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Our Lady of Purgatory

The value of Indulgences

To help us understand the value of indulgences in favor of souls in Purgatory, let us look at the admirable example of Blessed Berthold, preacher of the Order of Saint Francis. He had just given a very moving sermon on almsgiving, and he had granted his listeners ten days of indulgences, according to the power he had received from the Sovereign Pontiff, when a lady of condition, who had retained from her former rank only the fear of confessing her present misery, came to expose it to him secretly. The good Father gave her the same answer as St. Peter had given to the lame man of Jerusalem: “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I have I give you. I assure you again that you have earned ten days’ worth of indulgences by attending my preaching this morning, for the Holy Father has honored me with this privilege for the sake of the souls I am called to evangelize. Go, then, to such and such a banker, who has hardly cared for spiritual treasures up to now, and offer him, in return for the alms he will give you, to give him your merit, so that the pains which await him in Purgatory may be lessened. I have every reason to believe that he will give you some help.”

The poor woman went there in all simplicity and with great faith. God allowed this man to receive her kindly: he asked her how much she claimed to receive in exchange for her ten days’ indulgence.

“As much, she answered, as they weigh in the balance!” She felt animated by an inner strength. “Well, resumed the banker, here are scales: write on a paper your ten days and put it in one of the trays; I put on the other a silver coin.” O wonder! the first tray does not rise, but instead drags the silver one down. Astonished, the man adds a silver coin, which does not change anything to the weight. He put in five, ten, thirty, as many as the supplicant needed in her present need; only then did the two trays balance. This was a valuable lesson for the banker; he finally felt the value of heavenly interests. But poor souls understand it even better; for the slightest indulgence they would give all the gold in the world.

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