Purgatory Explained, Part 1, Chapter 36

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Matter of Expiation and Chastisement – Immortification of the Senses – Father Francis of Aix – Immortification of the Tongue – Durand

Christians who wish to escape the rigors of Purgatory must love the mortification of their Divine Master, and beware of being delicate members under a Head crowned with thorns. On February 10, 1656, in the province of Lyons, Father Francis of Aix, of the Society of Jesus, passed away to a better life. He carried all the virtues of a Religious to a high degree of perfection. Penetrated with a profound veneration towards the Most Blessed Trinity, he had for particular intention in all his prayers and mortifications to honor this August Mystery; to embrace by preference those works for which others showed less inclination, had a particular charm for him. He often visited the Blessed Sacrament, even during the night, and never left the door of his room without going to say a prayer at the foot of the altar. His penances, which were in a manner excessive, gave him the name of the man of suffering. He replied to one who advised him to moderate them, “What day which I should allow to pass without shedding some drops of my blood to offer to my God would be for me the most painful and the severest mortification. Since I cannot hope to suffer martyrdom for the love of Jesus Christ, I will at least have some part in His sufferings.”

Another Religious, Brother Coadjutor of the same Order, did not imitate the example of this good Father. He had little love for mortification, but, on the contrary, sought his ease and comfort, and all that could gratify the senses. This brother, some days after his death, appeared to Father d’ Aix, clothed in frightful haircloth, and suffering great torments, in punishment for the faults of sensuality which he had committed during life. He implored the assistance of his prayers, and immediately disappeared.

Another fault against which we must guard, because we so easily fall into it, is the unmortification of the tongue. Oh! how easy it is to err in words! How rare a thing it is to speak for any length of time without offending against meekness, humility, sincerity, or Christian charity! Even pious persons are often subject to this defect; when they have escaped all the other snares of the demon, they allow themselves to be taken, says Saint Jerome, in this last trap – slander. Let us listen to what is related by Vincent de Beauvais.

When the celebrated Durand, who, in the eleventh century, shed luster on the Order of Saint Dominic, was yet a simple Religious, he showed himself a model of regularity and fervor; yet he had one defect. The vivacity of his disposition led him to talk too much; he was excessively fond of witty expressions, often at the expense of charity. Hugh, his Abbot, brought this under his notice, even predicting that, if he did not correct himself of this fault, he would certainly have to expiate it in Purgatory. Durand did not attach sufficient importance to this advice, and continued to give himself, without much restraint, to the disorders of the tongue. After his death, the prediction of the Abbot Hugh was fulfilled. Durand appeared to a Religious, one of his friends, imploring him to assist him by his prayers, because he was frightfully punished for the unmortification of his tongue. In consequence of this apparition, the members of the community unanimously agreed to observe strict silence for eight days, and to practice other good works for the repose of the deceased. These charitable exercises produced their effect; some time after Durand again appeared, but now to announce his deliverance.

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