Medieval Devotions

A few devotions from the medieval times submitted by a user.

Dear Friends,
Christus Resurrexit!

In my researches, I came across some medieval devotions in honour of the Faithful Departed that I would like to share with you.

First and foremost was the recitation of the Psalter. Medieval Catholics saw the Psalter as a wonderful prayer which they repeated frequently. Just like the often repeated so many Rosaries, so they repeated so many Psalters for different intentions. For example, when a Bishop reposed in the Lord, the English monastic practice was to recite 600 Psalters for his soul! When a person died, monks immediately took turns reciting a Psalter over the body. Then, throughout the night, the Psalter was recited, in turn, four more times before the Wake. What piety! Would it not be wonderful for Catholic families to divide the Psalter up upon the death of a loved one to ensure that it is recited for his or her soul? This is something in the nature of the “Living Rosary.”

There was also a devotion which involved the Little Psalters of Our Lord and Our Lady, or 150 Our Fathers and 150 Angelical Salutations recited for our family and friends, living and dead. Afterwards, one is to ask for one special favour and it will be granted. The favour, however, must be something we absolutely need.

We should also remember the Scriptural reference to King Solomon who once offered 1,000 sacrifices to God. At night, he was visited by the Lord who asked him for whatever favour he wished, at which point Solomon asked for wisdom. Catholic saints have followed this practice and have offered 1,000 Our Fathers, Hail Marys or other prayers for an intention, imitating King Solomon. We could do the same for the dead.

Whenever a person has died, the Eastern Church follows this pattern of offering the Mass: A Requiem Mass on the Third Day of Repose, one on the Ninth Day of Repose and one on the Fortieth Day. St Macarius of Egypt had a vision in which he saw the departed soul being shown Heaven on the Third Day and the agony of Hell on the Ninth Day. On the Fortieth Day, after visiting one’s family and friends and familiar places seeking spiritual help, the soul is assigned a place in Heaven, Hell or Purgatory. In the Eastern Church, it is customary to have the name of the Reposed added to Masses for Forty days after the day of Repose. St Gregory the Pope had a vision in which he saw a soul ascend to Heaven after Masses offered for its intention for thirty days.

I thought I would share this with you.

This document was submitted by a user of Holy Souls Online web site.

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