Tag: souls in Purgatory

What Is The Joy Of The Souls In Purgatory? How The Holy Souls ‘See’ God Ever More.

What Is The Joy Of The Souls In Purgatory? How The Holy Souls ‘See’ God Ever More.

St. Catherine Of Genoa

What is the joy of the souls in Purgatory? A comparison to show how they see God ever more and more. The difficulty of speaking of this state.

I believe no happiness can be found worthy to be compared with that of a soul in Purgatory except that of the saints in Paradise and day by day this happiness grows as God flows into these souls, more and more as the hindrance to His entrance is consumed.

Sin’s rust is the hindrance, and the fire burns the rust away so that more and more the soul opens itself up to the divine inflowing. A thing which is covered cannot respond to the sun’s rays, not because of any defect in the sun, which is shining all the time, but because the cover is an obstacle. If the cover be burnt away, this thing is open to the sun more and more as the cover is consumed, do does it respond to the rays of the sun.

It is in this way that rust, which is sin, covers souls, and in Purgatory is burnt away by fire; the more it is consumed, the more do the souls respond to God, the true sun. As the rust lessens and the soul is opened up to the divine ray, happiness grows until the time is accomplished, the one wanes and the other waxes. Pain however does not lessen but only the time for which pain is endured.

As for will: never can the souls say these pains are pains, so contented are they with God’s ordaining with which, in pure charity, their will is united.

But, on the other hand, they endure a pain so extreme that no tongue can be found to tell it, nor could the mind understand its least pang if God by special grace did not show so much. Which least pang, out of God’s grace showed to this Soul, but with her tongue she cannot say what it is.

This sight which the Lord revealed to me has never since left my mind and I will tell what I can of it. They will understand whose mind God deigns to open.

-St. Catherine of Genoa from the book Treatise Of Purgatory.

The State Of The Holy Souls In Purgatory And How They Are Exempt From All Self-love – St. Catherine Of Genoa.

The State Of The Holy Souls In Purgatory And How They Are Exempt From All Self-love – St. Catherine Of Genoa.

Brief Introduction

Saint Catherine of Genoa was born in the city of Vicolo del Filo, in the year 1447. She was of the great Guelph family of Fiesca. She was the daughter of Giacomo Fiesca, at one time Viceroy of Naples, and granddaughter of Roberto Fiesca, whose brother was Pope Innocent IV. Another Fiesca was Pope Adrian V, for this family gave several princes to the Church and many bold and skillful warriors and statesmen to the state. The saint’s mother, Francesca de Negro, was likewise of aristocratic birth.

The state of the souls who are in Purgatory – how they are exempt from all self-love.

This holy Soul found herself, while still in the flesh, placed by the fiery love of God in Purgatory, which burnt her, cleansing whatever in her needed cleansing, to the end that when she passed from this life she might be presented to the sight of God, her dear Love. By means of this loving fire, she understood in her soul the state of the souls of the faithful who are placed in Purgatory to purge them of all the rust and stains of sin of which they have not rid themselves in this life. And since this Soul, placed by the divine fire in this loving Purgatory, was united to that divine love and content with all that was wrought in her, she understood the state of the souls who are in Purgatory. And she said:

The souls who are in Purgatory cannot, as I understand, choose but be there, and this is by God’s ordinance who therein has done justly. They cannot turn their thoughts back to themselves, nor can they say,Such sins I have committed for which I deserve to be here “, nor, “I would that I had not committed them for then I would go now to Paradise”, nor, “That one will leave sooner than I”, nor, “I will leave sooner than he”.

They can have neither of themselves nor of others any memory, whether of good or evil, whence they would have greater pain than they suffer ordinarily. So happy are they to be within God’s ordinance, and that He should do all which pleases Him, as it pleases Him that in their greatest pain they cannot think of themselves. They see only the working of the divine goodness, which leads man to itself mercifully, so that he no longer sees any sought of the pain or good which may befall him. Nor would these souls be in pure charity if they could see that pain or good. They cannot see that they are in pain because of their sins; that sight they cannot hold in their minds because in it there would be an active imperfection, which cannot be where no actual sin can be.’

‘Only once, as they pass from this life, do they see the cause of the Purgatory they endure; never again do they see it for in another sight of it there would be self. Being then in charity from which they cannot now depart by any actual fault, they can no longer will nor desire save with the pure will of pure charity. Being in that fire of Purgatory, they are within the divine ordinance, which is pure charity, and in nothing can they depart thence for they are deprived of the power to sin as of the power to merit.’

Tales Of Purgatory – As Told By The Saints 

Tales Of Purgatory – As Told By The Saints 

Some fear it. Others hope for it. Some see it as proof of God’s mercy; others as testimony to God’s wrath. Many don’t know anything about it, while many more have forgotten what they once knew.

The “it” is purgatory, and when it comes to Catholic beliefs about the afterlife, the Church’s teachings on purgatory have long been among its most contested and misunderstood. 

Purgatory is More painful than anything on earth, and yet more peaceful than anywhere but Heaven. 

In her official teaching, the Church doesn’t say much about what Purgatory is actually like, but from the writings of the saints and theologians, there’s much we can learn.

1- It’s a place of intense suffering and joy:

St. Catherine of Genoa, who is said to have suffered the pain of purgatory on earth, claimed “there is in purgatory as much pain as in hell” (Treatise on Purgatory). Like the damned, souls there suffer hunger for the God they don’t yet see—like a man who could live without eating, hungering more and more for the bread he doesn’t have (to use St. Catherines image). And they suffer from fire that “will be more painful than anything man can suffer in the present life” (St. Augustine, On Psalm 37:3).

Once St. Catherine of Ricci is said to have suffered 40 days for a soul in Purgatory—when a novice touched her hand, she remarked, “Mother, you are burning!”

At the same time, St. Catherine of Genoa also taught, “Souls in purgatory unite great joy with great suffering … No peace is comparable to that of the souls in purgatory, except that of the saints in heaven.”

There’s a mysterious ebb and flow of pain and joy in Purgatory, says the Dominican Fr. Reginald GarrigouLagrange, because the suffering is temporary and leads to heaven: The more the soul loves God, the more it suffers not seeing Him; the more it suffers, the more joy and love it has in drawing closer to God.

2- It’s a place of cleansing and mercy: 

Remember the parable about the man who came to the king’s marriage feast without a wedding garment? (Matthew 22:114) The wedding garment is the life of grace we need to enter the feast of heaven. Now imagine a twist: The man comes wearing his garment, but it’s all soiled. What would the king say? Maybe something like: “Nothing unclean shall enter” (Revelation 21:27).

In the Old Testament, Judas Maccabeus had his men pray for the deceased and requested that a sin offering be made for them: “Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.” (2 Maccabees 12:43). This presupposes a place of purification after death—Purgatory.

Many Church Fathers think St. Paul alluded to Purgatory when he wrote about building on the foundation of Jesus with gold or silver, wood or straw:  “The fire will test what sort of work each one has done … If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:13, 15). Wood and straw didn’t fare well for the three pigs—but God, in His mercy, doesn’t demand gold!

That’s a good thing, because Fr. GarrigouLagrange says, “Souls that completely escape all purgatory are probably rather rare. Among the good religious whom St. Teresa knew, only three had completed their purgatory on earth” (Life Everlasting., p. 194). 

3- It’s a place to avoid:

Nevertheless, it can be avoided, and the saints have repeatedly encouraged us to make our Purgatory on earth. 

Fr. Paul OSullivan gives the following advice for avoiding Purgatory (How to Avoid Purgatory): 

  1. Avoid sin
  2. Do penance
  3. Accept suffering
  4. Frequent confession and Communion
  5. Pray with faith and perseverance
  6. Prepare for death: “Eternal Father, from this day forward, I accept with a joyful and resigned heart the death it will please You to send me, with all its pains and sufferings.”
  7. Gain indulgences.

It’s advice that makes saints … even in this life. As Fr. GarrigouLagrange reminds us: Attaining sanctity on earth is possible—and normal—for everyone.

St. John Bosco Shares An Encounter He Had With The Ghost Of His Dead Friend.

St. John Bosco Shares An Encounter He Had With The Ghost Of His Dead Friend.

Bosco’s dear friend died and returned from the grave to fulfill a promise.

The supernatural is more real, and yet more complex, than today’s materialist culture would have us believe. To such purely secular thinking the following tale reveals that there are more things in heaven and earth… Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Admittedly, the advice that follows on from it may sound strange to modern ears and that prevailing ideology, however, for that I make no apology as it is both a warning and also, mercifully, a remedy, nay a protection, against that which wishes us harm. We would do well to heed it.

Often we will hear “ghost stories” around the campfire, and for the most part these are fictional tales told to entertain children. However, sometimes they are real, as is the case of St. John Bosco and his friend Louis Comollo.

Our tale begins in Italy, in 1839, with the tolling of a bell as a young seminarian was laid to rest. And as the earth was heaped upon the casket below, those assembled slowly dispersed.

One of those present, as well as being a friend of the deceased was also a seminarian (John Bosco). And it was to that place of formation that he started to walk back to just as the first hints of night began to draw in. As he did so, his thoughts returned to a curious conversation some months previously, one with the seminarian just buried, and thereafter to an even stranger pact entered into …

The two had been firm friends. Both devoutly religious, at the end of that curious conversation, they had agreed, that whichever of them died first then he would return from the grave and tell the other of what happened next. 

Perhaps it was born from piety, more likely from a boyish prank, as neither expected to die for quite some time. Then, shortly afterwards, one of them did die. 

His name was Louis Comollo; he was the frailer of the two, but still his death was unexpected. His friend (St John Bosco) was as shocked as the whole seminary proved to be. He mourned this loss with a difference, however, for he did so with a sense of expectancy.

As he sat through the subsequent Requiem Mass, he waited, he listened, he watched for a sign – any sign – but none came. Nothing. And so, on that mournful day, and as the mortal remains of his friend had finally been laid to rest, all seemed forever shrouded in an opaque silence. 

Finally that night, the mourner arrived back at the seminary in the Italian town of Cheri, not far from Turin. It was late, but his thoughts were far from sleep. His bedchamber was a dormitory, one he shared with other seminarians; by then, all were sound asleep. He was unable to join them, though. Instead, he was to sit on the edge of his bed, with a mind unusually tense and that still pondered what had taken place that day; it was then just as the clocks struck the midnight hour that it began…

Bosco writes about this encounter he had with his deceased friend, Comollo in his Memoirs, an experience he never expected would happen.

“Given our friendship and the unlimited trust between Comollo and me, we often spoke about the separation that death could possibly bring upon us at any time.

One day, after we had read a long passage from the lives of the saints, we talked, half in jest and half in earnest, of what a consolation it would be if the one of us who died first were to return with news about his condition.

We talked of this so often that we drew up this contract:

“Whichever of us is the first to die will, if God permits it, bring back word of his salvation to his surviving companion.”

I did not realise the gravity of such an undertaking; and frankly, I treated it lightly enough. I would never advise others to do the like. We did it, however, and ratified it repeatedly, especially during Comollo’s last illness. In fact, his last words and his last look at me sealed his promise. Many of our companions knew what had been arranged between us.

Comollo died on April 2, 1839. Next evening he was solemnly buried in Saint Philip’s Church. Those who knew about our bargain waited anxiously to see what would happen. I was even more anxious because I hoped for a great comfort to lighten my desolation. That night, after I went to bed in the big dormitory which I shared with some twenty other seminarians, I was restless. I was convinced that this was to be the night when our promise would be fulfilled.

About 11:30 a deep rumble was heard in the corridor. It sounded as if a heavy wagon drawn by many horses were coming up to the dormitory door. It got louder and louder, like thunder, and the whole dormitory shook. The clerics tumbled out of bed in terror and huddled together for comfort. Then, above the violent and thundering noise, the voice of Comollo was heard clearly. Three times he repeated very distinctly: “Bosco, I am saved.”

All heard the noise; some recognized the voice without understanding the meaning; others understood it as well as I did, as is proved by the length of time the event was talked about in the seminary. It was the first time in my life I remember being afraid. The fear and terror were so bad that I fell ill and was at death’s door.

I would never recommend anyone to enter into such a contract. God is omnipotent; God is merciful. As a rule he does not take heed of such pacts. Sometimes, however, in his infinite mercy he does allow things to come to fulfillment as he did in the case I have just described.

God allowed such an encounter for a purpose, likely to remind Bosco of the reality of the afterlife and to urge him on in the practice of the faith. While we may never see a ghost in our lifetime, let us never doubt the existence of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory and live our lives as though they do exist.

As to the veracity of what took place: I have no reason to doubt any aspect of the story given that its teller and subject, the then living participant of the pact in question, was none other than the man who would later become known to the world as Don Bosco.

St John Bosco, Pray For Us! 

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