Sunday, 11 May 2014

Purgatory and Confidence in God

Lately Purgatory has come up many times in my conversations with others. Whether we’ll go there, how bad it is, how long we will stay and so forth. But firstly, let me define Purgatory. Purgatory is the place we go to after we die if we still have debt from our sins to be paid, or if we have to be purified of worldly attachments. I began to seriously think about Purgatory, and was asking the questions my friends were asking. After reading some books, I came to these conclusions.

God wants us to avoid Purgatory more than we do – Since all the good in us is a reflection of God, we can certainly say that if we don’t want to go to Purgatory, God’s desire of this is infinitely greater than ours. I keep hearing the saints say over and over again, God sends each individual enough suffering in their lives to expiate for all our sins. But how can we know for sure? We can ask for enough suffering! If we bear patiently even the smallest sufferings for the love of God and for expiation for our sins, surely God will make sure we’ve paid our debt before we die. St. Therese of Lisieux says, “You know well enough that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them.” God is infinitely merciful. He forgives the greatest of sins. Why would He not find a way for us to repay the debt?

We have the great Mother of God on our side – There was a story I once heard about a man who committed suicide by jumping off a bridge. His wife was devastated but continued to pray for him in hope that somehow he would be saved. Soon after his death, he appeared to his wife and assured her that he was actually saved and was enjoying the glories of heaven. He explained that Our Lady obtained for him the grace to make a perfect act of contrition before hitting the water because he had placed flowers in front of her picture as an act of love. Because this man made a perfect act of contrition, he went straight to heaven. God was so good to this man because he honoured His mother. Do you honour His mother? Are you somehow an exception to her love? Our Lady is the Mother of Mercy. Ask her to find a way to obtain for you the grace to be delivered from this life straight to heaven. Enroll yourself as her slave through the method of St. Louis de Montfort. Will she not open her arms to her dear son that she loves far beyond our comprehension? Does a mother want to see her son suffer in flames for many years? Of course not! If we place our trust in her, she will find a way to deliver us – she always does.

Our Lord cannot bear the sight of us suffering – Though we go through trials in this life, God only send them to bring out the greater good. Yet, He can hardly bear to see the sight of us suffering, and when He sees us making acts of love even in these times of darkness, He pours consolation into our hearts! Of course, Purgatory is an act of His mercy, for we deserve an infinitely greater punishment, but He doesn’t want us there. He yearns to finally embrace in Paradise those who have been kept there for so long. Why would He not then obtain for you the grace to have enough sufferings on earth to avoid Purgatory? Why would you think He wants to prolong the time He must wait to finally see you face to face? Therefore, we must take advantage of the sufferings we have here on earth. God will give you the strength.

God hold an infinite treasury of grace for us – When Jesus died on the cross, He merited an infinite amount of grace for us. He forgives us infinitely more than our sins needed forgiving, He pours out infinitely more grace for us than we could ever imagine, and makes up infinitely more for our sins. He holds all these graces in His hands and eagerly awaits for us to ask for them. He wants us to be perfect and great saints! If we want to be saint, how much greater is His desire for us to be saints! Therefore, pray for these graces. Pray for the grace to become what God made you to be. Pray to be a saint and make up for your sins. In fact, it gives more glory to God if you make up for your sins here on earth than if you did in Purgatory. Suffering in Purgatory only repairs our sins. Suffering on earth not only repairs our debt from sin, but is a great act of love to God, merits us greater glory in heaven, saves souls, releases those in Purgatory, and makes us better Catholics. Since paying all our debt here on earth is good for our souls, God cannot refuse to give us this grace. Let us ask for it for ourselves and our families and friends every day!

The Devil wants you to worry about Purgatory – I can just imagine Screwtape telling Wormwood how to tempt his patient to discouragement by using Purgatory, “You must make sure your patient’s mind is constantly fixed on Purgatory. Don’t let him consider Purgatory a place of God’s mercy and a portal to heaven. Rather, let his worrying extinguish all desire for heaven. Once you get heaven out of the picture, the soul is yours.” Worrying truly tears the soul to pieces. If you worry about Purgatory, death becomes bitter, life becomes hard, and heaven becomes distant. DON’T WORRY ABOUT PURGATORY! Keep your mind fixed on heaven and its consolations. As long as we have heaven in view, our lives will flow steadily.

It isn’t that bad – To console the reader all the more, let me take some passages from Fr. F.X. Schouppe’s book, Purgatory. He says that, “This contentment in the midst of the most intense suffering cannot be explained otherwise than by the Divine consolations which the Holy Ghost infuses into the souls in Purgatory. This Divine Spirit, by means of faith, hope, and charity, puts them in the disposition of a sick person who has to submit to a very painful treatment, but the effect of which is to restore him to perfect health. This sick person suffers, but he loves his salutary suffering. The Holy Ghost, the comforter, gives a similar contentment to the holy souls.” Though Purgatory is hard and painful, it’s hardships are accompanied by great love and hope. Heaven is at their doorstep and they patiently wait for the day they will be freed.

But… I don’t want to go AT ALL! – I found myself having the same thought. I couldn’t imagine myself on my deathbed looking forwards to flames instead of eternal happiness. I found it hard to hear the people around me say sadly that if the saints went to Purgatory, how could they be possibly spared. But there is hope! You simply must life a holy life just as Our Lord told you to. Don’t complain when you suffer, but offer it up in reparation for your sins and the sins of the world. Perfect yourself. Completely route out all mortal and deliberate venial sins from your lives and pray everyday for the grace to be delivered from Purgatory. God never refused prayer that is good for a soul, is humble, and is persevering. So do not be discouraged! Ask for the grace, and God will do the rest.

And don’t forget our friends in need  - Finally, we mustn’t forget our fellow brethren that dwell in Purgatory. They are the most grateful souls because by your prayers you have opened the gates of eternal joy for them. “How to Avoid Purgatory” by Father Paul O’Sullivan tells us that the souls in Purgatory are so thankful to us that they will try their best to greatly decrease, or even eliminate our Purgatory time! So why fear? We are in good and love hands.


So do not think so much about Purgatory, but think about the glories of heaven! God bless you all!