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The Pain of Sense in Purgatory.

The Pain of Sense in Purgatory.


My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.

The Pain of Sense in Purgatory.

WHILE we are in this life, torn amid a thousand distractions, amusements, and occupations, we are not much impressed with the idea of the pain of loss, or the deprivation of the sight and possession of God. But it is otherwise with the pain of sense. That really frightens and rouses us.
In the visions and revelations of the Saints we are made acquainted with the idea of this pain under various forms. We hear of fiery lakes, and of seas, and pits of flame, in which souls are plunged; of sharp, terrible, intense, piercing cold; of dense and terrifying darkness. Some even teach that the fire of Purgatory is the same as that of hell, and that in the lowest regions, where are confined the souls with the greatest debts to pay, the demons harass and torment the unfortunate prisoners.
“St. Brigid describes Purgatory as consisting of three principal regions. The lowest and most painful is, as it were, a chamber above hell, into which its penal fires pour, and its devils enter to torment; not indeed, for mere torture, but as rough grooms from the intolerable anguish of whose handling none in the lower Purgatory, except by special privilege, were exempt.
“Above this place there is another where the pain is less; this being no more than the failing of the powers in respect to strength, beauty, and the like. Even as if, to use a simile, a man had been ill, and when the sickness and pain thereof had gone he should be wholly without strength until he gradually recovered. Above this is a third place where there is no other pain save the craving to attain unto God.
“In the first place where is the handling of demons, there are presented to the soul the forms of deadly worms and raging beasts, there is the heat and cold, the darkness and confusion which proceed from the pain that is in hell. Some souls there have a greater pain, some a less, according as they have satisfied or not for their sins while they were in the body. Then the justice of God putteth the gold, that is the soul, in that other place where there is no suffering but the failing of the powers, where the soul will abide until it find refreshment from the suffrages of the church. The more succour the soul shall receive from its friends the sooner it will grow strong and be delivered from that place. After this the soul is brought into the third place, where there is no pain save the desire of coming into the presence of God and His blissful vision. In this place do many linger and for very long, among whom are those who while in this world, had not a perfect desire of attaining to the presence of God and His vision.”
The saint is always careful to insist that her representations are only approximations to spiritual facts which cannot themselves be described.
More than once it has happened that souls have been allowed to die for a time, as it were, and then have been recalled to life, after having visited these terrible and mysterious regions. Such was the case with Drithelm of Northumberland, of whom St. Bede speaks, with St. Christina, and others. When such souls have returned to this world, they seem to have feared no kind of suffering, but eagerly to have courted and endured the sharpest pains, fire, cold, wounds, exposure to freezing waters, and the like, and they invariably repeated that such pains are nothing compared to what they had witnessed in the other world.
In this land of expiation it would seem that innumerable forms of pain and torment are to be experienced.
St. Frances of Rome also describes Purgatory, as seen by her in her visions, as divided into three distinct regions, which are as the three vast provinces of that kingdom of suffering. They are situated one beneath the other, and occupied by souls of different grades of guilt and punishment.
The lowest region is filled with a vast fire, like a burning sea, giving forth immense flames. Innumerable souls are plunged in its depths; they are those who committed mortal sins, which were, indeed, confessed, but not sufficiently expiated. St. Frances learnt that for every forgiven mortal sin there is an average period of expiation, which she estimates as seven years. . .
The next region St. Frances saw, was destined for souls which had deserved less rigorous chastisement. It had three distinct divisions; one was like an immense dungeon of ice, with indescribably intense cold; the second, like a huge cauldron of boiling oil and pitch; the third, like a pond of liquid metal resembling molten gold or silver.
The third region, or upper Purgatory, that is, the one nearest to the time of release, the Saint understood to be the temporary abode of souls which suffered little except the pain of being deprived of the vision of God.
St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi in a vision was taken to the prisons of divine justice. She saw a place full of ice and fire, in which the souls of children and simple, ignorant persons were expiating their faults; they were consoled by their angels; there were also demons there, who increased the sufferings of the Poor Souls. . .
In another place she beheld souls bruised and crushed under a press, as it were; these were they who had been impatient and disobedient.
In the dungeon of liars, she saw molten lead being poured into the mouths of the prisoners, while they at the same time trembled with cold.
Other vices were punished by various other torments, and at last the Saint came to a dungeon where souls were confined who had not been the slaves of any vice, but through lack of vigilance over themselves, had committed all kinds of trivial faults.
St. Lidwina was conducted by her guardian angel to an immense prison surrounded by massive walls of immense height and fearful thickness. From within arose an indescribable tumult of cries, laments, rattling chains, and the sound of loud blows. No din or battle could be compared to that terrible medley of sounds. She shuddered at the very suggestion of her angel that she should enter this place, and refused to do so. She then arrived at a spot where an angel seemed to be sitting sadly on the edge of a well. “Who is that angel?” she asked. “It is the guardian angel of that sinner whose soul you are praying for,” answered her guide. “His soul has a special and most severe Purgatory in that well.” The cover of the well was then removed, and a cloud of flames mingled with most piteous cries, issued forth. St. Lidwina at once recognized the voice of the ono for whom she prayed. A spirit then appeared at the mouth of the well. He was all on fire, resembling incandescent metal. But the shock which the Saint received at the sight awoke her from the ecstasy, and she grievously lamented the terrible sufferings of the souls in Purgatory. She then offered the most fervent prayers and suffrages for the poor soul, and after a few days the angel appeared to her with a joyous countenance and told her that the soul had left the well and gone into the ordinary Purgatory. The Saint continued her ardent supplications till she learned that the gates of Heaven had been opened to that poor soul.
From all these examples, and many others of the same kind, we may conclude that the pain of sense in Purgatory is something unspeakably terrible, and in these examples is merely represented in a form comprehensible by our senses, in order that we may bring home to ourselves in what sad need the souls stand of our help.

Practice.—Reflect for a few minutes each day on the sufferings of the Holy Souls, as shown in the visions of Saints.

Indulgenced Prayer.“Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in Thee.” (300 days each time. Plenary, once a month.)


The historian John Vasquez relates that Sancho, king of Leon, who had led a truly Christian life, after his death appeared to his pious consort, Queen Guda. He had been poisoned by one of his subjects. After his death, the Queen passed her time in praying, and causing prayers to be offered for the repose of his soul. She had a great number of Masses offered for him, and entered a convent in Castile, where his body had been buried, that she might pray for him. One Saturday, whilst praying for the soul of her departed husband, at the feet of the Blessed Virgin, Sancho appeared to her. He was in garments of mourning, and wore a double row of red-hot chains around his waist. He thanked his pious widow for her suffrages and conjured her to continue her work of charity. “Ah, if you knew what I suffer,” he said to her, “you would do still more.” The Queen redoubled her suffrages and caused Masses to be celebrated in all parts of the country. At the end of forty days the King again appeared. He had been relieved of the burning cincture and of all his other sufferings. He appeared in robes of dazzling whiteness, like the ornaments the Queen had given to the convent. “Thanks to your prayers,” he said, ‘‘my dear Guda, I am delivered from my sufferings. Persevere in your holy exercises, often meditate on the joys and sufferings of the other life. I shall await you in Paradise.” He then left her, overflowing with consolation.


My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.

November Devotion: The Holy Souls in Purgatory.

Virtues to practice: Charity and kindness.


Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord! Lord hear my voice.
Let Thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
If Thou, O Lord, shalt mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand it?
For with Thee there is merciful forgiveness: and by rea­son of Thy law I have waited for Thee, O Lord.
My soul hath relied on His word: my soul hath hoped in the Lord.
From the morning watch even until night, let Israel hope in the Lord.
Because with the Lord there is mercy: and with Him plenteous redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
V. Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord.
R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.
V. May they rest in peace.
R. Amen.
V. Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto thee.

Let Us Pray.

O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, grant to the souls of thy servants departed the remission of all their sins, that through the devout prayers of Thy Church on earth, they may obtain that remission of pain which they have ever desired. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
V. Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord.
R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.
V. May they rest in peace.
R. Amen.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Clement XII., by a brief, Calestes Ecclesia thesauros, Aug. 11, 1736, granted:
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS to all the faithful who, at the sound of the bell, at the first hour after nightfall, shall say devoutly on their knees the psalm De profundis, or the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Requiem æternam.
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, once a year, to those who shall have performed this pious exercise for a year, on any day when, being truly penitent, after confession and communion, they shall pray for peace and union among Christian princes, for the extirpation of heresy and for the triumph of holy Mother Church.
The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius VI., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of the Propaganda, March 18, 1781, granted these indulgences to all the faithful who may happen to dwell in a place where no bell for the dead is sounded, provided they shall say the De profundis, or the Our Father, and the Hail Mary, etc., about nightfall.
The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, July 18, 1877, declared that these indulgences can be gained on the recital as aboye of the De profundis, or the Our Father, etc., before or after nightfall, provided that the bell is sounded at such hour, according to the custom of the church or place.
Moreover, His Holiness, Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Feb. 3, 1888, granted to all the faithful who shall recite the above Psalm, adding the versicle Requiem æternam dona eis Domine ei lux perpetua luceat eis, AN INDULGENCE OF FIFTY DAYS, three times a day.

Most loving Jesus, I humbly beseech Thee, that Thou Thyself wouldst offer to Thy eternal Father in behalf of the Holy Souls in purgatory, the Most Precious Blood which poured forth from the Sacred Wounds of Thy adorable Body, together with Thy agony and death. And do thou likewise, O sorrowful Virgin Mary, present unto Him, together with the dolorous Passion of thy dear Son, thine own sighs and tears, and all the sorrows thou didst suffer in His suffering, in order that, through the merits of the same, refreshment may be granted to the souls now suffering in the fiery torments of purgatory, so that, being delivered from that painful prison, they may be clothed with glory in heaven, there to sing the mercies of God for ever and ever. Amen.
Absolve, O Lord, the souls of all the faithful departed from every bond of sin, that with Thy gracious assistance they may deserve to escape the judgment of vengeance and enjoy the blessedness of everlasting light.
V. Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord

R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.
V. From the gates of hell,
R. Deliver their souls, O Lord.
V. May they rest in peace.
R. Amen.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.

Let us pray.

O, God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful; grant unto the souls of Thy servants and handmaids the remission of all their sins: that through our devout supplications they may obtain the pardon they have always desired. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
V. Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord
R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.
V. From the gates of hell,
R. Deliver their souls, O Lord.
V. May they rest in peace.
R. Amen.

An indulgence of 3 years. A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if these prayers are said daily for a month (S. C. md., Sept. 15, 1888; S. P. Ap., April 25, 1934).


Pius IX, has granted an Indulgence of Ten Years and Ten Quarantines once a day to the faithful who devoutly recite in company with others, either at home or in church, in public or private oratories, a third part of the Rosary of Saint Dominic; and a Plenary Indulgence on the last Sunday in every month to all who are in the habit of saying with others at least three times a week, the third part of the Rosary, without belonging to the confraternity of that name. (Visit.)
Benedict XIII granted an Indulgence of One Hundred Days for every Our Father and every Hail Mary, and a Plenary Indulgence once a year, to those who recite the third part of the Rosary every day; the same Indulgence of One Hundred Days had been granted for the Chaplet of Saint Bridget. Those who recite at least once a week the Chaplet of our Lord, or that of the Blessed Virgin, enriched with Apostolic Indulgences, gain numerous Indulgences on the feast indicated in the calendar, besides an Indulgence of One Hundred Days each time. (Take particular notice that it is necessary to recite the whole Chaplet without remarkable interrruption.) – Month of the Dead.


In order to maintain and diffuse ever more and more among the faithful the holy and salutary thought of praying for the departed, some pious Romans projected and proposed a so-called Catholic League of perpetual suffrage for the holy souls in purgatory, to which any one may belong by reciting each day, three times, Give them eternal rest, etc., in behalf of the holy souls.
His Holiness, Pope Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Aug. 19, 1880, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, recite, three times, Give them eternal rest, etc.:
AN INDULGENCE OF TWO HUNDRED DAYS, once a day. – Raccolta 1898


His Holiness, Leo XIII., by a decree of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, January 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,
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. – Raccolta 1898.

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