Divine Love and Purgatory

 

Prayer for the Poor Souls in Purgatory
by St. Gertrude the Great

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the most precious blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus Christ, in union with the holy Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Poor Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, for those in my own home and in my family. Amen.

For November, we offer a few excerpts from a true saint for our times, Sister Josefa Menendez, the author of  “The Way of Divine Love”, a treasure of a book that I love dearly. These few quotes give a quite an insight into purgatory. There is much to think on in them.

In Lent 1922, God put Sister Josefa  in touch with an abyss of woe, Purgatory. Many souls came to solicit her suffrages and sacrifices in terms of very great humility. At first she was frightened, but by degrees she became accustomed to their confidences. She listened to them, asked them their names, encouraged them, and very humbly recommended herself to their intercession. The lessons they inculcated are worth remembering. One of them came to announce her deliverance and said: “The important thing is not entrance into religion, but entrance into the next world.” “If religious souls but realized the heavy price to be paid for concessions to the body …” said another, while asking for prayers.

“My exile is at an end and I am going to my eternal home….” A priest-soul said to her: “How great is the mercy of God, when He deigns to make use of the sufferings of other souls to repair our infidelities; what a degree of glory I might have acquired had my life been different.” A nun who, on her entrance into Heaven, confided to Josefa: “How different the things of earth appear when one passes into eternity. What are charges and offices in the sight of God? All He counts is the purity of our intention when exercising them, even in the smallest acts. How little is the earth and all it contains, and yet, how loved…. Ah, what comparison is there between life, however prolonged, and eternity! If only it were realized how in Purgatory the soul is wearied and consumed with desire to see God.”

There were also some poor souls, who having escaped through God’s mercy from a still greater peril, came to beg Josefa to hasten their deliverance. “I am here by God’s great mercy,” one of them said, “for my excessive pride had brought me to the gates of Hell. I influenced a great number of other people, and now I would gladly throw myself at the feet of the most abject pauper. “Have compassion on me and do acts of humility to make reparation for my pride, thus you will be able to deliver me from this abyss.”

“I spent seven years in mortal sin,” another confessed, “and three years ill in bed, and I always refused to go to Confession. I was ripe for hell-fire and would have fallen into it if by your present sufferings you had not obtained for me the grace of repentance. I am now in Purgatory, and I entreat you, since you were able to save me … draw me out of this dreary prison.” “I am in Purgatory because of my infidelity, for I would not correspond with God’s call,” said another. “For twelve years I held out against my vocation and was in the greatest peril of damnation, because in order to stifle my conscience I gave myself up to a life of sin. Thanks to the divine goodness, which deigned to make use of your sufferings, I took courage to come back to God … and now, of your charity, get me out of this gloomy prison.”

THE TEACHINGS OF PURGATORY

Josefa never went down into Purgatory, but she saw and spoke with a number of souls who came to solicit her prayers, and some told her that, thanks to her sufferings, they had escaped Hell. These souls, as a rule, humbly accused themselves of the faults for which they were in Purgatory (see Ch. V. of Biography). A few facts are here added. “ … I had a vocation, but lost it by reading bad books; I also had discarded my scapular, out of contempt” (July 27th, 1921).

“ … I was given up to a great deal of vanity and on the point of marrying. Our Lord made use of very severe measures to prevent my falling into Hell.” (April 10th, 1921). “My religious life was wanting in fervor….” “I had a long religious life, but I spent my last years rather in taking care of my health than in loving Our Lord. Thanks to the merits of a sacrifice you made, I was able to make a fervent death, and I owe it to you that I escaped the long years in Purgatory I had deserved. The important thing is not so much entrance into religion … as entrance into eternity.” (April 7th, 1922).

“… I have been a year and three months in Purgatory, and were it not for your little acts I should have remained there long years. A woman of the world has less responsibility than a religious, for how great are the graces the latter receives, and what liabilities she incurs if she does not profit by them…. How little nuns suspect the way their faults are expiated here … a tongue horribly tortured expiates faults against silence … a dried-up throat, those against charity … and the constraints of this prison, the repugnance in obeying! In my Order, pleasures were few and comforts still fewer, but one can always manage to secure some … and the smallest immortifications have to be expiated here. To restrain one’s eyes, to refuse oneself the gratification of a little curiosity may at times cost a big effort … and here … the eyes are tormented by the impossibility of seeing God.” (April 10th, 1922).

“Another nun accused herself of failings against charity, and of having murmured at the election of one of her Superiors.” (April 12th, 1922). “… I have been in Purgatory till now … because during my religious life I talked a great deal and with little prudence. I often communicated my impressions and complaints, and these indiscretions were the cause of faults against charity which my Sisters then committed.”

“Let all learn from this,” commented Our Lady, who was present at the apparition, “for many souls fall into this danger.” Our Lord stressed this grave warning by these words: “That soul is in Purgatory because of her faults against silence, for this kind of fault leads to many others: first, the Rule is broken; secondly, there often occur in such failings sins against charity or religious spirit, personal satisfaction, outpourings of heart that are ill-placed among religious, and all this, without a feeling of responsibility not only for oneself but for one or many others who are led into the same faults. That is why this soul is in Purgatory, and burning with desire to see My face.” (February 22nd, 1923).

“I am in Purgatory because I did not care enough about the souls confided to me, and because I did not sufficiently realize their value and the devotedness called for by so precious a charge.” (August 1922). … I was in Purgatory a little under an hour and a half to expiate a certain want of confidence in God. True, I always loved Him very much, but not without fear. It is true also that the judgments of religious are severe and rigorous, for we are judged not by our Spouse, but by our God. Nevertheless, during life our confidence in His mercy ought to be boundless, and we should trust His goodness. How many graces are lost by religious who have not enough trust in God.” (September 1922).

“… I am in Purgatory because I did not treat the souls that Jesus entrusted to me with the care they deserved…. I allowed myself to be influenced by human motives and natural likes, not seeing in them God, as I should have, and as all Superiors must. For if it is true that all religious should see in their Superior the Person of God Our Lord, the Superior also ought to see Him in her daughters….” “Thanks be to you who have helped to free me from Purgatory…. O! if nuns realized how far they can be led by unruly feelings … how vigorously they would strive to conquer themselves and master their nature and passions.” (April 1923).

“My Purgatory will be a long one, for I did not accept God’s Will for me, nor make the sacrifice of my life generously enough during my illness. Illness is a great grace of purification, it is true, but unless one is careful, it may cause one to stray away from religious spirit … to forget that one has made vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience, and that one is consecrated to God as a victim. Our Lord is all love, certainly, but also all justice.” (November 1923). (Menendez, Sr. Josefa. The Way of Divine Love (with Supplemental Reading: Devotion to the Sacred Heart)  TAN Books. Kindle Edition.)

Note: Dear readers, in response to those who have asked, my health seems fairly stable at present considering all things, but I have been unable to write much lately mostly because I am heartsick over this never-ending rot in the Church. Like many of you, my heart aches for our dear Lord and His Mother. What terrible times these are! I know we have discussed all this, and we have sacrificed and prayed and offered Masses, but there is nothing that could have prepared us for this unrelenting deluge of filth and cynical, narcissistic hubris. Oh, I don’t have words adequate for this! Well, I will continue to pray for you, all of you and I am very grateful for your prayers for me. And so we will continue, praying for the Church, the Immaculate Bride of Christ, and for her priests; adoring our Beloved Lord and Savior and supporting each other in prayer.

As I was reading Sister Josefa yesterday, the following passage struck me most poignantly. It occurred when Josefa made her vows:

A few hours later Josefa, still deep in glad recollection, noted, so that she might never forget it, what Our Lord had been pleased to do for her.

“After the sermon, I went up to the altar rails to receive my crucifix of vows and black veil. Then suddenly I saw Our Lady present, O! so ravishingly lovely, all bathed in light. She held a veil in her hands, and when I returned to my prie-dieu, she herself put it on my head. All round her and framing her person were a number of radiant little faces which looked like those of tiny children, lit up with joy. With ineffable sweetness she said to me: ‘While you, beloved daughter, were suffering, these souls were weaving this veil for you. All those you prayed for have left Purgatory and are safe in Heaven for all eternity.  There they will protect you.’ “

Do you see? We do suffer greatly now, but we should thank Our Lord for this opportunity to gain much merit for poor souls and for consolation for Him whom we love!

All things are passing…God never changes…Patient endurance attains all things…Alone God suffices.

Please pray the Rosary for poor souls!

Working on Purgatory

In November, we focus on the Poor Souls and on our own mortality as well. The chill wind blowing the flaming leaves about recalls to us thoughts of purgatory and its cleansing fires, bringing to mind loved ones gone before us and our own mortality.

It’s the winter of my life and each November brings poignant reflections on so many dear friends and family who have passed on. For some time now, my departed friends have vastly outnumbered those who remain. These days, the very concept of Purgatory is an affront to the sensibilities of modern Catholics, but it can be a comforting concept to those familiar with the true teachings of the faith. Like the dogma of the sacrificial nature of the Mass, Purgatory is a reminder of the loving justice of God.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, intercede for your children in purgatory!
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, intercede for your children in purgatory!

If we were to make full use of all the opportunities presented to us every day for offering up our trials and sacrifices for the remission of our sins and the sins of others, we could conceivably assist many poor souls to heaven as well as shorten our own stay in purgatory’s cleansing fires. The fact that we do not do this, that is, do not make full use of these opportunities for sacrifice, is perhaps due to our not wearing our scapular mindfully, or not maintaining our Consecration to Our Lady as we should. November is a great time to correct this.

Wearing our scapular mindfully, realizing that it is “our Mother’s Apron” so to speak, helps us understand that this apron, as I call it, is a working item. We put on an apron when we will be working on something, and all our life is a work of love, honoring our Queen and Mother, giving glory to God in all things. To this end, we remind ourselves often of our total dependence on her and our complete consecration, which we live, moment by moment, in the small choices of our lives. Now, no one knows of these things, nor should they, for they are part of the intimate secrets shared between a Mother and her child. Treasure them in your heart as Mary herself did.

To help us understand the beneficial nature of purgatory, Father Schouppe’s classic, “Purgatory explained by the lives and legends of the Saints”, is helpful. Fr. Schouppe has many good stories from the lives of the saints to illustrate various aspects of Purgatory, and the following one is a good example.

From the Revelations of St. Gertrude, Father tells us that a young religious in St. Gertrude’s convent was much admired because of her great piety. After her death, St. Gertrude was fervently praying for the soul of the young nun when she was rapt in ecstasy and had a vision of the deceased sister standing before the throne of God, eyes downcast, she seemed to be ashamed. St. Gertrude then beseeched Our Lord, “Most Sweet Jesus, why does not Your infinite goodness invite Your spouse to approach You and enter into the joy of her Lord?”

At this, Our Lord smiled with tender love and beckoned to the reluctant soul to draw near Him, but she, troubled and trembling withdrew from Him. St. Gertrude then addressed her dear sister, “Do you retire when our Lord calls you? You that have desired Jesus during your whole life, withdraw now that He opens His arms to you?” “Ah, my dear Mother, I am not worthy to appear before the Immaculate Lamb. I still have some stains which I contracted upon earth. To approach the Sun of Justice, one must be as pure as a ray of light. I have not yet that degree of purity which He requires of His saints. Know that, if the door of Heaven were to be opened to me, I should not dare to cross the threshold before being entirely purified from all stain.”

Father Schouppe follows this with a bit from St. Catherine of Genoa’s Treatise on Purgatory, which reinforces the concept.

“The Lord is all merciful. He stands before us, His arms extended in order to receive us into His glory. But I see also that the Divine Essence is of such purity that the soul, unless she be absolutely immaculate, cannot bear the sight. If she finds in herself the least atom of imperfection, rather than dwell with a stain in the presence of the Divine Majesty, she would plunge herself into the depths of Hell. Finding in Purgatory a means to blot out her stains, she casts herself into it. She esteems herself happy that, by the effects of a great mercy, a place is given her where she can free herself from the obstacles to supreme happiness.”

And so we see that even in His justice, Our Lord Jesus Christ is a most merciful God! When we pray for these Holy Souls, we are fulfilling Our Dear Lord’s request that we love one another. “This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 15, 12) Every day we must offer our prayers and some sacrifice for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. The De Profundis, which is part of the Little Office, is a good prayer, as are the Sorrowful Mysteries. One practice is to pray the Indulgenced Prayer Before a Crucifix after you have received Holy Communion. When you have complied with the usual requirements you gain a plenary indulgence which you can ask Our Lord to apply to the Poor Souls. The requirements are to be in a state of grace, receive Confession, Holy Communion and pray for the intentions of the Pope.

Now, sometimes  people complain about praying for the intentions of the Pope, especially lately. But all that is necessary is to pray, and be assured that Our Lord will never allow harm to come on account of honest prayers! I often tell Our Lord, “I’m praying out of obedience and I trust that You will help our Pope to be obedient, too!”

Another plenary indulgence you can easily earn for the Poor Souls is the one from St. Pius X for adoring Our Lord at the elevation of the Host and of the Chalice at Mass. Don’t look away or close your eyes, but look and adore! That is what the elevation is for! Pray with all your heart, “My Lord and My God” and you will gain a plenary indulgence. (with the usual conditions). In November especially, we do this for Poor Souls, but also for those at the hour of their death, especially since so many Catholics do not understand the extent of their insult to God’s justice until their private judgement and then it is already too late. How horribly overwhelmed they must be! But we trust all to the infinite mercy of God, who will bless those who need it most.

Prayer for the Poor Souls in Purgatory
by St. Gertrude the Great

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the most precious blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus Christ, in union with the holy Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Poor Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, for those in my own home and in my family. Amen.

Above all, though, offering Masses for the Poor Souls is the very best benefit you can give them. So don’t forget to have Masses said for their relief.

I didn’t realize it was this late–the day here began gloomy and overcast and now suddenly after an entire day of feeling like it was evening, it really is nightfall. That may be an allegory for our life… We become so accustomed to attending the funerals of others, praying for them. And so our thoughts on death become ingrained that death is what happens to others. Now is the time to make friends for ourselves with the souls of Purgatory who have learned what we must learn and will be with us when we face our own judgement. They will remember our kindness to them. We do not know how soon we may need them!

There has never been a better time to  Pray the Rosary with confidence and joy!

  Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.
  Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy kingdom come! Viva Cristo Rey!
  Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.
  St. Joseph, protect us, protect our families, protect our priests.
  St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.

Please pray for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary!

~ by evensong for love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, King.
Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin! Give me strength against thine enemies!

 

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Thoughts on Purgatory

In the winter of my life, each November is more poignant as I reflect on so many dear friends and family who no longer share my life. For some time now, my departed friends have vastly outnumbered those who remain. The very concept of Purgatory, an affront to the sensibilities of modern Catholics, is a comforting concept to those of us who have held fast to our pre-conciliar upbringing. Like the dogma of the sacrificial nature of the Mass, Purgatory is a reminder of the loving justice of God.

A favorite book on Purgatory is Father Schouppe’s classic, “Purgatory explained by the lives and legends of the Saints”,  from TAN. Fr. Schouppe has many good stories from the lives of the saints to illustrate various aspects of Purgatory, but the following struck a chord with me and so I’ll share with you, if you’d like.  Continue reading “Thoughts on Purgatory”