All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. (CCC:1030)
The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire. (CCC:1031)
This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin." From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead. (CCC:1032)
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But under the tunic of each of the dead they found amulets sacred to the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. So it was clear to all that this was why these men had fallen. They all therefore praised the ways of the Lord, the just judge who brings to light the things that are hidden. Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out. The noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those who had fallen. He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection in mind; for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be absolved from their sin. （加下：12:40-46）
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And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
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Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.
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for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, the work of each will come to light, for the Day will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire [itself] will test the quality of each one’s work. If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage. But if someone’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire.
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Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
--This passage says that there will be heaven and hell after the final judgment. Therefore, purgatory will not exist after the final judgment.
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Let me remind you, that it was not by mere accident I told you before, that a single Mass, as far as itself is concerned, and in the sense of its intrinsic value, is sufficient to clear Purgatory of all the souls that are being purified there, nay, and to send them straight to Paradise; since the Divine Sacrifice is not only beneficial to the souls of the defunct, as propitiatory and satisfactory of their penance, but it also avails them as supplicatory, or, in other words, it obtains for them remission of the Purgatorial pains. Hence, the usage of the Church, which not only offers the Holy Mass for the souls in Purgatory, but prays in the Holy Sacrifice for their liberation; and in order that you may be excited to commiserate those holy souls, excluded for a while from the Beatific Vision, let me warn you, that the fire in which they are plunged is as devouring a fire, and nowise less dreadfully intense than that of Hell.
This assertion is made on the authority of St. Gregory the Great, who, in his Dialogues, informs us, that “the flames of Purgatory are, as it were, the instrument of divine justice, operating with such terrible power as to render the agony of the souls detained there intolerable. These pains,” continues the Saint: “far exceed all the tribulations, nay, and martyrdoms that can be witnessed, felt, or imagined in this life;” but far more excruciating to them is the pain of loss, or in other words, the temporary exclusion from the beatific vision of God, which, according to the Angelic Doctor (St. Thomas), tortures them with an indescribable agony; a fierce and burning thirst to behold the Supreme Good that is denied to their yearnings.
Here now enter into your own heart, and weigh well what I am going to say. If it so happened, that you beheld your own father or mother drowning in a pool of water, and if you could save them by merely stretching out your hand, would you not consider yourself bound by the law of charity and of justice to stretch out your hand for their rescue? And how do you act? Aided by the light of Faith, you behold many and many a poor soul immersed in the sea of Purgatorial fires, nay, you behold, it may be, the souls of your nearest and dearest kinsfolk so circumstanced, and yet, will you be so heartless as not to bear the trifling inconvenience of assisting devoutly at one Mass for their release, or the alleviation of their agonies? What sort of a heart have you? Surely you cannot doubt, that even a single Mass can bring exceeding great comfort to those poor souls?
If (which God forbid) you have any doubt on this subject, let the words of St. Jerome, who deserves your firmest belief, bring conviction to your soul, and awaken in it a holy compassion. Ponder well what this holy Doctor of the Church tells you: “The souls in Purgatory, for whose comfort the priest offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, suffer no torment while Mass is being celebrated.” Nay more, he adds, that “at every Mass many souls are liberated from Purgatory, and ascend to Heaven.”
Bear in mind also, that this charity or holy compassion for the poor souls in Purgatory will redound to your own good; and, although I might adduce many proofs in confirmation of this truth, I will confine myself to one well authenticated in the Life of St. Peter Damian. This holy servant of God, when a mere youngster, after losing his parents, was taken into the house of his brother, who treated him very cruelly, compelling him to go barefoot, ragged, and subjecting him to every sort of the most squalid poverty.
It so happened, that one day he found a trifling coin, I know not of what value. I leave you to imagine whether he rejoiced or not. As for himself, it seemed to him that he had lit upon a treasure. But how was he to spend it? His pitiable condition, so poor, and so cheerless, suggested to him many ways of employing the money which he had found; but after pondering the matter over and over again in his mind, he resolved to give the coin to a priest, as an alms for celebrating Mass for the holy souls in Purgatory. Well, will you believe it?! From that day forward his fortune was changed for the better, for he was adopted by another brother of amiable disposition, who took him into his house, treated him as his own child, clothed him comfortably and sent him to school, whence he afterwards came forth that great man and saint, an ornament to the red of Cardinals, and one of the most illustrious pillars of the Church―St. Peter Damian.
Now, you see how in one single Mass, which this holy personage caused to be celebrated at some trifling inconvenience, all this happiness had its origin. Oh, most Holy Mass, that at one and the same time benefits the living and dead! Oh, most Holy Sacrifice, so replete with blessings for time and for eternity! For you must bear in mind, that the souls in Purgatory are so grateful to their benefactors, that on being admitted into Heaven, they become their advocates, never ceasing in their holy petitions till they see them in possession of glory.
A singular proof of what I have here laid down is narrated in the history of a woman—a native of Rome—who for many years led a scandalous life, indulging her passions, and corrupting youth. Nevertheless, notwithstanding the infamy of her career, this unfortunate sinner very frequently caused Mass to be celebrated for the souls in Purgatory; and this, indeed, was the only good she ever did. Now, as we may piously believe, it was these souls who interceded so effectually for their benefactress, that she one day was seized with heartfelt sorrow for her sins--sorrow so vehement that she abandoned wickedness, flung herself at the feet of a zealous priest, made a good general confession, and died soon afterwards with such dispositions as left no doubt of her eternal salvation. This grace of conversion and happy death, so truly marvelous, was attributed by many to the virtue of the Masses which she caused to be celebrated for the holy souls in Purgatory. Let us, therefore, cast off tepidity, and be on our guard, lest “publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before us” (Matthew 21:31).
If, unhappily, you were one of those hard-hearted misers, who not only lack common charity, neglecting to pray for their deceased friends, never assisting at a single Mass offered for the souls in Purgatory, and what is still worse, trampling on every dictate of justice, by refusing to pay the pious legacies, bequeathed by their predecessors for Masses; or if you were one of those priests who accumulate large sums given for Masses, which they neglect to celebrate―Oh, with what earnestness I would say to your face: “Begone, for you are worse than the worst devils; aye, infinitely worse, since the demons torment none but reprobate souls, whereas you torment the souls of the elect. No, there is no confession that can avail you; no absolution for you that is valid; nay, no confessor that can absolve you, if you do not repent sincerely of so tremendous a crime, and if you do not satisfy, to the last farthing, the obligations that you have contracted with the departed!”
But you will say to me: “Father, I cannot—I have not the means!” What! You cannot, because you have not the means! But you have means to make fashionable display—means to gratify luxurious and voluptuous tastes—means to lavish on rich feastings, in country-houses, balls, merry-makings, sometimes in the public-house, and sometimes in the horrid dens of vice! But to satisfy your obligations to the living, and what is more, to the poor deceased, you have not the means, you cannot! For shame! But I now understand you rightly, and let me tell you that although there is no one on Earth to take you to task for this robbery of the dead, you shall, one day, have to square the account with God, at the bar of His judgment. Go on frustrating the intentions of the deceased, appropriating to yourselves their pious bequests, the monies they bequeathed for Masses, but remember that the oracle of the prophet has registered against you a terrible menace of misfortunes, sickness, worldly reverses, appalling calamities, and irreparable ruin of your substance, life, and honor.
Yes, so hath God declared, and He will be true to His word. “They ate the sacrifices of the dead—thus they provoked him to anger.” (Psalm 105:28). Yes, yes! Ruin, disgrace, and woes without remedy shall overtake those who do not satisfy their obligations to the dead! With good reason, therefore, did the fourth Council of Carthage pronounce all those, guilty of this crime, excommunicated, branding them as murderers of their neighbors; and let me add, that the Council of Valence declared that they should be expelled from the Church like infidels. And yet, this is by no means the severest punishment that God inflicts on those whose hearts cherish no love for their deceased brethren! Ah, no! The full measure of their punishment is reserved for the other world, for St. James declares, that they shall be judged by God with all the rigor of His justice—without a single particle of mercy, because they showed no mercy to the poor departed. “Judgment without mercy to him that hath not done mercy!” (James 2:13).
Nay, more, God will permit that their successors shall pay them in the same coin; that is, their last wishes shall not be fulfilled, neither shall the Masses, for which they have provided in their wills, be celebrated; or if celebrated, God will not accept them for their souls’ sake, but will turn them to the relief and release of deserving souls, who, during their mortal term, had pitying and prayerful hearts for their deceased brethren.
It is related in the Chronicles of our [Franciscan] Order, that one of our friars appeared, after death, to a companion, and showed him the marks of the bitter punishment he had to endure in Purgatory, particularly because he had been negligent in celebrating Masses for his deceased Brothers. He likewise declared, that all that had been done for him up to that moment was of no avail to him, and that the very Masses which had been offered for his repose afforded no benefit to him, because God, in punishment of his negligence, had applied them to other souls, who, while on Earth, acted compassionately to their brethren in Purgatory.
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Remember the statement that Our Lady made to Lucia at Fatima, when she was asked about the fate of two two girls from the village who had recently died. Lucia asked Our Lady: “Is Maria das Neves in Heaven?" Our Lady replied: "Yes, she is."
The Lucia asked about the other girl, who was aged around eighteen or nineteen: "And Amelia?"
This time, Our Lady said: "She will be in Purgatory until the end of the world"
Amelia: until the end of the world!? Surely, a startling and perplexing communication! Some commentators have tried to tone it down, but not Lucia herself. In her last booklet, which she wrote not long before her death, Sister Lucia shares her ideas about the shocking remark of Our Lady with respect to Amelia's time in Purgatory, which may serve well as an insight to the mystery of Purgatory. Here follows Sister Lucia’s reflection and explanation:
“I have been asked many questions concerning this reply of Our Lady and I don't know too well how to answer them. I didn't ask Our Lady for a clarification, I was too young to think about that. But I have meditated a lot about this detail of the Message.
“After all—I ask myself—what is Purgatory, actually? ... We see that the word "Purgatory" means "purification," and as all of us are more or less sinners, all of us need being purified of our own sins, faults, and imperfections, in order to be admitted to the enjoyment of the possession of the Kingdom of eternal glory.
"We can still realize this purification during this life, if God gives us the time for it: by asking God for forgiveness, with sincere repentance and the resolution to change our life by doing penance, receiving the sacrament of Confession.
[At this point, Sister Lucia sums up all kinds of sins and continues]:
“All these things, and many others, too numerous to mention, are against the commandments of the Law of God and require a great purification, even if they have already been confessed and forgiven with respect to their punishment . . . but not expiated with respect to their purification; until this [expiation] renders us worthy to be admitted to the immense ocean of God's Being.
“This purification—that is called "Purgatory"—can be more or less extended, depending on the number of our sins, faults, and imperfections, and on their gravity, for which we have not given complete satisfaction by means of reparation, good works, penance, and prayers.
“And how are we purified in Purgatory, or what purifies us? I don't know very well. In the past, they said that we are purified by being thrown in a hot fire, and that this fire was equal to that of Hell. Modern writers seem not to concord any more with this way of thinking.
“As for me, it seems to me that what purifies us is love, the fire of divine love, which is communicated by God to the souls in proportion as every soul corresponds. It is said that if a soul is granted the grace to die with a perfect act of love, that this love purifies it totally, so that it can go straight to Heaven. This shows us that what purifies is love, along with contrition, sorrow for having offended God and the neighbor, by sins, faults, and imperfections, because all this is against the first and last commandments of the Law of God: You shall love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole strength. That way, the small or big flame of love—even though it be only a wick that is still smoldering—will not extinguish, but will be scintillating and increasing, until it totally purifies the soul and makes it dignified to be admitted to live in the immense ocean of the Being of God, to participate with all the other blessed ones in the wisdom, power, knowledge, and love of God, in proportion as God wants to communicate it to every soul; while all united sing the hymn of eternal love, praising and glorifying our God, Creator and Savior.
“I don't know if all I am saying here is exactly so; if Holy Church says it in another way, believe her and not me, who am poor and ignorant; I can be mistaken. This is what I think and not what I know ... Thus we see that our Purgatory can be more or less prolonged, conform the state of grace and the degree of love of God we find ourselves in at the moment of passing from earthly life to the sphere of supernatural life, from time to eternity.”
The above reflection on Purgatory, by Sister Lucia, was published in Como vejo a Mensagem.
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Suffering in Purgatory is greater than all suffering on Earth. Such is the doctrine of tradition, supported by theological reasoning. Tradition is expressed by St. Augustine: "That fire will be more painful than anything man can suffer in the present life." St. Isidore speaks in the same sense. According to these testimonies and others similar to them, the least pain in Purgatory surpasses the greatest sufferings of the present life.
St. Bonaventure speaks somewhat differently: "In the next life, by reason of the state of the souls there retained, the purifying purgatorial suffering will be, in its kind, more severe than the greatest trials on Earth." We must understand him thus: For one and the same sin, the smallest suffering in Purgatory is greater than any corresponding suffering on Earth. But it does not follow that the least pain in Purgatory surpasses the greatest terrestrial suffering. On this point St. Bonaventure is followed by St. Robert Bellarmine. According to this last author, the privation of God is without doubt a very great suffering, but it is sweetened and consoled by the assured hope of once possessing Him. From this hope there arises an incredible joy, which grows in measure as the soul approaches the end of its exile.
Many theologians, notably Suarez, rightly remark that the sufferings in Purgatory, especially the delay of the beatific vision, are of a higher order than our terrestrial sufferings, and in this sense we may say that the smallest suffering in Purgatory is more severe than the greatest suffering on Earth. The joy they have in the hope of deliverance cannot diminish the suffering they feel from deprivation of the beatific vision. We see this truth in Jesus crucified: supreme beatitude, love of God and of souls, far from diminishing His pains, augmented them. St. Catherine of Genoa speaks thus: "Souls in Purgatory unite great joy with great suffering. One does not diminish the other." She continues: "No peace is comparable to that of the souls in Purgatory, except that of the saints in Heaven. On the other hand, the souls in Purgatory endure torments which no tongue can describe and no intelligence comprehend, without special revelation." This saint, we recall, experienced on Earth the pains of Purgatory.
This testimony of tradition is illustrated by the character of great saints. While they are more severe than ordinary preachers, they also have much greater love of God and souls. They show forth, not only the justice of God, but also His boundless love. A good Christian illustrates the same truth. A Christian mother, for instance, is severe in order to correct her children, but the element that predominates is sweetness and maternal goodness. Today, on the contrary, it often happens that many parents lack both severity and love. Those persons who do not undergo Purgatory on Earth will have it later on. Nor must we make too sharp a distinction between sanctification and salvation. If we neglect sanctification, we may miss salvation itself.
Privation of the beatific vision is painful in the same degree as the desire of that vision is vivid. Two reasons, one negative, the other positive, show the vividness of this desire.
Negatively, its desire for God is no longer retarded by the weight of the body, by the distractions and occupations of this terrestrial life. Created goods cannot distract it from the suffering it has in the privation of God.
Positively, its desire of God is very intense, because the hour has arrived when it would be in the enjoyment of God if it had not placed thereunto an obstacle by the faults which it must expiate.
The souls in Purgatory grasp much more clearly than we do, by reason of their infused ideas, the measureless value of the immediate vision of God, of His inamissible [incapable of being lost] possession. Further, they have intuition of themselves. Sure of their own salvation, they know with absolute certainty that they are predestined to see God, face to face. Without this delay for expiation, the moment of separation from the body would coincide with that of entrance into Heaven.
In the radical order of spiritual life, then, the separated soul ought already to enjoy the beatific vision. Hence it has a hunger for God which it cannot experience here on Earth. It has failed to prepare for its rendezvous with God. Since it failed to search for Him, He now hides Himself.
Analogies may be helpful. We are awaiting, with great anxiety, a friend with whom to discuss an important matter at a determined hour. If our friend is delayed, inquietude supervenes. The longer the delay, the more does inquietude grow. In the physical order, if our meal is retarded, say six hours or more, hunger grows ever more painful. If we have not eaten for three days, hunger becomes very severe.
Thus, in the spiritual domain, the separated soul has an insatiable hunger for God. It understands much better than it did on Earth that its will has a depth without measure, that only God seen face to face can fill this will and draw it irresistibly. This immense void renders it more avid to see the sovereign good.
This desire surpasses by far the natural desire, conditional and inefficacious, to see God. The desire of which we speak now is a supernatural desire, which proceeds from infused hope and infused charity. It is an efficacious desire, which will be infallibly fulfilled, but later. For the moment God refuses to fulfill this desire. The soul, having sought itself instead of God, cannot now find Him.
Joy follows perfect activity. The greatest joy, then, follows the act of seeing God. The absence of this vision, when its hour has arrived, causes the greatest pain. Souls in Purgatory feel most vividly their impotence and poverty. A parallel on Earth appears in the saints. Like St. Paul, saints desire to die and to be with Christ.
We often hear it said that in the souls in Purgatory there is an ebb and flood. Strongly drawn toward God, they are held back by the "remains of sin," which they have to expiate. They cannot rush to the goal which they so ardently desire. Love of God does not diminish their pain, but increases it. And this love is no longer meritorious. How eloquent is their title: the suffering Church!
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This holy soul, while still in the flesh, was placed in the Purgatory of the burning love of God, in whose flames she was purified from every stain, so that when she passed from this life she might be ready to enter the presence of God, her most sweet love. By means of that flame of love she comprehended in her own soul the condition of the souls of the faithful in Purgatory, where they are purified from the rust and stain of sins, from which they have not been cleansed in this world. And, as in the Purgatory of that divine flame, she was united with the divine love and satisfied with all that was accomplished in her, she was enabled to comprehend the state of the souls in Purgatory, and thus discovered concerning it:
“As far as I can see, the souls in Purgatory can have no choice but to be there; this God has most justly ordained by His divine decree. They cannot turn towards themselves and say: ‘I have committed such and such sins for which I deserve to remain here;’ nor can they say: ‘Would that I had refrained from them, for then I should at this moment be in paradise;’ nor again: ‘This soul will be released before me;’ or ‘I shall be released before her.’ They retain no memory of either good or evil respecting themselves, or others, which would increase their pain. They are so contented with the divine dispositions in their regard; and with doing all that is pleasing to God in that way which He chooses, that they cannot think of themselves, though they may strive to do so. They see nothing but the operation of the divine goodness which is so manifestly bringing them to God that they can reflect neither on their own profit, nor on their hurt. Could they do so, they would not be in pure charity. They see not that they suffer their pains in consequence of their sins, nor can they for a moment entertain that thought, for should they do so it would be an active imperfection, and that cannot exist in a state where there is no longer the possibility of sin.
“At the moment of leaving this life they see why they are sent to Purgatory, but never again, otherwise they would still retain something private, which has no place there. Being established in charity, they can never deviate therefrom by any defect, and have no will or desire, save the pure will of pure love, and can swerve from it in nothing. They can neither commit sin, nor merit by refraining from it.”
“There is no peace to be compared with that of the souls in Purgatory, save that of the saints in paradise, and this peace is ever augmented by the inflowing of God into these souls, which increases in proportion as the impediments to it are removed. The rust of sin is the impediment, and this the fire continually consumes, so that the soul in this state is continually opening itself to admit the divine communication. As a covered surface can never reflect the sun, not through any defect in that orb, but simply from the resistance offered by the covering, so, if the covering be gradually removed, the surface will by little and little be opened to the sun and will more and more reflect His light.
“So it is with the rust of sin, which is the covering of the soul. In Purgatory the flames incessantly consume it, and as it disappears, the soul reflects more and more perfectly the true sun who is God. Its contentment increases as this rust wears away, and the soul is laid bare to the divine ray, and thus one increases and the other decreases, until the time is accomplished. The pain never diminishes, although the time does, but as to the will, so united is it to God by pure charity, and so satisfied to be under His divine appointment, that these souls can never say their pains are pains.
“On the other hand, it is true that they suffer torments which no tongue can describe nor any intelligence comprehend, unless it be revealed by such a special grace as that which God has vouchsafed to me, but which I am unable to explain. And this vision which God revealed to me has never departed from my memory. I will describe it as far as I am able, and they whose intellects our Lord will deign to open will understand me.
“The source of all suffering is either Original or Actual Sin. God created the soul pure, simple, free from every stain, and with a certain beatific instinct toward Himself. It is drawn aside from Him by Original Sin, and when Actual Sin is afterwards added, this withdraws it still farther, and, ever as it removes from Him, its sinfulness increases, because its communication with God grows less and less.
“And because there is no good except by participation with God, who, to the irrational creatures imparts Himself as He wills and in accordance with His divine decree, and never withdraws from them, but to the rational soul He imparts Himself more or less, according as He finds her more or less freed from the hindrances of sin, it follows that, when He finds a soul that is returning to the purity and simplicity in which she was created, He increased in her the beatific instinct, and kindles in her a fire of charity so powerful and vehement, that it is insupportable to the soul to find any obstacle between her and her end; and the clearer vision she has of these obstacles the greater is her pain.
“Since the souls in Purgatory are freed from the guilt of sin, there is no barrier between them and God save only the pains they suffer, which delay the satisfaction of their desire. And when they see how serious is even the slightest hindrance, which the necessity of justice causes to check them, a vehement flame kindles within them, which is like that of Hell. They feel no guilt however, and it is guilt which is the cause of the malignant will of the condemned in Hell, to whom God does not communicate His goodness, and thus they remain in despair and with a will forever opposed to the good will of God.
“It is evident that the revolt of man’s will, from that of God, constitutes sin, and while that revolt continues, man’s guilt remains. Those, therefore, that are in Hell, having passed from this life with perverse wills, their guilt is not remitted, nor can it be, since they are no longer capable of change. When this life is ended, the soul remains forever confirmed either in good or evil according as she has here determined. As it is written: Where I shall find thee, that is, at the hour of death, with the will either fixed on sin or repenting of it, there I will judge thee. From this judgment there is no appeal, for after death the freedom of the will can never return, but the will is confirmed in that state in which it is found at death. The souls in Hell, having been found at that hour with the will to sin, have the guilt and the punishment always with them, and although this punishment is not so great as they deserve, yet it is eternal. Those in Purgatory, on the other hand, suffer the penalty only, for their guilt was cancelled at death, when they were found hating their sins and penitent for having offended the divine goodness. And this penalty has an end, for the term of it is ever approaching. O misery beyond all misery, and the greater because in his blindness, man regards it not!
“The punishment of the damned is not, it is true, infinite in degree, for the all lovely goodness of God shines even into Hell. He who dies in mortal sin merits infinite woe for an infinite duration; but the mercy of God has only made the time infinite, and mitigated the intensity of the pain. In justice He might have inflicted much greater punishment than He has done.
“Oh, what peril attaches to sin willfully committed! For it is so difficult for man to bring himself to penance, and without penitence guilt remains and will ever remain, so long as man retains unchanged the will to sin, or is intent upon committing it.
“The souls in Purgatory are entirely conformed to the will of God; therefore, they correspond with His goodness, are contented with all that He ordains, and are entirely purified from the guilt of their sins. They are pure from sins, because they have in this life abhorred them and confessed them with true contrition, and for this reason God remits their guilt, so that only the stains of sin remain, and these must be devoured by the fire. Thus freed from guilt and united to the will of God, they see Him clearly according to that degree of light which He allows them, and comprehend how great a good is the fruition of God, for which all souls were created. Moreover, these souls are in such close conformity to God, and are drawn so powerfully toward Him by reason of the natural attraction between Him and the soul, that no illustration or comparison could make this impetuosity understood in the way in which my spirit conceives it by its interior sense. Nevertheless I will use one which occurs to me.
“Let us suppose that in the whole world there were but one loaf to appease the hunger of every creature, and that the bare sight of it would satisfy them. Now man, when in health, has by nature the instinct for food, but if we can suppose him to abstain from it and neither die, nor yet lose health and strength, his hunger would clearly become increasingly urgent. In this case, if he knew that nothing but the loaf would satisfy him, and that until he reached it his hunger could not be appeased, he would suffer intolerable pains, which would increase as his distance from the loaf diminished; but if he were sure that he would never see it, his Hell would be as complete as that of the damned souls, who, hungering after God, have no hope of ever seeing the bread of life. But the souls in Purgatory have an assured hope of seeing Him and of being entirely satisfied; and therefore they endure all hunger and suffer all pain until that moment when they enter into eternal possession of this bread, which is Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Saviour, and our Love.
“As the purified spirit finds no repose but in God, for whom it was created, so the soul in sin can rest nowhere but in Hell, which by, reason of its sins, has become its end. Therefore, at that instant in which the soul separates from the body, it goes to its prescribed place, needing no other guide than the nature of the sin itself, if the soul has parted from the body in mortal sin.
And if the soul were hindered from obeying that decree (proceeding from the justice of God), it would find itself in a yet deeper Hell, for it would be outside of the divine order, in which mercy always finds place and prevents the full infliction of all the pains the soul has merited. Finding, therefore, no spot more fitting, nor any in which her pains would be so slight, she casts herself into her appointed place.
“The same thing is true of Purgatory: the soul, leaving the body, and not finding in herself that purity in which she was created, and seeing also the hindrances which prevent her union with God, conscious also that Purgatory only can remove them, casts herself quickly and willingly therein. And if she did not find the means ordained for her purification, she would instantly create for herself a Hell worse than Purgatory, seeing that by reason of this impediment she is hindered from approaching her end, which is God; and this is so great an ill that in comparison with it the soul esteems Purgatory as nothing. True it is, as I have said, like Hell; and yet, in comparison with the loss of God it is as nothing.
“I will say furthermore: I see that as far as God is concerned, paradise has no gates, but he who will may enter. For God is all mercy, and His open arms are ever extended to receive us into His glory. But I see that the divine essence is so pure—purer than the imagination can conceive—that the soul, finding in itself the slightest imperfection, would rather cast itself into a thousand Hells than appear, so stained, in the presence of the divine majesty. Knowing, then, that Purgatory was intended for her cleaning, she throws herself therein, and finds there that great mercy, the removal of her stains.
“The great importance of Purgatory, neither mind can conceive nor tongue describe. I see only that its pains are as great as those of Hell; and yet I see that a soul, stained with the slightest fault, receiving this mercy, counts its pains as naught in comparison with this hindrance to her love. And I know that the greatest misery of the souls in Purgatory is to behold in themselves aught that displeases God, and to discover that, in spite of His goodness, they had consented to it. And this is because, being in the state of grace, they see the reality and the importance of the impediments which hinder their approach to God.
“All these things that I have said, in comparison with those which have been represented to my mind (as far as I have been able to comprehend them in this life), are of such magnitude that every idea, every word, every feeling, every imagination, all the justice and all the truth that can be said of them, seem false and worthless, and I remain confounded at the impossibility of finding words to describe them.
“I behold such a great conformity between God and the soul, that when He finds her pure as when His divine majesty first created her He gives her an attractive force of ardent love which would annihilate her if she were not immortal. He so transforms her into Himself that, forgetting all, she no longer sees aught beside Him; and He continues to draw her toward Him, inflames her with love, and never leaves her until He has brought her to that state from whence she first came forth, that is, to the perfect purity in which she was created.
“When the soul beholds within herself the amorous flame by which she is drawn toward her sweet Master and her God, the burning heat of love overpowers her and she melts. Then, in that divine light she sees how God, by His great care and constant providence, never ceases to attract her to her last perfection, and that He does so through pure love alone. She sees, too, that she herself, clogged by sin, cannot follow that attraction toward God, that is, that reconciling glance which He casts upon her that He may draw her to Himself.
Moreover, a comprehension of that great misery, which it is to be hindered from gazing upon the light of God, is added to the instinctive desire of the soul to be wholly free to yield herself to that unifying flame. I repeat, it is the view of all these things which causes the pain of the suffering souls in Purgatory, not that they esteem their pains as great (cruel though they be), but they count as far worse, that opposition, which they find in themselves, to the will of that God, whom they behold burning for them with so ardent and so pure a love.
“This love, with its unifying regard, is ever drawing these souls, as if it had no other thing to do; and when the soul beholds this, if she could find a yet more painful Purgatory in which she could be more quickly cleansed, she would plunge at once therein, impelled by the burning, mutual love between herself and God.
“From that furnace of divine love I see rays of fire dart like burning lamps towards the soul; and so violent and powerful are they that both soul and body would be utterly destroyed, if that were possible. These rays perform a double office; they purify and they annihilate.
“Consider gold: the oftener it is melted, the more pure does it become; continue to melt it and every imperfection is destroyed. This is the effect of fire on all materials. The soul, however, cannot be annihilated in God, but in herself she can, and the longer her purification lasts, the more perfectly does she die to herself, until at length she remains purified in God.
“When gold has been completely freed from dross, no fire, however great, has any further action on it, for nothing but its imperfections can be consumed. So it is with the divine fire in the soul. God retains her in these flames until every stain is burned away, and she is brought to the highest perfection of which she is capable, each soul in her own degree. And when this is accomplished, she rests wholly in God. Nothing of herself remains, and God is her entire being. When He has thus led her to Himself and purified her, she is no longer passable, for nothing remains to be consumed. If when thus refined she should again approach the fire she would feel no pain, for to her it has become the fire of divine love, which is life eternal and which nothing mars.
“At her creation the soul received all the means of attaining perfection of which her nature was capable, in order that she might conform to the will of God and keep herself from contracting any stain; but being directly contaminated by Original Sin she loses her gifts and graces and even her life. Nor can she be regenerated save by the help of God, for even after baptism her inclination to evil remains, which, if she does not resist it, disposes and leads her to mortal sin, through which she dies anew.
“God again restores her by a further special grace; yet, she is still so sullied and so bent on herself, that to restore her to her primitive innocence, all those divine operations which I have described are needful, and without them she could never be restored. When the soul has reentered the path which leads to her first estate, she is inflamed with so burning a desire to be transformed into God, that in it she finds her Purgatory. Not, indeed, that she regards her Purgatory as being such, but this desire, so fiery and so powerfully repressed, becomes her Purgatory.
“This final act of love accomplishes its work alone, finding the soul with so many hidden imperfections, that the mere sight of them, were it presented to her, would drive her to despair. This last operation, however, consumes them all, and when they are destroyed God makes them known to the soul to make her understand the divine action by which her purity was restored.
“That which man judges to be perfect, in the sight of God is defect. For all the works of man, which appear faultless when he considers them feels, remembers, wills and understands them, are, if he does not refer them to God, corrupt and sinful. For, to the perfection of our works it is necessary that they be wrought in us but not of us. In the works of God it is He that is the prime mover, and not man.
“These works, which God effects in the soul by Himself alone, which are the last operations of pure and simple love in which we have no merit, so pierce and inflame the soul that the body which envelops her seems to be hiding a fire, or like one in a furnace, who can find no rest but death. It is true that the divine love which overwhelms the soul gives, as I think, a peace greater than can be expressed; yet this peace does not in the least diminish her pains, nay, it is love delayed which occasions them, and they are greater in proportion to the perfection of the love of which God has made her capable.
“Thus have these souls in Purgatory great pleasure and great pain; nor does the one impede the other.
“If by repentance, the souls in Purgatory could purify themselves, a moment would suffice to cancel their whole debt, so overwhelming would be the force of the contrition produced by the clear vision they have of the magnitude of every obstacle which hinders them from God, their love and their final end.
“And, know for certain that not one farthing of their debt is remitted to these souls. This is the decree of divine justice; it is thus that God wills. But, on the other hand, these souls have no longer any will apart from that of God, and can neither see nor desire aught but by His appointment.
“And if pious offerings be made for them, by persons in this world, they cannot now note them with satisfaction, unless, indeed, in reference to the will of God and the balance of His justice, leaving to Him the ordering of the whole, who repays Himself as best pleases His infinite goodness. Could they regard these alms apart from the divine will concerning them, this would be a return to self, which would shut from their view the will of God, and that would be to them like Hell. Therefore they are unmoved by whatever God gives them, whether it be pleasure or pain, nor can they ever again revert to self.”
“So hidden and transformed in God are they, that they rest content with all His holy will. And if a soul, retaining the slightest stain, were to draw near to God in the beatific vision, it would be to her a more grievous injury, and inflict more suffering, than Purgatory itself. Nor could God Himself, who is pure goodness and supreme justice, and the sight of God, not yet entirely satisfied (so long as the least possible purification remained to be accomplished) would be intolerable to her, and she would cast herself into the deepest Hell rather than stand before Him and be still impure.”
"And thus this blessed Soul, illuminated by the divine ray, said: “Would that I could utter so strong a cry that it would strike all men with terror, and say to them: O wretched beings! Why are you so blinded by this world that you make, as you will find at the hour of death, no provision for the great necessity that will then come upon you?
“You shelter yourselves beneath your hope in the mercy of God, which you unceasingly exalt, not seeing that it is your resistance to His great goodness which will be your condemnation. His goodness should constrain you to do His will, not encourage you to persevere in your own. Since His justice is unfailing it must needs be in some way fully satisfied.
“Have not the boldness to say: ‘I will go to confession and gain a plenary indulgence and thus I shall be saved.’ Remember that the full confession and entire contrition which are requisite to gain a plenary indulgence are not easily attained. Did you know how hardly they are come by, you would tremble with fear and be more sure of losing than of gaining them.
“I see that the souls in Purgatory behold a double operation. The first is that of the mercy of God; for while they suffer their torments willingly, they perceive that God has been very good to them, considering what they have deserved and how great are their offenses in His eyes. For if His goodness did not temper justice with mercy (satisfying it with the precious blood of Jesus Christ), one sin alone would deserve a thousand Hells. They suffer their pains so willingly that they would not lighten them in the least, knowing how justly they have been deserved. They resist the will of God no more than if they had already entered upon eternal life.
“The other operation is that satisfaction they experience in beholding how loving and merciful have been the divine decrees in all that regards them. In one instant God impresses these two things upon their minds, and as they are in grace they comprehend them as they are, yet each according to her capacity. They experience thence a great and never-failing satisfaction which constantly increases as they approach to God. They see all things, not in themselves, nor by themselves, but as they are in God, on whom they are more intent than on their sufferings. For the least vision they can have of God overbalances all woes and all joys that can be conceived. Yet their joy in God does by no means abate their pain.
“This process of purification, to which I see the souls in Purgatory subjected, I feel within myself, and have experienced it for the last two years. Every day I see and feel it more clearly. My soul seems to live in this body as in a Purgatory which resembles the true Purgatory, with only the difference that my soul is subjected to only so much suffering as the body can endure without dying, but which will continually and gradually increase until death.
“I feel my spirit alienated from all things (even spiritual ones) that might afford it nourishment, or give it consolation. I have no relish for either temporal or spiritual goods through the will, the understanding, or the memory, nor can I say that I take greater satisfaction in this thing than in that.
“I have been so besieged interiorly, that all things which refreshed my spiritual or my bodily life have been gradually taken from me, and as they departed, I learned that they were all sources of consolation and support. Yet, as soon as they were discovered by the spirit they became tasteless and hateful; they vanish and I care not to prevent it. This is because the spirit instinctively endeavors to rid itself of every hindrance to its perfection, and so resolutely that it would rather go to Hell than fail in its purpose. It persists, therefore, in casting off all things by which the inner man might nourish himself, and so jealously guards him, that no slightest imperfection can creep in without being instantly detected and expelled.
“As for the outward man, for the reason that the spirit has no correspondence with it, it is so oppressed that nothing on earth can give it comfort according to its human inclinations. No consolation remains to it but God, who, with great love and mercy accomplishes this work for the satisfaction of His justice. I perceive all this, and it gives me a great peace and satisfaction; but this satisfaction does by no means diminish my oppression or my pain. Nor could there possibly befall me a pain so great, that it could move me to swerve from the divine ordination, or leave my prison, or wish to leave it until God is satisfied, nor could I experience any woe so great as would be an escape from His divine decree, so merciful and so full of justice do I find it.
“I see these things clearly, but words fail me to describe them as I wish. What I have described is going on within my spirit, and therefore I have said it. The prison which detains me is the world; my chains, the body; the soul, illuminated by grace, comprehends how great a misery it is to be hindered from her final end, and she suffers greatly because she is very tender. She receives from God, by His grace, a certain dignity which assimilates her to Him, nay, which makes her one with Him by the participation of His goodness. And as it is impossible for God to suffer any pain, it is so also with those happy souls who are drawing nearer to Him. The more closely they approach Him the more fully do they share in His perfections.
“Any delay, then, causes the soul intolerable pain. The pain and the delay prevent the full action both of what is hers by nature, and of that which has been revealed to her by grace; and, not able as yet to possess and still essentially capable of possessing, her pain is great in proportion to her desire of God. The more perfectly she knows Him, the more ardent is her desire, and the more sinless is she. The impediments that bar her from Him become all the more terrible to her, because she is so wholly bent on Him, and when not one of these is left she knows Him as He is.
“As a man who suffers death, rather than offend God, does not become insensible to the pains of death, but is so illuminated by God that his zeal for the divine honor is greater than his love for life, so the soul, knowing the will of God, esteems it more than all outward or inward torments, however terrible; and this for the reason that God, for whom and by whom the work is done, is infinitely more desirable than all else that can be known or understood. And inasmuch as God keeps the soul absorbed in Himself and in His majesty, even though it be only in a slight degree, yet she can attach no importance to anything beside. She loses in Him all that is her own, and can neither see nor speak, nor yet be conscious of any injury or pain she suffers, but as I have said before it is all understood in one moment as she passes from this life. And finally, to conclude all, understand well, that in the almighty and merciful God, all that is in man is wholly transformed, and that Purgatory purifies him.”
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In May, 1922, Padre Pio testified the following to the Bishop of Melfi, His Excellency Alberto Costa and also the superior of the friary, Padre Lorenzo of San Marco along with 5 other friars. One of the five friars, Fra Alberto D' Apolito of San Giovanni Rotondo wrote down the account as follows:
"While in the friary on a winter afternoon after a heavy snowfall, he was sitting by the fireplace one evening in the guest room, absorbed in prayer, when an old man, wearing an old-fashioned cloak still worn by southern Italian peasants at the time, sat down beside him. Concerning this man Pio states: ‘I could not imagine how he could have entered the friary at this time of night since all the doors are locked. I questioned him: 'Who are you? What do you want?'
The old man told him, "Padre Pio, I am Pietro Di Mauro, son of Nicola, nicknamed Precoco." He went on to say, "I died in this friary on the 18th of September, 1908, in cell number 4, when it was still a poorhouse. One night, while in bed, I fell asleep with a lighted cigar, which ignited the mattress and I died, suffocated and burned. I am still in Purgatory. I need a holy Mass in order to be freed. God permitted that I come and ask you for help."
According to Padre Pio: "After listening to him, I replied, 'Rest assured that tomorrow I will celebrate Mass for your liberation.' I arose and accompanied him to the door of the friary, so that he could leave. I did not realize at that moment that the door was closed and locked: I opened it and bade him farewell The moon lit up the square, covered with snow. When I no longer saw him in front of me, I was taken by a sense of fear, and I closed the door, reentered the guest room, and felt faint.”
A few days later, Padre Pio also told the story to Padre Paolino, and the two decided to go to the town hall, where they looked at the vital statistics for the year I908 and found that on September 18 of that year, one Pietro Di Mauro had in fact died of burns and asphyxiation in Room Number 4 at the friary, then used as a home for the homeless.
Around the same time, Padre Pio told Fra Alberto of another apparition of a soul from Purgatory which also occurred around the same time. He said:
One evening, when I was absorbed in prayer in the choir of the little church I was shaken and disturbed by the sound of footsteps, and candles and flower vases being moved on the main altar. Thinking that someone must be there, I called out, "Who is it?"
No one answered. Returning to prayer, I was again disturbed by the same noises. In fact, this time I had the impression that one of the candles, which was in front of the statue of Our Lady of Grace, had fallen. Wanting to see what was happening on the altar, I stood up, went close to the grate and saw, in the shadow of the light of the Tabernacle lamp, a young confrere doing some cleaning. I yelled out, "What are you doing in the dark?" The little friar answered, "I am cleaning."
"You clean in the dark?" I asked. "Who are you?"
The little friar said, ‘I am a Capuchin novice, who spends his time of Purgatory here. I am in need of prayers.’ and then he disappeared,"
Padre Pio stated that he immediately began praying for him as requested, and it is not known if he had any further dealings with this particular soul. However, in regards souls in Purgatory it is very interesting to note that later in life Padre Pio once said that ‘As many souls of the dead come up this road [to the monastery] as that of the souls of the living.” Without a doubt, many souls from Purgatory visited Padre Pio seeking his prayers, sacrifices and sufferings to obtain their release.
In 1945, a Friar, Brother Modestino, asked Padre Pio to give a comparison between fire on Earth and the flames of Purgatory. Padre Pio replied: “They compare like fresh water and boiling water.”
“The souls in Purgatory pray for us, and their prayers are even more effective than ours, because they are accompanied by their suffering. So, let’s pray for them, and let’s pray them to pray for us.”
“Most of those who are saved, have to pass through Purgatory before arriving at the fullness of beatitude.”
“The souls in Purgatory repay the prayers that we say for them.”
“When we pray for the souls in Purgatory we will always get something back.”
“The souls in Purgatory pray for us.”
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Shortly after this, I fell ill [general exhaustion]. The dear Mother Superior sent me with two other sisters for a rest to Skolimow, not far from Warsaw. It was at that time that I asked the Lord for whom else should I pray for. Jesus said that on the following night He would let me know for whom I should pray.
[The next night] I saw my Guardian Angel, who ordered me to follow him. In a moment I was in a misty place full of fire in which there was a great crowd of suffering souls. They were praying fervently, but to no avail, for themselves; only we can come to their aid. The flames which were burning them did not touch me at all. My Guardian Angel did not leave me for an instant. I asked these souls what their greatest suffering was. They answered me in one voice that their greatest torment was longing for God. I saw Our Lady visiting the souls in PURGATORY. The souls call her “The Star of the Sea.” She brings them refreshment. I wanted to talk with them some more, but my Guardian Angel beckoned me to leave. We went out of that prison of suffering. [I heard an interior voice] which said, My mercy does not want this, but justice demands it. Since that time, I am in closer communion with the suffering souls. (Diary, 20)
Once I was summoned to the judgment [seat] of God. I stood alone before the Lord. Jesus appeared such as we know Him during His Passion. After a moment, His wounds disappeared except for five, those in His hands, His feet and His side. Suddenly I saw the complete condition of my soul as God sees it. I could clearly see all that is displeasing to God. I did not know that even the smallest transgressions will have to be accounted for. What a moment! Who can describe it? To stand before the Thrice-Holy God! Jesus asked me, Who are you? I answered, “I am Your servant, Lord.” You are guilty of one day of fire in PURGATORY. I wanted to throw myself immediately into the flames of PURGATORY, but Jesus stopped me and said, Which do you prefer, suffer now for one day in PURGATORY or for a short while on earth? I replied, “Jesus, I want to suffer in PURGATORY, and I want to suffer also the greatest pains on earth, even if it were until the end of the world.” Jesus said, One [of the two] is enough; you will go back to earth, and there you will suffer much, but not for long; you will accomplish My will and My desires, and a faithful servant of Mine will help you to do this. Now, rest your head on My bosom, on My heart, and draw from it strength and power for these sufferings because you will find neither relief nor help nor comfort anywhere else. Know that you will have much, much to suffer, but don’t let this frighten you; I am with you. (Diary, 36)
One night, a sister who had died two months previously came to me. She was a sister of the first choir. I saw her in a terrible condition, all in flames with her face painfully distorted. This lasted only a short time, and then she disappeared. A shudder went through my soul because I did not know whether she was suffering in PURGATORY or in hell. Nevertheless, I redoubled my prayers for her. The next night she came again, but I saw her in an even more horrible state, in the midst of flames which were even more intense, and despair was written all over her face. I was astonished to see her in a worse condition after the prayers I had offered for her, and I asked, “Haven’t my prayers helped you?” She answered that my prayers had not helped her and that nothing would help her. I said to her, “And the prayers which the whole community has offered for you, have they not been any help to you?” She said no, that these prayers had helped some other souls. I replied, “If my prayers are not helping you, Sister, please stop coming to me.” She disappeared at once. Despite this, I kept on praying.
After some time she came back again to me during the night, but already her appearance had changed. There were no longer any flames, as there had been before, and her face was radiant, her eyes beaming with joy. She told me that I had a true love for my neighbor and that many other souls had profited from my prayers. She urged me not to cease praying for the souls in PURGATORY, and she added that she herself would not remain there much longer. How astounding are the decrees of God! (Diary, 58)
Three requests on the day of my perpetual vows. Jesus, I know that today You will refuse me nothing.
First request: Jesus, my most beloved Spouse, I beg You for the triumph of the Church, particularly in Russia and in Spain; for blessings on the Holy Father, Pius XI, and on all the clergy; for the grace of conversion for impenitent sinners. And I ask You for a special blessing and for light, O Jesus, for the priests before whom I will make my confessions throughout my lifetime.
Second request: I beg Your blessings on our Congregation, and may it be filled with great zeal. Bless, O Jesus, our Mother General and our Mother Directress, all the novices and all the superiors. Bless my dearest parents. Bestow Your grace, O Jesus, on our wards; strengthen them so powerfully by Your grace so that those who leave our houses will no longer offend You by any sin. Jesus, I beg You for my homeland; protect it against the assaults of its enemies.
Third request: Jesus, I plead with You for the souls that are most in need of prayer. I plead for the dying; be merciful to them. I also beg You, Jesus, to free all souls from PURGATORY.
Jesus, I commend to You these particular persons: My confessors, persons recommended to my prayers, a certain person..., Father Andrasz, Father Czaputa, and the priest I met in Vilnius [Father Sopocko], who is to be my confessor, a certain soul... (111) a certain priest, a certain religious to whom You know how much I owe, Jesus, and all the people who have been recommended to my prayer. Jesus, on this day You can do everything for those for whom I am pleading. For myself I ask, Lord, transform me completely into Yourself, maintain in me a holy zeal for Your glory, give me the grace and spiritual strength to do Your holy will in all things.
Thank You, O my dearest Bridegroom, for the dignity You have conferred on me, and in particular for the royal coat-of-arms which will adorn me from this day on and which even the Angels do not possess; namely, the cross, the sword, and the crown of thorns. But above all, O my Jesus, I thank You for Your Heart — it is all I need.
Mother of God, Most Holy Mary, my Mother, You are my Mother in a special way now because Your beloved Son is my Bridegroom, and thus we are both Your children. For Your Son’s sake, You have to love me. O Mary, my dearest Mother, guide my spiritual life in such a way that it will please Your Son.
+ Holy and Omnipotent God, at this moment of immense grace by which You are uniting me with Yourself forever, I, mere nothingness, with the utmost gratitude, cast myself at Your feet like a tiny, unknown flower and, each day, the fragrance of that flower of love will ascend to Your throne.
In times of struggle and suffering, of darkness and storm, of yearning and sorrow, in times of difficult trials, in times when nobody will understand me, when I will even be condemned and scorned by everyone, I will remember the day of my perpetual vows, the day of God’s incomprehensible grace. (Diary, 240)
Jesus gave me the grace of knowing myself. In this divine light I see my principal fault; it is pride which takes the form of my closing up within myself and of a lack of simplicity in my relations with Mother Superior [Irene].
The second light concerns speaking. I sometimes talk too much. A thing could be settled in one or two words, and as for me, I take too much time about it. But Jesus wants me to use that time to say some short indulgence prayers for the souls in PURGATORY. And the Lord says that every word will be weighed on the day of judgment.
(123) The third light concerns our rules. I have not sufficiently avoided the occasions that lead to breaking the rules, especially that of silence. I will act as if the rule were written just for me; it should not affect me at all how anyone else might act, as long as I myself act as God wishes.
Resolution. Whatever Jesus demands of me regarding external things, I will immediately go and tell my superiors. I shall strive for childlike openness and frankness in my relations with the superior. (Diary, 274)
December 24, 1934. The Vigil of Christmas. During the morning Mass, I felt the closeness of God. Though I was hardly aware of it, my spirit was drowned in God. Suddenly, I heard these words: You are My delightful dwelling place; My Spirit rests in you. After these words, I felt the Lord looking into the depths of my heart; and seeing my misery, I humbled myself in spirit and admired the immense mercy of God, that the Most High Lord would approach such misery.
During Holy Communion, joy filled my soul. I felt that I am closely united to the Godhead. His omnipotence enveloped my whole being. Throughout the whole day I felt the closeness of God in a special manner; and although my duties prevented me throughout the whole day from going to chapel even for a moment, there was not a moment when I was not united with God. I felt Him within (145) me more distinctly than ever. Unceasingly greeting the Mother of God and entering into Her spirit, I begged Her to teach me true love of God. And then I heard these words: I will share with you the secret of My happiness this night during Holy Mass.
We had supper before six o’clock. Despite all the joy and the external noise accompanying the sharing of the wafer and the mutual exchange of good wishes, I did not for a moment lose the awareness of God’s presence. After supper, we hurried away to finish our work, and at nine I was able to go to the chapel for adoration. I was allowed to stay up and wait for the Midnight Mass. I was delighted to have free time from nine until midnight. From nine to ten o’clock I offered my adoration for my parents and my whole family. From ten to eleven, I offered it for the intention of my spiritual director, in the first place thanking God for granting me this great visible help here on earth, just as He had promised me, and I also asked God to grant him the necessary light so that he could get to know my soul and guide me according to God’s good pleasure. And from eleven to twelve I prayed for the Holy Church and the clergy, for sinners, for the missions, and for our houses. I offered the indulgences for the souls in PURGATORY. (Diary, 346)
There was no one in the chapel, so I got up, picked up the pieces of the flowerpot, repotted the flower and tried to do all this before anyone came in. But I did not manage to do so, as Mother Superior [Borgia] came in at that moment together with the sister sacristan and several other sisters. Mother Superior was surprised that I had been touching something on the altar and (172) thus caused the flowerpot to fall. Sister sacristan showed her displeasure, and I did my best not to explain or excuse myself. But towards evening I felt very exhausted and could not make my Holy Hour, so I asked Mother Superior to allow me to go to bed early. I fell asleep as soon as I lay down, but at about eleven o’clock Satan shook my bed. I awoke instantly, and I started to pray peacefully to my Guardian Angel. Then I saw the souls who were doing penance in PURGATORY. They appeared like shadows, and among them I saw many demons. One of these tried to vex me; taking the form of a cat, he kept throwing himself onto my bed and on my feet, and he was quite heavy, as if [weighing] a ton.
I kept praying the rosary all the while, and toward dawn these beings vanished, and I was able to get some sleep. When I entered the chapel in the morning I heard a voice in my soul, You are united to Me; fear nothing. But know, my child, that Satan hates you; he hates every soul, but he burns with a particular hatred for you, because you have snatched so many souls from his dominion. (Diary, 412)
One evening, one of the deceased sisters, who had already visited me a few times, appeared to me. The first time I had seen her, she had been in great suffering, and then gradually these sufferings had diminished; this time she was radiant with happiness, and she told me she was already in heaven. She told me that God had tried (58) our house with tribulation because Mother General [Michael] had given in to doubts, not believing what I had said about this soul. And further, as a sign that she only now was in heaven, God would bless our house. Then she came closer to me, embraced me sincerely and said, "I must go now." I understood how closely the three stages of a soul’s life are bound together; that is to say, life on earth, in PURGATORY and in heaven [the Communion of Saints]. (Diary, 594)
O Jesus, I understand that Your mercy is beyond all imagining, and therefore I ask You to make my heart so big that there will be room in it for the needs of all the souls living on the face of the earth. O Jesus, my love extends beyond the world, to the souls suffering in PURGATORY, and I want to exercise mercy toward them by means of indulgence prayers. God’s mercy is unfathomable and inexhaustible, just as God Himself is unfathomable. Even if I were to use the strongest words there are to express this mercy of God, all this would be nothing in comparison with what it is in reality. O Jesus, make my heart sensitive to all the sufferings of my neighbor, whether of body or of soul. O my Jesus, I know that You act toward us as we act toward our neighbor.
My Jesus, make my heart like unto Your merciful Heart. Jesus, help me to go through life doing good to everyone. (Diary, 692)
From early morning on the following day, I offered everything for her intention. During Holy Mass, I had a brief experience of her torment. I experienced such intense hunger for God that I seemed to be dying of the desire to become united with Him. This lasted only a short time, but I understood what the longing of the souls in PURGATORY was like. (Diary, 1186)
Today bring to Me the souls who are in the prison of Purgatory, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. Let the torrents of My Blood cool down their scorching flames. All these souls are greatly loved by Me. They are making retribution to My justice. It is in your power to bring them relief. Draw all the indulgences from the treasury (64) of My Church and offer them on their behalf. Oh, if you only knew the torments they suffer, you would continually offer for them the alms of the spirit and pay off their debt to My justice. (Diary, 1226)
Most Merciful Jesus, You Yourself have said that You desire mercy; so I bring into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls in PURGATORY, souls who are very dear to You, and yet, who must make retribution to Your justice. May the streams of Blood and Water which gushed forth from Your Heart put out the flames of the purifying fire, that in that place, too, the power of Your mercy may be praised.
From that terrible heat of the cleansing fire Rises a plaint to Your mercy, And they receive comfort, refreshment, relief In the stream of mingled Blood and Water.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls suffering in PURGATORY, who are enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. I beg You, by the sorrowful Passion of Jesus Your Son, and by all the bitterness with which His most sacred Soul was flooded, manifest Your mercy to the souls who are under Your just scrutiny. Look upon them in no other way than through the Wounds of Jesus, Your dearly beloved Son; for we firmly believe that there is no limit to Your goodness and compassion. (Diary, 1227)
August 15, 1937. During meditation, God’s presence pervaded me keenly, and I was aware of the Virgin Mary’s joy at the moment of Her Assumption. Towards the end of the ceremony (10) carried out in honor of the Mother of God, I saw the Virgin Mary, and She said to me, Oh, how very pleased I am with the homage of your love! And at that moment She covered all the sisters of our Congregation with Her mantle. With Her right hand, She clasped Mother General Michael to herself, and with Her left hand She did so to me, while all the sisters were at Her feet, covered with Her mantle. Then the Mother of God said, Everyone who perseveres zealously till death in My Congregation will be spared the fire of PURGATORY, and I desire that each one distinguish herself by the following virtues: humility and meekness; chastity and love of God and neighbor; compassion and mercy. After these words, the whole Congregation disappeared from my sight, and I remained alone with the Most Holy Mother who instructed me about the will of God and how to (11) apply it to my life, submitting completely to His most holy decrees. It is impossible for one to please God without obeying His holy will. My daughter, I strongly recommend that you faithfully fulfill all God’s wishes, for that is most pleasing in His holy eyes. I very much desire that you distinguish yourself in this faithfulness in accomplishing God’s will. Put the will of God before all sacrifices and holocausts. While the heavenly Mother was talking to me, a deep understanding of this will of God was entering my soul. (Diary, 1244)
When Sister Dominic died at about one o’clock in the night, she came to me and gave me to know that she was dead. I prayed fervently for her. In the morning, the sisters told me that she was no longer alive, and I replied that I knew, because she had visited me. The sister infirmarian [Sister Chrysostom] asked me to help dress her. And then when I was alone with her, the Lord gave me to know that she was still suffering in PURGATORY. I redoubled my prayers for her. However, despite the zeal with which I always pray for our deceased sisters, I got mixed up as regards the days, and instead of offering three days of prayer, as the rule directs us to do, by mistake I offered only two days. On the fourth day, she gave me to know that I still owed her prayers, and that she was in need of them. I immediately (28) formed the intention of offering the whole day for her, and not just that day but much more, as love of neighbor dictated to me. (Diary, 1382)
When I had gone to the chapel for a moment, the Lord gave me to know that, among His chosen ones, there are some who are especially chosen, and whom He calls to a higher form of holiness, to exceptional union with Him. These are seraphic souls, from whom God demands greater love than He does from others. Although all live in the same convent, yet He sometimes demands of a particular soul a greater degree of love. Such a soul understands this call, because God makes this known to it interiorly, but the soul may either follow this call or not. It depends on the soul itself whether it is faithful to these touches of the Holy Spirit, or whether it resists them. I have learned that there is a place in PURGATORY where souls will pay their debt to God for such transgressions; this kind of torment is the most difficult of all. The soul which is specially marked by God (134) will be distinguished everywhere, whether in heaven or in PURGATORY or in hell. In heaven, it will be distinguished from other souls by greater glory and radiance and deeper knowledge of God. In PURGATORY, by greater pain, because it knows God more profoundly and desires Him more vehemently. In hell, it will suffer more profoundly than other souls, because it knows more fully whom it has lost. This indelible mark of God’s exclusive love, in the [soul], will not be obliterated. (Diary, 1556)
When the soul of a certain young lady came to me one night, she made me aware of her presence, and made known to me that she needed my prayer. I prayed for a while, but her spirit did not leave me. Then I thought to myself, “If you are a good spirit, leave me in peace, and the indulgences I will gain tomorrow will be for you.” At that moment, the spirit left my room, and I recognized that she was in PURGATORY. (Diary, 1723)
The Lord said to me, Enter into PURGATORY often, because they need you there. O my Jesus, I understand the meaning of these words which You are speaking to me, but first let me enter the treasury (98) of Your mercy. (Diary, 1738)
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"Gemma knew by Divine inspiration that in the Convent of Passionist Nuns at Corneto [Italy] there was a Religious Sister very dear to God who was near death. She asked me about it, and on my answering that it was so, she at once began to implore of Jesus to make that particular Religious expiate all her faults on her deathbed, so that breathing her last she might enter Paradise at once. Her prayer, at least in part, was heard. The Sister suffered greatly and died in a few months. Gemma told those in her home of it in order that they might pray for the deceased, and she gave her name, Maria Teresa of the Infant Jesus, as she was not known in Lucca. After her death, this soul appeared to her full of sorrow, imploring her help as she was undergoing great torments in Purgatory for certain defects.
Nothing more was needed to set all the fibers of Gemma's heart in motion. From that moment she gave herself no rest: she fervently offered prayers, tears and loving petitions to Our Lord.
"Jesus, save her," she was overheard to exclaim. "Jesus, take Maria Teresa to Paradise without delay. She is a soul that is most dear to Thee. Let me suffer much for her; I want her to be in heaven."
And during this time Gemma writes the following in her Diary:
"It was around 9:30 and I was reading; all of a sudden I am shaken by a hand resting gently on my left shoulder. I turn in fright; I was afraid and tried to call out, but I was held back. I turned and saw a person dressed in white; I recognized it was a woman; I looked and her expression assured me I had nothing to fear: "Gemma," she said after some moments, "do you know me?" I said no, because that was the truth; she responded: "I am Mother Maria Teresa of the Infant Jesus: I thank you so very much for the great concern you have shown me because soon I shall be able to attain my eternal happiness."
The extraordinary mystic, St Gemma Galgani
All this happened while I was awake and fully aware of myself. Then she added: "Continue still, because I still have a few days of suffering." And in so saying she caressed me and then went away. Her countenance, I must say, inspired much confidence in me. From that hour I redoubled my prayers for her soul, so that soon she should reach her objective; but my prayers are too weak; how I wish that for the souls in Purgatory my prayers should have the strength of the saints'."
And the dear victim of expiation suffered without ceasing for sixteen days, at the end of which God was pleased to accept her sacrifice and to release that soul. This is how Gemma herself told me of it:
“Toward half-past one it seemed to me that the Blessed Mother herself came to tell me that the holy hour I was making was drawing to an end. Then almost immediately I thought I saw Sr. Maria Teresa coming toward me clad as a Passionist, accompanied by her Guardian Angel and by Jesus. Oh, how she was changed since the day I first saw her! Smiling, she drew close to me and said: "I am truly happy, and I go to enjoy my Jesus forever." She thanked me again. Then she made sign of bidding me good-bye with her hand, several times, and with Jesus and her Guardian Angel she flew to Heaven. It was about half-past two o'clock in the morning.”
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From the excellent book “Purgatory –Explained by the Lives and Legends of the Saints” by Father F.X. Schouppe, S.J., Tan Books, 1986 we read the following accounts which highlight the power and importance of offering holy Masses for the departed. The following is a sincere testimony from the person who experienced several visits from a soul in purgatory, and thus she provides a detailed and frank eye-witness account with regard to the facts: p>
On October 13, 1849, there died at the age of fifty-two, in the parish of Ardoye, in Flanders, a woman named Eugenie Van de Kerckove, whose husband, John Wybo, was a farmer. She was a pious and charitable woman who generously gave to charity in proportionate to her means. She had, to the end of her life, a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and abstained from meat in her honor on the Friday and Saturday of each week. Although her conduct was not free from certain faults, she otherwise led a exemplary and edifying life. p>
Eugenie had a servant named Barbara Vennecke, aged twenty-eight, who was known as a virtuous and devoted girl, and who had assisted her mistress in her last sickness, and after Eugenie’s death, she continued to serve her master, John Wybo, the widower of Eugenie. p>
About three weeks after her death, the deceased appeared to her servant under circumstances which we will now relate. It was in the middle of the night; Barbara slept soundly, when she heard herself called distinctly three times by her name. She awoke with a start, and saw Eugenie before her, sitting on the side of her bed, clad in a working dress, consisting of a skirt and short jacket. At this remarkable sight, Barbara was seized with astonishment. The apparition spoke to her: “Barbara," she said, simply pronouncing her name. “What do you desire, Eugenie?" replied the servant. p>
‘Please take," said the mistress, “the little rake which I often told you to put in its place; stir the heap of sand in the little room; you know to which one I refer. You will find there 500 franks; use it to have Masses said, two francs for each Mass, for my intention, for I am still suffering." “I will do so, Eugenie," replied Barbara, and at the same moment the apparition vanished. After awhile she fell asleep again, and reposed quietly until morning: p>
On awaking, Barbara thought that maybe it was all just a dream, but yet she had been so deeply impressed, so wide awake, she had seen her old mistress in a form so distinct, so full of life and she had received from her lips such precise directions, that she could not help saying, “This cannot have been a dream. I saw my mistress in person; she presented herself to my eyes and she surely spoke to me. It is no dream, but a reality." p>
She therefore immediately went and took the rake as directed, stirred the sand, and drew out a purse containing the sum of five hundred francs. p>
In such strange and extraordinary circumstances the good girl thought it her duty to seek the advice of her pastor before spending the 500 francs on having Masses said, and went to relate to him all that had happened. The venerable Abbe R., then parish priest of Ardoye, replied that the Masses asked by the departed soul absolutely must be celebrated, but, in order to dispose of the sum of money, the consent of the husband, John Wybo, was necessary, since the money was found in his house. The latter willingly consented that the money should be employed for so holy a purpose, and the Masses were celebrated, being given two francs for each Mass. p>
We call attention to the circumstance of the Mass donations, because it corresponded with the pious custom of the deceased. The fee for a Mass fixed by the diocese at that time was a franc and a half, but during her lifetime Eugenie-through consideration and charity for the clergy, many of whom were quite poor- always gave two francs for each Mass that she made offerings for. Thus the extra 1/2 a frank Mass offering that she normally made was an act of charity and additional financial support for the priests who celebrated them. p>
Two months after the first apparition, while Masses were still being said for Eugenie’s intentions, Barbara was again awakened during the night. This time her chamber was illuminated with a bright light, and her mistress appeared before her with a radiant smile, beautiful and fresh in appearance as in the days of her youth, and was dressed in a robe of dazzling whiteness—“Barbara," she said in a clear voice, “I thank you! For I am now delivered from the place of purification.' Saying these words, she disappeared, and the chamber became dark as before. p>
The servant, amazed at what she had just seen, was full of joy, and she soon spread the remarkable story to everyone about the town . This apparition made the most lively impression upon her mind, and she preserves to this day the most consoling remembrance of it. It is from her that we have these details, through the favor of the venerable Abbe L., who was curate at Ardoye when these facts occurred. p>
This is but one of the many stories in regards to the power and efficacy of the Holy Mass wherein the Son of God Himself offers Himself upon the altar for the forgiveness of our sins, for it is a fact that of all that we can do in favor of the souls in Purgatory, there is nothing more powerful and precious than the offering of immolation of our Divine Saviour upon the altar. Besides being the express doctrine of the Church as manifested in her Councils, there are many miraculous facts, properly authenticated, which leave no room for doubt in regard to this point. p>
In evidence to this we now provide another incident, related by the historian Ferdinand of Castile. From 1324-1327 there was at Cologne two Dominican Religious of distinguished talent, one of whom was Blessed Henry Suso (1295-1366). They shared the same studies, the same kind of life, and above all the same desire for sanctity, which had caused them to form an close friendship. p>
When they had finished their studies, seeing that they were about to be separated to return each one to his own convent, they agreed and promised one another that the first of the two who should die should be assisted by the other for a whole year by the celebration of two Masses each week--on Monday a Mass of Requiem, as was customary, and on Friday that of the Passion, in so far as the Rubrics would permit. They promised each other that they would do this, gave each other the kiss of peace, and left Cologne. p>
For several years they both continued to serve God with the most edifying fervor. The priest religious whose name is not mentioned was the first to be called away, and Father Suso received the news with sentiments of resignation to the Divine will. As to the contract they had made, time had caused him to forget it. However, he prayed much for his friend, imposing new penances upon himself and many other good works, but he did not think of offering the Masses which he had promised a number of years previously. p>
One morning, while meditating in retirement in the chapel, he suddenly saw appear before him the soul of his departed friend, who, regarding him with tenderness, reproached him with having been unfaithful to his word from which he had a perfect right to rely upon with confidence. Blessed Suso, surprised, excused his forgetfulness by relating the many prayers and mortifications which he had offered, and still continued to offer, for his friend, whose salvation was as dear to him as his own. p>
"Is it possible, my dear brother;' he added, "that so many prayers and good works which I have offered to God do not suffice for you?" "Oh no," dear brother, replied the suffering soul, "these are not yet sufficient. It is the Blood of Jesus Christ that is needed to extinguish the flames by which I am consumed; it is the Holy Sacrifice which will deliver me from these frightful torments. I implore you to keep your word, and refuse me not that which in justice you owe me." p>
Blessed Suso hastened to respond to the appeal of the suffering soul; he contacted as many priests as possible and urged them to say Masses for his friends intentions and, to repair his fault, he celebrated, and caused to be celebrated, a large number of Masses that very same day. On the following day several priests, at the request of Father Suso, united with him in offering the Holy Sacrifice for the deceased, and he continued his act of charity for several days. p>
After a short time the priest friend of Suso again appeared to him, but now in a very different condition; his countenance was joyful, and he was surrounded with beautiful light. "Thanks be to you, my dear friend” he said “behold, by the Blood of my Saviour I am delivered from my sufferings. I am now going to Heaven to contemplate Him whom we so often adored together under the Eucharistic veil." p>
Afterwards, Blessed Suso prostrated himself to ‘thank the God of infinite mercy, because he now understood more than ever the inestimable value of the Mass.’
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Today, very little is taught in regular catechism classes about Purgatory, about the suffering that the Poor Souls experience in order to be completely purified to be able to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Yet Purgatory does exist, and the sufferings that the Poor Souls experience there are very real.
Since 1940 (she was then aged 25), a privileged soul, named Maria Simma, has had regular visits from the souls in Purgatory to explain their sufferings and to ask for prayers and Masses to be released from Purgatory. Her local Bishop and parish priest told her she could make known these visitations as long as there were no theological errors.
One day, Sister Emmanuel Maillard, a French nun known for her apostolate in favor of the Apparitions of Our Lady in Medjugorje, came across Maria Simma's book, called The Souls in Purgatory told Me... and read it with great interest: “This book struck me so much because it related very recent testimonies, and also explained very well the Church's doctrine on the subject... Straight away, I wrote to the editor who told me that Maria Simma is still alive. Quickly, I contacted her, and she agreed to meet me to answer my questions, which were many!”
This interview took place in 1997 at Maria's house in Sonntag, a very lovely village in the Vorarlberg Mountains in Austria. The following are excerpts from this interview of Sister Emmanuel of Medjugorje with Maria Simma, taken from a booklet entitled: The Amazing Secret of the Souls in Purgatory, published by Queenship Publishing Co., P.O. Box 220, Goleta, CA 93116, USA (Phone 800-647-9882, Fax: 805-967-5843):
(Note: Maria Simma died on March 16, 2004, in Sonntag, at the age of 89.)
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Maria, can you tell us how you were visited for the first time by a soul in Purgatory?
Yes, it was in 1940. One night, around 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, I heard someone coming into my bedroom... I saw a complete stranger. He walked back and forth slowly. I said to him severely: "How did you get in here? Go away!" But he continued to walk impatiently around the bedroom as if he hadn't heard. So I asked him again: "What are you doing?" But as he still didn't answer, I jumped out of bed and tried to grab him, but I grasped only air. There was nothing there. So I went back to bed, but again I heard him pacing back and forth.
I wondered how I could see this man, but I couldn't grab him. I rose again to hold onto him and to stop him from walking around; again, I grasped only emptiness. Puzzled, I went back to bed. He didn't come back, but I couldn't get back to sleep. The next day, after Mass, I went to see my spiritual director and told him everything. He told me that if this should happen again, I shouldn't ask, "Who are you?" but "What do you want from me?"
The following night, the man returned. I asked him: "What do you want from me?" He replied: "Have three Masses celebrated for me, and I will be delivered."
So I understood that it was a soul in Purgatory. My spiritual director confirmed this. He also advised me never to turn away the poor souls, but to accept with generosity whatever they asked of me.
And afterwards, the visits continued?
Yes. For several years, there were only three or four souls, above all in November. Afterwards, there were more.
What do these souls ask of you?
In most cases, they ask to have Masses celebrated and that one be present at these Masses. They ask to have the Rosary said and also that one make the Stations of the Cross.
Maria, do the souls in Purgatory have, nevertheless, joy and hope in the midst of their suffering?
Yes. No soul would want to come back from Purgatory to the earth. They have knowledge which is infinitely beyond ours. They just could not decide to return to the darkness of the earth.
Here we see the difference from the suffering that we know on earth. In Purgatory, even if the pain of the soul is just terrible, there is the certitude of living forever with God. It's an unshakeable certitude. The joy is greater than the pain. There is nothing on earth which could make them want to live here again, where one is never sure of anything.
Maria, can you tell us now if it is God who sends a soul into Purgatory, or if the soul itself decides to go there?
It is the soul itself which wants to go to Purgatory, in order to be pure before going to Heaven.
Maria, at the moment of death, does one see God in full light or in an obscure manner?
In a manner still obscure, but, all the same, in such brightness that this is enough to cause great longing.
Maria, can you tell us what the role of Our Lady is with the souls in Purgatory?
She comes often to console them and to tell them they have done many good things. She encourages them.
Are there any days in particular on which She delivers them?
Above all, Christmas Day, All Saints Day, Good Friday, the Feast of the Assumption, and the Ascension of Jesus.
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Maria, why does one go to Purgatory? What are the sins which most lead to Purgatory?
Sins against charity, against the love of one's neighbor, hardness of heart, hostility, slandering, calumny — all these things.
Here, Maria gives us an example which really struck her which I would like to share with you. She had been asked to find out if a woman and a man were in Purgatory. To the great astonishment of those who had asked, the woman was already in Heaven and the man was in Purgatory. In fact, this woman had died while undergoing an abortion, whereas the man often went to church and apparently led a worthy, devout life.
So Maria searched for more information, thinking she'd been mistaken — but no, it was true. They had died at practically the same moment, but the woman had experienced deep repentance, and was very humble, whereas the man criticized everyone; he was always complaining and saying bad things about others. This is why his Purgatory lasted so long. And Maria concluded: "We mustn't judge on appearances."
Other sins against charity are all our rejections of certain people we do not like, our refusals to make peace, our refusals to forgive, and all the bitterness we store inside.
Maria also illustrated this point with another example which gave us food for thought. It's the story of a woman she knew very well. This lady died and was in Purgatory, in the most terrible Purgatory, with the most atrocious sufferings. And when she came to see Maria, she explained why.
She had had a female friend. Between them rose a great enmity, caused by herself. She had maintained this enmity for years and years, even though her friend had many times asked for peace, for reconciliation. But each time, she refused. When she fell gravely ill, she continued to close her heart, to refuse the reconciliation offered by her friend, right up to her deathbed.
Maria, please tell us: who are those who have the greatest chance of going straight to Heaven?
Those who have a good heart towards everyone. Love covers a multitude of sins.
What are the means which we can take on earth to avoid Purgatory and go straight to Heaven?
We must do a great deal for the souls in Purgatory, for they help us in their turn. We must have much humility. This is the greatest weapon against evil, against the Evil One. Humility drives evil away.
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Maria, can you now tell us what are the most effective means to help deliver the souls in Purgatory?
The most efficient means is the Mass.
Why the Mass?
Because it is Christ who offers Himself out of love for us. It is the offering of Christ Himself to God, the most beautiful offering. The priest is God's representative, but it is God Himself who offers Himself and sacrifices Himself for us. The efficacy of the Mass for the deceased is even greater for those who attached great value to the Mass during their lives. If they attended Mass and prayed with all their hearts, if they went to Mass on weekdays — according to their time available — they drew great profit from Masses celebrated for them. Here, too, one harvests what one has sown.
A soul in Purgatory sees very clearly on the day of his funeral if we really pray for him, or if we have simply made an act of presence to show we were there. The poor souls say that tears are no good for them: only prayer! Often they complain that people go to a funeral without addressing a single prayer to God, while shedding many tears; this is useless!
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There is another means, very powerful, to help the poor souls: the offering of our sufferings, our penances, such as fasting, renunciations, etc., — and of course, involuntary suffering, like illness or mourning.
Maria, you have been invited many times to suffer for the poor souls, in order to deliver them. Can you tell us what you have experienced and undergone during these times?
The first time, a soul asked me if I wouldn't mind suffering for three hours in my body for her, and that afterwards I could resume working. I said to myself: "If it will all be over after three hours, I could accept it." During those three hours, I had the impression that it lasted three days, it was so painful. But at the end, I looked at my watch, and I saw that it had only lasted three hours. The soul told me that by accepting that suffering with love for three hours, I had saved her twenty years of Purgatory!
Yes, but why did you suffer for only three hours to avoid twenty years of Purgatory? What did your sufferings have that was worth more?
It is because suffering on earth does not have the same value. On earth, when we suffer, we can grow in love, we can gain merits, which is not the case with the sufferings in Purgatory. In Purgatory, the sufferings serve only to purify us from sin. On earth, we have all the graces. We have the freedom to choose.
All of this is so encouraging because it gives an extraordinary meaning to our sufferings. The suffering which is offered, voluntary or involuntary, even the smallest sacrifices we can make, suffering or sickness, mourning, disappointments... if we live them with patience, if we welcome them in humility, these sufferings can have an unheard-of power to help souls.
The best thing to do, Maria tells us, is to unite our sufferings to those of Jesus, by placing them in the hands of Mary. She is the one who knows best how to use them, since often we ourselves do not know the most urgent needs around us. All this, of course, Mary will give back to us at the hour of our death. You see, these sufferings offered will be our most precious treasures in the other world. We must remind each other of this and encourage each other when we suffer.
Let me add something important: the souls in Purgatory can no longer do anything for themselves; they are totally helpless. If the living do not pray for them; they are totally abandoned. Therefore, it is very important to realize the immense power, the incredible power that each one of us has in our hands to relieve these souls who suffer.
We wouldn't think twice about helping a child who has fallen in front of us from a tree, and who had broken his bones. Of course, we would do everything for him! So, in the same way, we should take great care of these souls who expect everything from us, attentive to the slightest offering, hopeful for the least of our prayers, to relieve them from their pain. And it might be the finest way to practice charity.
Maria, why can one no longer gain merits in Purgatory, when one can on earth?
Because at the moment of death, the time to earn merits is over. For as long as we are living on earth, we can repair the evil we have done. The souls in Purgatory envy us of this opportunity. Even the angels are jealous of us, for we have the possibility of growing for as long as we are on earth.
But often, the suffering in our lives leads us to rebellion, and we have great difficulty in accepting and living it. How can we live suffering so that it bears fruit?
Sufferings are the greatest proof of the love of God, and if we offer them well, they can win many souls.
But how can we welcome suffering as a gift, and not as a punishment (as we often do), as a chastisement?
We must give everything to Our Lady. She is the one who knows best who needs such and such an offering in order to be saved.
We should not always consider sufferings as a punishment. It can be accepted as expiation not only for ourselves, but above all for others. Christ was innocence itself, and He suffered the most for the expiation of our sins. Only in Heaven will we know all that we have obtained by suffering with patience in union with the sufferings of Christ.
Maria, do the souls in Purgatory rebel when faced with their suffering?
No! They want to purify themselves; they understand that it is necessary.
What is the role of contrition or repentance at the moment of death?
Contrition is very important. The sins are forgiven, in any case, but there remains the consequences of sins. If one wishes to receive a full indulgence at the moment of death — that means going straight to Heaven — the soul has to be free from all attachment.
Maria, I would like to ask you: at the moment of death, is there a time in which the soul still has the chance to turn towards God, even after a sinful life, before entering into eternity — a time, if you like, between apparent death and real death?
Yes, yes! The Lord gives several minutes to each one in order to regret his sins and to decide: I accept, or I do not accept to go and see God. Then we see a film of our lives.
I knew a man who believed in the Church's teachings, but not in eternal life. One day, he fell gravely ill and slid into a coma. He saw himself in a room with a board on which all his deeds were written, the good and the bad. Then the board disappeared as well as the walls of the room, and it was infinitely beautiful. Then he woke up from his coma, and decided to change his life.
Maria, does the devil have permission to attack us at the moment of death?
Yes, but man also has the grace to resist him, to push him away. So, if man does not want anything to do with him, the devil can do nothing.
Maria, what advice would you give to anyone who wants to become a saint here on earth?
Be very humble. We must not be occupied with ourselves. Pride is evil's greatest trap.
Maria, please tell us: can one ask the Lord to do one's Purgatory on earth, in order not to have to do it after death?
Yes. I knew a priest and a young woman who were both ill with tuberculosis in the hospital. The young woman said to the priest: "Let's ask the Lord to be able to suffer on earth as much as necessary in order to go straight to Heaven." The priest replied that he himself didn't dare to ask for this. Nearby was a religious sister who had overheard the whole conversation. The young woman died first, the priest died later, and he appeared to the sister, saying: "If only I had had the same trust as the young woman, I too would have gone straight to Heaven."
Maria, are there different degrees in Purgatory?
Yes, there is a great difference of degree of moral suffering. Each soul has a unique suffering, particular to it; there are many degrees.
Maria, are the sufferings in Purgatory more painful than the most painful sufferings on earth?
Yes, but in a symbolic way. It hurts more in the soul.
Maria, you know, many people today believe in reincarnation. What do the souls tell you concerning this subject?
The souls say that God gives only one life.
But some would say that just one life is not enough to know God and to have the time to be really converted, that it isn't fair. What would you reply to them?
All people have an interior Faith (conscience); even if they do not practice, they recognize God implicitly. Someone who does not believe — that doesn't exist! Each soul has a conscience to recognize good and evil, a conscience given by God, an inner knowledge — in different degrees, of course, but each one knows how to discern good from evil. With this conscience, each soul can become blessed.
What happens to people who have committed suicide? Have you ever been visited by these people?
Up to now, I have never encountered the case of a suicide who was lost — this doesn't mean, of course, that that doesn't exist — but often, the souls tell me that the most guilty were those around them, when they were negligent or spread calumny.
At this moment, I asked Maria if the souls regretted having committed suicide. She answered yes. Often, suicide is due to illness. These souls do regret their act because, as they see things in the light of God, they understand instantly all the graces that were in store for them during the time remaining for them to live — and they do see this time which remained for them, sometimes months or years —– and they also see all the souls they could have helped by offering the rest of their lives to God. In the end, what hurts them most is to see the good that they could have done but didn't, because they shortened their lives. But when the cause is illness, the Lord takes this into account, of course.
Are there priests in Purgatory?
Yes, there are many. They didn't promote respect for the Eucharist. So Faith overall suffers. They are often in Purgatory for having neglected prayer — which has diminished their Faith. But there are also many who have gone straight to Heaven.
What would you say, then, to a priest who really wants to live according to the Heart of God?
I would advise him to pray much to the Holy Spirit — and to say his Rosary every day.
Have you been visited by souls who, on earth, practiced perversions? I am thinking, for example, about the sexual domain.
Yes, they are not lost, but they have much to suffer to be purified. For example: homosexuality. This truly comes from the Evil One.
What advice would you give, then, to all those people afflicted by homosexuality, with this tendency in them?
Pray a lot for the strength to turn away from it. They should above all pray to the Archangel Michael; he is the great fighter par excellence against the Evil One.
What are the attitudes of heart which can lead us to losing our soul for good, I mean going to Hell?
It is when the soul does not want to go towards God, when it actually says: "I do not want."
Jesus said that it was difficult for a rich person to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Have you seen such cases?
Yes! But if they do good works, works of charity, if they practice love, they can get there, just like the poor.
What do you think of the practices of spiritism? For example: calling up the spirits of the departed, Ouija-boards, etc.?
It is not good. It is always evil. It is the devil who makes the table move.
What is the difference between what you are living with the souls of the departed, and the practices of spiritism?
We are not supposed to summon up the souls — I don't try to get them to come. In spiritism, people try to call them forth.
This distinction is quite clear, and we must take it very seriously. If people were only to believe one thing I have said, I would like it to be this: those who engage in spiritism (moving tables and other practices of that kind) think that they are summoning up the souls of the dead. In reality, if there is some response to their call, it is always and without exception Satan and his angels who are answering. People who practice spiritism (diviners, witches, etc.) are doing something very dangerous for themselves and for those who come to them for advice. They are up to their necks in lies. It is forbidden, strictly forbidden, to call up the dead. As for me, I have never done so, l do not do so, and I never will do so. When something appears to me, God alone permits it. (End of interview.)
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In conformity with the decrees of Pope Urban VIII, the author formally declares that the preternatural or seemingly supernatural facts recorded in this historical narrative rest on purely human authority, and consequently he does not in any way intend to pronounce a final judgment, or to anticipate any future decision of lawful Church authority as to their nature.
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At the expressed desire of the Directors of the Bulletin Notre Dame de la Bonne Mort (Our Lady of the Good Death), this pamphlet is published with all the reservations ordered by the Church in the decree of Pope Urban VIII, and as a purely historical document.
The text is a manuscript sent to that periodical by a zealous and devout missionary and is a pious document based on alleged conversations between a nun and a soul in Purgatory.
No one can deny off-hand the possibility, or in fact, the reality of such apparitions of souls in Purgatory to persons still living. Such apparitions are not rare and there are many accounts of them. They are of frequent occurrence in the lives of the Saints. We will quote only one example from the life of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. She says:
"When I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament on the feast of Corpus Christi, a person enveloped in fire suddenly stood before me. From the pitiable state the soul was in, I knew it was in Purgatory and I wept bitterly. This soul told me it was that of a Benedictine, who had once heard my confession and ordered me to go to Holy Communion. As a reward for this, God permitted him to ask me to help him in his sufferings.
"He asked me to apply to him all I should do or suffer for a period of three months. Having obtained my superior's leave, I did what he asked. He told me that the greatest cause of his sufferings was that in life he had preferred his own interests to those of God, in that he had been too attached to his good reputation. His second defect was lack of charity to his brethren. The third was his all too natural attachment to creatures. It would be difficult for me to describe what I had to endure during those three months. He never left me and seeing him, as it were on fire and in such terrible pain, I could do nothing but groan and weep almost incessantly. My superior, being touched with compassion, told me to do hard penances, particularly to take the discipline ... After the three months I saw the soul radiant with happiness, joy, and glory. He was about to enjoy eternal happiness, and in thanking me he said he would protect me when with God."
The testimony of theologians and of historical documents are not less numerous or convincing, but let it suffice for us to mention Canon Ribet's Divine Mysticism, (Vol. II, Ch. VIII) and the other outstanding works of this master of mystical theology.
God allows these apparitions and manifestations both for the relief of the souls in question who thus arouse our pity, and to instruct us by showing us the rigor of divine justice when it comes to faults which we often treat lightly. An account of several apparitions published by Msgr. Palafox y Mendosa, Bishop of Osma in Spain, bears the significant title of Light for the Living through the Experience of the Dead. We can hardly find better expression or vindication for such manifestations of divine providence. We must always remember that these accounts of manifestations have only a human authority. Our Holy Mother the Church has not made any pronouncement regarding them. They are treated only as historical documents.
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This manuscript contains very interesting statements about the life beyond the grave, particularly about Purgatory. The details are intermingled with much spiritual direction. Its authenticity is beyond doubt.
A nun, identified for us merely as Sister M. de L. C., of a convent at V., without warning began to hear prolonged sighs beside her. This was in November 1873. She cried out, "Oh, who are you, you frighten me. Whatever you do, don't show yourself. Tell me, who are your?" No answer was forthcoming. The sighs continued and even came nearer. In vain did the poor Sister multiply her prayers, communions, Ways of the Cross, and Rosaries. The sighs did not cease and remained unexplained until February 15, 1874, when a voice she recognized was heard saying: "Do not be afraid, you will not see me in my sufferings. I am Sister M. G." Sister M. G. was a nun who had died at V., a victim to devotion and duty, February 22, 1871, at the age of 36.
The suffering soul then told her former companion whose advice she had often despised, that she would come frequently in order to help her sanctify herself. The plan of God was that Sister M. de L. C. by her holy life should relieve and ultimately deliver her, who in years past, had tried her patience so sorely. The answer did not lessen the fears of Sister M. de L. C., who requested her visitor to depart and never again return. But it was useless. She was told that she had only to bear it as long as God willed it. This was just what she dreaded. For several years the mysterious relation continued between the living nun and the departed religious. It was Sister M. de L. C., herself, who related these events from 1874 to 1890, in the manuscript which is here given to the public.
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This is a testimonial about Sister Mary of the Cross herself. All those who knew her were unanimous in declaring that she practiced all the religious virtues, even heroically. As director of a boarding school, she exercised a really supernatural influence over her pupils, who spoke of her as a saint. They said that not only her words but all of her actions impressed them more than those of any priest of their acquaintance could have done. They still live under the influence of her inspiration. Let us add that all the witnesses of her life were agreed that Sister Mary of the Cross was endowed with a sound judgment, a keen and cultured intellect, and possessed of a great amount of common sense. In the spiritual life, she never sought the extraordinary. On the contrary, she avoided it.
The manuscript shows that to the very end she had doubts about what she was obligated to listen to. She often thought it was the work of the devil. It greatly annoyed her to depart from the common way of life. She wanted to be like the rest and attract no special attention. Though she was averse to the visits she received, she profited greatly by them for her own spiritual progress. Her notes of her retreats are a sufficient evidence of this. Those who saw her life and witnessed her actions are also convinced of this.
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In the first place it is certain that Sister Mary of the Cross kept her director well informed of all that happened. He was the Reverend Father Prevel of the Fathers of Pontingy, who later became General of his congregation. The Sister’s own note book shows how well she profited by her interviews with her director. A letter from him, dated November 4, 1912, sent from Hitchen, England, after a long period of separation, shows us that he was well informed on all the conversations of Sister Mary of the Cross with her former companion.
He writes: “Tell me about your dear suffering one, who must now be long since enjoying the glory of her Beloved. Has she abandoned you? Or does she console you in your sorrows? Have you continued writing down what she says? For my part, I have kept most carefully your former notes and have reread them many times.” Clearly Father Prevel accepted the communications seriously, and we can rest assured that he had sufficient evidence for doing so.
Besides this important evidence of her director, we are fortunate in having the opinions of theologians of note, such as Canon Dubosq, superior of the Seminary of Bayeux and Promotor Fidei in the canonical process for the beatification and canonization of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, also Canon Gontier, the diocesan Censor Librorum.
After examining the Manuscript carefully, these prominent priests have declared without hesitation that it contains nothing contrary to Faith, nothing that is not in accord with the true principles of the spiritual life, rather matter that will edify devout souls. They testify that Sister Mary of the Cross was endowed with sound judgment and common sense and thus was protected from going astray in vivid and harmful imaginations. They were pleased at the evidence that she had done all in her power to avoid the visits, and that she protested against them, even thinking them punishments sent from Heaven. She regarded the facts so strange that she did not know what to believe about them. Frequently she chided the visitor, so that she could not have imagined or invented the manifestations imposed upon her.
They were above all impressed by the great lesson of Christian charity which was manifest during the whole period of the apparitions. On the one hand Sister M. G., during her earthly life in the convent, had caused Sister M. de L. C., her spiritual guide, great suffering by her want of religious spirit and deportment. Yet it was to this very Sister that God ordered her to address herself after death, for deliverance from Purgatory. They noticed that the lights given to Sister Mary of the Cross became clearer and more distinct in proportion to Sister M. G.’s gradual purification.
Finally they were impressed by the living Sister’s great progress in the work of her sanctification. So remarkable was this that on reading the manuscript Canon Dubosq said, “In publishing this Manuscript, as I heartily approve, you are anticipating a cause of beatification.” In a word, all theologians who were consulted gave unanimous consent that Sister Mary of the Cross’s manuscript portrayed in itself proof of its authenticity, and therefore, it was of value because of both content and origin.
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The Manuscript of Sister Mary of the Cross, which we will call for the sake of brevity, "The Manuscript of Purgatory," from a merely historical and human point of view seems entirely genuine and creditable.
The Directors of the magazine Notre Dame de la Bonne Mort (Our Lady of the Good Death) are happy to be able to publish so edifying and impressive a work. A voice reaching out to us from beyond the grave makes known to us the justice and mercy of Purgatory, together with the instruction for a more perfect life of union with God, and will be helpful to many souls on their journey to eternity.
It is our hope that the "Light" made known to the living by the experience of the dead may be helpful to those seeking to lead a better life. It may even be to many of our readers a preparation for a happy death.
Translator's note: The sense of the French, rather than the literal meaning, has been our objective. We sincerely regret and see no valid reason why full clear names of persons and places have not been given. We remember reading in Sacred Scripture that the secrets of a king are best kept hidden, but that the works of God should be made manifest (Tobias 12:7). But we give the material as we have received it and we trust that it will foster a holy respect for Purgatory. Even if it merely deters those who say, "As long as I miss Hell, I shall be satisfied," it will have done great good.
Miss Betty Kelly supplied the French original and a literal translation. Rt. Rev. Msgr. James H. Culleton, S.T.D., J.C.D., LL.D., of Fresno, California in the 1950's brought out a limited number of copies in one edition for private circulation only. This text has been used as the basis of what follows.
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Our Mother Superior is in Heaven since the day of her death, thanks to her suffering and great charity.
If you were as perfect as God wishes you to be, He would be ready to bestow many graces upon you. God wants you to be holier than many others.
Father L— is in Purgatory, because he was too fond of giving retreats and preaching in many places, instead of taking care of his parish.
If you make the intention, God will accept whatever you do, for all the souls in Purgatory, just as if applied to one particular soul.
I am the one who is suffering most at the present moment, since I was not true to my vocation.
Next to the Mass, the Way of the Cross is the best prayer.2 Observe the strict silence well, because I often violated it. I suffer more than Sister — because she was faithful to her vocation. Suffering, however, caused her to complain, as she was badly directed spiritually. I am not able to give a visible sign. God does not permit it. I am not worthy. Because I have annoyed you so much, God wants you to pray for me. You may also tell this to Sister — to whom I was a great source of trouble and also to Mother Superior, as I made her suffer much. Poor Reverend Mother, if only she would have some Masses offered up for me. Say a few rosaries for me and make your meditations well. I never made any. Say your divine office well. I was much distracted during mine. Observe strict religious modesty everywhere since I never kept my eyes from seeing what I should not have seen ... Be obedient to Reverend Mother whom I annoyed so much ...
If you could only know what I suffer! Pray for me, please. I suffer intensely everywhere. My God, how merciful You are! No one can imagine what Purgatory is like. Be kind and take pity on the poor souls ... Do not neglect the Way of the Cross.
While on Earth you will frequently suffer in body and soul, and often in both together.
It is so beautiful in Heaven. There is a great distance between Purgatory and Heaven. We are privileged at times to catch a glimpse of the joys of the blessed in Paradise, but it is almost a punishment. It makes us yearn to see God. In Heaven, it is pure delight; in Purgatory, profound darkness.
God loves you more than many others. Has He not frequently made it known to you?
Mother E— is in Heaven because she was a hidden and very spiritual soul.
No, indeed I am not the devil; I am Sister M. G. and I will try you till I am in Heaven. After that I, in my turn, will pray for you. Yes, I can pray even now and I will do so every day. You will then realize that the souls in Purgatory are not ungrateful. Those who are very guilty do not see the Blessed Virgin. It gives great joy to God when anyone is the cause of freeing a soul from Purgatory.
All you have read on this subject is true.
On Easter Sunday, I shall obtain a little relief.
If you watch carefully over yourself, God will bestow on you graces which He has never yet given to anyone else. You can offer up your office for many souls at once, if before you start the recitation, you make the intention for each soul in particular. Thus each will benefit as if you had offered it for him alone.
Purgatory is terrible for those religious who have caused trouble to their superiors. For them a special punishment is reserved similar to that which I am enduring.
Tomorrow, visit the Blessed Sacrament as often as you can. I shall accompany you. I will have the happiness of being near Our Lord. Yes, that relieves me.
I am now in the second Purgatory. Since my death, I have been in the first, where one endures such great suffering. We also suffer in the second, but not nearly as much as in the first. Always try to be a help to your superior. Do not speak often. Wait until you are questioned before you answer.
I have been in the second Purgatory since the Feast of the Annunciation. On that day I saw the Blessed Virgin for the first time. In the first stage, we never saw her. The sight of her encourages us and this beloved Mother speaks to us of Heaven. While we see her, our sufferings are greatly diminished.3
Oh, how I desire to go to Heaven! What a martyrdom we suffer once we have seen God!
What do I think? I think God permits this for your benefit and for my consolation. Listen ... well to what I am going to tell you. God has selected you for a special purpose. He wants you to save many souls by your advice and good example. If, by your conduct, you frustrate this, one day you will have to give an account for every soul that you could have saved. It is quite true that you are not worthy, but God permits it thus. He is the Master and distributes His graces to whomsoever He pleases.
You do well to pray to St. Michael and to urge others to do so. One is indeed happy at the hour of death when he has had confidence in some of the saints. They will be his protectors before God in that terrible moment.
Never hesitate to remind your girls of the great truths of salvation. In these days, more than ever, people need to be reminded of supernatural truths.
God wants you to sacrifice yourself for Him without reserve. He loves you more than many others, hence He will give you many more graces ... Be careful not to lose any of the graces that He gives you. Live only for God. Try to procure His glory everywhere. What good you can do for souls! Do nothing except what pleases God. Before each action recollect yourself for a moment to be sure that what you are going to do will be pleasing to Him. All for Jesus. Love Him well.
Yes, I suffer very much, but my greatest torment is not seeing God. It is a continuous martyrdom. It makes me suffer more than does the fire of Purgatory. If later on you love God as He wants you to, you will experience a little of the pining, which makes one long to be united to the object of one's love, to Jesus.
Yes, we sometimes see St. Joseph, but not as often as we do the Blessed Virgin.
You must become indifferent to everything except what is for God. Thus you will reach the height of perfection to which Jesus calls you.
Mother I— did not benefit by the Masses offered up. Religious have no right to dispose of their goods. It is contrary to holy poverty.
If you say your prayers well, the souls confided to your care will be benefited by them. God never refuses graces which are asked of Him during prayers well said.
The Purgatory of religious is much longer and more rigorous than that of people in the world, because religious abuse special graces. Many nuns are abandoned in Purgatory, by their own fault, of course, for nobody ever remembers them. Our deceased Reverend Mother has told me that God would be very pleased were the community to have a Mass said for them from time to time. Be sure and tell this to Mother Superior. God loves Reverend Mother very much. He gives her a heavy cross to prove His love for her.
No one can have a real understanding of the sufferings in Purgatory. No one thinks of them in the world. Even religious communities forget that they should pray for the poor souls and that they should inspire their pupils with this devotion. They in turn would bring this devotion to other people of the world.
Have no fear of fatigue when it is a question of serving God. Sacrifice everything for Him.
Obey your Superior promptly. Let her turn and twist you as she wills. Be very humble. Abase yourself always even, if possible, down to the Earth.
M— is in Purgatory because by her underhanded remarks she often nullified the good that the Superioress could have done.
Make it a practice to live in the presence of God with a pure intention. God seeks devoted souls who will love Him for His own sake. These are very few. He wants you to be one of His true friends. Many think they love God, but they love Him for their own sakes.
We do not see God in Purgatory. That would make it Heaven. When a soul seeks God, and out of pure love desires nothing else, He never lets that soul be deceived.
God often showers graces even where malice abounds. Why should you refuse them? Devote yourself to God. Sacrifice and immolate yourself for Him. You can never do enough for Him. It is only the overflow of our piety that we can pour out on others. Put aside all human respect, even with regard to older Sisters. Always say what is necessary if it be a case of upholding the Mother Superior. It is not His great friends that God uses to annoy and cause trouble and pain to others. Thank Him that you have not been doing this. It is better to be the anvil than the hammer. You must not grow lax in the matter of denying your body and soul, for as yet you have made but little reparation for your past. The contest for your crown is hardly begun.
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Note well, that whenever a storm rages against a soul, it quietly dies down again. The devil has his agents everywhere, even in convents.
No, I do not see God when He is exposed (in the Holy Eucharist), yet I am conscious of His presence like you are with the eyes of faith. Our faith, however, is very different from yours. We know what God is. Always walk in the presence of God. Tell Him everything. Talk to Him as you would talk to a friend. Guard your interior life carefully.
In order to prepare well for Holy Communion, you must love God not only before and after receiving Him but always and at all times. God desires you to think only of Him. Mortify your mind, your eyes, your tongue; that will be far more agreeable to God than corporal penances. These (corporal penances) all too often proceed from one’s own will.
You must treat God as your Father, as a dear friend, as a beloved spouse. You must pour out all the tenderness of your heart on Jesus alone and on Him wholly and entirely. During all eternity you will sing of His infinite mercy in your regard. You must love Jesus so much that He may be able to find in your heart an agreeable resting place, where He may be able, as it were, to console Himself for the many offenses He receives everywhere.
You must love Him for indifferent and cowardly souls but above all for yourself. In one word, you must love Him so much at V— that you will be a shining example. It is true that St. Theresa and M. must loved Him very much, but you have caused Him pain in the past, and you should love Him very much more in comparison to these innocent souls.
If you truly love God well He will refuse you nothing. He will give you whatever you ask.
God wishes you to concern yourself with Him alone, with His love and with the accomplishment of His holy will. When we are concerned with God, we must also of necessity think of souls. There would be but little merit in being saved alone. God expects a higher degree of perfection from you than He expects from many others.
Watch carefully over your interior life. Keep all your small troubles for Jesus alone. He is well able to make up to you for whatever He takes from you. Your life must be one of unceasing interior acts of love and of mortification, but God alone must know of it. Do nothing extraordinary. Lead a very hidden life, yet one closely united to Jesus. Jesus wants you to love Him alone.
If you put no obstacle in the way, He has extraordinary graces to bestow upon you, such as He has never yet given to anyone. He loves you in a special manner. Have you not yet noticed this? It is for us to adore His designs without seeking to fathom them. He is the Master, to do for souls whatever He wishes. Be always very humble. Lead a hidden life. Do not busy yourself with anyone. Attend to your own sanctification and affairs.
You must not have too much conversation with N—. She is too demonstrative and talkative. God does not want that of you.
It is not right of you to be thus distrustful of your Jesus. You have given Him all. Be quite convinced that He has permitted all that has happened.
Love God very much. How happy are the souls that do this. They possess a treasure! The great penance of your life will be, not the absence of your Jesus but great sorrow for all the pain you have given Him, by your failure to love Him as you desire, in return for the overwhelming number of graces which He has showered upon you and which He will continue to shower upon you.
You may rise at 4:00 A.M. and go to bed at the same time as everyone else unless you are very ill. I assure you, you will be none the worse for this. Half an hour makes but little difference and it gives edification.
Do not complain about trifles, not even to the Superioress. Keep your little sufferings to yourself and tell Jesus, to whom you ought to tell everything. Do not be too preoccupied about your health. God will always give you sufficient strength to serve Him properly.
During your retreat, make up your mind to lose none of the graces which God will give you. Always be mindful of these graces, with a great spirit of faith and recollection. I have been telling you this for a long time.
Try to be as recollected in your actions as you are during your thanksgiving after Holy Communion. Thank God for all the graces He has given you and for all those He gives you each day. Keep this in mind every morning at the end of your meditation. Also, pray for the intention I reminded you of yesterday ... Never do anything without first recollecting yourself for a moment and seeking advice from Jesus who is in your heart ...
Yes, I love God very much, but as a soul becomes purified her love increases. Often think of the love Jesus has for you and be faithful to every inspiration of grace. Start each day as if you had as yet done nothing, but take care that you do not discourage yourself.
How small is the number of fervent religious who really have the spirit of their vocation — about one in fifty! You must at all costs be among the privileged ones. How great is the responsibility of a Superior, a Mistress of novices, a teacher! What an account they will have to render to God!
Little by little as I am being delivered, you will hear me more distinctly. When I am completely liberated, I will be a second Guardian Angel to you, but an angel that you can see.
Mother N— is still in Purgatory, because she introduced several things into the community that were not in accord with our vocation, but which tended rather to relaxation. It is a great science to be able to discern spirits. If more care were taken in receiving candidates to the religious life, there would be less trouble in communities.
God does not ask so much for strength. He would rather dwell more in our hearts. In order to obtain graces for yourself or for the community, you must renounce yourself from morning to night, seek self in nothing, let everything be hidden from the eyes of creatures. Let God alone know all your little daily sacrifices — Him alone; do you understand?
It is God who allows you to feel such distaste for many things, so that you may have more merit. Be careful to waste or lose nothing. Yes, it is true in one sense, that Jesus is more glorified when He is honored by one who was not always His friend. You are disturbed at sensing that God has chosen you to work out His designs despite your spiritual infirmities, for thus you must sacrifice and immolate yourself in return.
Do you know why God does not now grant you the graces you are asking of Him? It is because you have not enough confidence in Him. Likewise you forget the many and great graces that Jesus has given you. He pursues you from morning to night, and you avoid Him as much as you can. It is not proper for you to treat God thus, especially after He has been so kind to you.
Try at every moment to look into yourself to see if you are pleasing God, examine yourself to learn if any of your acts cause Him pain. Such a constant disposition will put you more and more in favor with God.
You must love God so much, that in a short time, He may truly find in your heart a welcome place to make His abode. Jesus must be able to tell you all His sorrows, such as those the world inflicts upon Him daily, and on your part, you must give Him the tender love that will console Him.
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God does not want you to listen to self-love, you must trust in Him alone. I have told you this many times. Despite your faults, He can give you the necessary help to serve Him. Why do you distrust His power and goodness?
Yes, we have seen the Blessed Virgin, she has gone back to Heaven with many souls, but I am still here. You feel the heat? Alas! if you knew what the heat of Purgatory is compared to yours! A little prayer does us so much good. It is like a glass of water given to a thirsty person.
Love everyone, but do not put your trust entirely in anyone, because Jesus wants to be your great confidant. Everything for Him and for Him alone. Perform all your actions in the presence of God as I have so often told you. Consult Him before all you do or say. Let your life be one of faith and love ... Do nothing to distinguish yourself. Without offending anyone, avoid the company of those who are too unreserved and those who are uncharitable. As for yourself, be busy about your own affairs. Keep your opinions to yourself and never express them unless obliged to do so. Be preoccupied with only that one object, the main spring of your life, Jesus. Yes, Jesus from morning to night and from night till morning.
Alas, I suffer more than usual in punishment for abusing many graces during my life. Perform all your deeds in the presence of God, without seeking to please anyone else. He will not leave you in peace until you have reached such a state of detachment from all created things that you will give Him your entire attention. You must be a living example for the rest of your community. Each one, on seeing your life, must be able to say, “This is the Rule.” More is required of you. You must be, as it were, another Jesus. That is to say, in as far as possible, you must reproduce in your conduct the life of Jesus Himself.
Great though He is, Almighty God does not hesitate to lower Himself to the soul which loves Him. He treats with such a soul even on the smallest details that concern her. How good God is to us. Are there not secrets in our souls that God alone understands and of which we can speak to Him alone?
God permits some souls to attain a remarkable degree of tenderness in their love, whereas others do not experience great emotion. All this is part of His wise designs. In the case of those who are more capable of loving Him, He has reserved a special place for Himself in their hearts, so that they pour out their love into His adorable Heart. He is indeed the Master, giving to each one what He wills. You are one of the souls whom He has especially favored.
I suffer all night while you rest. Although I experience the pains of Purgatory at all times, still when I have permission during the day to accompany you everywhere, I suffer a little less. All this is by virtue of special dispensation of God.
Ponder well what I am going to say to you. Watch most carefully over everything you do. Ask yourself each hour if God be pleased with you, because you are to become a saint quickly. Yes, that is true, but with Divine Grace, you can accomplish everything. Acknowledge with gratitude that you are utterly unworthy of all these graces, but nevertheless, go forward.
Love God intensely. Do not fear your own suffering. Trust in Him, never in yourself. Die to yourself from morning to night ... Do not breathe or live except for Jesus Christ. God must be your only confidant. Complain to no one except to Him. Be quite hidden from the eyes of everyone else. Sometimes you will be ill, very ill, but you will appear quite well, because God wishes to be the only witness of what passes in you. You will learn that you and your loving God will understand each other very well. If you do as God wants, namely, watch carefully over yourself so as not to lose any of His graces, He will communicate Himself to you in a special manner.
You grieve God when you do not think of Him. The union between you is like that between friends. Among friends, often one is preferred to all others. One understands us better and from him we keep no secret. If that friend noticed that we paid no attention to him, did not speak to him, or even cast a glance his way to show him that he is still our special friend, he would feel intense pain. Thus it is with God as far as you are concerned. He certainly has a great love for many of His friends, but I have told you many times, that even though you are not deserving of it as are so many others, yet He loves you in a special way. For this reason your indifference causes Him all the more pain. He awaits only a return of your inner love of heart, so that He may fill it with graces. All that you do affects Him most intimately. He loves you for thinking of Him. Despite your many occupations, He must be first in your thoughts. Whenever you have to speak to people on business, you should first glance towards Him. He has a right to this. He is the Master and may act as He pleases.
You should practice perpetual adoration in your heart at all times, not only when you go to chapel. You must also accustom yourself to make frequent spiritual communions. You will derive abundant and most salutary fruits from this, provided that you dispose yourself properly.
Never ask for anything regarding your own health. Yet do not refuse what is offered you. We must not appear singular in anything.
Whenever you have something to say to the Superior do not be in a hurry about it unless it be something that cannot be postponed. Let what you have to say wait and thus moderate and mortify yourself.
You must prepare a dwelling place for Jesus in your heart so that later, as I have told you, He may come and rest there. You must also prepare, as well as possible, for Holy Communion. Try to think about it the evening before but especially when you awake in the morning. You must not only prepare an abode for Jesus, but also invite Him to stay with you. There would be no point in preparing a beautiful room for a guest, were you not to invite him to enter. So invite Jesus often by your desires, and above all, by your love for Him. You should become so recollected that you do not lose sight of the presence of Jesus, even when otherwise most occupied. To achieve this, watch constantly over your interior life.
About the Grotto: God will help you and supply all that you lack. If you want to please Him, do nothing about it on Sunday except pray as much as you can. That is all that is required. God desires later on to make you His helper and your heart His sanctuary.
In Heaven God receives infinite adoration, but as it is on Earth that He is offended, He wills that also on Earth, proper reparation should be made to Him, by your loving Him and consoling Him for the neglect that is heaped upon Him everywhere.
When God wishes a soul to be entirely His, He begins by crushing it, very much as apples are crushed in the press — to extract its passions, its self-seeking, in a word, all its defects. When that soul is sufficiently broken, He reshapes it according to His will. If it is faithful, it is soon transformed. Only then does Jesus load it with His choicest graces and inundate it with His love.
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The Holy Eucharist must be as a magnet for you, drawing you always more and more powerfully. This Sacrament must be the main object of your life.
Have no other desire than to love God always more and more. Try to be ever more closely united to Him. Endeavor to lead each day a more interior life, a life more closely united to your Jesus. This interior union with Jesus is brought about by your sufferings of body and soul, but above all by your longing love for Him. May you indeed conform to God’s plan by this interior life. He insists on it so pleadingly.
I cannot tell you now the degree of sanctity and union with Himself to which He will lead you or what graces He has in store for you. I have, of course, spoken of some of these graces. The others are unknown to me. Guard well your actions, your very presence must inspire devotion.
The retreat, of course, will be for all in general, but God will arrange that the sermons shall be entirely for you. Pay great attention to them. This retreat must make you a saint. God has made your heart for Himself alone.
Abandon yourself entirely into our Lord’s hands. Look neither forward nor backwards. Throw yourself entirely into His divine arms, upon His Sacred Heart, and there fear nothing.
Every morning say a little prayer to our Lord and adore Him in all those churches where He is most neglected. Go there in spirit and tell Him how much you love Him and want to make up to Him for the way in which He is forsaken. You will give great pleasure to Jesus if you renew this intention several times during the day.
God wishes you to think always of Him, to pray and work always under His Divine Eyes. He wants you, in as far as possible, never to lose sight of Him. All this must be done quietly, without affectation. No one must ever suspect it. Let Jesus alone know what passes between you. Keep your eyes always cast down unless when it is your duty to look after things. Then do so as modestly as possible.
Do not give way to human respect. Be very humble. Make God loved as much as you can. Let everything go its own way and do you go yours in the crowd, silently. If you are obliged to come forward, do it simply and refer all to God, without disturbing yourself as to whether the affair succeeds or not. When you have done all to please Him, have no other desire but that of always loving Him more and more.
Resolve at the end of your retreat to think often of what I am going to say now. God Alone, my God and my all. Every material thing passes away, and that quickly. The Tabernacle is my place of rest, the Holy Eucharist is my life, the Cross is my portion, Mary is my Mother, Heaven is my hope ... Yes, it would please God if you took no butter on your bread in the morning.
You must never judge or examine the conduct of your Sisters; you will not have to give an account of their lives. Neither must you use their conduct as your model. God does not ask the same perfection from all. Mortify yourself, and do not seek to find out if others are doing all you do. God does not require it of them. You will never believe all I am telling you.
This morning you witnessed what God wants you to do, as He granted you the sign you asked for. Jesus wants you to deal with Him, as with an intimate friend, without any fear whatsoever. It is true that His Majesty is frightening and that you are not worthy to have such an intimate converse with your Jesus, but is He not the Master that enriches whomsoever He wills?
Ask Jesus to make you rich in every virtue, as He wishes you to be, but in the meantime, shape your life in accordance with His inspirations. Enlarge your heart because what Jesus desires above all things is to see in it His love. What wonderful graces you will receive if you are faithful, graces you have never even thought of!
When you are suffering you must not go telling everyone. It does not console you. In the first place, you should tell it to Jesus, but most often it is to Him you tell it last.
I am greatly refreshed and I think the end of my exile is not far off. Oh, if you knew how I long to see God! Amidst all these supernatural events, you must be so natural that no one will notice that anything is happening. It is the same with everything else, lead a hidden life as much as possible, but without neglecting any of your duties. Let everything be perfectly simple. God desires that He alone should know what is going on in your soul.
Rest peacefully on the adorable Heart of your Jesus, tell Him all your sufferings as you would tell a friend. He will understand. What I have told you about the little corner of His Heart will be revealed to you only when you are far more spiritual than you are at present. Do not worry yourself over all the troubles of your class. I pray every day for you that you may not lose patience.
Before the Blessed Sacrament. See how Jesus is left alone. At this moment, if He wished, He could have many adorers, if they only had a little more good will! But what indifference is there even amongst religious! Our Lord is very much hurt by it. At any rate, you are to love Him for those indifferent souls and Jesus will be consoled for their neglect.
Mortify yourself corporally, but more especially spiritually. Forget yourself. Deny yourself in everything. Never look at what others are doing. God does not demand the same perfection from everyone. All are not enlightened in the same way, but you, whom Jesus Himself enlightens, look only to Him, let Him be your aim and object in everything.
Before every action, no matter how trivial, ask yourself if what you are about to do will please Him. That is all that matters as far as you are concerned. Any act of indifference or want of regard on your part wounds Him, whereas a continual remembrance of His Holy presence, a little aspiration to Him, a look, any little attention to give Him pleasure is noticed by Him.
Guard your interior well that you may lose none of His graces. Take no notice of your body. Forget yourself. Place yourself in the arms of Jesus and He will never let you be found wanting, only have unlimited confidence in His goodness. If you but realized His power, you would not put limits to His ability. What can He not do for a soul He loves!
Never seek to please anyone by your actions, but God only. It is for Him that you must do everything. Let there be no human respect, or ever growing weary ... He will grant anything you request of Him. Yes, it is true that you are very miserable. Humble yourself and know that Jesus does not always give His graces to the most holy.
Prepare yourself with great care for Holy Communion, Confession and the Divine Office, in a word, for anything that tends to unite you more closely to Our Lord. Many others must find it more difficult than you, to see Jesus always present in their heart. After all the graces He has given you, you should have no difficulty in being recollected.
I have already told you that God is searching the world over for souls that love Him with childlike affection, full of tender respect, truthfully and from the heart. He finds few such souls, fewer than you would suspect.
Souls belittle the Heart of God. They look upon Jesus as too difficult to approach and thus their love for Him remains cold. Their respect for Him has degenerated into a kind of indifference. I know that all souls are not capable of understanding this love which Our Lord yearns for.
Jesus has made Himself better known to you and wants you to make up for this indifference and coldness in others. Ask Him to enlarge your heart that it may be capable of greater love. By the love and respectful familiarity with which Jesus allows you to treat Him, you can make up for that which is not granted all to understand. Do this but, above all, love much.
Never grow weary in your work. Begin again each day as if you had so far done nothing. This continual renouncement of one’s will and comfort and one’s own opinions is a long martyrdom, but it is most pleasing to God. God wants you to be something special, not as regards your exterior, but in your inner soul. He asks of you a union with Himself, so great that you never lose sight of Him, even amidst your most absorbing occupations.
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Great sinners who were indifferent towards God, and religious who were not what they should have been are in the lowest stage of Purgatory. While they are there, the prayers offered up for them are not applied to them. Because they have ignored God during their life, He now in His turn leaves them abandoned in order that they may repair their neglectful and worthless lives.
While on Earth one truly cannot picture or imagine what God really is, but we (in Purgatory) know and understand Him for what He is, because our souls are freed from all the ties that fettered them and prevented them from realizing the holiness and majesty of God, and His great mercy. We are martyrs, consumed as it were by love. An irresistible force draws us towards God who is our center, but at the same time another force thrusts us back to our place of expiation.
We are in the state of being unable to satisfy our longings. Oh, what a suffering that is, but we desire it and there is no murmuring against God here. We desire only what God wants.
You on Earth, however, cannot possibly understand what we have to endure. I am much relieved as I am no longer in the fire. I have now only the insatiable desire to see God, a suffering cruel enough indeed, but I feel that the end of my exile is at hand and that I am soon to leave this place where I long for God with all my heart. I know it well, I feel more at ease, but I cannot tell you the day or the hour of my release. God alone knows that. It may be that I have still many years of longing for Heaven. Continue to pray; I will repay you later on, though I do pray a great deal for you now.
Oh, how great is the mercy of God in your regard! Who can understand it? Why does Jesus act thus towards you? Why does He love you more than many others? Why has He still many greater graces to bestow on you? Is it because you deserve them? No, you even deserve them less than many others, but it is His will to act thus towards you and He is the Master of His rewards. Be very grateful. Remain always in spirit at His Divine feet and let Him act as He will.
Watch well over your interior. Be very exact in finding what pleases your Jesus. Have neither eyes nor heart, nor love except for Him. Always consult Him before your smallest act. Abandon yourself wholly to His good pleasure and then be at peace. All that I have told you will be accomplished. Do not put any obstacles in the way. It is Jesus who wishes it thus.
Those who are lost are lost because they willed it, because to arrive at damnation they must have refused thousands of graces and good inspirations that God gave them, hence it is their own fault.
When I am there I will tell you, but I think the great festivals of Heaven are celebrated with an increase of ecstasy, admiration, and thanksgiving, but above all, of love. To be worthy of what I am telling you now, you must have arrived at so close a union with God that nothing disturbs you, neither sufferings, joys, success, failure, good or bad repute; nothing of any of these must influence you in any way.
Jesus must be Lord of all your being and you must keep the eye of your soul constantly fixed on Him to anticipate His slightest wishes. What has Jesus not done for you and what will He not do? Let your exterior be well regulated, and let your interior be even more so. Be occupied only with what concerns yourself. Keep your eyes always lowered, speak little and in a low voice, but above all converse with Jesus always. No, you do not tire Him. This is what He expects from you.
Be very kind to the children. Do not be rough with them. Be ingenious in mortifying yourself and in breaking your own will. Be especially nice to those who are less agreeable to you than to others, no matter what wrong they may have done you. This means renouncing yourself and pleasing Jesus. Nothing else matters. It is on these occasions that you must silence the human will, but you must do it because Jesus wills it. Do not allow self-love to get the upper hand, but do all blindly to please Jesus alone.
Do not trouble yourself about that. It is a punishment for me. Even if you prayed more I should not be any the more relieved. God wills it thus. If He wants you to pray more He will inspire you to do so. I repeat again, do not be worried about me. You will never see me in my sufferings. Later on, when your soul is stronger, you will see souls in Purgatory and very awful ones, but let this not frighten you. God will then give you the necessary courage and all that you need to accomplish His holy will.
No, certainly not, I am here for my relief and for your sanctification. If you would but pay a little more attention to what I say.
That is true but these happenings are so extraordinary that I do not know what to make of them; it is not an ordinary thing to hear you in this way.
I quite understand your difficulty and I am aware of your sufferings on this account. However, if God wishes it and it relieves me, you will have pity on me, will you not? When I am released you will see that I will do far more for you than you have ever done for me. I already pray much for you.
In the lowest Purgatory, where she receives no benefit from anyone’s prayers. God is often displeased, if one may speak thus, when many religious come to die, because He has called these souls to Himself that they might serve Him faithfully on Earth and go straight to Heaven at the moment of death, but because of their infidelity, they have to stay long in Purgatory — far longer than people in the world who have not had so many graces.
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I have many things to say to you that only you and the Father will understand. Have you thought of thanking God for having sent him to you? Pray for him every day.
The best and most efficacious way of glorifying him in Heaven and honoring him on Earth is to spread devotion to the souls in Purgatory, and to make known the great mission he fulfills towards these suffering souls. It is he who is entrusted by God to lead the souls to the place of expiation and to bring them to their eternal home after purification.
Each time a soul arrives to increase the number of the elect, God is glorified, and this glory in some way communicates itself also to the celestial minister. It is an honor for him to present to Our Lord the souls that will sing their thanks and His mercies through all eternity.
I could never make you understand the intense love which the Heavenly Archangel has for his Divine Master, and the love which God in His turn has for St. Michael. Neither can I convey to you a true idea of the love and pity St. Michael has for us. He encourages us in our sufferings by speaking to us of Heaven.
Tell the Father that if he wishes to please St. Michael, he will most earnestly recommend devotion to the souls in Purgatory. People in the world do not think of it. When they have lost their relatives or friends, they say a few prayers, weep for a few days and that is the end of it. The souls are henceforth abandoned. It is true that they merit this, for while they were on Earth they neglected the dead. The Divine Judge deals with us in this world according to our actions in the former.
Those who have forgotten the holy souls are forgotten in their turn. This is only fair. Perhaps if they had been reminded to pray for the dead and had been told a little about Purgatory, they might have acted differently. When God allows it, we can communicate directly with St. Michael in the way that spirits communicate.
On that day St. Michael comes to Purgatory and returns to Heaven with a great number of souls, especially with those who had been devout to him in life.
When the feast of a saint is celebrated on Earth, he receives an increase of accidental glory in Heaven, even if he is not actually remembered on Earth. He receives a special recompense in memory of some particular act of heroic virtue, or of some increase of glory, which he procured for God at a given time. This reward consists in an increase of accidental glory joined to the happiness which the memory of his work on Earth causes him. The accidental glory which the Archangel receives is far above that of the other saints, because this glory is proportioned to the greatness of the merit of the recipient and also to the value of the action which merits the reward.
I only know what happens in so far as God wills it. My knowledge is very limited. I have known a little about the community, but that is all. I know nothing about what goes on in the souls of other people, except in your case. That is because God allows this for your perfection. What I have sometimes told you about certain persons and what I will tell you, I only know from God at the moment. For example, I do not know what is God’s will in regard to your Father’s parents. Perhaps later on I may know. I will pray to God for them and recommend them to St. Michael.
I can tell you about the different degrees of Purgatory because I have passed through them. In the great Purgatory there are several stages. In the lowest and most painful, like a temporary Hell, are the sinners who have committed terrible crimes during life and whose death surprised them in that state. It was almost a miracle that they were saved, and often by the prayers of holy parents or other pious persons. Sometimes they did not even have time to confess their sins and the world thought them lost, but God, whose mercy is infinite, gave them at the moment of death the contrition necessary for their salvation on account of one or more good actions which they performed during life. For such souls, Purgatory is terrible. It is a real Hell with this difference, that in Hell they curse God, whereas we bless Him and thank Him for having saved us.
Next to these come the souls, who though they did not commit great crimes like the others, were indifferent to God. They did not fulfill their Easter duties and were also converted at the point of death. Perhaps they were unable to receive Holy Communion. They are in Purgatory for the long years of indifference. They suffer unheard of pains and are abandoned either without prayers or if they are said for them, they are not allowed to profit by them. There are in this stage of Purgatory religious of both sexes, who were tepid, neglectful of their duties, indifferent towards Jesus, also priests who did not exercise their sacred ministry with the reverence due to the Sovereign Majesty and who did not instill the love of God sufficiently into the souls confided to their care. I was in this stage of Purgatory.
In the second Purgatory are the souls of those who died with venial sins not fully expiated before death, or with mortal sins that have been forgiven, but for which they have not made entire satisfaction to the Divine Justice. In this part of Purgatory, there are also different degrees according to the merits of each soul. Thus the Purgatory of the consecrated soul, or of those who have received more abundant graces, is longer and far more painful than that of ordinary people of the world.
Lastly, there is the Purgatory of desire which is called the Threshold. Very few escape this. To avoid it altogether, one must ardently desire Heaven and the vision of God. That is rare, rarer than people think, because even pious people are afraid of God and have not, therefore, a sufficiently strong desire of going to Heaven. This Purgatory has its very painful martyrdom like the others. The deprivation of the sight of our loving Jesus adds to the intense suffering.
Yes, in the manner in which souls know. There are no names in the other world. You cannot compare Purgatory and Earth. When the soul is free and released from its mortal shell, its name is buried in the grave with the body. I can only give you a small insight into the nature of Purgatory. By the light which God gives you, you are better able to understand it than others. But what is all that to the reality? Here we are lost in the will of God, whereas on Earth, no matter how great the saint is, self-will always has a certain hold on him. As for us ... we now have no more self-will at all, we know and realize only that which it pleases God to let us know, nothing more.
Souls communicate with each other when God permits it, and after the manner of souls, but without words. Yes, it is true I speak to you, but are you a spirit? Would you understand me if I did not pronounce words? But for myself, as God wills it so, I understand you without your pronouncing any words with your lips. There is communication between spirits and souls on Earth. Thus when you have a good thought or a holy desire, they have been communicated to you by your Guardian Angel or by some saint, and sometimes by God Himself. That is the language of souls.
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It is in the center of the Earth, close to Hell, as you saw one day after Holy Communion. The large number of souls there are confined to a limited space. There are thousands and thousands of souls there. But then what space does a soul occupy? Each day thousands of souls come to Purgatory and most of them remain thirty to forty years, some for longer periods, others for shorter. I tell you this in terms of earthly calculations because here it is quite different.
Oh, if people only knew and understood what Purgatory is and what it means to know that we are here through our own fault. I have been here eight years and it seems to me like ten thousand. Oh my God! Tell all this to the Father (a priest), so that he may learn from me what this place of suffering is like and may make it better known in the future. He will be able to find out for himself how profitable it is to have a great devotion to the holy souls in Purgatory.
God often grants more graces through the intercession of these suffering souls than through the prayers of the saints. Let the Father, when he wishes to be sure of obtaining what he wants, ask the souls who have loved Our Lady most. These, in consequence, she wishes most of all to release. He will see whether his prayer is heard or not.
There are some souls who do not live continually in Purgatory itself ... For instance, I accompany you wherever you go, but while you rest during the night, I suffer more, because then I am actually in Purgatory.
The Father was very right when he told you never to seek anything but the holy will of God in all you do. To see His will in all that happens to you, whether in sorrow or in joy, will be for your happiness. Oh, be doubly good in order to give pleasure to God who is so good, who is so particularly good to you.
Have the eyes of your soul always open to anticipate His least wishes. Be beforehand with Him, as it were, to give Him pleasure. The more you try to please Him, the more He will give you. He will never allow Himself to be outdone in generosity. On the contrary, He always gives more than is given Him. Be unrelenting, therefore, in devoting yourself to His love and glory.
The English woman, who was drowned at Mont Michel, went straight to Heaven. She had the necessary contrition at the moment of death and at the same time the baptism of desire. All this happened through the intervention of St. Michael. What a happy shipwreck!
About Father P— who is retired, St. Michael is not pleased about that. But God leaves one free. He wishes to have in His service only those who serve Him willingly without ever looking back. Tell Father P— God wants him to continue with great courage to accomplish all that he has undertaken for His sake. Tell him to be prudent and not undertake more than his strength will allow. I am praying for all his intentions, and as I told you before, I pray for him as I do for you.
Pius IX went straight to Heaven. He had his Purgatory on Earth.
God made this known to me. It is through His goodness that I know the things you ask me, when I have not seen or experienced them myself.
The justice of God keeps us in Purgatory, and we deserve it, but His mercy and His fatherly Heart does not leave us here bereft of all consolation. We ardently desire complete union with Jesus, but He desires it almost as much as we do.
On Earth, He sometimes communicates Himself to certain souls in a most intimate manner (to few, because, so few will listen to Him) and He delights in revealing His secrets to them. The souls that receive these favors are those that seek to please Him in all their conduct and who live and breathe only for Jesus and try to please Him.
There are in Purgatory very culpable souls but they are repentant, and notwithstanding the sins they have to expiate, they are confirmed in grace and can no longer sin. They are perfected as the soul is purified by degrees in this place of expiation. The soul understands God better, without, however, the soul actually seeing God, because then there would no longer be any Purgatory. If in Purgatory, we did not know God better than He is known on Earth, our suffering would not be so keen and our martyrdom so cruel. Our main torment is the absence of Him who is the sole object of our long-endured desires.
The three friends of V. P. — have been in Heaven for a long time.
Those in Heaven for whom prayers are said on Earth can apply those prayers to the souls they wish to benefit. It is a very consoling thought for those in the other world to know that their relatives and friends on Earth do not forget them, even though they have no further need of prayers. In return, they are not ungrateful.
The judgments of God are very different from those of the world. He takes into account the temperament and character of each and what is done by carelessness or pure malice. To Him who knows the most secret recesses of the heart, it is not difficult to see what goes on there. Jesus is very good, but He is also most just.
Purgatory is in the center of the globe.
Amongst the people who dwell there some, by voluntary or accepted penance, do their Purgatory on Earth because it is truly a place of suffering, but these souls, not having sufficient generosity, go to the real Purgatory to finish what was begun on Earth.
Such deaths are sometimes an act of justice, sometimes one of mercy. When a soul is timid and God knows it is well prepared to appear before Him, He takes it out of this world suddenly to spare it the terrors it might experience at the last moment.
Sometimes, also, God takes souls in His justice. They are not for this reason eternally lost, but their Purgatory is much more severe and prolonged than it would otherwise have been, since they were either deprived of the Last Sacraments or received them hastily and so were unprepared for their passage into eternity.
Others having filled up the measure of their crimes and having remained deaf to all inspirations of Divine Grace are taken by God out of this world so that they may not excite His vengeance still more.
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Yes, with this difference, that the fire of Purgatory is a purification prescribed by God’s justice and that of Earth is very mild compared to that of Purgatory. It is a shadow compared to the furnace of Divine Justice.
By a just and express permission of God, the soul which is the real culprit (for the body only obeys the soul) suffers as if the body were suffering. Have you ever seen any evil committed by a dead body?
Tell me what happens during the agony and after. Does the soul find itself in light or darkness? Under what form is the sentence pronounced?
I had no agony, as you know, but I can tell you this, that at the last decisive moment, the devil lets loose all his rage against the one that is dying. God permits souls to go through these last trials in order to increase their merits. Souls that are strong and generous, in order that they may have a more glorious place in Heaven, have often had, at the end of their lives and in the moment of death, terrible combats with the angel of darkness. You have been witness to this. But they always come out victorious. God never allows a soul that has been devoted to Him during life to perish at the last moment.
Those souls who have loved the Blessed Virgin and invoked her all their lives receive from her many graces in their last struggles. It is the same for those who have been really devout to St. Joseph, to St. Michael, or to any of the saints. I have already said one is glad to have an intercessor with God in those dreadful moments. Some souls die quite tranquilly without experiencing any of those trials. God has His designs in everything. He does or permits all for the good of each particular soul.
How can I describe what happens after the agony? It is impossible really to understand it unless one has passed through it. When the soul leaves the body it is as if it were lost in or, if I may say so, surrounded by God. It finds itself in such a bewildering light that in the twinkling of an eye it sees its whole life spread out, and at this sight, it sees what it deserves, and this same light pronounces its sentence. The soul does not see God but is annihilated in His presence. If the soul is guilty as I was and, therefore, deserves to go to Purgatory, it is so crushed by the weight of the faults that still remain to be blotted out, that it hurls itself into Purgatory.
It is only then that one understands God and His love for souls and what a terrible evil sin is in the eyes of the Divine Majesty. St. Michael is present when the soul leaves the body. I saw him only, and he is the only one that every soul sees. (Later) I also saw my Guardian Angel. From this you can understand why it is said, “St. Michael conducts souls to Purgatory”, for a soul is not taken, but he is there at the carrying out of each sentence. All that happens in this other world is a mystery for yours.
For that soul, its union with Jesus continues after death. That is Heaven, but the union in Heaven is much closer and more intimate than that of Earth.
Why did you behave so badly towards God today? He is not pleased with your conduct and He is so good to you. It is real ingratitude on your part. Why do you bother about the conduct of others? Busy yourself with your own, that is enough. Everybody has not the same disposition, and if you were to have “lost your head” on account of all the frights I have given you these seven years past you would have lost it long ago. It will be a long time before that takes place. Set your mind at rest, therefore, and do not begin to act as you did today.
You have good reason not to like ecstasies. They must of necessity be accepted when God sends them, but He does not wish that anyone should desire them. Those are not the sort of things that lead one to Heaven. A humble and mortified life is much more to be desired and is much safer.
It is true that many of the saints had revelations and ecstasies but they were a reward which God gave them after long combats and a life of self-abnegation, or else, because He wished to use those servants of His for great things to procure His glory. That was done without any notice or fuss, in silence and prayer, and if they became known, the souls were covered with confusion and only spoke of their experiences under obedience.
Almighty God has crushed you in the past, but you must be very patient and take courage, because He will annihilate you still more in the future.
Tell Mother Superior that if she meets persons of the temperament and character of Sister — to take no notice of them, and never listen to all they want to say to her.
Be quite easy as to what you told me. This is how you know if a grace is truly given by God. These graces come unexpectedly and fall on you like a gentle shower of rain, that takes you by surprise when the sky appears cloudless. There is no danger in this case to fear having sought them, as you were not even thinking of such things. You have noticed this many times. It is quite different with graces that one thinks are given by Jesus, but are the effect of the imagination, which has worked hard to produce them. These should be feared because the devil often plays his part in them and takes advantage of a weak brain or a soft temperament, or a judgment not too sane. He then deceives the poor souls, who in reality do not sin, provided they follow the advice of those who guide them spiritually. I can tell you there are many in the world of this type. The devil acts in this way to make religion look ridiculous. Such souls seek themselves while they think they seek God and dream of a sanctity that is false.
You know that very well, but as you wish it I shall repeat it to you, though I have already told it to you many times. True sanctity consists in renouncing oneself from morning to night, in being a living sacrifice, in constantly putting aside the human self, in allowing God to work in and with you as He pleases, to receive the graces He sends you with profound humility, recognizing yourself quite unworthy of them, to live as constantly as possible in the Divine Presence, to perform all your actions under the eye of God, wanting Him only to be the witness of your efforts and your only reward. This is the sanctity wished for and demanded by Jesus of all those who desire to be His only and to live His life. All the rest is pure illusion.
Some souls have their Purgatory on Earth by suffering, others by love, for love is a true martyrdom. The soul that really tries to love Jesus finds that notwithstanding all its efforts it does not love Him as much as it wants to, and that is for that soul a perpetual martyrdom caused by a love which is not without great suffering. It is, as I told you, rather like the state of a soul in Purgatory, who continually leaps up towards Him who is its only desire, and who at the same time is hurled back because its expiation is not completed.
Ask Reverend Mother sometimes to allow you to read over what I tell you instead of your ordinary spiritual reading. Take one day a week, Thursday for instance, because what is the good of writing it down if you never read it over. You end by forgetting it, and it is not for that reason I tell it to you, but in order that you may profit by it.
If I had never spoken to anyone of what you have told me, what would be the result? You know I had a strong inclination to keep it entirely to myself.
You were quite at liberty to keep it all to yourself, but in that case, I should have advised you to speak, because God has never permitted that the perfecting of any soul should come directly from Heaven.
Since people live on Earth, God wills that they work out their sanctification by the advice which He permits them to receive for this end. You did well to speak when it cost you so much to do so. Anyway there is nothing of all this your own, and God who directs all events for the good of those He loves, knows how to draw glory for Himself at the same time.
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We see St. Michael as we see the angels. He has no body. He comes to get the souls that have finished their purification. It is he who conducts them to Heaven. He is among the Seraphim as Monsignor said. He is the highest angel in Heaven. Our own Guardian Angels come to see us but St. Michael is far more beautiful than they are.
As to the Blessed Virgin, we see her in the body. She comes to Purgatory on her feasts and she goes back to Heaven with many souls. While she is with us we do not suffer. St. Michael accompanies her. When he comes alone, we suffer as usual.
When I spoke to you of the great and the second Purgatory, it was to try to make you understand that there are different stages in Purgatory. Thus I call that stage of Purgatory great or worst where the most guilty souls are, and where I stayed for two years without being able to give a sign of the torments I was suffering. The year when you heard me groaning, when I began to speak to you, I was still in the same place.
In the second Purgatory, which is still Purgatory but very different from the first, one suffers a great deal, but less than in the great place of expiation. Then there is a third stage, which is the Purgatory of desire, where there is no fire. The souls who did not desire Heaven ardently enough, who did not love God sufficiently are there. It is there that I am at this moment. Further, in these three parts of Purgatory, there are many degrees of variation. Little by little, as the soul becomes purified, her sufferings are changed.
Now are you really going to begin to rouse yourself and give yourself to God? How long have I tormented you on this subject! The retreat has been a good one and will bear fruit. The devil is not pleased.
God greatly loves the Father who gave the retreat. Tell him I thank him very much for the remembrances he promised to make for me at Holy Mass. On my part, I will not be ungrateful and I will ask God to give him the graces of which he stands in need. You did well to tell him this evening all I have told you. The community has profited by his coming, but it was for you especially that he was sent.
St. Michael, who has loved and protected you for so long a time, wishes that one of his missionary priests should know all that I have told you. God has His own designs in all this and you will know them later. Later on you may be able to give him more precise information about St. Michael.
You ask me if Father _____ is pleasing to God? This is what you are to say to him. If he continues to act as he has done up to this time, he is agreeable in God’s sight. What He loves most in him is his great purity of intention, his interior spirit and his goodness to souls. Tell him if he continues to unite himself more and more to the Heart of Jesus, the closer this union becomes, the more meritorious all his actions and his entire life will be for eternity and the more profitable for souls. God does not expect ordinary perfection from him.
Tell him to be sure, in his retreats and missions, to recommend strongly the offering up to God of the actions of the day. This advice is not only to people in the world, but also for religious communities. People do not always think enough of this and, consequently, many actions, good in themselves, will receive no reward at the last day, because they were not first offered up to God.
If the Father sees that his words do not always bear the fruit he would like, let him never lose courage. He should remember that God is pleased and satisfied with his efforts, even if he has succeeded in putting into the hearts of his hearers only a little love, and that only for a quarter of an hour.
God has made all this known to me because the Father did not receive you badly the other day when you went to speak to him. Do all that he tells you and write down for him all that you have learned from me. Don’t forget anything and profit by the advice he gives you on this subject. I tell you again that it is God who has sent him. God has great designs in your regard, in all that He does in this matter. Be very faithful to all the graces that Jesus gives you. Later on, if as I hope, God makes known anything more for Father, I will tell you. Thank him again for his prayers and tell him I am not ungrateful. I will pray for him as I do for you at present.
Weigh well the idea that God wishes you to be a saint. You may say that this is nothing new because Jesus has pursued you for so long a time, and so have I, but now it is really time to begin to apply yourself seriously to this work. You saw this in a forceful manner during this retreat. Do not put any obstacles in the way of grace. Let God lead you as He wills, but above all, do not resist a single one of His inspirations. Put nature and self aside, then when you are rid of that burden, go forward without growing weary.
Pray well for me that I may soon be united to the object of my long-delayed and ardent desires. I shall be more useful to you in Heaven than I am here. That was a good thought of yours on the day the retreat closed, to invite me to come and adore Jesus present in your heart during your thanksgiving after Holy Communion. If you had done that sooner, I should have obtained much relief. Do so in the future and before all your prayers. Also offer a part of your work for me, as I have such an ardent longing to see God.
Your little note books4 please God very much. It is the shortest way to great perfection and close union with Jesus. I have waited long for you to show a little more love in all your actions. The more a soul loves Jesus the more meritorious all its actions are in His sight. It is only love that will be rewarded in Heaven. All that is done for any other motive will count as nothing. Love Jesus truly, once and for all, as He wants you to. Then I also shall benefit in that I shall have great relief in all my sufferings.
Yes, He is pleased because you are striving more to give Him pleasure. Have you noticed His goodness and special watchfulness over you? Has He not also given you much joy these days? He will always act like that towards you. The more you do for Him the more He will do for you.
I am so happy to see that you are really beginning to love God, who is so good, and to work seriously at your perfection. If by remaining a little longer in Purgatory I could obtain that you should arrive at the perfection God demands of you in order to accomplish His designs, I would willingly bear that suffering.
Never look back to examine your conduct in the past. Leave it entirely in the hands of God and go steadily forward. Your life must be summed up in two words: Love and Sacrifice. Sacrifice from morning to night, but always with Love. If only you knew what God is, there is no sacrifice that you would not be willing to make, no suffering that you would not endure for Him. If you could see Him for but one minute you would be perfectly satisfied and consoled ... What then must it be to see Him for all eternity?
There is no middle course for you. Some souls might save themselves in other ways, but not you. You will either be a great saint or a great sinner. The choice is yours. Do you remember how a long time ago during one of your first retreats, you were much impressed by these words: There are some souls for whom there is no middle way, they will either be angels or devils? Apply that to yourself. You know that these words are meant for you.
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The sister-in-law of N___ is in Purgatory where she is suffering much. The Reverend Father can help her by offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for her.
The old sinner was saved through the mercy of God like so many others. He is in the great Purgatory.
On All Souls’ Day many souls leave the place of expiation and go to Heaven. Also, by a special grace of God on that day only, all the suffering souls, without exception, have a share in the public prayers of the Church, even those who are in the great Purgatory. Still the relief of each soul is in proportion to its merits. Some receive more, some less, but all feel the benefit of this extraordinary grace. Many of the suffering souls receive this one help only in all the long years they pass here and this by the justice of God. It is not, however, on All Souls’ Day that the most go to Heaven. It is on Christmas night.
There are many things that I could tell you but I am not allowed to do so. It is you who must ask me, then I may answer.
I am very much relieved by the prayers of good Father P _______. Tell him I thank him very much for them, as also for those he has had the charity to get said for me. I always pray for him, as I told you, and I hope to do so still more when I am in Heaven. Tell him, also, I know when he prays for me, and it is the same with the other souls in Purgatory ... Very few souls get any prayers, the majority are totally abandoned and no thought or prayers are given them on Earth.
About the time of our release we know nothing. If we only knew when the end of our sufferings would come it would be an intense relief, a joy for us, but no, it is not so. We know well that our sufferings decrease and our union with God becomes closer, but what day (that is according to earthly calculations, because here there are no days) we shall be united to God, of that we know nothing; it is a secret.
The souls in Purgatory have no knowledge of the future except what God sometimes gives them. According to their merits, some souls have more of this knowledge than others, yet what do all these things matter to us, unless it is a question of the glory of God or of the good of souls? You need not be astonished that the devil or his agents sometimes foretell future events that really come to pass.
The devil is a spirit and, in consequence, has many more wiles and ways of finding out things than any person on Earth, except the few saints whom God enlightens in a special manner. He roams about everywhere trying to do harm. He sees what is going on all over the world and with his extraordinary sagacity foresees many things before they happen. That is the only explanation. Woe to those who make themselves his slaves by consulting him. This is a sin very displeasing to God.
Yes, not about existing things but about the future. Yet there is no imperfection on their part in all this. Does not God Himself sometimes seem to change the order of His plans? For example, it may happen that God wishes to chastise a kingdom, a province, or person. That is the intention He seems to manifest. But by prayers or other means taken by that country, province or person to disarm God’s anger, He may grant full forgiveness or a partial remission of His designs according to His infinite wisdom. Often He also allows events to be foretold, or He gives knowledge of them to some soul so that they may warn others and appease His vengeance. His mercy is so great that He only punishes in the very last extremity.
In the case of the person of whom you spoke to me the other day, I did not at that moment tell you the events as they turned out. However, it was thus that God made me see them, but because she changed her conduct somewhat, God only gave her half the punishment which He had in store for her if she had continued in her former dispositions. In this way we can often appear to be mistaken.
By the mercy of God a certain number of Protestants are saved, but their Purgatory is for many long and rigorous. It is true they have not abused grace like many Catholics, but neither have they had the marvelous graces of the sacraments and the other helps of the true religion, thus their expiation in Purgatory is prolonged.
I am speaking lower than usual, because for the last eight days you have been speaking in too low a voice to God in saying the Divine Office. When you begin to speak louder, I will do the same.
Do you know in Purgatory about the persecution of the Church? Do you know when it will end?
We know that the Church is being persecuted and we pray for her triumph, but when this will be, I do not know. Some of the souls may know, but I do not. In Purgatory the souls are not entirely occupied by their sufferings. They pray for all the interests of God and for those who shorten their sufferings. They pray and thank God for His infinite mercies in their regard, because the space between Purgatory and Hell for some of them was very narrow and they barely escaped falling into Hell. Judge then what the gratitude of those souls is who were barely rescued from Satan.
I cannot explain to you how it is that we no longer see the Earth as you do. This can only be understood when the soul has left the body, because then the Earth which it has left, leaving there its body, seems to it as a mere speck compared with the vast unending horizons of eternity which then open before it.
You must never take any notice of what will be said of you. The real merit of a person consists not in accepting with patience rebukes which she has merited more or less, but in accepting patiently those she has not merited, especially if she has done her utmost to do good and is then reproached for it.
I receive far more relief from one of your actions done in union with Jesus, than from a vocal prayer, because what is it that God hears? He hears all that is done with an interior spirit. The more closely a soul is united with God the more readily does He grant all it asks. A soul intimately united with Jesus is the mistress of His Heart. Strive then after this union which Jesus has desired to have with you for so long. You want to please Him? Well, this is the only way. You approach closer to His Heart by great attention to the least manifestations of His holy will. He must be able to twist and turn you as He likes and He must never find any resistance on your part. When you have arrived at that point you will begin to see and understand His goodness.
Be really in earnest about working for God alone. Never seek any witness but Him for any of your actions. Be very careful never to say to yourself, when performing any act no matter how trivial it may be, such as, “If I do things this way I shall please so and so. I will do this to please such a person.” God does not like these human reasonings in anyone, still less in you. Direct your intentions always with the sole desire of pleasing Jesus, and Him only. If by so acting, you manage to please someone else, so much the better, and if the contrary happens, that cannot be helped. God will be pleased and that is all that ought to matter to you.
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Alas, how many lives seem to be filled with good works and at death are found empty! This is because all those actions that appeared to be good―all those showy works, all that conduct that seemed irreproachable--all these were not done for Jesus alone. Some will have their eyes opened when they come here to this life (in Purgatory). On Earth they wanted to be made much of; to shine; to be thought of being very exact in religious observances; to be esteemed as perfect religious. This is the mainspring of so many lives. If you only knew how few people work for God and act for Him alone.
Alas, at death, when they are no longer blinded, what regrets they will have. If only sometimes they would think of eternity. What is life compared to that day which will have no evening for the elect, or to that night which will have no dawning for the damned? On Earth, people attach themselves to everything and everyone, except to Him, Who alone ought to have our love, and to Whom we refuse it. Jesus in the Tabernacle waits for souls to love Him and He finds none. Hardly one soul in a thousand loves Him as it should. You love Him and make up to Him for this guilty indifference, which exists all over the world.
Yes, but it is a love of reparation, and, if on Earth, we had loved Him as we ought to have done, there would not be so many of us here in this place of expiation.
In Heaven they love Him very much, there He is compensated. But Jesus wants more than that. He wants to be loved on Earth, on that Earth where He annihilates Himself in every Tabernacle, in order to be approached more easily and yet He is refused. People pass before a church with more indifference than they would before any public monument. If, by chance, they go into the holy place, it is only to insult still more the Divine Captive Who dwells there, namely, by their coldness and their irreverence. Their prayers are said hurriedly and without attention, instead of speaking to Him from their hearts and saying words of friendship and gratitude for all His favors to them.
Tell Father P___ that God expects from him this love which He so rarely meets with. He expects it from him who comes, each day, so close to Jesus, Whom he receives into his heart. Oh, tell him that, in those blessed moments, he may repair, by his tender love, the indifference of so many ungrateful souls. His heart must melt with love before Jesus in the Host and intercede for those priests who enjoy the same privilege that he does, yet treat the sacred mysteries with a frozen heart, which remains as cold as marble to Jesus. Every day let his union with God become closer, in order to prepare himself worthily for the great graces which Jesus has in store for him.
I have told you there are some souls who do their Purgatory at the foot of the altar. They are not there for faults they have committed in church, because those faults which attack Jesus directly―Jesus present in the Tabernacle―are punished with terrible severity in Purgatory. The souls, that are there in adoration, are there as a reward for their reverent behavior in the Sacred Presence. They suffer less than if they were in Purgatory itself, and Jesus, Whom they contemplate with the eyes of their soul and of faith, softens their pains by His invisible Presence.
On Christmas night, thousands of souls leave their place of expiation for Heaven, but many remain, and I am of their number. You sometimes say to me that the perfecting of a soul is a long process and you are also astonished that, after so many prayers, I am so long deprived of the sight of God. Alas, the perfecting of a soul does not take any less time in Purgatory than upon Earth.
There are a number of souls, but they are very few, who have only a few venial sins to expiate. These do not stay long in Purgatory. A few well-said prayers, a few sacrifices soon deliver them. But when there are souls like mine — and that is nearly all whose lives have been so empty and who paid little or no attention to their salvation — then their whole life has to be begun over again in this place of expiation. The soul has to perfect itself all over again, and love and desire Him, whom it did not love sufficiently on Earth. This is the reason why the deliverance of some souls is delayed. God has given me a very great grace in allowing me to ask for prayers. I did not deserve it, but, without this, I would have remained, like most of those here, for years and years more.
In Purgatory, as in Heaven, religious and those of the same family are not always together. Souls do not all merit the same punishment, or the same reward. Still, in Purgatory, we do recognize others and, if God permits, it we may communicate with one another.
Thoughts of Earth can be made known here, but there is not much in all that, because I have already told you that the souls in Purgatory know those persons who interest themselves in their behalf on Earth. God sometimes allows those on Earth to receive a prayer, a warning, or some information. All that I told you about St. Michael, was from himself; and all that I said about your Father, was from God.
All the commissions that you have, so often, given me for the other world, I have always done, but all these things are subordinate to the Divine Will.
In general, we do not know about the faults of one another, except in some rare cases, when God has particular designs with regard to certain souls, but it is to few that He acts in this way.
What a question! Of course we know Him far better and love Him far more! Indeed, it is just that which causes our greatest suffering.
On Earth, you simply do not know what God is. There, each one of you has an idea of what you think God is, according to your very limited knowledge, but when we leave our covering of clay, and when nothing impedes the liberty of our souls, we at last begin to know God―His goodness, His mercy, His love. After this clearer view and the thirst for union, our souls yearn for God. This is our very life and we are forever repulsed, because we are not sufficiently pure. This, in a word, is our worst suffering, the hardest, the most bitter.
Oh, if only we were allowed to come back to Earth, after knowing what God really is, what a different life we would lead! But what useless regrets, and yet, on Earth, you do not think of these things and live as if you were blind. Eternity is of no account to you. The Earth, which is only a journey and receives only the body which in itself turns to dust, is the sole object to which almost all of your desires tend and you do not even think of Heaven, while Jesus and His love are entirely forgotten.
In Purgatory our only consolation, our only hope is in God alone. On Earth, God sometimes allows us to be consoled in our sufferings of soul, or body, by the heart of a friend, but, then again, if the love of Jesus does not fill that heart, the consolations are vain. Here the souls are lost, drowned as it were, in the Divine Will and God alone can soften their pains. Each soul is tormented according to its guilt, but all have one common sorrow that surpasses all the rest, the absence of Jesus, Who is our very element, our life, our all. And we are separated from Him through our own fault.
After an action you must not waste your time going over it to examine it to see if you have done well or ill. Certainly you must examine your actions each day―to be able to do better in the future―but this must not be at the expense of the soul.
God loves simple souls. You must go to Him, therefore, with good will, always ready to sacrifice yourself to please Him. You must act with Jesus, as a little child does with its mother, trusting in His goodness and placing all your spiritual and temporal interest, with great confidence, in His Divine Hands. Having done this, try to please Him in everything, without troubling yourself about anything else. God does not regard great acts, or heroic deeds, as much as He does simple actions, or small sacrifices―provided these are done with love for Him.
Sometimes even a tiny sacrifice, which was known only to God and to the soul, may be far more meritorious than a great one that was loudly applauded. One must be very interior in order not to take, for oneself, any of the praise given one. God seeks souls empty of self, so as to fill them with His love. He finds but a few. Self-love leaves no place for Jesus. Do not let any opportunity, to mortify self, pass by, especially interior mortification. Jesus has many graces to give you during Lent. Therefore, prepare yourself by a redoubling of your fervor, but above all, love Jesus. He is so little loved by the world and so outraged by it.
The Blessed Virgin loves you very much. On your part, love her with all your heart and do all you can to procure her the greatest possible glory.
You will never be able to understand well enough the goodness of God. If people only took the trouble to think about it sometimes, it would be enough to make them all saints, but they do not sufficiently know the merciful goodness of the Heart of Jesus in the world. Each one measures it according to his way of thinking and this way is wrong. This is the reason why they pray badly. Yes, very few people pray as Jesus wants them to pray. They are wanting in confidence, and yet Jesus only grants our prayers according to the ardor of our desires and the strength of our love. This is why the graces we often ask for remain ineffective.
To be happy in religion, we should be deaf, dumb and blind. That is to say, we must hear many things that we could repeat, but which are far better kept to ourselves. We shall never be sorry for having kept silent. We are obliged to see and hear many things, but we must act as if we had neither seen, nor understood them.
Oh, if you only knew how paltry these little nothings are, about which some make such a fuss. The devil makes use of these little straws to check the progress of a soul and obstruct all the good that a soul is called to do. Do not let yourself be caught in these meshes. Have a large heart and pass over all these little miseries, without even noticing them. Jesus should be a sufficient attraction for you to prevent your being hindered by anything whatsoever outside of Him.
See everything as coming from His bounty, whether He afflicts or consoles you. It is His love that arranges everything for the benefit of His friends. Never allow yourself to be discouraged. In a few hours, or even in the twinkling of an eye, Jesus could bring you to the summit of perfection which He desires for you. But no, He prefers your own efforts and He wants you to see for yourself, how hard and rugged is the way to perfection.
Be very generous. Jesus has bestowed more graces on you than on many others and He will give you still more, but, in return, He hopes to find in you a soul devoted to Him and ready for any sacrifice.
Above all, He wants of you great love, and when you have fought against yourself and your failings and acted in a spirit of profound Faith, then will Faith seem a reality. Before this can take place, you must act as if Jesus were always visibly present to you in a natural way, whereas His presence is supernatural.
Preachers and directors of souls do good only in proportion to their union with Jesus. In their spirit of prayer and in watching over their interior, they must always have their eyes directed towards Jesus, sacrificing all for the salvation of the souls entrusted to their care.
The promises are real, but you need not think that people―who recite it out of routine and without any pains to become holy―are taken out of Purgatory at once. That would be false. St. Michael does more than he promises, but he is not over-anxious to relieve those who are condemned to a long Purgatory. Certainly, as a reward for their devotion to the Archangel, their sufferings are shortened, but as to delivering them at once, not so. I, who used to say it, can serve as an example of this. Immediate deliverance takes place only in the case of those who have worked with courage at their perfection and who have little to expiate in Purgatory.
France is, indeed, very guilty, but unfortunately she is not the only one. At this moment there is not a single Christian kingdom that is not openly, or by underhanded means, trying to expel God from its midst. The secret societies and their master, the devil, are fomenting and stirring up all this trouble.
This is now the hour of the prince of darkness. While he is in power, he may do his worst, but God will show that He alone is Master. He may use severity to manifest His power, but even in His vengeance, Jesus is yet always merciful.
By the permission of God, we, in Purgatory, know what is happening on Earth at this moment, so that we may pray for those great needs, but our prayers alone will not suffice. If Jesus could only find some really good souls, who were willing to make reparation and disarm His outraged Majesty, it would indeed please His Divine Heart, now deluged by so much bitterness. Such souls might obtain His mercy, since God desires to pardon those who humble themselves. Tell this to Mother Superior.
St. Michael will intervene in the personal struggle of the Church, which is so terribly persecuted, but not so easily destroyed as the wicked think. It is he who is also the special patron of France and who will help her to take her rank as the eldest daughter of the Church, because, despite all the wickedness that is committed in France, there is still much good and so many devoted souls there. I do not know when St. Michael will intervene; you must pray much for this intention. Invoke the Archangel, remind him of his titles and beseech him to intercede with Christ, over whose Heart he has such influence.
But be sure that the Blessed Virgin is not forgotten. France is her kingdom, privileged over all others. She will save it. Those who promote the recitation of the Rosary everywhere deserve praise. It is this prayer that is the most efficacious in the present time of need.
The heroic act [of giving all or a great deal of our merits to the souls in Purgatory] is very pleasing to God and of great help to the souls in Purgatory, and very helpful to the generous souls who make it. By giving up a part of their merits, they do not lose but actually gain.
As for the plenary indulgences, I may as well tell you that few, very few people gain them entirely. There has to be such a wonderful disposition of heart and will that it is rare, much rarer than you think it is, to have the entire remission of one’s faults. In Purgatory, we receive only the indulgences applied to us by way of suffrage, as God permits according to our dispositions.
It is true that we have no inclination to sin, but we are no longer in the reign of Mercy, but under that of Divine Justice, so that we receive only what God wants us to have. When a soul is near the object of its desires, namely Heaven, it may be delivered and admitted to eternal joy by the efficacy of one plenary indulgence well gained, or even gained only in half and applied to its intentions, but for other souls it is not so. They have often, during life, despised or made little use of indulgences, and God who is always just, rewards them according to their works. They gain something, as it pleases God, but hardly ever the full benefit of the indulgence.
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Work without ceasing and with all your strength at your own perfection. If you want to, you can become what Jesus wishes you to be, for you have enough strength of character to overcome all the difficulties which stand in the way of your union with Him. Your life will be a continual martyrdom, but a martyrdom in which you will nevertheless taste the sweetest joys. When a soul suffers, He for whom she suffers gives her at each sacrifice, each renunciation, a fresh grace which encourages her to go steadily onward in her devotedness. Nothing gives Jesus greater pleasure than to see a soul that notwithstanding all the obstacles which obstruct her path, forces herself to be ever more and more devoted in procuring the glory of God and promoting His love.
You are sad in seeing how God is insulted in Paris, but those poor people do not know what they are doing, in spite of all their blasphemies. Jesus is much more outraged by the sins of those consecrated to Him than by the more violent crimes of those who are not His friends. How many souls whom Jesus has called to perfection remain always worthless because they have not corresponded to Divine Grace. One must put oneself out and constantly check and keep oneself up to a very high standard to be happy in God’s service.
How very few interior souls there are in the world, and even in religious communities. Each one seeks her own ease and comfort and refuses to be inconvenienced in the smallest thing. And yet God would be so happy (if one may so speak) if they would only love Him without constraint and with all their hearts. If He could only find such joy in this community, what innumerable graces He would shower upon it. For yourself, work your hardest at self-conquest and at loving Jesus, which He has been seeking from you for such a long time. Jesus desires that you should love Him with the love of a child, that is, with the tenderness with which a child seeks to give pleasure to beloved parents. You are still so cold towards Jesus and this is not what He expects of you when He in turn loves you so much.
There are numbers of useless actions, many days entirely futile, without any love for Jesus or purity of intention. They are all lost since they have no value for Heaven.
You do not direct your intention with the purity that God wills. For instance, instead of offering up your actions vaguely, you could do so with much more fruit, if you only made your intention more definite. When you take your meals for example, say, “O my Jesus nourish my soul with your Divine Grace while I nourish my body.” When you wash your face and hands say, “My Jesus, purify my soul as I am purifying my body,” and so on, for each of your actions. Accustom yourself to be always speaking heart to heart with Jesus, and let Him be the mainspring of all you do or say. Do you understand me?
You must never excuse yourself. What difference does it make to you whether others think you guilty if you are innocent? And if you see that you have failed in any way, humble yourself and keep silence. Never excuse yourself even in your own thoughts.
You told the Father this morning that it annoyed you very much to hear me and that you would prefer to be like everyone else. During the year you wrote the same thing to him and you have often said the same to Mother Superior. Why do you fret like this? Is it not God who allows everything? It has nothing to do with you. Try to profit by these graces and stop complaining. You have not yet heard all that you will hear and you have not yet seen all that you will see. Tell that to your Father and tell him also that I am not the devil. He does not think so. It is you only who have these fears. Calm yourself and profit by this retreat. From this moment you must change absolutely. Do not give way to all these reflections thinking only about yourself. That is self-love and nothing else. Instead open your heart to grace, cling to Jesus and do not waste your precious time in wondering why this and why that.
God plans to give you great graces, and to him also whom He has sent to you to tell you what He wants from you. Adore His designs without seeking to understand them. The Father will say many things in the sermons which are for you, though he will not think of that. Jesus allows this; therefore, profit by this holy retreat for it will be decisive for you.
It is only those actions done with great love and under the eye of God, wishing to do His Holy Will, that will receive their reward immediately, without the soul passing through Purgatory. What great blindness there is in the world about all this.
You are a little more satisfied with yourself these last few days, and so is Jesus, because you are making efforts to please Him and to become more closely united to Him. But do not think that it is as yet completed. It is but a tiny beginning of the union He desires to have with your soul.
Oh, how little people on Earth understand what a degree of detachment Jesus demands of a soul whom He wishes to make all His own. People think they love and will soon become saints, because they feel a little more sensible devotion than usual, but all these natural devotions are as nothing. A soul must rise up and detach itself from its self-love, its passions, in order to free itself from all human love. It is hard, and how few there are who understand what all this means.
You who, by the great mercy of God, do understand a little of it, you whom He loves so much, begin to follow His path of self-denial and death to yourself. Think often of all the marks of His love Jesus has given to you. Consider how far He went to seek you and how He smoothed away all the obstacles in your path. He has done more for you than for anyone else. Each day He loads you with His choicest graces. Just reflect how generous He has been to you these last days. In return, He expects great generosity on your part, more than from others whom He has not blessed so richly and from whom He does not expect such a high degree of perfection. From you He expects a surrender of self as proof against all trials and above all, great love.
Your whole heart and soul must be submerged in Him, so that you do nothing except what is His pleasure. Rise above earthly things and your surroundings to lose yourself entirely in His will. You must strive never to lose sight of Him even for a moment. Do not think that for this reason you will be so absorbed as not to be able to attend to your duties. You will experience the very opposite, that the soul most closely united to Jesus will be the one most exact in all her duties, since Jesus, whom she loves, acts for her. He is, so to say, only one with her. Thus you see that she is ably helped and directed in all she has to do.
It is only recollected souls who will have any influence for good around them. Things done differently have no value. The soul that is united to Jesus is the only one that has power over His Heart. She is mistress there and He refuses her nothing. I have many things to tell you on this subject but you would not understand them now. We must wait for the moment willed by God. If you wish it, it will not be long in coming. Jesus has such a great desire to unite Himself entirely to you, more than you can ever understand, and He wishes it more than ever at this moment. Be very attentive in watching over yourself.
It is so delightful to love Jesus, and to be able to pass directly without hindrance from the most intimate earthly union to the far closer union in Heaven. Think well over what I have said to you. One single action of yours, done with purity of intention and offered for my relief, when you are closely united to Jesus, relieves me more than many vocal prayers. The sooner you reach perfection, the quicker will come the day of my deliverance.
It is true that Mother Superior has suffered much these last few days, but one day of great suffering such as she sometimes endures is far more profitable for her soul and for all the community than ten days or more of good health in which she is able to go about and do all the duties of her office.
Yes, I did know all the suffering of your Father. That is why, when you asked me if he had gotten over his fatigue, I said, “No,” and nothing more. I did not want to worry you. You would have been upset knowing him to be in such sorrow and, as you were thinking of him more than usual before God, evidently by inspiration, I thought it better that he himself should tell you all the heartbreaks he has been enduring. Jesus will remember all of it. The souls he is suffering for are at present in Purgatory but for a short time only. Among them is the priest whom Jesus wants to reward, also those two young men whom He wanted to save, by taking them out of the world where the best can so easily be corrupted. Tell him to be consoled in thinking that Jesus loves him very much and keeps a special place for him in His Sacred Heart, in preference to many others. It is there that he must go in spirit to rest and renew his strength of soul, so as to carry on what he has undertaken to do for His Divine Master.
Say many times a day, “My God, fulfill in me all Thy designs and grant that I may never place any obstacles in the way by any act of mine. My Jesus, I will what Thou willest, because Thou willest it, as Thou willest it, as long as Thou willest it.”
If only it were given you to understand with what scorn and indifference Jesus is treated on Earth, not only by the world in general, but how He is insulted, mocked and held in derision even by those who ought to love Him. Such indifference is found even in religious communities of men and women, His chosen people, where He ought to be treated as a Friend, a Father, a Spouse. Often He does not even receive the consideration shown to a stranger. This indifference is found also among the clergy, at present more than at any other time. He is treated as an equal by those who should tremble at the thought of the awful and august mission with which they have been entrusted. The most sacred reality is often treated with coldness and boredom.
How many are there who have the interior spirit? I can assure you that there are but few. Here in Purgatory the priests who are expiating their indifference and their want of love are numerous. Their culpable negligence must be atoned for in the midst of fire and torture of all kinds. You can judge from this that God who is so good and loving to all His creatures finds few who love and console Him.
Alas, there are few. That is the sorrow of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the ingratitude of His own. Yet His Sacred Heart is full of overflowing love and seeks only to share it. He wants to find some souls bereft of self so as to overpower them with His love, more than He has as yet done for anyone. Oh, how little is Jesus understood on Earth, and how little are His mercy and His love understood! People try to seek everything except that which gives real happiness. How pitiable!
You must never be irritated, exteriorly or interiorly. Strive to avoid all annoyances, whether occasioned by the awkwardness or malice of others. Always remain calm. Why get upset because of someone else’s fault? It does not improve matters, but rather makes two faults instead of one.
During my thanksgiving after Holy Communion. The least infidelity on your part, a slight forgetfulness, the least indifference towards Jesus is very painful to Him and hurts His loving Heart far more than an injury from an enemy. Be very careful in examining yourself, do not omit anything. Let Jesus be able to come with joy to rest in your heart, so that you may be able to console Him for all the griefs with which He is overwhelmed by the world. Act towards Him as to the best of fathers, the most devoted of spouses. Console Him, repair by your love and tenderness the injuries He receives daily. You must take His interests and glory greatly to heart. Forget yourself in His presence and be quite sure that in doing so your interests will become His and He will do far more for you than if you bothered yourself about them.
It is useless for you to worry about souls entrusted to you, to reprove them or to try to make them a little more spiritually inclined. You will only succeed in as far as you yourself are spiritual. It is only through the overflow of your own piety that you can put it into their hearts. If you yourself are not what you ought to be, if you are not closely united to Jesus, your words will reach their ears but will not enter into their hearts, and so your efforts will not be fruitful. Do you see how good it is to be united to Jesus? That is the only true happiness on Earth.
When you have to reprove anyone who has committed a small or even a grave fault, do so with great gentleness. Be firm when the fault demands it, say few words, and never speak when in a passion, for then the reproof will harm the soul of both the one receiving it and the one giving it. Avoid calling attention to former faults, especially when correcting children. This is a common mistake and very displeasing to God, and those who do it are wrong. How do they know that it has not already been pardoned? Then why refer to it again? God has not set us such an example. Our own sins should constantly humble us and we should weep over them in the bitterness of our hearts before the Lord, but we should never refer to the past sins of another.
A Christian soul, and above all a religious soul, to be pleasing in the sight of our Lord, will treat her neighbor as she expects our Lord to treat her. Remember this well and when the opportunity comes, practice it faithfully.
Do not let the duties, cares or worries of life, take so much of your time, so as to prevent you from uniting yourself each moment to Jesus, and from knowing and fulfilling His holy will.
If you have any difficulty, accept it with resignation because it is permitted by Our Lord who, from the evil He permits, knows how to draw the greatest good. Kneel before the Tabernacle and there offer to Jesus the trials of your soul, which at times almost seem unbearable. His Heart will lighten everything. If, on the contrary, you have some joy, especially that happiness which one tastes occasionally in the service of God, accept it in the spirit of humility and gratitude, and remember that the Earth is not a place of rest but rather a land of exile, of hard work, and of all kinds of sufferings. Accept all things with a tranquil spirit, letting nothing interfere with your goal. Your only satisfaction, your whole rest must be found in Jesus alone. You must act only for Him, His love must sustain your courage and you can never do enough for so loving a God.
The more you detach yourself from earthly things, the more will Jesus shower His choicest graces and Divine caresses upon you. You will often feel quite indifferent to things that formerly attracted you. God in His mercy permits this because He loves you and gradually wants to wean you from material things. That is the way God proceeds with souls that He reserves entirely for Himself. Our Lord permits such souls to become weary of things that are not for His interest, and they experience an aversion for all things that do not serve God’s purpose. God permits this to empty their hearts of everything human, so that He may occupy them and fill them with His grace and love.
The retreat is finished for all the rest, but for you it must not finish at all. You must go on with it all the year and always in your heart, even in the midst of your most absorbing occupations. Have your own little cell where you can recollect yourself and speak heart to heart with Jesus and never lose sight of Him.
Last year you were too much distracted. Now it must be so no longer. You have promised God and you have also promised the Father that you are going to begin a new life. You must then, keep your word at any price. It will cost you effort, but will it cost you less later on? No, alas, everything passes so quickly and you, like the rest, do not pay attention to this. Jesus has been pursuing you for such a long time, surely you will not refuse to abandon yourself entirely into His Hands after all the graces He has showered upon you? If you would only let Him have His way, you would become a saint and He wants you to be a great saint.
Has the Father not told you again during these days, in the name of God, that there is no middle course for you? How many people have already told you the same thing and you are indifferent, though these warnings should have been sacred to you. It seems to me that this time you have paid more attention to and have been more impressed by this word, again repeated to you. Think often about it, for it is very serious.
I have told you that Jesus is waiting for a small effort on your part and He will do the rest. Be very generous. What could you not obtain from God if only you were what He wants you to be. What a close union He desires to have with your soul. What joys He has in store for you, if you only knew how good Jesus is to you. Often reflect upon the choice gifts bestowed on you.
Mother Superior told you that it was especially for you that she asked for the same Father this year for the retreat, and you did not believe her. Nevertheless it was true. She followed the inspiration given her by God, who wished you to know the Father better and also that he should know you better. Profit by this grace, which will not be the last. Put into practice all he tells you to do. You are free, so open to him your heart so that he may read it like a book. If he only knew you as I do. One does not know you at first sight; it takes time.
All those thoughts you had yesterday were diabolical. The devil will do his utmost to hinder the good that will be done in spite of him. Cherish most gratefully all the graces of the retreat and never lose sight of them. Do not be afraid to sacrifice yourself from morning to night in order to do God’s will. He will reward you magnificently.
That was already the prelude to the graces which you were to receive during the retreat. There are certain attractions between souls which are not understood here on Earth. God has made the soul of that Father and yours for each other, and that is why you were so impressed when he spoke and you will often experience the same sentiment in the future.
Pray much for this Father, whom Jesus has given you to help you to raise your soul to Him. He needs stronger and higher graces than most people, in order not to be discouraged. In his work he meets with repulsive and tiring days that impose upon his nature. His life is hard and penitential. You must help him by your prayers. So far you have done so but it is not enough. You must offer up your works and some of your exterior sufferings, some of your sacrifices, in a word, unite his intentions to all you do and unite yourself with his works.
Jesus has great designs upon him as he has also upon you, for this reason He allows you to speak to him and open your heart to him. Regard him as your father and be submissive to him as a true child, and God will be pleased. Do not be disturbed because I say all this to you. You have been carrying out most of what I said to you. I had to tell you this and you must repeat it to the Father. Do you hear me?
This retreat has been very pleasing to God and very profitable to souls. It is with joy that Jesus sees the souls of religious turning to Him and seeking Him as their one end. It is for this that Jesus calls them into His service, but how easy it is on Earth to forget what is most sacred.
A good retreat helps souls to renew their first fervor and this is what happened in the one you have just made. It has greatly consoled the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
What are the few moments we have to pass on Earth compared to eternity? At the hour of death, you will not find that you have done too much. Be very generous, do not listen to yourself but always look at the goal to which Jesus calls you. That is sanctity, pure love. Then go forward and never look back. Great crosses, crosses that often break the heart, so to say, are the portion of God’s own friends.
You recently complained to Jesus that He had sent you very many sorrows this year. It is true, but why do you find these crosses so heavy? It is because you do not love enough, and yet, you have not come to the end of your trials. Those that you have had up to now are only the forerunners of what you may expect. Did I not tell you that you would suffer always in body and in soul, and often in both together? There is no holiness without suffering.
When you allow grace to work freely in you, when Jesus really reigns over your will and you allow Him to be absolute master of your whole being, then, no matter how heavy the crosses are, you will not feel their weight. Love will absorb everything, but until that time comes you will suffer, and suffer much, because the soul does not in one minute detach itself from everything so as to act only for pure love. God sees your efforts with pleasure. Oh, if only He were better known and understood on Earth. But no, He is forgotten. At least, do you love Him and console Him.
Let your efforts always grow in intensity so as to give Him more pleasure. Work hard without relaxing, so that you may soon reach the degree of sanctity that He desires of you.
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Fr. Frederick William Faber was born in England, 1814; ordained for the Church of England, 1839; received into Catholic Church, 1845; joined Cardinal Newman’s Oratory, 1848; died, 1863.
There have always been two views of Purgatory prevailing in the Church, not contradictory the one of the other, but rather expressive of the mind and devotion of those who have embraced them.
The first view is embodied in the terrifying sermons of the Italian Quaresimali, and in those wayside pictures which so often provoke the fastidiousness of the English traveler. It loves to represent Purgatory as a Hell which is not eternal. Violence, confusion, wailing, horror, preside over its descriptions. It dwells, and truly, on the terribleness of the pain of sense which the soul is mysteriously permitted to endure. The fire is the same fire as that of Hell, created for the single and express purpose of giving torture. Our earthly fire is as painted fire compared to it.
Besides this, there is a special and indefinable horror to the unbodied soul in becoming the prey of this material agony. The sense of imprisonment, close and intolerable, and the intense palpable darkness, are additional features in the horror of the scene, which prepare us for that sensible neighborhood to Hell, which many Saints have spoken of as belonging to Purgatory. Angels are represented as active executioners of God’s awful justice. Some have even held that the demons are permitted to touch and harass the spouses of Christ in those ardent fires. Then to this terribleness of the pain of sense, is added the dreadfulness of the pain of loss.
The beauty of God remains in itself the same immensely desirable object it ever was. But the soul is changed. All that in life and in the world of sense dulled its desires after God is gone from it, so that it seeks Him with an impetuosity which no imagination can at all conceive. The very burning excess of its love becomes the measure of its intolerable pain. What love can do even on earth we learn from the example of Father John Baptist Sanchez, who said he was sure he should die of misery, if any morning he rose he should know that he was certain not to die that day. To those horrors we might add many more which depict Purgatory simply as a Hell which is not eternal.
The second view of Purgatory does not deny any one of the features of the preceding view, but it almost puts them out of sight by the other considerations which it brings more prominently forward. It goes into Purgatory with its eyes fascinated and its spirit sweetly tranquilized, by the face of Jesus, its sight of the Sacred Humanity at the particular Judgment which it has undergone. That vision abides with it still, and beautifies the uneven terrors of its prison as if with perpetual silvery showers of moonlight which seem to fall from Our Savior’s loving eyes. In the sea of fire it holds fast by that image. The moment that in His sight it perceives its own unfitness for Heaven, it wings its voluntary flight to Purgatory, like a dove to her proper nest in the shadows of the forest. There need be no Angels to convey it thither. It is its own free worship of the purity of God.
In that moment the soul loves God most tenderly, and in return is most tenderly loved by Him. The soul is in punishment, true; but it is in unbroken union with God. It has no remembrance,‖says St. Catherine of Genoa most positively, no remembrance at all of its past sins or of earth.‖ Its sweet prison, its holy sepulcher, is in the adorable will of its heavenly Father, and there it abides the term of its purification with the most perfect contentment and the most unutterable love.
As it is not teased by any vision of self or sin, so neither is it harassed by an atom of fear, or by a single doubt of its own imperturbable security. It is impeccable; and there was a time on earth when that gift alone seemed as if it would contain all Heaven in itself. It cannot commit the slightest imperfection. It cannot have the least movement of impatience. It can do nothing whatever which will in the least displease God. It loves God above everything, and it loves Him with a pure and disinterested love. It is constantly consoled by Angels, and cannot but rejoice in the confirmed assurance of its own salvation. Nay; its very bitterest agonies are accompanied by a profound unshaken peace, such as the language of this world has no words to tell.
No sooner has a soul, with the guilt of no mortal sin upon it, but owing to God a debt of temporal punishment, issued from the world, and been judged, than it perceives itself to be confirmed in grace and charity (according to St. Catherine). It is incapable either of sinning or of meriting anymore; and it is destined by an eternal and immutable decree to enter one day as a queen into the kingdom of the blessed, to see, to love, and to enjoy God, the perpetual fountain of all felicity.
In that instant all the sins of its past are represented to the soul, whether mortal or venial, even though they have been remitted in lifetime by Contrition and the Sacrament of Penance. But after this transitory and instantaneous view of them, the soul remembers nothing more about them. The Saints’ words are: The cause of Purgatory, which these souls have in themselves, they see once for all, in passing out of this life, and never afterwards
The reason of this exhibition of sins is, she teaches us, to enable the soul in that moment, by an act, no longer indeed meritorious, but nevertheless a real act of the will, to detest all its sins afresh, and especially those venial sins for which it had not contrition in lifetime, either through the weakness of an imperfect heart, or through the accident of a sudden death, that so it may be strictly true, that no sin whatever is pardoned unless the sinner makes an act of detestation of it.
After this momentary view of sins and formal detestation of them, the soul perceives in itself their evil consequences and malignant legacies, and these form what the Saint calls the impediment of seeing God. The rust of sin, she says, is the impediment, and the fire keeps consuming the rust; and as a thing which is covered cannot correspond to the re-verberation of the sun’s rays, so, if the covering be consumed, the thing is at length laid open to the sun.
As soon as the soul perceives itself to be acceptable to God, and constituted heir of paradise, but unable, because of this impediment, to take immediate possession of its inheritance, it conceives an intense desire to be rid of this hindrance, this double obligation of guilt and punishment. But knowing that Purgatory alone can consume these two obligations, and that it is for that very end God condemns the soul to fire, it desires itself to endure the punishment. The soul separated from the body (these are the Saint’s words), not finding in itself this impediment which cannot be taken away except by Purgatory, at once throws itself into it with right good will.
Nay, if it did not find this ordinance of Purgatory aptly contrived for the removal of this hindrance, there would instantaneously be generated in it a Hell far worse than Purgatory, inasmuch as it would see that because of this impediment it could not unite itself to God Who is its end. Wherefore, if the soul could find another Purgatory fiercer than this, in which it could the sooner get rid of this impediment, it would speedily plunge itself therein, through the impetuosity of the love it bears to God.
But this is not all. The Saint goes on to teach that if the soul, laboring under this impediment, were free to choose between ascending at once, as it is, to paradise, and descending to suffer in Purgatory, it would choose to suffer, although the sufferings be almost as dreadful as those of Hell. These are her words:
“Of how much importance Purgatory is no tongue can tell, no mind conceive. So much I see, that its pain is almost as if it were that of Hell; and yet I see also that the soul which perceives in itself the slightest flaw or mote of imperfection, would rather throw itself into a thousand Hells, than find itself in the presence of the divine Majesty with that defect upon it; and, therefore, seeing Purgatory to be ordained for the very taking away of these flaws, forthwith it plunges into it, and it seems by its bearing, as I see, to conceive that it finds there an invention of no little mercy, simply in the being able to get rid of this impediment.”
“When the righteous soul has thus arrived in Purgatory, losing sight of everything else, it sees before it only two objects—the extremity of suffering, and the extremity of joys. A most tremendous pain is caused by knowing that God loves it with an infinite love, that He is the Chief Good, that He regards the soul as His daughter, and that He has predestined it to enjoy Him forever in company with the Blessed: and hence the soul loves Him with a pure and most perfect charity. At the same time it perceives that it cannot see Him or enjoy Him yet, though it so intensely yearns to do so; and this afflicts it so much the more, as it is quite uncertain when the term of its penal exile, away from its Lord and paradise, will be fulfilled.
This is the pain of loss in Purgatory, of which the Saint says that "it is a pain so extreme, that no tongue can tell it, no understanding grasp the least portion of it. Though God in His favor showed me a little spark thereof, yet can I not in any way express it with my tongue.”
Now let us examine the other object, the extremity of joy. As it loves God with the purest affection, and knows its sufferings to be the will of God in order to procure its purification, it conforms itself perfectly to the divine decree. While in Purgatory, it sees nothing but that this pleases God; it takes in no idea but that of His will; it apprehends nothing so clearly as the suitableness of this purification, in order to present it all fair and lovely to so great a majesty.
Thus, the Saint says: “If a soul, having still something left to be cleansed away, were presented to the Vision of God, it would be worse than that of ten purgatories; for it would be quite unable to endure that excessive goodness and that exquisite justice.
"Hence it is that the suffering soul is entirely resigned to the will of its Creator. It loves its very pains, and rejoices in them because they are a holy ordinance of God. Thus in the midst of the ardent heats it enjoys a contentment so complete that it exceeds the grasp of human intelligence to comprehend it. I do not believe that it is possible to find a contentment to compare with that of the souls in Purgatory, unless it be the contentment of the Saints in paradise. This contentment increases daily through the influx of God into those souls, and this influx increases in proportion as the impediment is consumed and worn away. Indeed, so far as the will is concerned, we can hardly say that the pains are pains at all, so contentedly do the souls rest in the ordinance of God, to whose will pure love unites them.”
In another place, St. Catherine says that this inexplicable jubilee of the soul, while it is undergoing Purgatory springs from the strength and purity of its love of God. “This love gives to the soul such a contentment as cannot be expressed. But this contentment does not take away one iota from the pain; nay, it is the retarding of love from the possession of its object which causes the pain; and the pain is greater according to the greater perfection of love of which God has made the soul capable. Thus the souls in Purgatory have at once the greatest contentment and the greatest suffering; and the one in no way hinders the other.”
As to prayers, alms, and Masses, she asserts that the souls experience great consolation from them; but that in these, as in other matters, their principal solicitude is that everything should be weighed in the most equitable scales of the Divine Will, leaving God to take His own course in everything, and to pay Himself and His justice in the way His own infinite goodness chooses to select.
When she looked at herself with the light of supernatural illumination, she saw that God had set her up in the Church as an express and living image of Purgatory. She says: “This form of purification, which I behold in the souls in Purgatory, I perceive in my own soul now. I see that my soul dwells in its body as in a Purgatory altogether comformable to the true Purgatory, only in such measure as my body can bear without dying. Nevertheless, it is always increasing by little and little, until it reaches the point when it will really die.”
Her death was indeed most wonderful, and has always been considered as a martyrdom of Divine Love. So truly from the first has her position been appreciated, as the great doctor of Purgatory, that in the old life of her, the vita antica, examined by theologians in 1670, and approved in the Roman process of her canonization, and which was composed by Marabotto, her confessor, and Vernaza, her spiritual son, it is said: “Verily it seems that God set up this His creature as a mirror and an example of the pains of the other life, which souls suffer in Purgatory. It is just as if He had placed her upon a high wall, dividing this life from the life to come; so that, seeing what is suffered in that life beyond, she might manifest to us, even in this life, what we are to expect when we have passed the boundary.” This is a mere epitome of her wonderful and exquisitely beautiful treatise, which has given St. Catherine a rank among the theologians of the Church.
I suppose there is none of us who expects to be lost. We know and feel, with more or less of alarm, the greatness of the risk we are running; but to expect to be lost would be the sin of despair. Hell is only practical to us as a motive of greater diligence, greater strictness, greater circumspectness, greater fear. It is not so with Purgatory. I suppose we all expect, or think ourselves sure, to go there. If we do not think much of the matter at all, then we may have some vague notion of going straight to Heaven as soon as we are judged. But if we seriously reflect upon it, upon our own lives, upon God’s sanctity, upon what we read in books of devotion and the lives of the Saints, I can hardly conceive any one of us expecting to escape Purgatory, and not rather feeling that it must be almost a stretch of the divine mercy which will get us even there. It would more likely be vain presumption than heroic hope, if we thought otherwise. Now, if we really expect that our road to Heaven will be through the punishment of Purgatory, for surely its purification is penal, it very much concerns us to know what is common to both the views of Purgatory, which it appears prevail in the Church.
First, both these views agree that the pains are extremely severe, as well because of the office which God intends them to fulfil, as because of the disembodied soul being the subject of them. Both agree, also, in the length of the suffering. This requires to be dwelt upon, as it is hard to convince people of it, and a great deal comes of the conviction, both to ourselves and others. This duration may be understood in two ways: first, as of actual length of time, and, secondly, as of seeming length from the excess of pain. With regard to the first, if we look into the revelations of Sister Francesca of Pampeluna, we shall find, among some hundreds of cases, that by far the great majority suffered thirty, forty, or sixty years.
This disclosure may teach us greater watchfulness over ourselves, and more unwearied perseverance in praying for the departed. The old foundations for perpetual Masses embody the same sentiment. We are apt to leave off too soon, imagining with a foolish and unenlightened fondness that our friends are freed from Purgatory much sooner than they really are. If Sister Francesca beheld the souls of many fervent Carmelites, some of whom had wrought miracles in lifetime still in Purgatory ten, twenty, thirty, sixty years after their death, and still not near their deliverance, as many told her, what must become of us and ours? Then as to seeming length from the extremity of pain, there are many instances on record in the Chronicles of the Franciscans, the life of St. Francis Jerome, and elsewhere, of souls appearing an hour or two after death, and thinking they had been many years in Purgatory. Such may be the Purgatory of those who are caught up to meet the Lord at the Last Day.
Both views agree again in holding that what we in the world call very trivial faults are most severely visited in Purgatory. St. Peter Damian gives us many instances of this, and others are collected and quoted by Bellarmine. Slight feelings of self-complacency, trifling inattentions in the recital of the Divine Office, and the like, occur frequently among them. Sister Francesca mentions the case of a girl of fourteen in Purgatory, because she was not quite conformed to the will of God in dying so young: and one soul said to her: “Ah men little think in the world how dearly they are going to pay here for faults they hardly note there.”‖ She even saw souls that were immensely punished only for having been scrupulous in this life; either, I suppose, because there is mostly self-will in scruples, or because they did not lay them down when obedience commanded. Wrong notions about small faults may thus lead us to neglect the dead, or leave off our prayers too soon, as well as lose a lesson for ourselves.
Then, again, both views agree as to the helplessness of the Holy Souls. They lie like the paralytic at the pool. It would seem as if even the coming of the angel were not an effectual blessing to them, unless there be some one of us to help them. Some have even thought they cannot pray. Anyhow, they have no means of making themselves heard by us on whose charity they depend. Some writers have said that Our Blessed Lord will not help them without our co-operation; and that Our Blessed Lady cannot help them, except in indirect ways, because she is no longer able to make satisfaction; though I never like to hear anything our dearest mother cannot do; and I regard such statements with suspicion. Whatever may come of these opinions, they at least illustrate the strong way in which theologians apprehend the helplessness of the Holy Souls. Then another feature in their helplessness is the forgetfulness of the living, or the cruel flattery of relations who will always have it that those near or dear to them die the deaths of Saints. They would surely have a scruple, if they knew of how many Masses and prayers they rob the souls, by the selfish exaggeration of their goodness. I call it selfish, for it is nothing more than a miserable device to console themselves in their sorrow. The very state of the Holy Souls is one of the most unbounded helplessness. They cannot do penance; they cannot merit; they cannot satisfy; they cannot gain indulgences; they have no Sacraments; they are not under the jurisdiction of God’s Vicar, overflowing with the plentitude of means of grace and manifold benedictions. They are a portion of the Church without either priesthood or altar at their own command.
Those are the points common to both views of Purgatory; and how manifold are the lessons we learn from them, on our own behalf as well as on behalf of the Holy Souls. For ourselves, what light does all this throw on slovenliness, lukewarmness, and love of ease? What does it make us think of performing our devotions out of a mere spirit of formality, or a trick of habit? What diligence in our examens, confessions, Communions, and prayers! It seems as if the grace of all graces for which we should ever be importuning our dear Lord, would be to hate sin with something of the hatred wherewith He hated it in the garden of Gethsemane. Oh, is not the purity of God something awful, unspeakable, adorable? He, who is Himself a simple act, has gone on acting, multiplying acts since creation, yet he has incurred no stain! He is ever mingling with a most unutterable condescension with what is beneath Him—yet no stain! He loves His creatures with a love immeasurably more intense than the wildest passion of earth— yet no stain! He is omnipotent, yet it is beyond the limits of His power to receive a stain. He is so pure that the very vision of Him causes eternal purity and blessedness. Mary’s purity is but a fair thin shadow of it, and yet we, even we, are to dwell in His arms forever, we are to dwell amid the everlasting burnings of that uncreated purity! Yet, let us look at our lives; let us trace our hearts faithfully through but one day, and see of what mixed intentions, human respects, self-love, and pusillanimous temper our actions, nay, even our devotions, are made up of; and does not Purgatory, heated seven-fold and endured to the day of doom, seem but a gentle novitiate for the Vision of the All-holy?
some persons turn in anger from the thought of Purgatory, as if it were not to be endured, that after trying all our lives long to serve God, we should accomplish the tremendous feat of a good death, only to pass from the agonies of the death-bed into fire, long, keen, searching, triumphant, incomparable fire. Alas, my dear friends, your anger will not help you nor alter facts! But have you thought sufficiently about God? Have you tried to realize His holiness and purity in assiduous meditation? Is there a real divorce between you and the world which you know is God’s enemy? Do you take God’s side? Are you devoted to His interests? Do you long for His glory? Have you put sin alongside of our dear Saviors’ Passion, and measured the one by the other?
Surely, if you had, Purgatory would but seem to you the last, unexpected, and inexpressibly tender invention of an obstinate love, which was mercifully determined to save you in spite of yourself. It would be a perpetual wonder to you, a joyous wonder, fresh every morning, a wonder that would be meat and drink to your soul, that you, being what you know yourself to be, what God knows you to be, should be saved eternally. Remember what the suffering soul said so simply, yet with such force, to Sister Francesca: "Ah! Those on that side of the grave little reckon how dearly they will pay on this side for the lives they live!”
To be angry because you are told you will go to Purgatory! Silly, silly people! Most likely it is a great false flattery, and that you will never be good enough to go there at all. Why, positively, you do not recognize your own good fortune, when you are told of it. And none but the humble go there. I remember Maria Crocifissa was told that although many of the Saints while on earth loved God more than some do even in Heaven, yet that the greatest Saint on earth was not so humble as are the souls in Purgatory. I do not think I ever read anything in the lives of the Saints which struck me so much as that. You see it is not well to be angry; for those only are lucky enough to get into Purgatory who sincerely believe themselves to be worthy of Hell.
But we not only learn lessons for our own good, but for the good of the Holy Souls. We see that our charitable attention towards them must be far more vigorous and persevering than they have been; for men go to Purgatory for very little matters, and remain there an unexpectedly long time. But their most touching appeal to us lies in their helplessness; and our dear Lord, with His usual loving arrangement, has made the extent of our power to help them more than commensurate with their ability to help themselves.
Some theologians have said that prayer for the Holy Souls is not infallibly answered. I confess their arguments on this head do not convince me; but, conceding the point, how wonderful still is the power which we can exercise in favor of the departed! St. Thomas has at least taught us that prayer for the dead is more readily accepted with God than prayer for the living. We can offer and apply for them all the satisfactions of Our Blessed Lord. We can do vicarious penance for them. We can give to them all the satisfactions of our ordinary actions, and of our sufferings. We can make over to them, by way of suffrage, the indulgences we gain, provided the Church has made them applicable to the dead. We can limit and direct to them, or any one of them, the intention of the Adorable Sacrifice. The Church, which has no jurisdiction over them, can yet make indulgences applicable or inapplicable to them by way of suffrage; and by means of liturgy, commemoration, incense, holy water, and the like, can reach efficaciously to them, and most of all by her device of privileged altars. The Communion of Saints furnishes the veins and channels by which all these things reach them in Christ. Heaven itself condescends to act upon them through earth. Their Queen helps them by setting us to work for them, and the Angels and the Saints bestow their gifts through us, whom they persuade to be their almoners; nay, we are often their almoners without knowing that we are so.
Our Blessed Lord vouchsafes to look to us, as if He would say: Here are my weapons, work for me! Just as a father will let his child do a portion of his work, in spite of the risk he runs in having it spoiled. To possess such powers, and not to use them, would be the height of irreverence towards God, as well as of want of charity to men. There is nothing so irreverent, because nothing so unfilial, as to shrink from God’s gifts simply because of their exuberance. Men have a feeling of safety in not meddling with the supernatural; but the truth is, we cannot stand aloof on one side and be safe. Naturalism is the unsafe thing. If we do not enter the system, and humbly take our place in it, it will draw us in, only to tear us to pieces when it has done so. The dread of the supernatural is the unsafest of feelings. The jealousy of it is a prophecy of eternal loss.
It is not saying too much to call devotion to the Holy Souls a kind of center in which all Catholic devotions meet, and which satisfies more than any other single devotion our duties in that way; because it is a devotion all of love, and of dis-interested love. If we cast an eye over the chief Catholic devotion, we shall see the truth of this. Take the devotion of St. Ignatius to the glory of God. This, if we may dare to use such an expression of Him, was the special and favorite devotion of Jesus. Now, Purgatory is simply a field white for the harvest of God’s glory. Not a prayer can be said for the Holy Souls, but God is at once glorified, both by the faith and the charity of the mere prayer.
Again, what devotion is justly more dear to Christians than the devotion to the Sacred Humanity of Jesus? It is rather a family of various and beautiful devotions, than a devotion by itself. Yet see how they are all, as it were, fulfilled, affectionately fulfilled, in devotion to the Holy Souls. The quicker the souls are liberated from Purgatory, the more is the bountiful harvest of His Blessed Passion multiplied and accelerated. An early harvest is a blessing, as well as a plentiful one; for all delay of a soul’s ingress into the praise of Heaven is an eternal and irremediable loss of honor and glory to the Sacred Humanity of Jesus.
How strangely things sound in the language of the sanctuary! Yet so it is. Can the Sacred Humanity be honored more than by the adorable sacrifice of the Mass? But here is our chief action upon Purgatory. Faith in His Sacraments as used for the dead is a pleasing homage to Jesus; and the same may be said of faith in indulgences and privileged altars and the like. The powers of the Church will flow from His Sacred Humanity, and are a perpetual praise and thank-offering to it. So, again, this devotion honors Him by imitating His zeal for souls. For this zeal is a badge of His people, and an inheritance for Him.
Devotion to our dearest Mother is equally comprehended in this devotion to the Holy Souls, whether we look at her as the Mother of Jesus, and so sharing the honors of His Sacred Humanity, or as Mother of Mercy, and so especially worshipped by works of mercy, or, lastly, whether we regard her, as in a particular sense, the queen of Purgatory, and so having all manner of dear interests to be promoted in the welfare and deliverance of those suffering souls.
Next to this we may rank devotion to the holy Angels, and this also is satisfied in devotion to the Holy Souls. For it keeps filling the vacant thrones in the angelic choirs, those unsightly gaps which the fall of Lucifer and one-third of the heavenly host occasioned. It multiplies the companions of the blessed spirits. They may be supposed also to look with an especial interest on that part of the Church which lies in Purgatory, because it is already crowned with their own dear gift and ornament of final perseverance, and yet, it has not entered at once into its inheritance as they did. Many of them also have a tender personal interest in Purgatory. Thousands, perhaps millions of them, are guardians to those souls, and their office is not yet over. Thousands have clients there who were specially devoted to them in life.
Neither is devotion to the Saints without its interests in this devotion for the dead. It fills them with the delights of charity, as it swells their numbers, and beautifies their ranks and orders. Numberless patron saints are personally in multitudes of souls. The affectionate relation between their clients and themselves not only subsists, but a deeper tenderness has entered into it, because of the fearful suffering, and a livelier interest because of the accomplished victory. They see in the Holy Souls their handiwork, the fruit of their patronage, the beautiful and finished crown of their affectionate intercession.
But there is another peculiarity in this devotion for the dead. It does not rest in words and feelings, nor does it merely —lead to action indirectly and at last. It is action itself, and thus it is a substantial devotion. It speaks and a deed is done; it loves and a pain is lessened; it sacrifices, and a soul is delivered. Nothing can be more solid. We might also dare to compare it, in its pure measure, to the efficacious voice of God, which works what it says, and effects what it utters and wills, and a creation comes.
The royal devotion of the Church is the works of mercy; and see how they are all satisfied in this devotion for the dead It feeds the hungry souls with Jesus, the Bread of Angels. It gives them to drink in their incomparable thirst, His Precious Blood. It clothes the naked with a robe of glory. It visits the sick with mighty powers to heal, and at the last consoles them by the visit. It frees the captives with a heavenly and eternal freedom, from a bondage far more dreadful than death. It takes in the strangers and Heaven is the hospice into which it receives them.
It buries the dead in the Bosom of Jesus in everlasting rest. When the last doom shall come, and our dearest Lord shall ask those seven questions of His judicial process, those interrogatories of the works of mercy, how happy will that man be, and it may be the poorest beggar amongst us who never gave any alms because he has had to live on alms himself, who shall hear his own defense sweetly and eloquently taken up by crowds of blessed souls, to whom he has done all these things while they waited in their prison-house of hope.
Another point of view, from which we may look at this devotion for the dead, is as a specially complete and beautiful exercise of the three theological virtues, of faith, hope, and charity, which are the supernatural fountains of our whole spiritual life.
Neither is this devotion a less heroic exercise of the theological virtue of hope, the virtue so sadly wanting in the spiritual life of these times. For, look what a mighty edifice this devotion raises: lofty, intricate, and of magnificent pro-portions, into which somehow or other all creation is drawn, from the little headache we offer up to the Sacred Humanity of Jesus, and which has to do even with God Himself.
Yet upon what does all this rest, except on a simple, childlike trust in God’s Fidelity, which is the supernatural motive of hope? We hope for the souls we help, and unbounded are the benedictions which we hope for in this regard. We hope to find mercy ourselves, because of our mercy; and this hope quickens our efforts without detracting from the merit of our charity. If we give away our own satisfaction, and the indulgences we gain, to the souls in Purgatory, instead of keeping them for ourselves, what is this but a heroic exercise of hope?
We throw ourselves upon God. We hardly face the thought that we ourselves are thus sentencing ourselves, it may be, to abide years and years longer in that unconquerable fire. We shut our eyes, we quell the rising thought, we give our alms, and throw ourselves on God. We shall not be defrauded of our hope. Who ever trusted Him, and His trust failed? No! No! All is right when it is left to God.
As to the charity of this devotion it dares to imitate even the charity of God Himself. What is there in Heaven or on earth which it does not embrace, and with such facility, with so much gracefulness, as if there were scarcely an effort in it, or as if self was charmed away, and might not mingle to distract it? It is an exercise of the love of God; for it is loving those whom He loves, and loving them because He loves them and to augment His glory, and multiply His praise. There are a hundred loves of God in this one love, as we should see if we reflected on those Holy Souls, and realized all that was implied in the final entry of a soul into everlasting bliss.
It is love towards the Sacred Humanity, because it magnifies the copious redemption of Jesus. It honors His merits, satisfactions, ordinances and mysteries. It peoples His Heaven, and it glorifies His Blood. It is filled with Jesus, with His spirit, with His work, with His power, with His victories. No less is it an exercise of love to our dearest Lady, as I have shown before; and to the Angels and Saints.
How abundant is its charity to the souls themselves; who can exaggerate, whether to give them the good measure of all the Church tells us to do, and some spontaneous alms besides; or the full measure of all our satisfactions during lifetime, and which are not by justice due elsewhere, as St. Gertrude gave them; or the measure shaken together, which adds that which shall be done for us when we are dead, like Father Munroy’s heroic act of self-renunciation; or the measure running over, which heaps upon all the rest special works of love, such as promoting this devotion by conversions, sermons, and books, and by getting Masses, Communions, penances, indulgences, from others for them.
All men living on the earth, even unconverted sinners, are included in it, because it swells the Church Triumphant, and so multiplies intercessors for us who are still warring upon earth. To ourselves also it is an exercise of charity, for it gains us friends in Heaven; it earns mercy for us when we ourselves shall be in Purgatory, tranquil victims, yet, oh, in what distress! And it augments our merits in the sight of God, and so, if only we persevere, our eternal recompense hereafter. Now, if this tenderness for the dead is such an exercise of these three theological virtues, and if again even heroic sanctity consists principally in their exercises, what store ought we not to set upon this touching and beautiful devotion!
But a further excellence in this devotion is to be found in its effects upon the spiritual life. It would seem as if it were a devotion specially intended for interior souls. But the fact is, that it is so full of doctrine, and embodies so much that is supernatural that we need not be surprised at the influence it exercises over the spiritual life. In the first place, it is a hidden work from first to last. We do not see the results, so that there is little food for vain-glory; neither is it a devotion the exercise of which appears in any way before the eyes of others.
It implies, moreover, an utter ignoring of self, by making away with our own satisfactions and indulgences, and keeping up a tender interest in an object which does not directly concern ourselves. It is not only for the glory of God, but it is for His greater glory, and for His sole glory. It leads us to think purely of souls, which is very difficult to do in this material world, and to think of them, too, simply as spouses of Jesus. We thus gain a habit of mind which is fatal to the spirit of the world and to the tyranny of human respect, while it goes far to counteract the poison of self-love.
The incessant thought of the Holy Souls keeps before us a continual image of suffering; and not merely passive suffering, but a joyful conformity to the will of God under it. Yet this is the very genius of the Gospel, the very atmosphere of holiness.
Furthermore, it communicates to us, as it were, by sympathy the feelings of those Holy Souls, and so increases our trembling, yet trustful, devotion to the adorable purity of God; and as, except in the case of indulgences applied to the dead, it requires a state of grace to make satisfaction for the sins of others, it is a special act of the lay priesthood of the members of Christ.
The spirit of the devotion is one of pensiveness; and this is an antidote to frivolity and hardness, and tells wonderfully upon the affectionate character which belongs to high sanctity. We can tell what will come after patient years of thus keeping constantly before our eyes a model of eagerness, unspeakable, patient eagerness, to be with our dearest Lord? It is almost omnipotent, almost omnipresent; because it is not so much he who lives as Christ who liveth in him!
What is it we are touching and handling every day of our lives, all so full of supernatural vigor, of secret unction, of divine force, and yet we consider it not, but waste intentions and trifle time away in the midst of this stupendous supernatural system of grace, as unreflecting almost as a stone embedded in the earth and borne round unconsciously in its impetuous revolutions, day by day.
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