us this day our daily bread."    (Luke 11:3)
  3. It is a promise of your resurrection and future glory in Heaven. "He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood hath everlasting life:  and I will raise him up in the last day."    (John 6:55)
  4. It weakens your sinful inclinations.





Ordinarily, you receive Communion during Mass. However, the priest may bring you Communion when you are sick at home or in the hospital.




Communion is called Viaticum when received when a person is in danger of death.




After receiving Communion, you should spend some time praying to Our Lord, adoring Him, thanking Him, loving Him, and asking His help.




You are not forbidden to receive Communion with venial sins on your soul, but you are advised to recite the Confiteor or the Act of Contrition before receiving.

Confirmation, by Giuseppe Maria Crespi, 1712
The Sacrament of Confirmation
Click Here

"Now when the apostles, who were in Jerusalem, had heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John.  Who, when they were come, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost.  For he was not as yet come upon any of them; but they were only baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  Then they laid their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost."  (Acts 8:14-17)

bulletWhat is Confirmation? Confirmation is the Sacrament which gives you the strength to be a good Catholic. This Sacrament completes and perfects the Christian life you begin at Baptism.


bulletWho comes into your soul when you are confirmed? The Holy Ghost, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity.

"Or know you not, that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost?"    (I Corinthians 6:19)


bulletWhat does Confirmation do to your soul?
  1. Confirmation gives you more Sanctifying Grace...
  2. It gives you more strength to stay away from sin and lead a Christian life...
  3. It helps you to be a loyal and faithful follower of Jesus Christ...
  4. It gives you the strength to profess your Catholic Faith openly and not to hide it.


bulletCan you get to Heaven without Confirmation? Yes, but it is more difficult.


bulletIs it a sin to neglect Confirmation? Yes, it is a sin to neglect Confirmation.


bulletWho gives Confirmation?  Usually a bishop.


bulletWhat do you have to do to receive Confirmation worthily?
  1. You have to be a baptized Catholic, and...
  2. have no mortal sin on your soul.
You should also be well instructed in the Catholic religion.


bulletDo you have to have a sponsor for Confirmation? Yes, but usually not the same one you had for Baptism.


bulletHow many times can you be confirmed? Only once.


bulletWhat is expected of a confirmed Catholic? A confirmed Catholic, by his prayers and words and good example, should try to lead others to the True Church.


bulletHow is Confirmation given? In the traditional rite, the Bishop, holding his hands over those to be confirmed, prays for them and then makes the Sign of the Cross on the forehead of each one with the holy oil of Chrism.  He then taps each person lightly on the cheek.


bulletWhat words does the Bishop say while confirming? He says:  "I sign thee with the Sign of the Cross, and I confirm thee with the Chrism of salvation, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."


bulletWhat is Holy Chrism? A mixture of olive oil and balm, consecrated by the Bishop on Holy Thursday; it is a symbol of the strength received in Confirmation.


bulletWhy does the Bishop tap each one on the cheek? The tap on the cheek is to remind those confirmed that they must be ready to suffer all things, even death, for the sake of Jesus Christ.

"Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake."    (Matthew 5:11)




Choose a good Catholic for your sponsor.  You also have to select the name of another Saint for Confirmation (not the one you had for Baptism).




The Holy Ghost comes into your soul more fully when you are confirmed.  He brings to your soul His Seven Gifts, which are:  Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety and Fear of the Lord.




A dying parishioner may receive Confirmation from his pastor if the Bishop cannot be reached in time.


The Sacrament of Extreme Unction & Last Rites

"Is any man sick among you?  Let him bring in the priests of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer of faith shall save the sick man:  and the Lord shall raise him up:  and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him."  (James 5:14-15)



Click Here

bulletWhat is the Sacrament of Extreme Unction?  Extreme Unction is the Sacrament which gives health and strength to the soul and sometimes to the body to persons who are in danger of death. The words "Extreme Unction" mean "last anointing."  In Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders, the body is anointed with holy oil.  In the Sacrament of Extreme Unction the body is anointed for the last time.  Hence the name.


bulletHow is Extreme Unction given? After praying over the sick person, the priest anoints (makes the Sign of the Cross with the Holy Oil) on the person's eyes, ears, nostrils, lips, hands, and feet.


bulletWhat does the priest say while anointing the sick person? He says:  "Through this holy anointing, and by His most tender mercy, may the Lord pardon you what sins you have committed by sight (hearing, speech, and so on)."


bulletWhat does Extreme Unction do for your soul? The Sacrament of Extreme Unction --
  1. Gives you more Sanctifying Grace;
  2. Helps you to bear your sufferings;
  3. Strengthens you against the temptations of the devil;
  4. Sometimes gives back your health;
  5. Takes away temporal punishment due to sin;
  6. Prepares you for immediate entry into Heaven.


bulletDoes Extreme Unction take away sin? Extreme Unction takes away --
  1. All your venial sins
  2. even your mortal sins if you are unable to confess them but are truly sorry for them.


bulletWho can give Extreme Unction? Only a Catholic priest.


bulletWho can receive Extreme Unction? Any Catholic in danger of death from sickness, old age or accident not only can, but should receive Extreme Unction. However, it may not be given to infants or to anyone who has never had the use of reason.


bulletWhen should you receive Extreme Unction? Whenever the sickness or accident is so serious that it could cause death.

Examples:  Pneumonia, heart attack, a serious car accident.


bulletHow often can you receive Extreme Unction? Only once in the same danger of death. However, if a new danger arises, you can receive it again.


bulletWhat should be done in case of sudden death? Send for a priest right away, because Extreme Unction may be given even after a person is apparently dead. Even when a person displays all the usual manifestations of death, the soul may still not have departed from the body.  Therefore, the Church allows Extreme Unction to be administered for a time after "death" has occurred.


bulletWhy is it wrong to wait until the sick person is unconscious before sending for the priest?  Because the sick person must be conscious in order to benefit the most from the Sacrament.


bulletWhat kind of sin is it to deprive a sick person of Extreme Unction? A mortal sin. It often happens that a convert is the only Catholic in a family.  If this is your case, therefore, you should tell your relatives to send for the priest if you are ever in danger of death.


bulletWhat should be done before the priest comes to anoint the sick person? Spread a white cloth on a table beside the bed.  Then put a crucifix, two blessed candles, a bottle of holy water, a glass of drinking water, a spoon and some cotton on the table.

A member of the family, carrying a lighted candle, should meet the priest at the door and lead him to the sickroom.  No one should talk to the priest, for he probably has the Holy Eucharist with him.  Everyone should kneel down when he enters.  If you do not have the above items, call the priest anyway.


bulletWhat does the priest do when he enters the sickroom? First, he says some prayers, sprinkles the sick person with holy water and hears his Confession.  Then he gives him Holy Communion and Extreme Unction, and finally, the Last Blessing.

All of these together are called the Last Sacraments or Last Rites of the Church.  (Everyone else leaves the room while the priest hears the sick person's Confession.)




Do not worry that a sick person will be frightened by the priest, because Catholics should always be glad to see the priest in order to receive the comforts that only the Sacraments can bring.




If you are going to be a patient in a non-Catholic hospital, tell your parish priest which one you are going to and how long you expect to be there.  Also, tell the doctors and nurses that you are Catholic and that they should send for a priest if you become critical or serious.




Catholics should be buried in Catholic cemeteries.  Tell your relatives to see your parish priest about your funeral.  Or, make the arrangements yourself ahead of time.




Catholics are forbidden to have their bodies cremated, except in case of a serious public necessity.  The Catholic burial service used to be denied to those who give orders to have their bodies cremated. Reason for this is because your body is holy. You have been consuming the Body of Jesus your whole life and this is why you should be buried in blessed soil (Catholic Cemetery) and also the reason you should never consider being cremated unless the state law enforces it on you.

Ordination of St. Stephen the Deacon, by Fra Angelico, 1447-1449
The Sacrament of Holy Orders (Priesthood)

"Having therefore a great high priest that hath passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God: let us hold fast our confession.  For we have not a high priest, who cannot have compassion on our infirmities:  but one tempted in all things like as we are, without sin.  Let us go therefore with confidence to the throne of grace in seasonable aid.  For every high priest taken from among men, is ordained for men in the things that appertain to God, that He may offer up gifts and sacrifices for sins:  Who can have compassion on them that are ignorant and that err:  because He Himself also is compassed with infirmity.  And therefore He ought, as for the people, as also for Himself, to offer for sins.  Neither doth any man take the honor to himself, but he that is called by God, as Aaron was."  (Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:1-4)


"And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying:  'All power is given to Me in Heaven and in earth.  Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:  and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world."  (Matthew 28:18-20)

bulletWhat did Jesus do to continue His work on earth? To make sure that His work be continued, Jesus established the Catholic Priesthood, through the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

"For Christ therefore we are ambassadors, God as it were exhorting by us"    (2 Corinthians 5:20)


bulletWhat is the Sacrament of Holy Orders? Holy Orders is the Sacrament which gives a man the powers of the Catholic Priesthood.


bulletIn general, what is a priest? A man who offers sacrifices to God for the sins of the people.

"For every high priest taken from among men, is ordained for men in the things that appertain to God, that he may offer up gifts and sacrifices for sins."    (Hebrews 5:1)


bulletWas Jesus a priest? Yes, Jesus was and is, the Great High Priest.

"Wherefore it behoved Him in all things to be made like unto His brethren, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest before God, that He might be a propitiation for the sins of the people."    (Hebrews 2:17)


bulletWho were the first Catholic priests?  The twelve Apostles, who were ordained to the priesthood by Jesus Christ Himself.


bulletWhen did Jesus make the twelve Apostles priests?  At the Last Supper (Holy Thursday), on the night before He died, when He gave them the power to change bread and wine into His Body and Blood.

"Do this for a commemoration of me."    (Luke 22:19)


bulletDid the Apostles make other men priests? Yes, for example, Paul, Barnabas, Timothy, Titus, and Matthias.

See Acts 13:3, 14:22, 1:24-26, and Titus 1:5.


bulletHow did the Apostles ordain other men priests? By praying for them and imposing hands on them.

"Then they, fasting and praying, and imposing their hands upon them, sent them away."    (Acts 13:3)


bulletAfter the Apostles died, how were the powers of the priesthood handed down? Before they died, the Apostles made other men bishops, who in turn made other men bishops, and in this way the powers of the priesthood have been handed down during the past 2000 years.


bulletHow are the powers of the priesthood handed down today?  Today the bishops hand down the powers of the priesthood just as the Apostles did - by praying over and imposing hands on the candidates for priesthood.


bulletWhat are the chief powers of the priesthood? They are --
  1. To offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which includes the power to change bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ and...
  2. To forgive sins.
  3. Other powers of the priesthood are to preach with authority, administer other Sacraments and to bless people and objects.


bulletWhere does the authority of the priesthood come from? From Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.

"He that heareth you, heareth Me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth Me; and he that despiseth Me, despiseth Him that sent Me."    (Luke 10:16)


bulletWho can give the Sacrament of Holy Orders? Only a bishop.

"For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and shouldest ordain priests in every city, as I also appointed thee."    (Titus 1:5)


bulletWhat is necessary to become a priest? To become a priest, a man has to study for about 6 years in a special school called a seminary and be approved by his bishop as to his learning, health, morals, and character.

"Impose not hands lightly upon any man."    (1 Timothy 5:22)


bulletHow does a man become a bishop? The Pope chooses a priest who is known for his learning and holiness and appoints other bishops to consecrate him a bishop by imposing hands and saying the proper words.


bulletHow does a man become Pope? The Cardinals elect a successor to the dead Pope.


bulletWhy do priests not get married? They do not marry because --
  1. The single life is a holier life, recommended by Christ;
  2. Being single, they can give themselves entirely to God and the care of the people.

"He that is without a wife, is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God.  But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife:  and he is divided."    (1 Corinthians 7:32-33)


bulletWhy is the priest called "Father"? Because he gives the life of grace to his spiritual children, just as a father gives physical life to his children.

"I write not these things to confound you; but that I admonish you as my dearest children.  For if you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet not many fathers.  For in Christ Jesus, by the gospel, I have begotten you."    (1 Corinthians 4:14-15)



Pope The bishop of Rome, vicar of Christ on earth, successor of St. Peter, visible head of the whole Catholic Church.
Cardinal An honorary title given to priests or bishops because of their important positions in the Church; Cardinals elect the new Pope.
Bishop Rules over the people and priests of his diocese; can give Confirmation and Holy Orders.
Monsignor A priest gets this honorary title from the Pope because of his important position in the Church.
Pastor Rules over a parish; is subject to the bishop of the diocese.
Priest Diocesan priests work in a diocese; religious priests belong to a religious order - like the Franciscans, Dominicans, etc...
Monk Monks live in a monastery, follow a strict rule under a superior - like the Benedictines and the Trappists; some are priests, others are brothers.
Brother A man dedicated to teaching, hospital work or contemplation; takes vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, but does not receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
Sister A woman dedicated to teaching, hospital or social work, or contemplation; takes vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and belongs to a religious order or community.  Cloistered sisters are usually called nuns; loosely speaking, all sisters are often called nuns.


Marriage of the Virgin, by Daddi
The Sacrament of Matrimony

"Being subject one to another, in the fear of Christ.  Let women be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord:  Because the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the Church.  He is the savior of His body.  Therefore, as the Church is subject to Christ, so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things."

   "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the Church, and delivered Himself up for it:  That He might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life:  That He might present it to Himself a glorious Church not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish.   So also ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. ; He that loveth his wife, loveth himself.  For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, as also Christ doth the Church:  Because we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.  for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh.  This is a great sacrament; but I speak in Christ and in the Church.

   "Nevertheless let every one of you in particular love his wife as himself:   and let the wife fear her husband." 
(Ephesians 5:21-33)

bulletWhat is the Sacrament of Matrimony? Matrimony is the Sacrament made by Jesus Christ to sanctify (make holy) the lawful union of a Christian man and a Christian woman.


bulletWas marriage always a Sacrament? No, marriage, although always a sacred union of man and woman, was raised to the dignity of a Sacrament by Jesus Christ.


bulletWhat does this Sacrament do for a couple?
  1. It unites them in an indissoluble (unbreakable) union until death
  2. It makes Sanctifying Grace grow in their souls
  3. It gives them special helps to perform their duties as married people and to overcome the difficulties that may come into their married life.


bulletWho may receive the Sacrament of Matrimony? Only those who have been baptized and are free to marry.


bulletWhat is necessary to receive this Sacrament worthily? You have to be free of mortal sin.


bulletWhat kind of sin is it to receive this Sacrament unworthily? A mortal sin of sacrilege. However, the marriage is valid.


bulletDo Catholics have to be married at Mass? No, but it is certainly fitting that they do so. The special Mass for a Catholic wedding is called the Nuptial Mass.  Traditionally, this Mass was not celebrated for a mixed marriage, nor during Lent or Advent. 


bulletWhat should a Catholic do who wants to marry? Preparations for the wedding should be made with one of the priests in the bride's parish several months in advance. This time requirement varies from diocese to diocese.


bulletWhat is the only way a Catholic can be married? Only in the presence of a Catholic priest and two witnesses. Occasionally other arrangements can be made, but this requires a dispensation in advance from the local bishop and can be done only for a sufficiently grave reason.


bulletWhat happens if a Catholic is not married by a priest?  A Catholic who goes through a marriage ceremony before anyone other than a Catholic priest is not married. Such a couple has to separate or have the marriage made valid.


bulletWhat if a Catholic goes through a marriage ceremony before a Protestant minister? Such a person is not married and is guilty of mortal sin. Traditionally this sin also carried the penalty of automatic excommunication.  This meant that such a person could not receive any of the Sacraments nor have a Catholic funeral, because they are not putting the Love of God first, yet choose to marry outside of the One True Faith. 


bulletMay a Catholic marry a non-Catholic? You should not, except for a very serious reason. A marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic is called a mixed marriage. These marriages are plagued with problems, much to do with the difference on how faith should be implemented.


bulletWhy does the Church forbid mixed marriages? Because of the danger of loss of faith on the part of the Catholic and of the children. The different religious beliefs of the parents cause serious arguments on such important matters as divorce, birth control, Sunday Mass, eating meat on Friday, and the Catholic education of the children.


bulletWere mixed marriages forbidden in the Bible? Yes, mixed marriages were strictly forbidden by God.

"Neither shalt thou make marriages with them.  Thou shalt not give thy daughter to his son, nor take his daughter for thy son:  For she will turn away thy son from following Me, that he may rather serve strange gods, and the wrath of the Lord will be kindled, and will quickly destroy thee."    (Deuteronomy 7:3-4)


bulletWho is the only one who can allow a mixed marriage? Only the bishop, and he can give permission only for a serious reason.


bulletIn a mixed marriage, what must the Catholic promise? The Catholic must sign promises:
  1. To remain a Catholic.
  2. To see to it that the children are baptized and are brought up as Catholics.
Also, the Catholic party must inform the non-Catholic of these promises.


bulletAre the marriages of non-Catholics valid? Yes, provided all the laws of God concerning marriage are observed, the marriages of non-Catholics among themselves are valid and therefore cannot be broken.



It is not the priest who gives the Sacrament of Matrimony; he is only the chief witness.  The bride and groom give it to each other.  The first gift they give one another is an increase of God's life -- Sanctifying Grace.  It is fitting indeed that this giving be done at Mass.




Couples should remember that, through the Sacrament of Matrimony, they have the right to special helps to aid them in their problems.  God gives them, as it were, a spiritual bank account on which they may draw in times of difficulty.




In a mixed marriage, the non-Catholic should be encouraged to take a course of instructions, so that he or she may learn something about the Catholic religion, since the children have to be reared in the Catholic religion.  So, if you intend to marry a non-Catholic, bring him or her to the priest to begin instructions three or four months before the wedding.




Under normal circumstances, a mixed marriage should only  take place only in the presence of a Catholic priest and two witnesses.



How to Prepare for Extreme Unction


Sick Call Set
to include Unction

white tablecloth
2 blessed candles for table
standing crucifix
holy water
dish of regular water
piece of palm (from Palm Sunday)
linen cloth for priest
white linen cloth for breast of sick one
cotton or slices of bread
lemon slices or salt

James 5:14-15: "Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick man. And the Lord shall raise him up: and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him."

The Sacrament "Extreme Unction," also called "Last Rites" or "Anointing of the Sick," is the anointing given to those who are gravely bodily ill, especially those in danger of death from bodily illness or from violence already done to the body (i.e., a soldier about to go into battle is not a candidate for the Sacrament; one who has been shot and lies gravely wounded or, especially, dying, is).

The conditions for receiving Unction are that one must:
bullethave reached the age of reason (usually considered to be around the age of 7)
bulletbe in a state of grace (Penance is part of the Rite)
bulletbe sorrowful for past sins, trust in God and resign himself to His will, whether His positive will is to heal the sick person or His passive will is the person's death

The effects of the Sacrament are the strengthening and comfort of the soul of the annointed one, the remission of sins and some of their temporal punishments, and the possible restoration of bodily health.

The Rite in which the Sacrament is offered includes the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist (in that order), followed by the Sacrament of Unction itself. It may be received conditionally up to three or four hours after apparent death (we can't presume to know the moment the soul leaves the body and can only know with moral certainty that death has occured after corruption has begun). If the sick one is unconscious, conditional absolution and Unction are offered, without the Eucharist (known at this time as "Viaticum," meaning "Food for the Journey").

The matter of the Sacrament is the Oil of the Sick ("Oleum Infirmorum"), which is olive oil blessed by the Bishop on Maundy Thursday (the Thursday of Holy Week -- the week before Easter).

The form of the Sacrament are the words:

Through this Holy Unction or oil, and through the great goodness of His mercy, may God pardon thee whatever sins thou hast committed by evil use of sight (sight, hearing, smell, taste and speech, touch, ability to walk).

Per istam sanctan unctionem et suam piissimam misericordiam, indulgeat tibi Dominus quidquid per (visum, audtiotum, odorátum, gustum et locutiónem, tactum, gressum deliquisti.)

If death is so imminent that there is no time for the full Rite, the Sacrament may be given with a single annointing on the forehead and the words:

Through this holy unction may the Lord pardon thee whatever sins or faults thou hast committed. 

The preparations for Extreme Unction are almost precisely like those for receiving a sick call from a priest, but a few extra items are nice to add: bread, cotton, and lemon or salt.

First, prepare the house: Set up a table near the bed in a place where the sick person can see it easily, such as at the foot of the bed or at the side halfway down the length of the bed. Cover it with a white cloth, and on it place the Crucifix and two lit blessed candles, one on each side of the Crucifix. Near them, place a dish of regular water, a bottle of holy water, a clean linen cloth for the priest's fingers, and a piece of palm the priest can use to spinkle the holy water (if you don't have palm, you can use another type of plant, such as box). The following aren't strictly necessary, but the priest may find them useful: cotton or slices of bread, some lemon slices, and a dish of salt. Lay a linen cloth across the breast of the sick person.

I'm Catholic. In the event of an emergency, call a priest

Catholics often carry cards in their wallets, or wear medals around their necks, that contain the above words (or simply, "I'm Catholic; call a priest"), sometimes with the priest's phone number/pager number. These cards are meant to help ensure that in an emergency, a doctor, nurse, EMT, policeman, etc., will call a priest to adminster Unction to the Catholic in need. Make sure that family members, even non-Catholic ones, are aware of your desire for Unction if you are facing death, and have your priest's phone number/pager number someplace where they'll be able to locate it easily.

Greet the priest at the door: Women should cover their heads; men should uncover theirs. Meet the priest in silence at the door, bearing a lighted blessed candle (preferably the Baptismal candle of the sick one), and genuflect. Lead him to the sick person's room and remain there with him until Confession is heard. When you leave the room while Confession is being heard, close the door; you may re-enter when the priest opens it again. At all times, the priest will be quiet and somber; don't expect him to socialize before or afterward, as he carries with him the Body of Christ.

The Rite

The priest enters the sick room itself.

V. Pax huic dómui.
R. Et ómnibus habitántibus in ea.
V. Peace to this house.
R. And all who dwell therein.

The priest lays the corporal on the prepared table, places the Blessed Sacrament on it, gives the Crucifix to the sick person to kiss, and sprinkles the room with Holy Water.

Asspérges me, Dómine, hyssópo, et mundábor; lavábis me, et super nivem dealbábor,

Cleanse me of sin with hyssop, Lord, that I may be purified; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow,

Miserére mei, Deus: secúndum magnam misericordiam tuam. Glora Patri, et Filii, et Spiritui Sancti.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.

The Aspérges is repeated, and the priest continues:

V. Adjútorium nostrum in nómine Dómini
R. Qui fecit caelum et terram
V. Dómine, exáudi oratiónem meam.
R. Et clamor meus ad te véniat.
V. Dóminus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.
V. Orémus.

Exáudi nos, Dómine sancte, Paer omnípotens, aeterne Deus: et mittere dignéris sanctum Angelum tuum de caelis, qui custódiat, fóveat, prótegat, visitet atque deféndat omnes habitántes in hoc habitáculo. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

V. Our help is in the Name of the Lord.
R. Who made Heaven and Earth.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come to Thee.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit
V. Let us pray.

Hear us, holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God: and be pleased to send Thy holy angel from Heaven to guard, cherish, protect, visit and defend all that dwell in this house. Through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen. R. Amen.

The priest goes closer to the sick person and, if necessary, hears his confession.  Afterward, the Eucharist is given as it usually is outside of Mass, but the sick person, if possible, says the "Confiteor" and the "Domine non sum dignus" with the priest.


Confíteor Deo omnipoténti, beátæ Maríæ semper Vírgini, beáto Michaéli Archángelo, beáto Joanni Baptístæ, sanctis Apóstolis Petro et Paulo, ómnibus Sanctis, et tibi, Pater: quia peccávi nimis cogitatióne, verbo et ópere: mea culpa [strike breast] , mea culpa [strike breast] , mea máxima culpa [strike breast]. Ideo precor beátam Maríam semper Vírginem, beátum Michaélem Archángelum, beátum Joánnem Baptístam, sanctos Apóstolos Petrum et Paulum, omnes Sanctos, et te, Pater, oráre pro me ad Dóminum Deum nostrum. [the priest then says the Misereátur]


I confess to Almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the Saints, and to you Father, that I have sinned exceedingly, in thought, word and deed: through my fault [strike breast], through my fault [strike breast], through my most grievous fault [strike breast]. Therefore I beseech blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, all the Saints, and you Father, to pray to the Lord our God for me. [the priest then says the Misereátur]

Dómine, non sum dignus

Dómine, non sum dignus, ut intres sub tectum meum: sed tantum dic verbo, et sanábitur ánima mea.

Dómine, non sum dignus

Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof; but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.

The priest will then offer the Eucharist as Viaticum. Viaticum means "Food for the Journey" and is the Eucharist received just before death. The sick one is exempt from the Eucharistic Fast at this time (i.e., if he has eaten soon before receiving Viaticum, it is OK). When offered as Viaticum, the Eucharist is given with the following words:

Accipe, frater (soror), Viáticum Córporis Dómini nostri Jesu Christi, qui te custódiat ab hoste maligno, et perdúcat in vitam aetérnam. Amen.

Receive, brother (sister), the Viaticum of the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ; and may He keep you from the malignant foe, and bring you to life everlasting. Amen.

Prayer follows:

Dómine sancte, Pater omnipotens, aetérne Deus, te fidéliter deprecámur, ut accipiénti fratri nostro (soróri nostrae) sacrosanctum Corpus Dómini nostri Jesu Christi Fillii tui, tam córpori quam animae prost ad remédium sempitérnum: Qui tecum vivit et regnat. Amen.

O holy Lord, Father almighty and eternal God, we prayThee in faith that the holy Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, may profit our brother (sister) who has received it as an everlasting remedy for body and soul: Who being God, lives and reigns. Amen.

V. Adjútorium nostrum in nómine Dómini
R. Qui fecit caelum et terram
V. Dómine, exáudi oratiónem meam.
R. Et clamor meus ad te véniat.
V. Dóminus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.
V. Orémus.
V. Our help is in the Name of the Lord.
R. Who made Heaven and Earth.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come to Thee.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit
V. Let us pray.

Intróeat, Dómine Jesu Christe, donum hanc sub nostrae humilitátis ingréssu, aetérna felicitas, divina prospéritas, serena laetitia, cáritas fructuósa, sanitas sempiterna effúgiat ex hoc loco accessus daemonum: adsint Angeli pacis, domumque hanc déserat omnis maligna discórdia. Magnifica, Dómine, super nos nomen sanctum tuum; et bénedic + nostrae conversatióni sanctifica nostrae humilitátis ingréssum, qui sanctus et qui pius es, et pérmanes cum Patre et Spiritu Sancto in saécula saeculórum.

O Lord Jesus Christ, let there enter this house with the entrance of our lowliness eternal happiness, divine prosperity, serene gladness, fruitful charity, everlasting health; may there fly from this place all approach of the demons; let the angels of peace be present and all ill-feeling and discord leave this house. Make Your Name great over us, O Lord, and bless + our ministry: hallow the entrance of our lowliness, Thou Who art holy, Thou who are kind, and abide with the Father and the Holy Spirit, world without end.

R. Amen R. Amen

Orémus et deprecémur Dóminum nostrum Jesum Christum, ut benedicéndo benedicat + hoc tabernáculum et omnes habitántes in eo, et det eis Angelum bonum custódem, et fáciat eos sibi servire ad considerándum mirabilia de lege sua : avértat ab eis omnes contrárias potestates: eripiat eos ab amni formidine et ab omni perturbatióne, ac sanos in hoc tabernáculo custodire dignétur. Qui cum Patre et Spiritu Sancto vivit et regnat Deus in saécula saeculórum.

Let us pray and implore our Lord Jesus Christ that He would fill this dweeling with blessing and all that dwell therein, and send them a good angel to be their guardian and make them His servants to study the wonders of His law; may He turn them from all contrary powers; may He save them from alarm and disturbance and vouchsafe to keep them in health in this dweeling, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Orémus. Exáudi nos, Dómine sancte, Pater omnipotens, aetérne Deus: et mittere dignéris sanctum Angelum tuum de caelis, qui custódiat, fóveat, prótegat, visitet atque deféndat omnes habitántes in hoc habitáculo. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum. Amen.

Let us pray. Hear us, holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God: and be pleased to send Thy holy angel from Heaven to guard, cherish, protect, visit, and defend all them that dwell in this house. Through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen. R. Amen.
The Confiteor is said. After the priest says the Misereatur, he asks all in the house to pray for the sick person as s/he receives Unction.

In nómine Patris +, et Fílii +, et Spíritus + Sancti, exstinguátur in te omnis virtus diáboli per impositiónem mánuum nostrárum, et per invocatiónem gloriósae et sanctae Dei Genitricis Virginis Mariea, ejusqye inclytu Sponsi Joseph, et ómnium sanctórum Angelelórum, Archangelórum, Patriarchárum, Prophetárum, Apostolorum, Mártyrum, Confessórum, Virginum, atque ómnium simul Sanctórum.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, let there be extinguished in you all power of the devil by the imposition of our hands, and by the invocation of the glorious and holy Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, and of her illustrious Spouse, St. Joseph, and of all the holy Angels, Archangels, Patriarchs, Porphets, Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, Virgins, and of all the saints together.

R. Amen. R. Amen.

The priest takes the Oleum Infirmorum (the Oil of the Sick) and annoints the sick person in 6 places:
As he annoints each place, he says the words below.
After annointing each place, he wipes it with a piece of cotton.

Per istam sanctam Unctiónem + et suam piisimam misericórdiam, indúlgeat tibi Dóminus quidquid per (visum, audtiotum, odorátum, gustum et locutiónem, tactum, gressum deliquisti.)

By this holy unction + and his own most gracious mercy, may the Lord pardon you whatever sin you have committed by (sight, hearing, smell, taste and speech, touch, ability to walk).

R. Amen R. Amen

The priest wipes his hands on the bread or cotton, washes them, and continues:

Kyrie eléison.
Christe eléison.
Kyrie eléison.
[Pater noster (silently)]....Et ne nos indúcas in tentatiónem.
Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy.
[Our Father (silently)]...And lead us not into temptation.
R. Sed libera nos a malo. R. But deliver us from evil.
P. Salvum (salvam) fac servum tuum (ancillam tuam).
R. Deus meus, sperántem in te.
P. Mitte ei, Dómine, auxilium de sancto.
R. Et de Sion tuére eum (eam).
P. Esto ei, Dómine, turris fortitudinis.
R. A fácie inimíci.
P. Nihil profíciat inimícus in eo (ea).
R. Et filius iniquitátis non apponat nocére ei.
P. Dómine, exáudi oratiónem meam.
R. Et clamor meus ad te véniat.
P. Dóminus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.
P. Save your servant (handmaid).
R. Who hopes in Thee, my God.
P. Send him (her) help, O Lord, from Thy holy place.
R. And from Sion Thy protection.
P. Be to him (her), O Lord, a tower of strength.
R. From the face of the enemy.
P. Let not the enemy prevail over him (her).
R. Nor the son of iniquity draw nigh to hurt him (her).
P. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come to Thee.
P. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Orémus. Dómine Deus, qui per Apóstolum tuum Jacóbum locutus es: Infirmátur quis ín vobis? inducat presbyteros Ecclésiae, et orent super eum, ungéntes eum óleo in nómine Dómini: et orátio fidei salvábit infÍrmum, et alleviábit eum Dóminus: et si peccátis sit, remittentur ei: cura, quaésumus, Redemptor noster, grátia Sacti Spíritus languóres istius infÍrme (infÍrmae), ejusque sana vulnera, et dimitte peccáta atque dolóres cunctos mentis et  córporis ab eo (ea) expélle plenámque intérius et extérius sanitátem misericórditer redde, ut, ope misericórdiae tuae restitútus (restitúta), ad prístina reparétur offÍcia. Qui cum Patre et Spíritu Sancto vivis et regnas, Deus, in saécula saeculórum.

Lord God, Who said by Thy apsotle James: Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the Church, and let htem pray over him, ammointing him with oil in the Name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith shall save the sick man, and the Lord shall raise him up: and if he be in sins they shall be forgiven him; we implore Thee, our Redeemer, to cure by the grace of the Holy Spirit the ailments of this sick person and heal his (her) wounds, forgive his (her) sins, drive from him (her) all pains of mind and body and in Thy mercy restore him (her) to full health within and without, that being cured by the help of Thy mercy he (she) may return to his (her) former duties, Thou Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth God, for ever and ever.

R. Amen R. Amen

Orémus. Réspice, quaésumus, Dómine, fámulum tuum (fámulam tuam) N.____ in infirmitáte sui córporis fatiscentem, et ánimam réfove, quam creásti: ut castigatiónibus emendátus (emendáta), se tua séntiat medicina salvátum (salvátam). Per Christum Dóminum nostrum.

Let us pray. Look down, Lord, upon Thy servant (handmaid) N____ who is failing in  the weakness of his (her) body; refresh the soul created by Thee, that brought to amendment by chastisements he (she) may feel himself (herself) saved by Thy healing. Through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen. R. Amen.

Dómine sancte Pater omnipotens, aetérne Deus, qui benedictiónis tuae grátiam agris infundéndo corpóribus factúram tuam multíplici pietáte  custódis: ad invocationem tui Nóminis benignus assiste; ut fámulum (fámulam) tuum (tuam) ab aegritudine liberátum (liberátam) et sanitáte donátum (donátam), dextera tua erigas, virtúte confirmes, potestate tueáris, atque Ecclesiae tuae sanctae, cum omni desideráta prosperitáte, restituas. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum.

Let us pray. O holy Lord, Father almighty and eternal God, Who by pouring the grace of Thy blessing upon the bodies of the sick tends Thy creature with many proofs of Thy love, be pleased to draw near at the invocation of Thy Name, that Thy servant (handmaid) may be delivered from sickness and endowed with health: raise him (her) up with Thy right hand, strengthen him (her) in Thy might, defend him (her) by Thy power, and restore him (her) with all desired prosperity to Thy Holy Church. Through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen R. Amen.

The Last Blessing

V. Adjútorium nostrum in nómine Dómini
R. Qui fecit caelum et terram.
V. Our help is in the Name of the Lord.
R. Who made Heaven and Earth.
Ne reminiscáris, Domine, delicta fámuli tui (ancillae tuae), neque vindictam sumas de peccátis ejus. Remember not, Lord, the offences of Thy servant (handmaid), and take not vengeance on his (her) sins.
Kyrie, eleison.
Christe, eleison.
Kyrie, Eleison.
[Pater noster (silently)]...Et ne nos inducas in tentationem.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
[Our Father (silently)]...And lead us not into temptation.
R. Sed libera nos a malo.
V. Salvum (salvam) fac servum tuum (ancillam tuam).
R. Deus meus, sperántem in te.
V. Dómine, exáudi oratiónem meam.
R. Et clamor meus ad te véniat.
V. Dóminus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.
V. Orémus.
R. But deliver us from evil.
V. Save your servant (handmaid).
R. Who hopes in Thee, my God.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come to Thee.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit
V. Let us pray.

Orémus. Clementissime Deus, Pater misericordiárum et Deus totius consolatiónis, qui néminem vis perire in te credéntem atque sperántem: secúndum multitúdinem miseratiónum tuárum réspice propitius fámulum (fámulam) tuum (tuam) N.____ quem (quam) tibi vera fides et spes christiána commendant. Visita eum (eam) in salutári tuo, et per Unigeniti tui passiónem et mortem ómnium ei delictórum suórum remissiónem et véniam clementer indulge; ut ejus ánima in hora exitus sui te judicem propitiátum inveniat et, in sánguine ejusdem Fílii tui ab omni mácula ablúta, transire ad vitam mereatur perpetuam. Per eúmdem Christum Dóminum nostrum.

Let us pray. Most gracious God, Father of mercies and God of all consolation, Thou wish none to perish that believes and hopes in Thee, according to Thy many mercies look down favorably upon Thy servant (handmaid) N.____ whom true faith and Christian hope commend to Thee. Visit him (her) in Thy saving mercy, and by the passion and death of Thy only-begotten Son, graciously grant to him (her) forgiveness and pardon of all his (her) sins that his (her) soul in the hour of its leaving the earth may find Thee as a Judge appeased, and being washed from all stain in the Blood of Thy same Son may deserve to pass to everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord.

R. Amen R. Amen
One of those present, and the sick person (if possible) says the Confiteor, then the priest says the Misereatur, Indulgentiam, etc. and continues:

Dóminus noster Jesus Christus, Fílius Dei vivi, qui beáto Petro Apóstolo suo dedit potestátem ligándi atque solvéndi, per suam piissimam misericórdiam recipiat confessionem tuam et restituat tibi stolam primam, quam in Baptísmate recepísti: et ego facultáte mihi ab Apostólica Sede tribúta, indulgentiam plenáriam et remissionem omnium peccatorum tibi concédo. In nomine Patris +, et Fílii, et Spiritus Sancti.

May our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, Who to His apostle Peter gave the power of binding and loosing, by His most gracious mercy receive your confession and restore to you that first robe which you received at Baptism; and I, by the faculty given me by the Apostolic See, grant you a plenary indulgence and remission of all your sins, in the Name of the Father +, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

R. Amen. R. Amen.

Per sacrosáncta humánae reparatiónis mystéria remittat tibi omnipotens Deus omnes praeséntis et futúrae vitae paenas, Paradísi portas apériat, et ad gáudia sempitérna perdúcat.

By the Sacred mysteries of man's redemption may almighty God remit to you all penalities of the present life and of the life to come: may He open to you the gates of paradise and lead you to joys everlasting.

R. Amen. R. Amen.

Benedicat te omnipotens Deus, Pater +, et FÍlius, et SpÍritus Sancus.

May almighty God bless you, Father + and Son, and Holy Spirit. R. Amen.

R. Amen. R. Amen.
Having come into contact with the Holy Oil, the bread, cotton, lemon, and water used by the priest when rinsing his fingers must be disposed of by burning or by burying in the earth.

Thus ends the Rite of the Sacrament of Unction.

Another thing your priest might do -- and which you should ask for -- is offer the Apostolic Blessing, which is a complete pardon for sins and for the punishment of sins if the recipient is properly disposed.

Apostolic Blessing

Ego facultate mihi ab Apostolic Sede tributa, indulgentiam plenariam et remissionem omnium peccatorum tibi concedo et benedico te. In nomine Patris, et Filii, + et Spirtus Sancti. Amen. By the Faculty which the Apostolic See has given me, I grant you a plenary indulgence for the remission of all your sins, and I bless you. In the Name of the Father and the Son + and the Holy Sprit. Amen.

For more on the care of the dying, see The Catholic Way of Dying.

Please, please note that this Sacrament in the Novus Ordo has been replaced with a simple blessing (blessings for the sick are always OK, of course, but the Sacrament is reserved traditionally for those who are gravely ill, especially those in danger of death from bodily illness or injury). Some of the changes:


The primary purpose of the Sacrament is the remission of sins and the preparedness of the soul.

In the new rite, the priest asks no pardon of God for sins and the focus is on the body.


The matter of the Sacrament is olive oil blessed by a Bishop using these words, "Emitte, quaesumus Domine, Spiritum sanctum tuum Paraclitum de coelis in hanc pinguedinem olivae, quam de viridi ligno producere dignatus es and refectionem mentis et corporis..." ("Send forth we pray, Your Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, from heaven into this rich substance of oil").

In the new rite, any oil of plant origin may be used, blessed by a priest using these words: "May your blessing come upon all who are anointed with this oil, that they may be freed from pain and illness and made well again in body and mind and soul." The Holy Ghost is no longer invoked!


The form of the Sacrament is: "Through this Holy Unction or oil, and through the great goodness of His mercy, may God pardon thee whatever sins thou hast committed by evil use of sight (sight, hearing, smell, taste and speech, touch, ability to walk)."

In the new rite, it is given as "Through this holy anointing may the Lord in His love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up." There is no request of God to remit sins!

Courtesy of APOLOGIA

The Catholic Way of Dying

The Death of St. Joseph, Giuseppe Maria Crespi, 1715


Wisdom 1:12-14 "Seek not death in the error of your life, neither procure ye destruction by the works of your hands. For God made not death, neither hath he pleasure in the destruction of the living. For he created all things that they might be.."

"Of all human evils death is the most grievous, by which human life is destroyed...". -- St. Thomas Aquinas, Compendium theologiae, lib. 1 cap. 227

John 11:17-35 "Then when Jesus came, he found that he [Lazarus] had lain in the grave four days already...Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled. And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept."

First a definition: death is the separation of the soul from the body, a phenomenon we can't know has happened with moral certainty until corruption has begun. "Death" does not mean the cessation of breathing or heartbeat, nor does "brain death" mean that death has occurred. The soul isn't "in" the heart, or "in" the lungs, or "in the brain, or "in" any particular part of the body. The treatment of the dying, the apparently dead, and their organs is governed by this Truth.

Now, a person confronting death should receive the Sacrament of Extreme Unction (be informed that this Sacrament is no longer offered in the Novus Ordo and has been replaced by the Anointing of the Sick, which is nothing more than several communal prayers and is not a sacrament- The post- Vatican II Church has given up their Catholic identity and has fallen into the spirit of the world and the devil, which we were warned  for centuries by various popes, saints and theologians, not to forget fully approved apparitions of Our Lady of Good Success, Fatima, and La Salette. Certainly no person on earth has the right to remove a sacrament given by Christ Himself, as the the New Church has done) for the possible restoration of body (His will be done) and, most importantly, soul. This is of prime importance and should never be neglected.

Other ways to help prepare the sick person for death are to pray the Holy Rosary (focusing on the Sorrowful Mysteries), to St. Joseph (the Patron of the dying) for a holy death, etc. -- with the sick person, if possible, or in such a manner that he can hear you. This includes audible prayer for the unconscious; never think that those who are unconscious or in a coma can't hear you!

The sick person should have a Crucifix (a St. Benedict Medal Crucifix, if possible) in view, perhaps to hold if he can, and should be encouraged to offer up his sufferings and to trust in the love and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. A lit blessed candle, as a symbol of the sick person's Baptism -- a symbol of sanctifying grace and the promise of eternal life -- should be placed nearby so he can see the flame (unless oxygen tanks are in use, of course!).

The Brown Scapular should be on the dying person, over their head, with each end on both sides of their chest. If oxygen tanks are on, cut the string and then tie them up after placing around ill person. Be sure to have the person invested into the Brown Scapular with the traditional rite by a valid tradition Catholic priest. Invoke the the Holy names of "Jesus., Mary & Joseph" in their ear so the last words they hear on this earth are those of their Savior, while invoking the intercession of Blessed Mother and St. Joseph.

You'll note that the Catholic way of death is different from that of other "Christian" groups. We don't try to sanitize it and avoid the topic. We don't speak in euphemisms about it. We don't take salvation for granted, except the salvation of the souls of baptized children who've died before the age of reason (but we, of course, trust in the mercy of God for all others). And we don't consider it a sin or, at the least, a faux-pas to mourn. While we don't exactly "sit shiva," we don't see jumping up and down and singing happy songs as the natural reaction to having to miss someone until one's own death. In other words, it's OK to rend garments and weep; these things are not expressions of a "lack of faith," but are normal, natural reactions to the evil of death, and to missing someone and realizing that it will be some time before you see him again, Deo volente.

It must be remembered that sickness and death are great, great evils; they were not "supposed" to be a part of this world, and came about as a consequence of the sin of Adam. Christ, of course, conquered the tomb and gives us the hope of eternal life. Catholics, then, look at death for what it is -- an evil -- but cling to the hope He offers, trusting in His Divine Mercy while also realizing that He is Just. Christ Himself wept before the dead Lazarus.

Now, the sick person shouldn't be denied the Truth of his situation any more than those around him should lie to themselves. It is not a loving act to ignore reality out of fear of not wanting to alarm the sick one, and to do so is to imperil his everlasting soul. The dying person needs to face his mortality, to repent, to pray, to receive Unction, to be encouraged to trust totally in Jesus and His forgiveness and love, etc. He must spiritually prepare himself for judgment, and to help him do this is the single greatest act of love you can offer.

Ways of Comforting the Dying and Encouraging Him to Focus on Christ and His Passion

Throughout the dying person's time in his sick bed, it is good to offer to him short acclamations that encourage the focus on Christ and the prayers of the Saints. Below are the ones listed in the 1958 St. Andrew Daily Missal. Periodically whisper these prayers into the dying person's ears:

Into Thy hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.

O Lord Jesus Christ, receive my spirit.

Holy Mary, pray for me.

Holy Mary, Mother of grace, Mother of mercy, do thou defend me from the enemy, and receive me at the hour of death.

It is recommended, too, to read the 18th and 19th chapters of the Gospel according to St. John to the dying, helping him to focus on Christ.

Commending the Soul to God

As death approaches more closely, the sick person's soul should be commended to God. The following traditional form is most beautiful:

Go forth, O Christian soul, out of this world, in the Name of God the Father almighty, Who created you; in the Name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, Who suffered for you; in the Name of the Holy Ghost, Who sanctified you, in the name of the holy and glorious Mary, Virgin and Mother of God; in the name of the angels, archangels, thrones and dominions, cherubim and seraphim; in the name of the patriarchs and prophets, of the holy apostles and evangelists, of the holy martyrs, confessors, monks and hermits, of the holy virgins, and of all the saints of God; may your place be this day in peace, and your abode in Holy Sion. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

O merciful and gracious God, O God, according to the multitude of Thy mercies Thou blotteth out the sins of such as repent, and graciously remit the guilt of their past offenses, mercifully regard this Thy servant (handmaid) N.____ and grant him (her) a full discharge from all his (her) sins, who with a contrite heart most earnestly begs it of Thee. Renew, O merciful Father, whatever has been vitiated in him (her) by human frailty, or by the frauds and deceits of the enemy: and associate him (her) as a member of redemption to the unity of the body of the Church. Have compassion, Lord, on his (her) sighs, have compassion on his (her) tears; and admit him (her), who has no hope but in Thy mercy, to the sacrament of Thy reconciliation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

I commend you, dear Brother (Sister), to the almighty God, and consign you to the care of Him, whose creature you are, that, when you shall have paid the debt of all mankind by death, you may return to thy Maker, Who formed you from the dust of the earth. When, therefore, your soul shall depart from your body, may the resplendent multitude of the angels meet you: may the court of the apostles receive you: may the triumphant army of glorious martyrs come out to welcome you: may the splendid company of confessors clad in their white robes encompass you: may the choir of joyful virgins reeceive you: and may you meet with a blessed repose in the bosom of the patriarchs. May St. Joseph, the most sweet Patron of the dying, comfort you with a great hope. May Mary, the holy Mother of God, lovingly cast upon you her eyes of mercy. May Jesus Christ appear to you with a mild and joyful countenance, and appoint you a place among those who are to stand before Him for ever. May you be a stranger to all that is punished with darkness, chastised with flames, and condemned to torments. May the most wicked enemy, with all his evil spirits, be forced to give way: may he tremble at your approach in the company of angels, and with confusion fly away into the vast chaos of eternal night. Let God arise and His enemies be dispersed,, and let them that hate Him fly before His Face, let them vanish like smoke; and as wax that melts before the fire, so let sinners perish in the sight of God; but may the just rejoice and be happy in His presence. May then all the legions of Hell be confounded and put to shame; and may none of the ministers of Satan dare to stop you in your way. May Christ deliver you from torments, Who was crucified for you.. May He deliver you from eternal death, Who vouchsafed to die for you. May Jesus Christ the Son of the living God place you in the ever-verdant lawns of His Paradise; and may He, the true Shepherd, acknowledge you for one of His flock. May He absolve you from all your sins, and place you at His right hand in the midst of His elect. May you see your Redeemer face to face, and standing always in His presence, behold with happy eyes the most clear Truth. And may you be placed among the company of the blessed and enjoy the sweetness of the contemplation of your God for ever. Amen.

  Receive, Lord, Thy servant (handmaid) into the place of salvation, which he (she) hopes to obtain through Thy mercy.
R. Amen.
  Deliver, Lord, the soul of Thy servant (handmaid) from all danger of Hell; and from all pain and tribulation.
R. Amen
  Deliver, Lord, the soul of Thy servant (handmaid) as Thou didst deliver Enoch and Elias from the common death of the world.
R. Amen.
  Deliver, Lord, the soul of Thy servant (handmaid), as Thou didst deliver Abraham from the midst of the Chaldeans.
R. Amen.
  Deliver, Lord, the soul of Thy servant (handmaid), as Thou didst deliver Job from all his afflictions.
R. Amen.
  Deliver, Lord, the soul of Thy servant (handmaid), as Thou didst deliver Isaac from being sacrificed by his father.
R. Amen.
  Deliver, Lord, the soul of Thy servant (handmaid), as Thou didst deliver Lot from being destroyed in the flames of Sodom.
R. Amen.
  Deliver, Lord, the soul of Thy servant (handmaid), as Thou didst deliver Moses from the hands of the Pharaoh, King of Egypt.
R. Amen.
  Deliver, Lord, the soul of Thy servant, as Thou didst deliver the three children from the fiery furnace, and from the hands of an unmerciful king.
R. Amen.
  Deliver, Lord, the soul of Thy servant (handmaid), as Thou didst deliver Susanna from her false accusers.
R. Amen.
  Deliver, Lord, the soul of Thy servant (handmaid), as Thou didst deliver David from the hands of Saul and Goliath.
R. Amen.
  Deliver, Lord, the soul of Thy servant (handmaid), as Thou didst deliver Peter and Paul out of prison.
R. Amen.
  And as Thou didst deliver that blessed virgin and martyr, Saint Thecla, from three most cruel torments, so be pleased to deliver the soul of this Thy servant, and bring it to the participation of Thy Heavenly joys.
R. Amen.

We commend to Thee, Lord, the soul of Thy servant (handmaid) N.____, and we pray Thee, Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, that as in mercy to him (her) Thou becamest man, so now Thou would be pleased to admit him (her) to the bosom of Thy patriarchs. Remember, Lord, he (she) is Thy creature, not made by strange gods, but by Thee, the only living and true God; for there is no other but Thee, and none can equal Thy work. Let his (her) soul rejoice in Thy presence, and remember not his (her) former iniquities and excesses, which he (she) has fallen into, through the violence of passion and the corruption of his (her) nature. For although he (she) has sinned, yet he (she) has always firmly believed in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; he (she) has had a zeal for Thy honor, and faithfully adored Thee as his (her) God, and Creator of all things. Remember not, Lord, we pray Thee, the sins of his (her) youth, and his (her) ignorance's; but according to Thy great mercy, be mindful of him (her) in Thy Heavenly glory. Let the heavens be opened to him (her), and the angels rejoice with him (her). Let the archangel St. Michael, whom Thou didst appoint the chief of the heavenly host, conduct him (her). Let the holy angels come out to meet him (her), and carry him (her) to the city of heavenly Jerusalem. Let blessed Peter the apostle, to whom God gave the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, receive him (her). Let St. Paul the apostle, who was a vessel of election, assist him (her). Let St. John the beloved disciple, to whom the secrets of Heaven were revealed, intercede for him (her). Let all the holy apostles, who received from Jesus Christ the power of binding and loosing, pray for him (her). Let all the saints and elect of God, who in this world have suffered torments in the name of Christ, intercede for him (her); that being freed from the prison of his (her) body, he (she) may be admitted into the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who with Thee and the Holy Ghost, lives and reigns, world without end. Amen.

Prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary

May Mary the most merciful Virgin Mother of God, kindest comforter of them that mourn, commend to her Son the soul od this His servant (handmaid), that through her maternal intercession, he (she) may overcome the dread of death and, with her as guide, joyfully reach his (her) longed-for home in the heavenly fatherland.

R. Amen.

Prayer to St. Joseph

To thee I have recourse, St. Joseph, Patron of the dying; and to thee, at whose blessed death watchfully assisted Jesus and Mary, by both these dearest pledges I earnestly recommend the soul of this servant (handmaid) in the sufferings of his (her) last agony, that he (she) may by your protection be delivered from the snares of the devil and from eternal death, and may merit to attain everlasting joy. Through the same Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

Prayers Just after Death

After the soul has left the body, the following responses is said:

R. Subveníte, Sancti Dei, occúrrite, Angeli Dómini, Suscipiéntes ániman ejus, Offeréntes eam in conspéctu Altíssimi. Suscípiat te Christus, qui vocávit te, et in sinum Abrahae Angeli dedúcant te. Suscipiéntes ánimam ejus, Offeréntes eam in conspéctu Altíssimi.

R. Come to his assistance, all you Saints of God: meet him, al you Angels of God: receiving his soul, offering it in the sight of the Most High. May Christ receive you, who hath called you, and may the Angels conduct you to Abraham's bosom. Receiving his (her) soul and offering it in the sight of the Most High.

V. Réquiem aetérnam dona ei, Dómine, et lux perpétua lúceat ei. Offeréntes eam in conspéctu Altìssimi.

V. Eternal rest give to him (her), Lord: and let perpetual light shine upon him (her). Offering it in the sight of the Most High.

Kýrie eléison.
Christe eléison.
Kýrie eléison.
[Pater noster (silently)]...
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
[Our Father (silently)].....
V. Et ne nos indúcas in tentatiónem. V. ...and lead us not into temptation.
R. Sed libera nos a malo. R. But deliver us from evil.
V. Réquiem aetérnam dona ei, Dómine. V. Eternal rest give to him (her), Lord.
R. Et lux perpétua lúceat ei. R. And let perpetual light shine upon him (her).
V. A porta ìnferi. V. From the gates of Hell.
R. Erue, Dómine, ánimam ejus. R. Deliver his (her) soul, Lord.
V. Réquiescat in pace. V. May he (she) rest in peace.
R. Amen. R. Amen.
V. Dómine, exáudi oratiónem meam. V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. Et clamor meus ad te véniat. R. And let my cry come to Thee.
V. Dóminus vobiscum. V. The Lord be with you.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo. R. And with thy spirit.

Orémus. Tibi Dómine, commendámus ánimam fámuli tui (fámulae tuae) N.____, ut defúnctus (defúncta) saéculo tibi vivat: et quae per fragilitátem humánae conversatiónis peccáta commìsit, tu vénia misericordìssime pietátis abstérge. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum.

Let us pray. To Thee, Lord, we commend the soul of your servant (handmaid) N.____, that being dead to this world he (she) may live to Thee: and whatever sins he (she)( has committed in this life through human frailty, do Thou in Thy most merciful goodness forgive. Through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen. R. Amen.

Grant, O God, that while we lament the departure of this Thy servant (handmaid), we may always remember that we are most certainly to follow him (her). And give us grace to prepare for that last hour by a good life, that we may not be surprised by a sudden and unprovided death, but be ever watching, that, when Thou callest, we may, with the Bridegroom, enter into eternal glory: through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Courtesy of APOLOGIA

Confirmation Ritual

Confirmation, by Giuseppe Maria Crespi, 1712

Acts 8:14-17 "Now, when the apostles, who were in Jerusalem, had heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John. Who, when they were come, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost. For he was not as yet come upon any of them: but they were only baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands upon them: and they received the Holy Ghost.

Ephesians 4:30 "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God: whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption."

First, what is Confirmation? What does Confirmation do? Confirmation:

bulletindelibly seals us to the Holy Spirit, hence its name, "Sacrament of the Seal." Because this seal is indelible and leaves a permanent mark on the recipient's soul, the Sacrament, like Baptism and Holy Orders, may be received only once.
bulletgives us the sanctifying grace to become perfect Christians and true soldiers of Christ, well-armed to defend Christ as King, His Mother as Queen, and the Church Militant as His Kingdom on earth. God confirms us (strengthens us) so we may do spiritual battle.
bulletimparts to us the 7 Gifts of the Holy Ghost:
bulletFear of the Lord

The Sacrament may only be received by one who is baptized, preferably while he or she is in a state of grace (i.e., not in a state of mortal sin). If it is received when the recipient is not in a state of grace, it is illicitly but still validly received; the fruits of the Sacrament will be delayed until he receives Penance. In addition, if the confirmand (the one to be confirmed) has reached the age of reason, he should be well-catechized and know the Pater (Our Father), the Ave (Hail Mary), the Apostles' Creed, and the 10 Commandments.

The ordinary minister of Confirmation is the Bishop; priests are extraordinary ministers of the Sacrament and may offer the Sacrament if the Bishop authorizes them to. The matter is the imposition of hands, the chrism, and the anointing. The form of the Sacrament is:

"N., I sign thee with the sign + of the Cross, and I confirm thee with the chrism of salvation; in the Name of the Father + and of the Son + and of the Holy + Spirit.".

"N., signo te signo crucis +  et confirmo te chrismate salutis, in nomine Patris + et Filii + et Spiritus + Sancti."

As in Baptism, a sponsor is chosen to stand for the confirmand. The sponsor should be a baptized and confirmed Catholic who's at least 14 years old, is of the same sex as the confirmand, and is well-instructed in the Faith. Also as in Baptism, among those who may not act as sponsors are: members of religious orders, spouses in respect to each other, parents in respect to their own children, infidels, heretics, members of condemned secret societies, and public sinners.

In any case, just as Abram became Abraham, as Jacob became Israel, as Simon became Peter, and as Saul became Paul, the confirmand takes on the name of a Saint when he is sealed to the Holy Spirit. This isn't necessary for the sake of validity, but it is the traditional practice of the Church, and especially important for those whose Baptismal names are pagan (non-Christian names). Read the lives of the Saints and choose your patron.

If one is raised a Catholic, one is usually confirmed around the age of 7-16 or so, though Confirmation may come earlier or later at the discretion of the priest and Bishop (Note: Eastern Catholics receive Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation all together as an infant) . If a child attends a Catholic school, he may be confirmed along with classmates in preparation for First Communion together as a class. If one enters the Church as an adult, he is usually baptized (if necessary), confirmed, and offered his first Communion all at the same time (usually at the Easter Vigil), but Confirmation may take place outside of the Easter Vigil, at the discretion of the Bishop and the priest.

On a cultural note, just as in Baptism, Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders, and one's First Communion, it is customary for guests to bring a small gift to the one receiving the Sacrament, a gift usually, but not necessarily, religious in nature. Icons of his or her  new patron, rosaries, books, etc. are typical. A small party may follow the ceremony, especially in the case of young confirmands.

The Rite of Confirmation

I. Preparatory Ceremonies 

The Invocation

Turning to the candidates, the Bishop or delegated priest sings or says:

May the Holy Spirit come down upon you, and the power of the Most HIgh keep you from all sin. Spiritus Sanctus superveniat in vos, et virtus Altissimi custodiat vos a peccatis.
R. Amen R. Amen

The Bishop or priest then makes the Sign of the Cross and says:

V. Our help + is in the Name of the Lord. V. Adjutorium + nostrum in nomine Domini.
R. Who made Heaven and earth. R. Qui fecit caelum et terram.
V. O, Lord, hear my prayer. V. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
R. And let my cry come unto You. R. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
V. The Lord be with you. V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. And with your spirit.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.

The Collective and Preparatory Imposition of Hands

The Bishop or delegated priest stretches out his hands over the candidates and says:

Let us pray. Almighty, everlasting God, You have been pleased to regenerate these Your servants by water and the Holy Spirit, and have given them remission of all their sins; send forth upon them from Heaven Your sevenfold Holy Spirit, the Paraclete. Oremus. Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui regenerare dignatus es hos, famulos tuos ex aqua et Spiritu Sancto, quique dedisti eis remissionem omnium peccatorum: emitte in eos septiformem Spiritum tuum sanctum Paraclitum de caelis.
R. Amen. R. Amen.
V. The Spirit of Wisdom and understanding. V. Spiritum sapientiae et intellectus.
R. Amen. R. Amen.
The Spirit of Counsel and fortitude. Spiritum consilii et fortitudinis.
R. Amen. R. Amen.
The Spirit of knowledge and piety. V. Spiritum scientiea et pietatis.
R. Amen. R. Amen.
Fill them with the spirit of Your holy fear, and sign them with the sign of the cross + of Christ in mercy for eternal life. Through the same Jesus Christ... in the unity of the same Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Adimple eos Spiritu timoris tui, et consigna eos signo crucis + Christi, in vitam propitiatus aeternam. Per eumdem Dominum... in unitate ejusdem Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.
R. Amen. R. Amen.

II. The Sacrament

The candidates may come up in two ranks with hands joined, carrying a card bearing their Confirmation names. Each sponsor places his right hand on the right shoulder of the candidate they are sponsoring.

The Bishop, or delegated priest, stretching the fingers of his right hand over the head of each candidate, addresses each candidate by his Confirmation name and anoints each candidate's forehead with his thumb dipped in holy chrism. He confirms then with the words below

"N., I sign thee with the sign + of the Cross, and I confirm thee with the chrism of salvation; in the Name of the Father + and of the Son + and of the Holy + Spirit." "N., signo te signo crucis +  et confirmo te chrismate salutis, in nomine Patris + et Filii + et Spiritus + Sancti."

The newly-confirmed reply:

R. Amen. R. Amen.

The Bishop or priest then gently strikes each candidate on the cheek, symbolizing that the Christian is now a soldier for Christ and must endure suffering and the persecution that comes from conflict with the world. A hymn might now be sung if the candidates are numerous.

III. Concluding Prayers

When all have been confirmed, the following antiphon is sung or read:

ANT: Confirm, O Lord, what Thou has wrought in us, from Thy holy temple which is in Jerusalem. Alleluia. ANT: Confirma hoc, Deus, quod operatus es in nobis, a templo sancto tuo, quod est in Jerusalem. Alleuia.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. V. Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.
R. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. R. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

After the antiphon has been repeated, the Bishop or priest turns to the Altar and sings:

V. Lord, show up Your mercy. V. Ostende nobis, Domine, misericordiam tuam.
R. And grant us Your salvation. R. Et salutare tuum da nobis.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer. V. Domine, exaudi orationem mean.
R. And let my cry come to You. R. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
V. The Lord be with you. V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. And with your spirit. R. Et cum spiritu tuo.
V. Let us pray. O God, You gave Your Holy Spirit to Your apostles, and willed that through them and their successors the same gift should be delivered to all the faithful: look graciously on the service we humbly render to You; grant that the same Spirit, coming down upon those whose foreheads we have anointed with the holy chrism, and signed with the sign of the holy cross, may by His gracious indwelling make them a temple of His glory, You Who are God, living and reigning with the Father and the Holy Spirit, world without end.
R. Amen. R. Amen.

The Bishop then gives to the confirmed a special blessing in this form:

V. Behold, thus shall every man be blessed who fears the Lord: May the Lord bless + you out of Sion, that you may see the good things of Jerusalem all the days of your life, and have life everlasting. V. Ecce sic benedicetur omnis homo qui timet Dominum: Benedicat + vos Dominus ex Sion, ut videatis bona Jerusalem omnibus diebus vitae vestrae, et habeatis vitam aeternam.
R. Amen. R. Amen.

The Bishop sits down, and puts on his mitre. The newly confirmed recite aloud the Apostles' Creed, the Our Father, and the Hail Mary. The Bishop then gives the Pontifical Blessing to the entire congregation. A Te Deum or the Psalm Laudate pueri (Psalm 112) might be sung.