Ask a Franciscan

The Heroic Act

Q. Many years ago, as a child of 11 or 12, I read a book on Fatima. At the end of the book was a pledge called a heroic act where persons pledged to give all the indulgences they earned during life and after death to the souls in purgatory.

I made this act and I have never seen anything about this since and I can’t find the book it was in. Do you know anything about it?

A. There is indeed a practice of piety called the Heroic Act. It has been encouraged by the Theatine Order. It is called heroic because of the complete selflessness involved in the practice. According to T.C. O’Brien in the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Religion, persons who make the heroic act offer to God any and all indulgences they might gain, as well as all expiatory works and all prayers offered for them after death.

The Heroic Act should not be confused with Saint Louis Marie de Montfort’s act of total consecration to Mary or the offering made by “victim souls.”

De Montfort urged that the most perfect devotion to Mary was in consecrating self entirely to her, and Jesus through her, becoming a slave of Mary. That means completely consecrating self to Mary for all eternity—body, soul, spiritual and material possessions, the atoning value and merits of our good actions and the right to dispose of them, past, present and future.

The act of “victim souls” is to accept suffering without reservation in union with the self-offering of Christ in atonement for sin. O’Brien remarks that this offering is not to be made lightly or easily permitted by a spiritual director.

I would say the same of the Heroic Act and total consecration. They should not be spur-of-the-moment actions but thoughtful and mature acts.

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