St. Thomas of Aquinas, the Prince of Theologians, says that the fire of Purgatory is equal in intensity of the fire of Hell, and that the slightest contact with it is more dreadful than all the possible sufferings of this Earth.
St. Augustine, the greatest of the Holy Doctors, teaches that to be purified of their faults prior to being admitted to Heaven, souls after death are subjected to a fire more penetrating, more dreadful than anything we can see, or feel, or conceive in this life. “Though this fire is destined to cleanse and purify the souls”, adds the Holy Doctor, “still it is more acute than anything we can possibly endure on Earth.”
St. Cyril of Alexandria does not hesitate to say: “that it would be preferable to suffer all the possible formats of Earth until Judgment day, than pass one day in Purgatory.”
St. Pio “Our fire, in comparison with the fire of Purgatory is a refreshing breeze.”A Spirit All on Fire, Resembling Incandescent MetalSt. Lidwina of Schiedam was a 15th century Dutch saint and mystic. As a teenager, she had an ice skating accident that left her debilitated the rest of her life. A sinful man was converted by her prayers and and exhortation and was able to make a good confession, but he died soon after, unable to do much penance. After some time, she asked her guardian angel if he was still in purgatory, and she had this vision:“‘He is there,’ said her angel, ‘and he suffers much. Would you be willing to endure some pain in order to diminish his?’ Certainly,’ she replied, ‘I am ready to suffer anything to assist him.’ Instantly her angel conducted her into a place of frightful torture. ‘Is this, then, Hell, my brother?’ asked the holy maiden, seized with horror. ‘No, sister,’ answered the angel, ‘but this part of Purgatory is bordering upon Hell.’
“Looking around on all sides, she saw what resembled an immense prison, surrounded with walls of a prodigious height, the blackness of which, together with the monstrous stones, inspired her with horror. Approaching this dismal enclosure, she heard a confused noise of lamenting voices, cries of fury, chains, instruments of torture, violent blows which the executioners discharged upon their victims. This noise was such that all the tumult of the world, in tempest or battle, could bear no comparison to it. ‘What, then, is that horrible place?’ asked St. Lidwina of her good angel. ‘Do you wish me to show it to you?’ ‘No, I beseech you,’ said she, recoiling with terror; ‘the noise which I hear is so frightful that I can no longer bear it ; how, then, could I endure the sight of those horrors?’
“Continuing her mysterious route, she saw an angel seated sadly on the curb of a well. ‘Who is that angel?’ she asked of her guide. ‘It is,’ he replied, ‘the angel-guardian of the sinner in whose lot you are interested. His soul is in this well, where it has a special Purgatory.’ At these words, Lidwina cast an inquiring glance at her angel; she desired to see that soul which was dear to her, and endeavour to release it from that frightful pit. Her angel, who understood her, having taken off the cover of the well, a cloud of flames, together with the most plaintive cries, came forth.” Do you recognise that voice?’ said the angel to her. ‘Alas! yes,’ answered the servant of God. ‘Do you desire to see that soul?’ he continued. On her replying in the affirmative, he called him by his name; and immediately our virgin saw appear at the mouth of the pit a spirit all on fire, resembling incandescent metal, which said to her in a voice scarcely audible, ‘O Lidwina, servant of God, who will give me to contemplate the face of the Most High?’
“The sight of this soul, a prey to the most terrible torment of fire, gave our saint such a shock that the cincture which she wore around her body was rent in twain; and, no longer able to endure the sight, she awoke suddenly from her ecstasy. The persons present, perceiving her fear, asked her its cause. ‘Alas!” she replied, ‘how frightful are the prisons of Purgatory! It was to assist the souls that I consented to descend thither. Without this motive, if the whole world were given to me, I would not undergo the terror which that horrible spectacle inspired.’
“Some days later, the same angel whom she had seen so dejected appeared to her with a joyful countenance; he told her that the soul of his protege’ had left the pit and passed into the ordinary Purgatory. This partial alleviation did not suffice the charity of Lidwina; she continued to pray for the poor patient, and to apply to him the merits of her sufferings, until she saw the gates of Heaven opened to him.”
WHAT HAPPENS TO THOSE WHO ARE NEGLECTFUL OF THE HOLY SOULS?
ST. ANTONINUS AND HIS FRIEND
St. Antoninus, the illustrious Archbishop of Florence, relates that a pious gentleman had died, who was a great friend of the Dominican Convent in which the Saint resided. Many Masses and suffrages were offered for his soul. The Saint was very much afflicted when, after the lapse of a long time, the soul of the poor gentleman appeared to him, suffering excruciating pains.
“Oh, my Dear Friend, ” exclaimed the Archbishop, “are you still in Purgatory, you who led such a pious and devout life?”
“Yes, and I shall remain there still for a long time, ” replied the poor sufferer, “for when on Earth I neglected to offer suffrages for the souls in Purgatory. Now, God by a just judgment has applied the suffrages which have been offered for me to those souls for whom I should have prayed. ”
“But God, too, in His Justice, will give me all the merits of my good works when I enter Heaven; but first of all, I have to expiate my grave neglect in regard to others. ”
So true are the words of Our Lord: “By that measure with which you measure, it will be measured to you again. ”
HOW TO HELP THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY
The recital of the Rosary (with its great indulgences) and making the Way of the Cross (which is also richly indulgenced) are excellent means of helping the Holy Souls.
St. John Massias, as we saw, released from Purgatory more than a million souls, chiefly by reciting the Rosary and offering its great indulgences for them.
Another easy and efficacious way is by the constant repetition of short indulgenced prayers [applying the indulgence to the Souls in Purgatory]. Many people have the custom of saying 500 or 1,000 times each day the little ejaculation, “Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in Thee!” or the one word, “Jesus. ” These are most consoling devotions; they bring oceans of grace to those who practice them and give immense relief to the Holy Souls. Those who say the ejaculations 1,000 times a day gain 300,000 days Indulgence! What a multitude of souls they can thus relieve! What will it not be at the end of a month, a year, 50 years? And if they do not say the ejaculations, what an immense number of graces and favors they shall have lost! It is quite possible — and even easy — to say these ejaculations 1, 000 times a day. But if one does not say them 1,000 times, let him say them 500 or 200 times.
ALMS HELP THE HOLY SOULS IF GIVEN IN THEIR NAME
St. Martin gave half of his cloak to a poor beggar, only to find out afterwards that it was to Christ he had given it. Our Lord appeared to him and thanked him.
Blessed Jordan of the Dominican Order could never refuse to give an alms when it was asked in the Name of God. One day he had forgotten his purse. A poor man implored an alms for the love of God. Rather than refuse him, Jordan, who was then a student, gave him a most precious cincture or “girdle” which he prized dearly. Shortly after, he entered a church and found his cincture encircling the waist of an image of Christ Crucified. He, too, had given his alms to Christ. We all give our alms to Christ.
a) Let us give all the alms we can afford;
b) Let us have said all the Masses in our power and say as many Rosaries for them as Possible
c) Let us hear as many Masses as possible;
d) Let us offer all our pains and sufferings for the relief of the Holy Souls.
We shall thus deliver countless Souls from Purgatory, who will repay us ten thousand times over.
OFFERING OF DAILY ACTIONS
ETERNAL Father, by virtue of Thine generosity and love, I ask that
Thou accept all my actions, and that Thou dost multiply their value in
favor of every soul in Purgatory. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
THE HEROIC ACT IN FAVOR OF THE SOULS IN PURGATORY
O MY GOD! for Your greater glory, and to imitate as closely as possible the generous Heart of Jesus, my Redeemer, and also to testify my devotion to the Blessed Virgin, my Mother, who is also the Mother of the Souls in Purgatory, I place in her hands all my satisfactory works, as well as the fruit of all those which may be offered for my intention after my death, that she may apply them to the Souls in Purgatory according to her wisdom and good pleasure. Amen.
This Heroic Act of Charity is the completely unselfish offering to God of all the satisfactory value of one’s prayers and good works — plus the value of any that might be offered for one after one’s death — for the benefit of the Souls in Purgatory, rather than for oneself. The “satisfactory value” of a good work is its value with regard to making up for our sins and reducing our stay in Purgatory. However, the “meritorious value” of our good works is inalienable, i.e., our merits, which give us a right to an increase of glory in Heaven, cannot be applied to anyone else. Moreover, a person who has made the Heroic Act may still pray for himself, friends and other intentions.
The Heroic Act is revocable at will and is not a vow. Its actual ratification depends on the will of God. By making this act with purity of intention, one is relying upon the mercy of God and the prayers of the Communion of Saints to assist his soul after death. The Heroic Act was approved and encouraged by Pope Benedict XIII [1724-1730].
According to the Raccolta of 1932: The faithful who make the Heroic Act in favor of the Souls detained in Purgatory, may gain an indulgence.” At the time this was a plenary indulgence with special conditions attached , such as attending Mass, receiving Holy Communion in supplication for the Holy Souls, etc.
His Holiness, Leo XIII, Jan. 17, 1888, granted to the faithful who shall perform some pious practice for the relief of the Souls in Purgatory, every day during the whole month of November, whether in public or in private, an indulgence of seven years and as many quarantines on each day of the month; a plenary indulgence, once during the same month, on any day of the month, on the usual conditions: confession and communion, and a visit to a church or public oratory, and there praying for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.