Purgatory Explained, Part 1, Chapter 19

detail of a statue of Saint Maria Magdalena of Pazzi; date and artist unknown; Estrela basilica, Lisbon, Portugal; photographed in April 2010 by Alvesgaspar, and a great job he did, too; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

Pains of Purgatory – Saint Magdalen de Pazzi and Sister Benedicta – Saint Gertrude – Blessed Margaret Mary and Mother de Montoux

We read in the Life of Saint Magdalen de Pazzi that one of her sisters, named Maria-Benedicta, a Religious of eminent virtue, died in her arms. During her agony she saw a multitude of angels which surrounded her with a joyful air, waiting until she should breathe forth her soul, that they might bear it to the Heavenly Jerusalem; and at the moment she expired, the saint saw them receive the soul under the form of a dove, the head of which was of a golden hue, and disappear with her, Three hours later, watching and praying near the remains, Magdalen knew that the soul of the deceased was neither in Paradise nor Purgatory, but in a particular place where, without suffering any sensible pain, she was deprived of the sight of God.

The following day, whilst Mass was being celebrated for the soul of Maria-Benedicta, at the Sanctus Magdalen was again rapt in ecstasy, and God showed her that blessed soul in the glory to which she had just been admitted. Magdalen ventured to ask our Saviour why He had not allowed this dear soul to enter sooner into His holy presence. She received for an answer that in her last sickness Sister Benedicta had shown herself too sensitive to the cares bestowed upon her, which interrupted her habitual union with God and her perfect conformity to His Divine Will.

Let us return to the Revelations of Saint Gertrude, to which we have just alluded. There we shall find another instance which shows how, for certain souls at least, the sun of glory is preceded by a dawn which breaks by degrees. A Religious died in the flower of her age in the embrace of the Lord. She had been remarkable for her tender devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. After her death Saint Gertrude saw her, brilliant with a celestial light, kneeling before the Divine Master, whose glorified wounds appeared like lighted torches, from whence issued five flaming rays that pierced the five senses of the deceased. The countenance of the latter, however, was clouded by an expression of deep sadness. “Lord Jesus,” cried the saint, “how comes it that whilst You thus illumine Your servant, she does not experience perfect joy?”

“Until now,” replied the good Master, “this sister has been worthy to contemplate My glorified humanity only, and to enjoy the sight of My five wounds, in recompense for her tender devotion to the mystery of the Holy Eucharist; but unless numerous suffrages are offered in her favor, she cannot yet be admitted to the beatific vision, on account of some slight defects in the observation of her holy rules.”

Let us conclude what we have said concerning the nature of these pains by some details which we find in the Life of Blessed Margaret Mary of the Visitation. They are taken in part from the Memoir of Mother Grefifier, who, wisely diffident on the subject of the extraordinary graces granted to Blessed Sister Margaret, recognized the truth only after a thousand trials. Mother Philiberte Emmanuel de Montoux, Superior at Annecy, died 2 February 1683, after a life which had edified the whole Order. Mother Grefifier recommended her specially to the prayers of Sister Margaret. After some time the latter told her superior that Our Lord had made known to her that this soul was most dear to Him on account of her love and fidelity in His service, and that an ample recompense awaited her in Heaven when she should have accomplished her purification in Purgatory.

The Blessed Sister saw the departed in the place of expiation. Our Lord showed her the sufferings which she endured, and how greatly she was relieved by the suffrages and good works which were daily offered for her throughout the whole Order of the Visitation. During the night from Holy Thursday to Good Friday, whilst Sister Margaret was still praying for her, He showed her the soul of the departed as placed under the chalice which contained the Sacred Host on the altar of repose. There she participated in the merits of His agony in the Garden of Olives. On Easter Sunday, which that year fell on April 18, Sister Margaret saw the soul enjoying the commencement, as it were, of eternal felicity, desiring and hoping soon to be admitted to the vision and possession of God.

Finally, a fortnight after, on 2 May Sunday, Feast of the Good Shepherd, she saw the soul of the departed as rising sweetly into eternal glory, chanting melodiously the canticle of Divine Love.

Let us see how Blessed Margaret herself gives the account of this last apparition in a letter addressed on the same day, 2 May 1623, to Mother de Saumaise at Dijon: “Jesus forever! My soul is filled with so great a joy that I can scarcely restrain myself Permit me, dear Mother, to communicate it to your heart, which is one with mine in that of Our Lord. This morning, Sunday of the Good Shepherd, on my awakening, two of my good suffering friends came to bid me adieu. Today the Supreme Pastor receives them into His eternal fold with a million other souls. Both joined this multitude of blessed souls, and departed singing canticles of joy. One is the good Mother Philiberte Emmanuel de Montoux, the other Sister Jeanne Catherine Gacon. One repeated unceasingly these words: Love triumphs, love rejoices in God; the other, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, and the Religious who live and die in the exact observance of their rules. Both desired that I should say to you on their part that death may separate souls, but can never disunite them. If you knew how my soul was transported with joy! For whilst I was speaking to them, I saw them sink by degrees into glory like a person who plunges into the vast ocean. They ask of you in thanksgiving to the Holy Trinity one Laudate and three times Gloria Patri. As I desired them to remember us, their last words were that ingratitude is unknown in Heaven.”

MLA Citation