St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
Excerpt from Alocque, St. Margaret Mary. The Autobiography of Saint Margaret Mary
(98: She relieves the suffering soul of a Benedictine, pp.109-111)
"On one occasion when I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament on the Feast of Corpus Christi, a person suddenly appeared before me
all enveloped in flames, the heat of which enveloped me so powerfully that I believed myself to be burning as well. The pitiable
condition in which I beheld him caused me to shed an abundance of tears. He told me that he was that Benedictine monk to whom I once
went to Confession, and who had ordered me to receive Holy Communion, and that, as a reward for this, God had allowed him to have
recourse to me that he might obtain some alleviation in his sufferings. He asked me to apply to his soul all that I should do and
suffer for three months, which I promised with the consent of my Superiors. He then went on to say that the cause of his suffering was
his preferring his own interests to the glory of God, through too great attachment to his own reputation; secondly, a want of charity
towards his brethren; and finally, too natural an affection for creatures, many proofs of which he had manifested in his spiritual
dealings with them, thereby greatly displeasing God.
But it would be difficult for me to express what I had to suffer during those three months. For he never left me, and on the side on
which he stood, I seemed to be all on fire; this caused me such intense suffering that my tears and groans were continual. My Superior
being moved with compassion, ordered me to perform severe penances, and in particular to take the disciplines, because the bodily pains
and sufferings imposed upon me through charity, greatly relieved those which the Sanctity of love inflicted upon me as a slight sample
of what it causes those poor souls to endure. At the end of three months he appeared to me in a very different state; he was bathed in
joy and glory, and about to be admitted into eternal bliss. He thanked me and promised to be my protector before God. I had fallen ill
at the time, but as my suffering ceased with his, I soon recovered."
St. Augustine of Hippo
Excerpt from Thurston, Herbert, S.J. The Memory of Our Dead
(Chapter I: The Early Centuries, pp. 27-29)
"2. I therefore, O my glory and my Life, Thou God of my heart, putting aside for a time those good deeds of my mother for which I joyfully
thank Thee, do now entreat Thee for her sins. By that Medicine of our wounds, who hung upon the tree, and now sitteth at Thy right hand to
make intercession for us, O hear me. I know that she dealt mercifully, and forgave from her heart the trespasses of those who trespassed
against her. Do Thou forgive her the trespasses of which she may have been guilty in a life of many years, since the time when she entered
the water of salvation. Forgive them, O Lord, forgive them, I beseech Thee: enter not into judgment with her. Let mercy rejoice against
judgment, for Thy words are true, and Thou hast promised mercy unto the merciful. That they were so, was Thy gift, who wilt have mercy on
whom Thou wilt have mercy, and wilt have compassion on whom Thou wilt have compassion. And, as I do believe, Thou hast already performed what
I entreat for; yet do Thou accept, O Lord, the freewill offerings of my mouth.
3. For, when the day of Thy purpose came upon her, she cared not that her body should be richly shrouded, or wrapped in spices; she desired
no proud monument, nor prayed for a grave in her native land. Not such were her last injunctions to us, but only she begged that we should
remember he before Thy altar which she had served without missing a day, whence, as she knew, is dispensed that Holy Victim, whereby the
handwriting that was against us is blotted out, wherein the enemy that reckons up our sins and seeketh accusations against us, and could find
nothing in Him in whom we conquer, is trodden under foot. Who shall repay to Him the innocent blood? Who shall give Him back the price
wherewith He bought us, that he should pluck us out of His hand? With that Sacrament of Redemption Thy handmaid bound up her soul with the
bond of faith.
4. Let none have power to drag her away from Thy protection. Let not the lion nor the dragon bar her path by force or by fraud. For she will
not answer that she owes nothing, lest she should be confuted and seized by the crafty accuser; but she will answer that all her debt has
been forgiven by Him, to whom none can give back the ransom which He paid on our behalf, though He owed it not. May she rest in peace,
therefore, with her husband, her first and only husband, whom she obeyed, bringing forth fruit with patience, that she might gain him also unto Thee.
And do Thou inspire, O Lord my God, do Thou inspire Thy servants, my brethren, Thy sons, my masters, whom I serve with heart and voice and
pen, that whoso reads these pages may remember before Thy altar Monica, Thy handmaid, and Patricius, once her husband, through whose flesh
Thou didst bring me into this life, I know not how. Let them remember with godly love those who were my parents in this transitory life,
those who were my brethren under Thee, our Father, in the Catholic mother, those who were my fellow-citizens in the eternal Jerusalem,
for which Thy people of pilgrims yearn from their going out until their coming home again. So shall her dying request be granted to her in
richer abundance by the prayers of many, through our Confessions rather than through my prayers."
St. Catherine of Genoa
Excerpt from Thurston, Herbert, S.J. The Memory of Our Dead
(Chapter VI: The The Devotional Appeal of Prayer for the Dead, pp. 194-197)
"God flows in upon them (souls suffering in Purgatory) i proportion as every hindrance to His entrance is consumed away. The hindrance is
the rust of sin; the fire consumes the rust, and thus the soul goes on laying itself open to the Divine inflowing.
It is as with a covered object. The object cannot respond to the rays of the sun, not because the sun ceases to shine - for it shines without
intermission - but because the covering intervenes. Let the covering be destroyed, again the object will be exposed to the sun, and will
answer to the rays which bear against it in proportion as the work of destruction advances. Thus the souls are covered by a rust - that is
sin - which is gradually consumed away by the fire of purgatory; the more it is consumed the more they respond to God, their true Sun. Their
happiness increases as the rust falls off and lays them open to the Divine ray, and so their happiness grows greater as the impediment grows
less, till the time is accomplished." (pp.194-195)
"Let us suppose that there existed in the world but one loaf to satisfy the hunger of every creature and the mere sight of it would do this.
In such a case a man, having naturally, if in good health, a desire for food, would find himself, as long as he was kept from dying or falling sick,
getting more and more hungry; for his craving would continue undiminished; he would know that the bread, and nothing but the bread, could
satisfy him, and not being able to reach it, would remain in intolerable pain; the nearer he got to the bread without seeing it, the more
ardently would he crave for it, and would direct himself wholly towards it, as being the only thing which would afford him relief, and if
he were assured that he never see the bread he would have within him a perfect hell and become like the damned who are cut off from all hope
of ever seeing God their Saviour, who is the true Bread.
The souls in purgatory, on the other hand, hope to see that Bread and satiate themselves to the full therewith; whence they hunger and suffer
pain as great as will be their capacity for enjoying that Bread, which is Jesus Christ, the true God, our Saviour and our Love." (pp.196-197)
St. Catherine of Genoa
Treatise on Purgatory: The Dialogue.
Sheed and Ward: New York, 1946. Nihil Obstat. Imprimatur. (Out of print).
St. John Chrysostom
Excerpt from Thurston, Herbert, S.J. The Memory of Our Dead
(Chapter 1: The Early Centuries, pp. 24-25)
"Speaking of a man known to have died after a careless life he says:
'But even supposing that he did depart in his sins, we ought to rejoice on this account because his sins were cut short, and he could
not add to his guilt, and we ought to help him, as far as possible, not by tears but by prayers and supplications, by alms and oblations
(i.e., the Holy Sacrifice).'"
"Let us succor them according to our ability, let us devise some help for them, small though it be, yet still a possible help. How and in
what way? By praying for them ourselves and encouraging others to offer prayers in their behalf, by constantly giving alms to the poor
for them. Such an act has some consolation; for hear what God said, 'I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake and for my servant
David's sake.' If the remembrance merely of a just man availed so much, how shall it not avail when deeds also are done in his behalf? Not
in vain was this law laid down by the Apostles, that we should commemorate the departed during the dreadful Mysteries. They know that much gain,
much advantage, accrues to the dead therefrom."
St. Philip Nero
Excerpt from Schouppe, F.X., S.J. Purgatory: Explained by the Lives and Legends of the Saints
(Chapter 45: Advantages to Devotion to the Holy Souls - St. Philip Nero, pp. 318-319)
"St. Philip Nero, founder of the Congregation of the Oratory, had a most tender devotion towards the holy souls in Purgatory, and he felt a
particular attraction to pray for those who had been under his spiritual direction. He considered himself under greatest obligation to them,
because Divine Providence had confided them in a special manner to his zeal. It seemed to him that his charity ought to follow them until their
final purification was accomplished, and they were admitted into the glory of Heaven. He confessed that many of his spiritual children appeared
to him after their death, either to ask his prayers or to return him thanks for what he had already done for them. He declared also that by this
means he had obtained more than one grace.
After his death, a Franciscan Father of great piety was praying in the chapel in which the venerated remains of the saint had been deposited,
when the latter appeared to him surrounded with glory and in the midst of a brilliant train. Encouraged by the air of amiable familiarity
with which the saint regarded him, he ventured to ask the meaning of that bright band of blessed spirits which accompanied him. The saint
replied that they were the souls of those whose spiritual guide he had been during life, and whom by his suffrages he had delivered from
Purgatory. He added that they had come to meet him on his departure from this world, that in their turn they might introduce him into the
St. Nicholas of Valentino
Excerpt from Schouppe, F.X., S.J. Purgatory: Explained by the Lives and Legends of the Saints
(Chapter 13: Relief of the Mass - St. Elizabeth and Queen Constance - St. Nicholas of Valentino and Pellegrino d'Osimo, pp. 207-209)
"When the sanctuary was thrown open to him, and his superiors wished to confer the priesthood upon him, he hesitated a long time
before that sublime dignity, and nothing could make him decide to receive holy orders but the thought that by daily celebrating the
Holy Sacrifice he could most efficaciously assist the suffering souls in Purgatory. On their part, the souls whom he relieved by so
many suffrages appeared to him several times to thank him or to recommend themselves to his charity.
He lived near Pisa, entirely occupied with his spiritual exercises, when one Saturday during the night he saw in a dream a soul in
pain, who besought him to celebrate Holy Mass on the following morning for her and several other souls that suffered most terribly
in Purgatory. Nicholas recognized the voice, but could not distinctly call to mind the person who spoke to him. "I am," said the
apparition, "your deceased friend Pellegrino d'Osimo. By the Divine Mercy I have escaped eternal chastisement by repentance; not
so the temporal punishment due to my sins. I come in the name of many souls as unfortunate as myself to entreat you to offer Holy
Mass for us tomorrow; from it we expect our deliverance, or at least alleviation." The saint replied, with his usual kindness,
"May the Lord deign to relieve you by the merits of His precious Blood! But this Mass for the dead I cannot say tomorrow; for I
must sing the Conventual Mass in choir." "Ah! at least come with me," cried the departed soul, for the love of God, come and behold
our sufferings, and you will no longer refuse; you are too good to leave us in such frightful agonies."
Then it seemed to him that he was transported into Purgatory. He saw an immense plain, where a vast multitude of souls, of all ages
and conditions, were a prey to divers tortures most horrible to behold. By gestures and by words they implored most piteously his
assistance. "Behold," said Pellegrino, "the state of those who sent me to you. since you are agreeable in the sight of God, we have
confidence that He will refuse nothing to the oblation of the Sacrifice offered by you, and that His Divine Mercy will deliver us."
At this pitiful sight the saint could not repress his tears. He immediately betook himself to prayer, to console them in their sorrow,
and the following morning went to the Prior, relating to him the vision he had had, and the request made by Pellegrino concerning Mass
for that day. The Father Prior, sharing his emotion, dispensed him for that day, and for the rest of the week, from saying Conventual
Mass, that he might offer the Holy Sacrifice for the departed, and devote himself entirely to the relief of the suffering souls.
Delighted with this permission, Nicholas went to the church and celebrated Holy Mass with extraordinary fervor. During the entire week
he continued to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice for the same intention, besides offering day and night prayers, disciplines, and all
sorts of good works.
At the end of the week Pellegrino again appeared, but no longer in a state of sufferings; he was clad in a white garment and surrounded
with a celestial light, in which he pointed out a large number of happy souls. They all thanked him, calling him their liberator; then
rising towards Heaven, they chanted these words of the Psalmist, Salvasti nos de affligentibus nos, et odientes nos confudisti
--"Thou hast saved us from them that afflict us, and thou hast put them to shame that hate us."(Ps.43) The enemies here spoken
of are sins, and the demons who are their instigators."
St. Magdalen de Pizza
Excerpt from Schouppe, F.X., S.J. Purgatory: Explained by the Lives and Legends of the Saints
(Chapter 6: Location of Purgatory - St. Frances of Rome - St. Magdalen de Pizza, pp. 17-21)
"The following is an account of that of St. Magdalen de Pizza, a
Florentine Carmelite, as it is related in her Life by Father Cepare. It
gives more of a picture of Purgatory, whilst the preceding vision but traces
Some time before her death, which took place in 1607, the servant of
God, Magdalen de Pizza, being one evening with several other Religious in
the garden of the convent, was ravished in ecstasy, and saw Purgatory open
before her. At the same time, as she made known later, a voice invited her
to visit all the prisons of Divine Justice, and to see how truly worthy of
compassion are the souls detained there.
At this moment she was heard to say, "Yes, I will go." She consented to
undertake this painful journey. In fact, she walked for two hours round the
garden, which was very large, pausing from time to time. Each time she
interrupted her walk, she contemplated attentively the sufferings which were
shown to her. She was then seen to wring her hands in compassion, her face
became pale, her body bent under the weight of suffering, in presence of the
terrible spectacle with which she was confronted.
She began to cry aloud in lamentation, "Mercy, my God, mercy! Descend,
O Precious Blood, and deliver these souls from their prison. Poor Souls! you
suffer so cruelly, and yet you are content and cheerful. The dungeons of the
martyrs in comparison with these were gardens of delight. Nevertheless there
are others still deeper. How happy should I esteem myself were I not obliged
to go down into them."
She did descend, however, for she was forced to continue her way. But
when she had taken a few steps, she stopped terror-stricken, and, sighing
deeply, she cried, "What! Religious also in this dismal abode! Good God! how
they are tormented! Ah, Lord!" She does not explain the nature of their
sufferings; but the horror which she manifested in contemplating them caused
her to sigh at each step. She passed from thence into less gloomy places.
They were the dungeons of simple souls, and of children in whom ignorance
and lack of reason extenuated many faults. Their torments appeared to her
much more endurable than those of the others. Nothing but ice and fire were
there. She noticed that these souls had their angel-guardians with them, who
fortified them greatly by their presence; but she saw also demons whose
dreadful forms increased their sufferings.
Advancing a few paces, she saw souls still more unfortunate, and she
was heard to cry out, "Oh! how horrible is this place; it is full of hideous
demons and incredible torments! Who, O my God, are the victims of these
cruel tortures? Alas! they are being pierced by sharp swords, they are being
cut into pieces." She was answered that they were the souls whose conduct
had been tainted with hypocrisy.
Advancing a little, she saw a great multitude of souls which were
bruised, as it were, and crushed under a press; and she understood that they
were those souls which had been addicted to impatience and disobedience
during life. Whilst contemplating them, her looks, her sighs, her whole
attitude betokened compassion and terror.
A moment later her agitation increased, and she uttered a dreadful cry.
It was the dungeon of lies which now lay open before her. After having
attentively considered it, she cried aloud, "Liars are confined in a place
in the vicinity of Hell, and their sufferings are exceedingly great. Molten
lead is poured into their mouths; I see them burn, and at the same time
tremble with cold."
She then went to the prison of those souls which had sinned through
weakness, and she was heard to exclaim, "Alas! I had thought to find you
among those who have sinned through ignorance, but I am mistaken; you burn
with an intenser fire."
Farther on, she perceived souls which had been too much attached to the
goods of this world, and had sinned by avarice.
"What blindness," said she, "thus eagerly to seek a perishable fortune!
Those whom formerly riches could not sufficiently satiate, are here gorged
with torments. They are smelted like metal in the furnace."
From thence she passed into the place where those souls were imprisoned
which had formerly been stained with impurity. She saw them in so filthy and
pestilential a dungeon that the sight produced nausea. She turned away
quickly from that loathsome spectacle. Seeing the ambitious and the proud,
she said, "Behold those who wished to shine before men; now they are
condemned to live in this frightful obscurity."
Then she was shown those souls which had been guilty of ingratitude
towards God. They were prey to unutterable torments, and, as it were,
drowned in a lake of molten lead, for having by their ingratitude dried up
the source of piety.
Finally, in a last dungeon, she was shown souls that had not been given
to any particular vice, but which, through the lack of proper vigilance over
themselves, had committed all kinds of trivial faults. She remarked that
these souls had share in the chastisements of all vices, in a moderate
degree, because those faults committed only from time to time rendered them
less guilty than those committed through habit.
After this last station the saint left the garden, begging God never
again to make her witness of so heartrending a spectacle: she felt that she
had not strength to endure it. Her ecstasy still continued, and, conversing
with Jesus, she said to Him, "Tell me, Lord, what was your design in
discovering to me those terrible prisons, of which I knew so little, and
comprehended still less? Ah! I now see; you wished to give me the knowledge
of your infinite sanctity, and to make me detest more and more the least
stain of sin, which is so abominable in your eyes."
St. Jean Vianney
"Sermon on Purgatory"
"I come on behalf of God. Why am I up in the pulpit today, my dear brethren? What am I going to say to you? Ah! I come on behalf of God Himself. I come on behalf of your poor parents, to awaken in you that love and gratitude which you owe them. I come to bring before your minds again all those kindnesses and all the love which they gave you while they were on earth. I come to tell you that they suffer in Purgatory, that they weep, and that they demand with urgent cries the help of your prayers and your good works. I seem to hear them crying from the depths of those fires which devour them: "Tell our loved ones, tell our children, tell all our relatives how great the evils are which they are making us suffer. We throw ourselves at their feet to implore the help of their prayers. Ah! Tell them that since we have been separated from them, we have been here burning in the flames!
Oh! Who would be so indifferent to such sufferings as we are enduring?" Do you see, my dear brethren, do you hear that tender mother, that devoted father, and all those relatives who helped and tended you? "My friends," they cry, "free us from these pains; you can do it." Consider then, my dear brethren: (a) the magnitude of these sufferings which the souls in Purgatory endure; and (b) the means which we have of mitigating them: our prayers, our good works, and, above all, the holy sacrifice of the Mass. I do not wish to stop at this stage to prove to you the existence of Purgatory. That would be a waste of time. No one among you has the slightest doubt on that score. The Church, to which Jesus Christ promised the guidance of the Holy Ghost and which, consequently, can neither be mistaken herself nor mislead us, teaches us about Purgatory in a very clear and positive manner. It is certain, very certain, that there is a place where the souls of the just complete the expiation of their sins before being admitted to the glory of Paradise, which is assured them. Yes, my dear brethren, and it is an article of faith: if we have not done penance proportionate to the greatness and enormity of our sins, even though forgiven in the holy tribunal of Penance, we shall be compelled to expiate them.... In Holy Scripture there are many texts which show clearly that although our sins may be forgiven, God still imposes on us the obligation to suffer in this world by temporal hardships or in the next by the flames of Purgatory. Look at what happened to Adam. Because he was repentant after committing his sin, God assured him that He had pardoned him, and yet He condemned him to do penance for nine hundred years, penance which surpasses anything that we can imagine. See again: David ordered, contrary to the wish of God, the census of his subjects, but, stricken with remorse of conscience, he saw his sin and, throwing himself upon the ground, begged the Lord to pardon him. God, touched by his repentance, forgave him indeed. But despite that, He sent Gad to tell David that he would have to choose between three scourges which He had prepared for him as punishment for his iniquity: the plague, war, or famine. David said: "It is better that I should fall into the hands of the Lord (for his mercies are many) than into the hands of men." He chose the pestilence, which lasted three days and killed seventy thousand of his subjects. If the Lord had not stayed the hand of the Angel, which was stretched out over the city, all Jerusalem would have been depopulated! David, seeing so many evils caused by his sin, begged the grace of God to punish him alone and to spare his people, who were innocent. See, too, the penance of Saint Mary Magdalen; perhaps that will soften your hearts a little. Alas, my dear brethren, what, then, will be the number of years which we shall have to suffer in Purgatory, we who have so many sins, we who, under the pretext that we have confessed them, do no penance and shed no tears?
How many years of suffering shall we have to expect in the next life? But how, when the holy Fathers tell us that the torments they suffer in this place seem to equal the sufferings which our Lord Jesus Christ endured during His sorrowful Passion, shall I paint for you a heart-rending picture of the sufferings which these poor souls endure? However, it is certain that if the slightest torment that our Lord suffered had been shared by all mankind, they would all be dead through the violence of such suffering. The fire of Purgatory is the same as the fire of Hell; the difference between them is that the fire of Purgatory is not everlasting. Oh! Should God in His great mercy permit one of these poor souls, who burn in these flames, to appear here in my place, all surrounded by the fires which consume him, and should he give you himself a recital of the sufferings he is enduring, this church, my dear brethren, would reverberate with his cries and his sobs, and perhaps that might finally soften your hearts. Oh! How we suffer! they cry to us.
Oh! You, our brethren, deliver us from these torments! You can do it! Ah, if you only experienced the sorrow of being separated from God! ... Cruel separation! To burn in the fire kindled by the justice of God! ... To suffer sorrows incomprehensible to mortal man! . . . To be devoured by regret, knowing that we could so easily have avoided such sorrows! ... Oh! My children, cry the fathers and the mothers, can you thus so readily abandon us, we who loved you so much? Can you then sleep in comfort and leave us stretched upon a bed of fire. Will you have the courage to give yourselves up to pleasure and joy while we are here suffering and weeping night and day? You have our wealth, our homes, you are enjoying the fruit of our labors, and you abandon us here in this place of torments, where we are suffering such frightful evils for so many years! ... And not a single almsgiving, not a single Mass which would help to deliver us! ... You can relieve our sufferings, you can open our prison, and you abandon us. Oh! How cruel these sufferings are! ... Yes, my dear brethren, people judge very differently, when in the flames of Purgatory, of all those light faults, if indeed it is possible to call anything light which makes us endure such rigorous sorrows. What woe would there be to man, the Royal Prophet cries, even the most just of men, if God were to judge him without mercy. If God has found spots in the sun and malice in the angels, what, then, is this sinful man? And for us, who have committed so many mortal sins and who have done practically nothing to satisfy the justice of God, how many years of Purgatory! "My God," said Saint Teresa, "what soul will be pure enough to enter into heaven without passing through the vengeful flames?" In her last illness, she cried suddenly: "O justice and power of my God, how terrible you are!" During her agony, God allowed her to see His holiness as the angels and the saints see Him in heaven, which caused her so much dread that her sisters, seeing her trembling and extraordinarily agitated, spoke to her, weeping: "Ah! Mother, what has happened to you; surely you do not fear death after so many penances and such abundant and bitter tears?" "No, my children," Saint Teresa replied, "I do not fear death; on the contrary, I desire it so that I may be united forever with my God." "Is it your sins, then, which terrify you, after so much mortification? " "Yes, my children," she told them. "I do fear my sins, but I fear still another thing even more." "Is it the judgment then?" "Yes, I tremble at the formidable account that it will be necessary to render to God, Who, in that moment, will be without mercy, but there is still something else of which the very thought alone makes me die with terror." The poor sisters were deeply distressed. "Alas! Can it be Hell then?" "No," she told them. "Hell, thank God, is not for me. Oh! My sisters, it is the holiness of God. My God, have pity upon me! My life must be brought face to face with that of Jesus Christ Himself! Woe to me if I have the least blemish or stain! Woe to me if I am even in the very shadow of sin!" "Alas!" cried these poor sisters. "What will our deaths be like!" What will ours be like, then, my dear brethren, we who, perhaps in all our penances and our good works, have never yet satisfied for one single sin forgiven in the tribunal of Penance?
Ah! What years and centuries of torment to punish us! ... How dearly we shall pay for all those faults that we look upon as nothing at all, like those little lies that we tell to amuse ourselves, those little scandals, the despising of the graces which God gives us at every moment, those little murmurings in the difficulties that He sends us! No, my dear brethren, we would never have the courage to commit the least sin if we could understand how much it outrages God and how greatly it deserves to be rigorously punished, even in this world. God is just, my dear brethren, in all that He does. When He recompenses us for the smallest good action, He does so over and above all that we could desire. A good thought, a good desire, that is to say, the desire to do some good work even when we are not able to do it, He never leaves without a reward. But also, when it is a matter of punishing us, it is done with rigor, and though we should have only a light fault, we shall be sent into Purgatory. This is true, for we see it in the lives of the saints that many of them did not go to Heaven without having first passed through the flames of Purgatory. Saint Peter Damien tells that his sister remained several years in Purgatory because she had listened to an evil song with some little pleasure. It is told that two religious promised each other that the first to die would come to tell the survivor in what state he was. God permitted the one who died first to appear to his friend. He told him that he was remaining fifteen years in Purgatory for having liked to have his own way too much. And as his friend was complimenting him on remaining there for so short a time, the dead man replied: "I would have much preferred to be flayed alive for ten thousand years continuously, for that suffering could not even be compared with what I am suffering in the flames." A priest told one of his friends that God had condemned him to remain in Purgatory for several months for having held back the execution of a will designed for the doing of good works. Alas, my dear brethren, how many among those who hear me have a similar fault with which to reproach themselves?
How many are there, perhaps, who during the course of eight or ten years have received from their parents or their friends the work of having Masses said and alms given and have allowed the whole thing to slide! How many are there who, for fear of finding that certain good works should be done, have not wanted to go to the trouble of looking at the will that their parents or their friends have made in their favor? Alas, these poor souls are still detained in the flames because no one has desired to fulfill their last wishes! Poor fathers and mothers, you are being sacrificed for the happiness of your children and your heirs! You perhaps have neglected your own salvation to augment their fortune. You are being cheated of the good works which you left behind in your wills! ... Poor parents! How blind you were to forget yourselves! ... You will tell me, perhaps: "Our parents lived good lives; they were very good people." Ah! They needed little to go into these flames! See what Albert the Great, a man whose virtues shone in such an extraordinary way, said on this matter. He revealed one day to one of his friends that God had taken him into Purgatory for having entertained a slightly self-satisfied thought about his own knowledge. The most astonishing thing was that there were actually saints there, even ones who were beatified, who were passing through Purgatory. Saint Severinus, Archbishop of Cologne, appeared to one of his friends a long time after his death and told him that he had been in Purgatory for having deferred to the evening the prayers he should have said in the morning. Oh! What years of Purgatory will there be for those Christians who have no difficulty at all in deferring their prayers to another time on the excuse of having to do some pressing work! If we really desired the happiness of possessing God, we should avoid the little faults as well as the big ones, since separation from God is so frightful a torment to all these poor souls!"
St. Jean Baptiste Marie Vianney
"All Souls' Day" - (For Full Sermon click on this link)
Neumann Press: Long Prairie, 1984. Nihil Obstat. Imprimatur.
(From "Sermons for the Sundays and Feast of the Year" by Cure of Ars (St. Jean Baptiste Marie Vianney). Sermons for the Feast Days of the Year: All Souls' Day, "All Souls' Day", pp. 8 - 16. Neumann Press. Long Prairie, MN. 1984.
St. Maria Faustina Kowalska
Purgatory — "My Mercy does not want this, but justice demands it."
(From the "Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, 1375. Marian Press. Stockbridge, MA. 1987.
" . . . [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
transgression 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 to 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."
"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. . . . 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)
"One day, I saw two roads. One was broad, covered with sand and flowers, full of joy, music, and all sorts of pleasures. People walked along it, dancing and enjoying themselves. They reached the end
without realizing it. And at the end of the road there was a horrible precipice; that is, the abyss of hell. The souls fell blindly into it; as they walked, so they fell. And their number was so great
that it was impossible to count them. And I saw the other road, or rather. a path, for it was narrow and strewn with thorns and rocks, and the people who walked along it had tears in their eyes,
and all kinds of suffering befell them. Some fell down upon the rocks, but stood up immediately and went on. At the end of the road there was a magnificent garden filled with all sorts of happiness,
and all these souls entered there. At the first instant they forgot all their sufferings." (Diary 153)
Kowalska, Sister M. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul:
The Diary of the Servant of God* Sister M. Faustina Kowalska. Stockbridge: Marian Press
, 1987.Imprimatur, Nihil Obstat. *Now Saint