Insight into Suffering Souls
By Louise D'Angelo, courtesy of Father Gant's Purgatory Confraternity

Many people, even Catholics, do not want to believe that it exists, but Purgatory is a doctrine of our faith. We must believe that it does exist. Actually, when Purgatory is understood, then a person not only wants to believe in it, but actually knows how truly necessary it is.

The main reason why, I have discovered, people refuse to believe in Purgatory is that these people picture Purgatory as a torture chamber, where souls are locked up by a jailer and suffer untold misery which they do not want or desire. Many Catholics have said to me about a departed loved one: "God would never send my loved one to such a horrible place as Purgatory. It just does not exist."

Actually, Purgatory is not a place of misery and unwanted torment; even though it is a place of suffering. Purgatory is a place of love, hope and peace. It was created by love---the love which God has for His beloved children. Purgatory was a necessity born out of love because only the purest of souls can enter Heaven; and if Purgatory did not exist, most souls would never be allowed in God's Heaven of pure love.

This purification must also be understood correctly. A soul is purified not in the sense that the purification is for the benefit of the soul; because it is the extracting from the soul every possible ounce of pure love for God and total destruction of love for self. In other words, the soul becomes free of every trace of self-love which interfered with the total giving of itself and its love to God while the soul remained in a human form: a living person. Purgatory does not destroy and take away as much as it builds and renews . As the fires or sufferings of Purgatory burn away the remains of self-love, which show as sins, faults and human weaknesses, there emerges, more and more, a true, a pure, a perfect love for God. The person slowly becomes the magnificent creature that knows how to love God with a totally unselfish love: the only type of love which is found in the hearts of the Saints in Heaven. The whole relationship between God the Father and us His Children, is based upon and built upon love. God's love for us is perfect, pure unstained, infinite, totally unselfish. Our love for Him becomes impure, selfish, weak, even if we try hard to love Him. To actually strip off the impurities of self-love is a task too difficult for the average person to accomplish. Their weak human nature interferes with this. It becomes like static which interferes with the pure, clear notes of a beautiful song. Added to this natural human weakness, there are faults and sins and bad habits. Each one, no matter how tiny, causes an impurity to form in our love for God.

These impurities build up and form a hard crust around our love for God. Most people do not even realize they are building this hard crust, but they are. Every day, every hour when they sin or neglect God or think of their own will instead of His, this hard crust becomes thicker and thicker.

The only thing which melts this crust is pure love for God. This was the lifetime struggle of the saints: to destroy, or keep from forming this hard crust around their love for God in order to have this love shine forth like a bright diamond free from imperfections. That is why they so loved prayer, the Sacraments and especially penance. Penance works like a chisel on this hard crust. Confession takes the guilt away from sin, but penance is needed to chisel away the punishment due for the sin: this punishment due which forms the hard crust around love for God. The saints loved penance because they knew that penance made their love for God purer and purer. The saints did succeed in destroying the shell of self-love which encased their love for God. When they died, there was no need for them to go to Purgatory because they could stand before the God of Love with a pure, perfect love for Him radiating from their hearts. [And souls who need cleansing at the time of death can receive a beautiful gift from the Lord given to the apostles. It is called the Apostolic Pardon. Any priest can bestow it at the time of death. It is separate from the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. The Apostolic Pardon removes all purgatory punishment and the soul goes directly to Heaven. Here is the formula which the priest says:

By the authority of the Apostolic See I hereby grant you full pardon and remission of all your sins: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Many priests do not give the Apostolic Pardon because they do not know about it. So the soul appears at death before God with the crust still clinging to them and not removed by the Apostolic Pardon.] The instant they are before God, they themselves realize this fact. They suddenly know how small their love for God is and how many impurities exist in it; and they feel ashamed to allow the all-loving eyes of God to see them this way. This can be compared to a girl going to her first ball with the young man of her choice; and when she arrives, she discovers to her horror, that all the other girls have on richly decorated satin and silk gowns and she is dressed in a ragged country cotton frock. She wants to hide her face in shame and run away.

Souls that appear before the all-seeing eye of the infinite God and realize how very little they did for Him or how small their love for Him was while on earth, feel much the same way. They want to hide their faces in shame and run away.

However, God will not allow them to run away, no matter how spiritually poor they are. He still loves them with an infinite love. So He has allowed a place to exist where they can go to make amends, the amends and reparation which they neglected to make while on earth. This place is Purgatory.

When seen in this light. Purgatory becomes a place of refuge for suffering souls, not a place of torment for souls. Gladly do these souls go into the purifying flames of Purgatory, praising God thanking Him for this place where they can watch the hard crust of their self-love disappear and vanish. What joy it is for them to see emerge from their being the pure love which they know is needed to give pleasure to God in His Kingdom for all eternity. Purgatory is also a place of enlightenment. As the soul becomes purified, the person is given insights to understand the mysteries and ways of God's love. Things which they should have learned on earth through prayer, spiritual reading, the Sacraments and penance are taught them as their self-love and self-will disappear. They understand more and more why God should have been first in their lives, why saving their souls was so important, why lov- ing God should have consumed them. They understand how short life really was and how much good had to be done and how little they actually did do. They are taught the value of spiritual treasures and the nothingness of material treasures.

They see life on earth as only the tiny beginning of existence and they are filled with joy to know that the rest of their existence will be one of pure love, untainted by human weaknesses, sin or temptation. They rejoice because they know they are truly saved and are no longer capable of losing God and His love. The amount of suffering for each individual soul is governed more by love than by sin. Few people understand this. But it is possible for a great sinner to be released from Purgatory sooner than someone who may not have sinned as much, but whose heart is covered with a heavier crust of self-love than the great sinner.

The great sinner's love for God might be easier to release in the flames of purification than a person whose self-love had dominated his or her life and who finds it more difficult to understand why God has to be first and above all. Purification then, in Purgatory, is not so much the payment due for sins committed, but the destruction of the self-will and self-love which caused the sin in the first place; and which the person possessed instead of pure love for God and for His holy will. Each sin committed, no matter how tiny had to be preceded by an act of free will and self-love: the person desiring his own way or her own benefit instead of desiring God's way and God's love.

A person dies with only the same amount of love for God which he possessed on earth. His eternal reward is based upon this amount of love. His eternal treasures are given according to this love and what this love prompted him to do for God, for others and for his own soul while on earth: sometimes nothing, sometimes a great deal. Saint John of the Cross tells us: "In the eventide of your life, you will be examined as to your love."

God looks for love and love alone, but more often than not, this love comes encased in a shell of self-love and selfishness. Then the person takes this love to Purgatory to have this shell removed. The way this is done is through a fire of longing and enlightenment. This fire of longing and enlightenment must not be confused with a fire of flames and smoke. Remember the soul is no longer with its material body. It is not purified with a material fire or flame. The fire of Purgatory is a burning desire of longing to be with God, longing to offer Him a pure love, but being unable to do so.

Although this fire may not be flame and smoke, the sufferings caused by it are far greater than if fire and flame were burning the material body.Even on earth the spiritual torments of a broken heart are far worse than the material pain of a broken leg. So it is with the souls in Purgatory, with no distractions whatsoever, the soul desires only on thing: to be eternally united with God, to love Him with a pure love for all eternity. Yet, when the soul still sees that the hard shell surrounding its love is still there, the soul can only suffer and lament and feel a torture beyond describing. And the worst part of this torture is the soul's knowledge that such separation could have been avoided! If only the hard shell of self-love had been destroyed on earth through pure love for God, prayer, penance, suffering, the sacraments, charity and the practice of virtue.

The fire that torments the souls in Purgatory was created by themselves. They alone formed the torture. They alone decided their own sufferings, because they alone built the shell of self-love around their love for God! They alone provided their own Purgatory; and this is one of their greatest sufferings be-cause it could have b-=en avoided! They did not have to go to Purgatory if they had lived a life which God wanted them to live: one of pure love, goodness and virtue. God did not build a place in Purgatory for them. They created it themselves. Daily, even hourly, they fashion their place in Purgatory by refusing the graces of God, which they could have used to live a holy, saintly life. Each time they said: "No" to God's graces, they built a little bit more of the place in Purgatory, where they would suffer to destroy the shell that surrounded their love for God; when His grace was refused, and sin took its place .

As the flames of longing slowly but surely dissolve the hard crust of self-love and selfishness, bit by bit, these souls relive the time which had been spent building their places in Purgatory, fully realizing that the flame is theirs alone---no one else's. They realize that God did not send them to Purgatory, they themselves prepared the place of their suffering. They also realize that only because of God's love and mercy and goodness are they allowed to have this place so that their soul and their love can be purified.

As their love for God is purified, they realize more and more how truly good God is, how merciful He is, and how much He loved them every moment of their existence. This causes added torment. Such a realization comes in different degrees to different souls in Purgatory depending upon the amount and type of sins which the person committed on earth. As the realization grows, it causes more torment and suffering to the soul because the soul sees more and more clearly how ungrateful he or she was and how he or she refused or misused God's love.

The closer a soul comes to actually entering Heaven, the more tormented he or she is, because the realization of his or her own spiritual neglects becomes greater as well as the soul's longing to enter into the joys of Heaven. In much the same way that a person on earth will suffer so from being over-anxious and can hardly wait for a good event to finally take place.

Some people believe that everyone will have the same dispositions or thoughts about God in Heaven as they did on earth. They may wonder how they could possibly be in Heaven with someone who had poor knowledge of God and not much love for Him while on earth; even though they hoped that such a person will be saved---at the last moment. They may wonder how someone with the wrong impression of God could stand in Heaven--- if the person is saved---right next to a saintly person who knew God's teachings and followed them .

The answer to these problems is found in the realizations and insights given to the souls in the purifying fires of Purgatory. No one with a poor knowledge of God and His ways can enter Heaven. How could such a person praise and glorify God for all eternity? In like manner no one with a poor love for God can enter Heaven. How could such a person love God for all eternity?

In Purgatory, the intellect and thoughts as well as love are purified, the person is taught slowly but surely where and how he or she made mistakes with their thoughts and way of reasoning about God. At first, they cannot understand God and His ways nor love Him as He should be loved. Gradually the purifying torments of Purgatory release the soul's love from its impurities. So that by the time the soul enters Heaven, its whole mind, its whole love are filled with the understanding of what God is and what His ways are. Then the soul truly knows God, truly understands God and truly loves Him. Also, the soul agrees with everything that a pious person or saint had tried to tell them while they were on earth.

The person who was purified in the flames of Purgatory, understands all virtues and goodness and love for God. The person who did not understand these things on earth will praise God for all eternity for the graces which He did give to the ones who used these graces and did understand God and His ways while they lived on earth.

So Purgatory is not only a place of suffering where punishment due to sin is taken away, but it is also a school where the suffering souls learn the lessons about God, His love and goodness which they failed to learn on earth, so that, when they enter Heaven they will not only love God with a pure love, they will also know why they love Him. It is true that these souls in Purgatory cannot help themselves. Their time for merit has passed. They must suffer the type of purgatory which they themselves created by the way of life which they chose. However, we who still have life, who still can gain merit, can help the Holy Souls. We can ask God to lessen their torment or to hurry their enlightenment. We can help destroy the hard shell which they built around their love and in this way lessen the time which they must spend suffer-ing on their own to destroy this shell.

Our prayers. Masses said for a soul, good deeds done on their behalf can act like little chisels which help break up the hard crust that surrounds their love for God. Also, we can help them, especially by offering Mass and Holy Communion for them, gain enlightenment about God and His goodness which they need before they can enter Heaven.

One of the most powerful ways to help the Holy Souls is to offer Christ's precious blood. Reminding Christ of the way He suffered and died for souls, helps to crack open and destroy the hard crust which the soul has around its love, because then Christ is so anxious to see the soul in Heaven with Him. If no prayers are said for a soul, then the soul must suffer alone to destroy the hard shell that surrounds his love for God.

How long a soul suffers in Purgatory depends upon how thick the shell has become which the person allowed to form around its love for God. Sometimes the crust is so thick and hard, because of years of religious neglect and pride that the person must spend a long time in Purgatory even before the outer layer of crust starts to melt. All the while the soul clings to its self love and does not have the enlightenment to see the true goodness of God.

Some souls will actually be in Purgatory until the end of time. Other souls, who thought they were so pious on earth, will suffer a long time. Other souls, who thought they were so pious on earth, will suffer a long time for their pride. Usually such a soul suffers alone without help from prayers because people on earth thought the pious soul went right to Heaven. The greatest harm a person can do a loved one is to tell themselves that the soul was "so good" it went right to Heaven In this case, no prayers or Masses are said for the soul and the soul may linger in Purgatory a long time because it has no help from anyone on earth. It may be a comfort for the relatives to believe that the beloved one's soul went straight to Heaven, but chances are there was a need for purification in purgatory.

Judging from revelations made to Saints who saw the souls of holy people suffering in Purgatory, very, very few people die with a love pure enough to enter Heaven at the moment of death. There could be traces of self-love in this love for God.

Although Purgatory is to rid the soul of punishment due to sin, after they are forgiven, self-love is what causes the imperfection in the love for God, also self-love is always present when punishment due for sin is present. Without self-love there would not have been sin in the first place.

The more self-love that is destroyed on earth through prayer, penance and the Sacraments, the more this purifies the love for God; and the less time a person will have to spend in Purgatory.

Very often people who do not commit grave sin or even many venial sins will still have a great deal of self-love surrounding their love for God. This causes them to have committed many religious neglects even though they never committed grave sins. There is a punishment due to this religious neglect and this is part of the hard crust which the person allowed to form around the love for God, which must be melted away in Purgatory.

That is why very religious people may seem to be so pure as to go directly to Heaven, but they do not. The relatives will say, "This person was a living saint." However, the person may have been given special graces to be used for charity or so forth, which the person failed to use because it would have caused him personal inconveniences. This is self-love and it will have to be burnt away in the fires of Purgatory.

I know of one soul who was what I considered to be a living saint. Yet, after his death, he appeared to me many times suffering in Purgatory. He suffered so much not because of sins he committed, but because or certain neglect, which he often mentioned to me, telling me how sorry he was because he failed to do the good which he had the opportunity to do. This soul told me that he would suffer in Purgatory until I die, when he will be free to go to Heaven and only my prayers for him bring him relief. He also, complained that few prayers were ever said for him because people who knew him felt that he went straight to Heaven.

I dearly love the souls in Purgatory. Every day I think of them. I offer drops of Holy Water which I sprinkle about to relieve the Holy Souls and to release them. Years ago, in 1944 or 1945, I made my heroic act of charity for the Holy Souls. Whatever takes away punishment due for sin, I gave them all the merits and indulgences of my prayers, good works and so forth, for my whole life. In addition, I constantly say little prayers to give them added help through indulgences.

1 like to think of myself after my death going into Purgatory often to hold and comfort the souls. I especially want to go to the dark corners to find the long forgotten souls so that I can hold them close and comfort them. I have a long list of special souls whom I say special prayers for each night. Sometimes I feel the souls close to me and I know that they are pleased because I love them and try to help them. My Lady called me "The Refuge for Suffering Souls" and I know that part of my role as this refuge concerns the Holy Souls in Purgatory. I wish to become a refuge for the souls in Purgatory as well as for other suffering people. Sometimes my heart swells with love for the poor souls in Purgatory. I wish to release them so that they can find their peace and joy in Heaven.

I think sometimes that great sinners are in Purgatory who while on earth did not love or obey God, yet who were saved by a miracle of His grace.These souls I especially love because the fires of Purgatory humble them and they are so sorry for their religious neglect. I understand a little of what is in the Heart of God when a sinner repents and becomes humble. Their past sins and pride are slowly erased as their love for God becomes free of the hard crust of self-love which they had built around it.

One of the greatest joys of Purgatory is when a soul that was filled with self-love, self-will and great pride slowly emerges with a heart filled with purer and purer love for God. All Purgatory rejoices as this transformation takes place, especially when this soul joins in and shouts the praises of God along with other souls.

When a soul, who had been a great sinner on earth enters Purgatory, the first sentiments it feels are gratitude and thanksgiving. However, it is confused because it has not been enlightened as to why God is praised for His goodness. Gradually as the soul becomes purified, it realizes more and more just how good and merciful God really is. Then it starts to sing praises to God still confused because the person never sang praises to him before. After more purification and enlightenment, the song of praises becomes firmer and louder until there emerges the sweetest of all songs of praise. The sweet songs are a joy to other souls in Purgatory, because they long to hear God praised by other souls as they themselves praise Him.

More often than not, the guardian Angel of the soul being purified teaches the soul the words of these songs of praise and also helps to enlighten the soul as to why God should be praised. The Angel's presence brings joy to the soul, but not relief. Relief comes only through suffering and help from on earth.

Although the suffering in Purgatory is intense, beyond describing, the souls there have no desire to leave until every ounce of self-love, which taints their love for God is removed. They want to enter Heaven dressed only in the finest, purest garments. They do not beg for their release. The fact is they thank God for His goodness in allowing them to suffer as they do. This is the hope of Purgatory: the hope that the soul will be dressed in fine garments of pure love. Only then will the soul desire to enter Heaven and not one second sooner. The hope is there because the soul can watch these pure garments being made as they watch the hard crust of their self-love melt away.

There is nothing morbid or sad in Purgatory. Such sadness is reserved for the souls in Hell that are lost forever. In Purgatory the souls not only willingly suffer, they not only rejoice because they know they are saved, they not only rejoice because they know they can never sin again, but they sing praises of love to God. Purgatory is also filled with charity and good will. Each soul is concerned about the other souls and rejoices when a soul does depart to enter Heaven. Souls, who on earth did not know th

e meaning of charity/ or helped anyone, rejoice because they have discovered the secrets of brotherly-love and charity. So sweet are these new feelings to the person's soul that they praise God for the sufferings they endure because there are so many insights learned in suffering.

Purgatory is not just a dark, gloomy place where souls suffer alone and wait in pain for their deliverance. Purgatory is a place of activity where love, joy and charity prevail to their fullest. As each soul is enlightened and purified, it becomes an example for souls yet to reach such heights; and these souls become objects of affection of the other souls. There is not only hope in Purgatory but encouragement and victories which are shared by all the souls. Even when a soul is far from being delivered itself, the soul can share the victory of the complete melting away of another soul's hard crust of self-love. The total beauty of a soul actually leaving Purgatory to enter Heaven is a sight which brings great joy and encouragement to the remaining souls

Although the sufferings in Purgatory do not cease, there are times when all souls feel relief as if the sufferings did cease. These times are All Souls day and when a saint dies who will be canonized. Such a soul passes through Purgatory untouched by its flames of suffering, because such flames cannot harm a pure soul which already has a love that is purified. When the soul of the Saint passes through Purgatory in such a way, all souls in Purgatory feel relief because of the joy that a person did purify his or her soul while on earth and did present to God at death a love completely free of self-love. God allows such a soul the privilege of helping all the souls in Purgatory in such a way. When the soul passes through Purgatory, something like a cool breeze is felt by all souls there.

On All Souls day, which the souls in Purgatory look forward to eagerly, God allows each soul to feel added joy and great relief. Each soul is made to know that a bit of the hard crust surrounding their love has been removed . The joys of Purgatory are as intense as the sufferings in Purgatory. Most souls who see brighter and brighter light emerge from their own soul, are thrilled beyond belief especially when they realize that they are capable of such an intense love for God. (As I write this article, I keep seeing the "Light of The Sacred Heart" which is God's way of telling me that what I write is what He wants me to write.)

I saw a soul from Purgatory and the front of the soul, not including her arms and legs was flooded with a light so brilliant that it was brighter than the sun. The rest of the soul was dark. Not only was the light brilliant, but it was filled with joy or rapture which the soul keenly felt. However, the sufferings of purification still were present. (This soul told me that God allowed her to appear to me to aid my understanding of what happens in Purgatory.) When I asked the soul if the rapture from the light already in her soul reduced the suffering, she replied: "No! Just the opposite. When our souls see their light emerge and we know that we are capable of loving God as we never dreamt it was possible to love Him, the sufferings increase because we are so anxious to rid ourselves of our impurities. The more enlightened we become, the more we realize how much we can love God, the more we realize that God deserves this love; so, the more we hate the self-love which prevented us from loving God on earth as He should be loved .

"We look at the imperfections still existing in our love for God and we suffer more and more. They are like insects which torment us and we try to push them away, but the more we try to push them away, the more they torment us. We feel that we are in a jungle filled with these tormenting insects and we cannot escape. Their bites burn into us and the worst part is that we ourselves have brought this upon our souls."But God is most merciful. This we realize more and more. Our sins and ingratitude and religious neglect could have sent us to Hell where there is no hope, no light, no love. But here we are safe and we find hope watching the fires burn away our imperfections and watching the light of our pure love for God emerge.

"We suffer also because when on earth we thought so little about the damage which even a tiny sin can do. We realize how many graces we neglected to use. We see the true malice of great sins. Souls here, who have been here for years of earth's time relive the moments of their great sins and this is a torture for them especially because when they sinned they were so indifferent and unconcerned about how they hurt the good Lord. "Here we want only to protect God from the malice of sin and we suffer torments when we realize that we ourselves added to that malice.

"We are also made to suffer a great loneliness. We were alone in our sins. We had no one to blame for them, so now we must suffer a great aloneness as we realize that we committed must be paid for all by ourselves. Although souls are near us, we feel that the suffering can not be in any way shared. We can share joy, but not sorrow or suffering. Even our Angels, who stand by ready to take us to Heaven, cannot share our pain or torment.

"The most tormented souls are the ones who suffer in the darkest corners of Purgatory. They are tormented by their religious neglect, but more so by the fact that they gave great scandal and caused souls to follow them away from God. Their sufferings are increased a thousand-fold for they must assume, in addition to their own sin, the sins and religious neglect of each and every soul whom they lead astray. Their sufferings are especially severe because they had the grace to be a leader and to lead souls to God. Instead they used their talents to denounce God or His Church and they lead souls away from God and His Church. "These souls know that their sufferings will not ease quickly and their own shame covers them like a flaming torch which they suffer so alone and lonely. Yet they are thankful and grateful because they could have gone to Hell.

"The greatest sin of all is Pride and the proudest souls suffer the longest in Purgatory. The souls who declared on earth that they did not need God or that they would not follow Him pay dearly for this mistake in Purgatory. They suffer so much as they are enlightened, that they wish they could erase the serious mistakes they made, with more sufferings. They want their sufferings to increase and they lament and cry out: "What a fool I was." Also these souls suffer the most when they see love emerge from their souls. The bright light of this love adds torture to them because they know they failed God while on earth. His goodness and mercy to them, to allow them to suffer in Purgatory., also causes them added suffering because they feel so ashamed, so unworthy of God's love and goodness. "Also, they actually do not want comfort. When the Holy Mother of God comes to comfort us, these souls try to hide themselves. Just to see her purity and love causes them torment because they are so ashamed that they did not love her and that they neglected her while they lived.

"We suffer also because when on earth we thought so little about the damage which even a tiny sin can do. We realize how many graces we neglected to use. We see the true malice of great sins. Souls here who have been here for years of earth's time relive the moments of their great sins and this is a torture for them especially because when they sinned they were so indifferent and unconcerned about how they hurt the good Lord. "Here we want only to protect God from the malice of sin and we suffer torments when we realize that we ourselves added to that malice. "We are also made to suffer a great loneliness . We were alone in our sins. We had no one to blame for them, so now we must suffer a great aloneness as we realize that each sin we committed must be paid for all by ourselves.

(I am truly amazed to read all this. I wrote the same things in 1974, but I had forgotten about this conversation from a soul. )

"Souls who had loved Our Lady on earth can receive great comfort from her. Also very often she surprises a soul, who had dearly loved her on earth. She comes to the soul and suddenly washes away the imperfections and self-love which surrounds their love for God. Then the soul finds itself being escorted to Heaven sooner than it had thought. "The Holy Mother does not forget the love which such souls had for her. Also, a friend or relative on earth can cause our Lady to release a soul of a loved one from Purgatory especially if the one praying for the soul dearly loves Our Lady. Their prayers touch the heart of Mary and she runs to aid the soul whom the person on earth wishes to help in this way.

"The Rosary is a powerful weapon used to aid and release souls from Purgatory. Only one Rosary can tear down a layer of hard crust which surrounds the person's soul.

"Those souls, who had loved Our Lady or who are prayed for by those who love Our Lady are in a very bright place in Purgatory where there is added joy because of this love for God's mother. "These souls are given special insights which enable them to have enlightenment far sooner than other souls. "Souls which could have loved Our Lady on earth or lost the love for Our Lady cannot receive comfort from her because of their own shame and torments increase because they hurt her as well as her Son by their spiritual neglects. This is part of the sufferings which they created for themselves. When Our Lady walks near such suffering souls, her shadow falls upon them and causes them torment upon torment. "We do not remain in Purgatory idle. There is much work to be done even while we suffer our torments. We cannot pray for ourselves, but we can help people on earth.

We become like guardian angels to people especially to people who help us with their prayers and good works. We help to ward off the attacks of evil spirits upon these souls. We protect them from temptations. We try to lead them along paths so that their Purgatory will be shorter. We even protect them from physical harm, as well as helping their prayers come true. "If someone prays to obtain our release, we stay, after we reach Heaven, by God's side praying in Heaven for our benefactors and we will be their slaves for all eternity if they so desire.

"So grateful are we when someone helps us with their prayers that we never forget the person and we long to have the person share our joy as they help our pure love for God emerge. Sometimes they can feel this rapture when they suddenly receive consolation and interior joy. God permits us to share our joy with them in this way. God or Our Lady gives spiritual consolations to souls, but sometimes the consolation comes because of our joy in Purgatory.

"We long to help souls on earth live a holier life so that they will not have to suffer in Purgatory what we are suffering. Also we can send favors to people on earth. It is not only good to pray for us, but also to pray to us. We have great power to help people because we are saved. We will never fall. We are on our way to Heaven. We are the suffering Saints who have won God's heart."

The long discourse which I have just recorded came from a soul in Purgatory whom God permitted to speak to me. She called me her "Queen" I guess because my Lady told me that I was the "Queen of Purgatory" once. What a joy it is to know the souls in Purgatory so intimately. I hope that this article about Purgatory will cause people not only to pray more for the suffering souls, not only pray to them for favors, but also to live a holier life so that their love for God can be purified in this life instead of in the tormenting fires of Purgatory.

Not only did God permit me to know the soul who came to instruct me more concerning the ways of Purgatory, but God allows other souls 'to be very close to me. I can look into Purgatory and see many bright jewels of light, which are souls that already have their love for God partly purified. I can see different degrees of light and darkness in Purgatory, places where different types of souls suffer in different ways.

The happiest souls in Purgatory are in the brighter parts of Purgatory where they receive extra joys among their torments, because they had devotion to Our Lady, Our Lord or a Saint, which other souls never had.These souls find comfort because they are visited by Our Lady or Our Lord or the Saint whom they loved on earth. These souls also enjoy the privilege of being most powerful in warding off temptations of people on earth, especially the ones whom they love who yet live. These souls are the most active in Purgatory and they find joy in knowing they can help people on earth, help relieve their sufferings. They are the closest to entering Heaven. Some of these souls remain only a short time in Purgatory. Others only are passing through the purifying flames because most of their purification was done on earth. Also, in this group are the souls of people who never had the opportunity to know God or Christ or Our Lady while on earth. Saved by their lack of knowledge and by the Precious Blood of Christ, they find the greatest joy even while they suffer—which is not so much for sin—but to enlighten them, because they are so delighted to discover the God of love, and His ways and to know that He does exist. On earth they had been so good and they would have loved God and Our Lady deeply if they had only known about them. Their hearts sought to find God, but they died before they found what they had searched for. Now, in Purgatory their love for God radiates forth because at last they found what they searched all their lives to find. These souls are purified quickly. Although the light of a soul's love for God shines forth as bright jewels, this light is in different degrees; and the purified love for God will not exceed the actual love for God while the person lived.

Although the soul's love is brought forth from the hard crust which surrounds it, it emerges only to the degree which the person allowed while on earth; except in cases where the person had never known God. Their love is judged by how much they would have loved Him had they found Him on earth and the degree of desire which they had to find Him.

As I write these words, more and more souls surround me and express their affection because I am writing about them and what takes place in Purgatory. These souls long to show their gratitude to and affection for, not only God, but for all who do something to help remove the crust of self-love which surrounds their love for God.

Purgatory is filled with love and gratitude even flowing from the hearts of the souls who suffer the most in the darkest corners of Purgatory. How thankful they are that the hard crust of self-love is melting away instead of building up as it did on earth!

Even among the greatest torments of Purgatory, the virtues of the souls suffering there can be shown and felt. With all temptations gone and all human weaknesses gone, tiniest virtue found in the person will come forth like a jewel. These virtues shine and bring forth such things as kindness and understanding and sympathy. The souls cannot help each other nor can they share the sufferings of each other, but they can show kindness, understanding and sympathy toward one another.

Most of the sympathy is directed toward the souls who suffer in the darkest corners of Purgatory because most of these souls are the long-forgotten ones. The forgotten souls in Purgatory are almost completely buried under by the hard crust of their self-love, and the punishment due for their sins is tremendous. Also, these souls were so lacking in virtue that even the tiny lights from the little jewels of virtues are missing. Their greatest consolation is hope: knowing that their sufferings are not forever. I was amazed to discover that from these tormented souls there came faint, but joyful strains of a song. I wondered how this could be when there was so much darkness and torment there. Then I was told that these souls sing a song of hope because they know that of all the souls in Purgatory, they deserved Hell the most, but were spared by the love and mercy of God. They more than willingly accept these sufferings for they are so thankful because they know that someday they can and will enter Heaven.

These souls can do less for the people still on earth; HOWEVER, God will suddenly use one of these souls to aid a person on earth who is very close to Hell. Many of these souls have appeared to people on earth to warn them of the danger they are in. They explain about their own way of life and the sad results, of how they almost went to Hell and how God's love and mercy saved them.

These souls know better than any other the power of God's love and mercy and especially the power of His precious blood. 'Their enlightenment about these comes before the purification of their love.

These souls loved God the least while on earth; and they have no spiritual treasures, yet they are so grateful because they are saved, even though they know they will have the lowest place in Heaven. But in this lowest place, their eternal happiness and joy will still be perfect.

When these souls appear to a great sinner on earth, they urge the person to do all in their power with the help of God's grace to increase their love for God, and to gain spiritual treasures.

These souls can receive comfort in Purgatory, but not from Our Lady or a Saint who lived a blameless life. Our Lord can bring them comfort but their greatest comfort comes from a soul in Heaven who was once a great sinner and repented. While such visits give these souls comfort, the sufferings are not taken away or relieved. The souls do not mind this. They are happy to suffer knowing that they are saved and can never sin again. Many of these souls have been suffering in this way for centuries of earth time. sometimes there is only a tiny, tiny spark of love for God in their hearts which is covered by layer after layer of hard crusts of self-love, sin and selfishness and it takes centuries to melt away these layers, especially because they have so little or no help (except on All Souls day) from people on earth.

I was amazed to discover priests and nuns in this group, also "saintly" people who were loved on earth, but who actually deceived people and were far from being saintly. The punishment for these people is extremely hard and long. They should have known better, while they lived, but their pride was so great they deceived many people. They were honored on earth and now this honor becomes their greatest torture. It burns at their self-love like flames of fire and they constantly repeat: "Honor for God alone—not me—God alone! Oh! Why! Why honor for me? It belongs to God alone!"

Here, upon these souls, in the darkest part of Purgatory can be seen the justice of God more so than in other parts of Purgatory. The justice of God acts like a dark cloud which makes this part of Purgatory filled with darkness. These sinners, who thought that they could get away without any punishment, what their sins caused, are now fully aware of the justice of God. They learn that sin does reap punishment and what they thought was freedom from punishment was in reality justice which they now suffer from so greatly. God is not a fool and His justice wins, even when people try to make Him into a fool who, they think, can do nothing to them.

This cloud of justice is so thick over these souls, that even prayers said for a certain soul in this section may not always help the soul. God can deprive these souls of such help and give it to other souls. Then these souls are made to know that justice has deprived them from this relief. However, instead of being discouraged, the souls praise God louder and thank Him for His wisdom and are happy because other souls benefit from the prayers which were meant for them.

Christ not only allowed me to see Purgatory in the way which I described, He also allowed individual souls to converse with me about their state or condition in Purgatory.

One soul was a young girl who was beautiful in life. "My condition in Purgatory is very bad," she told me, "but it would have been much, much worse if I had lived longer. My family and friends were filled with grief when I died so young. They said that I had enjoyed so little of life, but I must thank God for taking me so young, otherwise I would have committed horrible sins and I would be in the darkest part of Purgatory. It was His love and mercy for me that made my death come when I was so young. He knew where I was heading. My family and friends did not know what I planned. God knew and He stopped such dreadful plans by my death. My death came at a moment of repentance when suddenly I said, "I really do not want to hurt God in this way. I used to love Him so much when I was a child. I wanted to be a nun. I think I love God yet. Why am I planning such a dreadful life for myself. Please God help me to do what is right." she continued: "Now in Purgatory, I am very happy in spite of the torments for I have a nun who died shortly before I did and who went right to Heaven, to comfort me. I have been assured of quick purification because my love for God was very deep before I allowed the plans to form in my mind."

Another soul came to me and said: "As you can see the crust around my love for God is very thin." She was beautiful even though not yet completely purified. "I was a nun on earth and I dearly loved God and also little children. God is very generous to souls who loved little children and tried to help them. My torments come because I ignored certain acts of charity. I was too tired to be bothered. A soul was almost lost because of my neglect. For that I must suffer here in Purgatory, however, I am able to help souls now by keeping temptation away from them. And the good Lord will allow me to help them more after I enter Heaven, which will be shortly."

Another soul said to me: "If people on earth could only see the Purgatory they are building up for themselves, they would pray and do penance! After my death I was amazed to discover how truly small my love for God was and on earth I thought I had loved him so greatly—and to find out how much punishment even a tiny fault deserves. My greatest torment comes because of my longing to give God so much love and to remember how unconcerned I was about my faults and little sins, even though I did avoid mortal sins. See how hard this crust is around my love for God? It came not from mortal sins but from venial sins and faults which I could have overcome but which I neglected because I always said: "I live a good life. I don't hurt anyone. What sins do I have? None!" Now I fully realize what a mistake that was. I also fully realize why saints did so much penance and so many acts of charity to keep from building up the hard crust around their love for God. I used to think that penance was only for a great sinner and I did not have to do penance because I did not consider myself a great sinner. What a mistake that was. Now I am suffering torments because I know that even my tiny faults hurt the good God so much. I was ashamed to face Him when I saw how my soul was dotted with little black spots which I had put there by my little faults and by my lack of penance."

Another soul appeared to me and said: "The punishment due for my sins is like a chain around my neck. But how I love and welcome this chain and how I need it because it reminds me of how I neglected God and how little I loved Him when I was on earth. Now, I want to suffer for this neglect. When I was on earth, I was a very famous and wealthy person. What saved my soul was my charity to my Church, for I did love God. But what built my place in Purgatory was my love for soft garments which only the wealthy could afford. I insisted on soft collars around my neck. I was vain and proud and I neglected to help others less fortunate than myself. One day, when someone asked for my help, I said: "The only help I will give you is a heavy chain around your neck. "The person left crying; but I thought I had a right to treat people like that because I had wealth and power. "Now this remark burns at my soul and I feel this heavy chain around my neck and suffer so because I still hear the weeping of that poor person who begged me for help. "But there is joy in my soul because God remembered my help to His Church and allowed me time to save my soul. Gladly would I wear this chain for all eternity because I know I deserve it."

There are many souls in Purgatory who were saved by prayers of others. These people prayed for sinners and a soul was saved. This is a comfort for me to know because every day I pray for and do penance to help save souls. One of these souls, whom I saved in this way appeared to me and said: "Dearest Child of Love, for all eternity I, and many, many more, will be your servants because you and you alone saved me. My gratitude extends out not only to God, but also to you. Here I am, empty of all spiritual treasures, yet possessing the greatest treasure of all: my salvation because of you, your love and your prayers.

"Look at me buried beneath the crust of my self-love, but oh joy, here I find such peace as I think of how much I deserved Hell, yet I was saved! So willing am I to accept the torments of Purgatory that knowing I will be here a long, long time causes me joy not despair. There is only joy here in Purgatory, not despair. I am saved and I can thank God and you for all eternity."

Another soul appeared to me and said: "Charity is never truer than when it extends to us suffering here in Purgatory. God will greatly reward anyone who has a deep love for us and who helps us by their prayers or good deeds. It is the delight of the angels to come running to us with news that someone on earth is helping us chisel away the hard crust of our self-will and in this way taking away a great deal of the punishment due for our souls. "How we pray for these people, and God in His goodness, hears our prayers and sends added graces and favors to these people.

"Please do not stop praying for us . We shall not, for all eternity, forget your love and charity." Please pray for and love the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and they, in turn, will pray for and love you .


From Notebooks, 1943
Maria Valtorta

Jesus says:

"I want to explain to you what Purgatory is and what it consists of. And I will explain it to you in a way that will provoke many who think they are the repositories of the knowledge of the hereafter and are not.

"The souls immersed in those flames suffer only from love."Not undeserving of possessing the Light, but not worthy to enter therein immediately either into the Kingdom of Light, these, on presenting themselves to God, are assailed by the Light. It is a brief advance blessedness which makes them certain of their salvation and aware of what their eternity will be like and knowledgeable regarding what they did to their souls, defrauding them of years of blessed possession of God. Then, immersed in the place of purgation, they are assailed by the flames of expiation.

"Those who speak of Purgatory are right in this. But where they are not right is in wanting to apply different names to those flames. "They are a fire of love. They purify by inflaming souls with the love it did not attain on earth, it is freed from them and joined to Love in Heaven.

"It strikes you as a doctrine different from the familiar one, doesn't it? But reflect.

"What does the Triune God want for the souls created by Him? Good.

"What feelings does the One who wants Good for a creature have for the creature? Feelings of love. "What are the first and second commandments, the two most important ones, the ones regarding which I said that there were no others greater and that in them was the key to reaching eternal life? It is the commandment of love: 'Love God with all your strength; love your neighbor as yourself.'

"Through my mouth and that of the prophets and saints, what have I said on numberless occasions? That Charity is the greatest form of absolution. Charity consumes the sins and the weaknesses of man, for whoever loves lives in God, and in living in God he sins little, and if he sins, he immediately repents, and for whoever repents there is the forgiveness of the Most High.

"What did souls fail in? In Love. If they had loved much, they would have committed few and slight sins, connected with your weakness and imperfection. But they would never have reached the conscious obstinacy in even venial sin. They would have endeavored not to grieve their Love, and Love, seeing their good will, would have absolved them even of the venial sins committed.

"How is reparation made for a sin, even on earth? By expiating it, and, if one can scarcely do so, through the means whereby it was committed. With the one who has done damage, by restoring what he has taken away with overbearance. With the one who has defamed, by retracting the defamation, and so on.

"Now, if poor human justice wants this, won't the holy Justice of God want it? And what means will God use to obtain reparation? Himself—that is, Love, and by demanding love.

"This God, whom you have offended and who loves you in a fatherly way and who wants to unite Himself to his creatures, leads you to obtain this union through Himself.

"Everything hinges on Love, Maria, except for the real 'dead,' the damned. For these 'dead ones' Love, too, is dead. But for the three realms—the heaviest one: the Earth; the one where the weight of matter is abolished, but not of the soul weighed down by sin: Purgatory; and, finally, the one where the inhabitants share with their Father the spiritual nature which frees them from every encumbrance—the motor is Love. It is by loving on earth that you work for Heaven. It is by loving in Purgatory that you conquer Heaven, which in life you were unable to merit. It is by loving in Paradise that you enjoy Heaven.

"When a soul is in Purgatory, it does nothing but love, reflect, and repent in the light of Love, which for its sake has ignited those flames, which are already God, but which conceal God from it for its punishment."This is the torment. The soul recalls the vision of God received in the private judgment. It bears that memory with it, and since having only glimpsed God is a joy surpassing every created thing, the soul is anxious to experience that joy again. That memory of God and that ray of light which have assailed it in its appearance before God make the soul 'see' the true significance of the faults committed against its Good, and this 'seeing/together with the thought that because of those faults it has voluntarily deprived itself of the possession of Heaven and of union with God for years or centuries, constitutes its purgative affliction.

"Love, and the certainty of having offended Love, is the torment of those being purged. The more a soul has been at fault in life, the more it is as if blinded by spiritual cataracts which make knowing and reaching that perfect loving repentance which is the first factor for its purgation and entry into the Kingdom of God more difficult for it. The more a soul has oppressed it with sin, the more love is weighed down in its living and rendered sluggish. As it is cleansed by the power of Love, its resurrection to love is accelerated and, consequently, its conquest of Love, which is completed at the moment when, with the end of expiation and the reaching of the perfection of love, it is admitted into the City of God.

"It is necessary to pray a lot so that these souls, that suffer to reach Joy, may be swift in attaining the perfect love which absolves them and unites them to Me. Your prayers and your acts of intercession are as many increases in loving fire. They increase the burning.

Butoh, blessed torment!they also increase the capacity for loving. They speed up the process of purgation. They raise the souls immersed in that fire to higher and higher degrees. They carry them to the threshold of the Light. They open the gates to Light, finally, and introduce the soul into Heaven.

"To each of these operations, provoked by your charity towards those who have preceded you into the second life, there corresponds a leap in charity for you. The charity of God, who thanks you for providing for his children in affliction, and the charity of the afflicted who thank you for working to introduce them into the joy of God.

"Never do your loved ones love you so much as after earthly death, for their love is now infused with the Light of God, and in this Light they understand how you love them and how they should. They can no longer say words to you that ask for forgiveness and provide love. But they say them to Me for you, and I take to you these words of your dead, who are now able to see and love you as they should. I take them to you together with their request for love and their blessing. A blessing already valid from Purgatory on for it is already infused with the inflamed Charity which bums and purifies them. Perfectly valid, later, from the moment when freed, they come to meet you on the threshold of Life or rejoin you therein, if you have already preceded them into the Kingdom of Love.

"Trust in Me, Maria. I work for you and for those you most dearly love. Relieve your spirit. I come to give you joy. Trust Me.

John Leary
Letter from Bishop Matthew H. Clark, p. 1 p. 2
Bishop of Rochester, New York, USA, regarding John Leary

Friday, November 5, 2004

Jesus said: "My people, when you die, your spirit is separated from your body. It is this wisp of light which represents your soul that you are seeing in the vision as sparks. Many, that die suddenly, have a hard transition from the physical world into the spiritual world. Some souls are allowed a longer time on earth to adjust to their body's separation. I have told you before that the soul stays long enough to witness their own funeral. Once sufficient time has passed after your death, then you are brought before My Light in judgment. It is then that your life will be reviewed and you will see all the good and bad things that you have done. When I pass judgment to heaven, purgatory, or hell, you will realize that it is a fair and merciful judgment based on how much love is in your heart. If you want to have a good life review and a happy ending, now is the time to change your life into one that is holy. Conversions can occur even near death, but the closer you are to following My Will, the more of life that you can live in My Divine Will. The more prayer and good works that you do, the more treasure you will store in heaven to balance the reparation that is needed for your sins. Have your soul always pure and ready for your judgment, and your transition to the spirit world will be much easier."

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