Purgatory Explained, Part 2, Chapter 46

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Advantages – Gratitude of the Souls – The Return of an Exiled Priest – Father Mumford and the Printer, William Freyssen

In order to understand the gratitude of the souls, it is necessary that we should have a most clear conception of the benefit they receive from their liberators; that we should know what it is to enter Heaven. “Who will make known to us,” says the Abbe Louvet, “the joys of that blessed hour! Represent to yourself the happiness of an exile who at length returns to his fatherland. During the Reign of Terror, a poor priest of La Vendee was condemned to be drowned. Having escaped by miracle, he was obliged to emigrate in order to save his life. When peace was restored to the Church and to France, he hastened to return to his beloved parish.

“It was a festival day in the village. All the parishioners went to meet their pastor and father; the bells in the old tower rang joyously, and the church was decorated as upon days of great solemnity. The old man advanced smiling in the midst of his children, but when the doors of the holy place opened before him, when he beheld again the altar that had so long rejoiced the days of his youth, his heart, too weak to bear such transports of joy, broke within his bosom With a trembling voice he intoned the Te Deum, but it was the Nunc Dimittis of his priestly life; he fell dying at the foot of the altar. The exile had not the strength to support the joys of his return.”

If such are the joys of the return of an exile to his terrestrial fatherland, who will make known to us the transports we shall experience upon entering Heaven, the true home of our souls? And how can we wonder at the gratitude of the blessed whom we have caused to enter there?

Father James Mumford, of the Society of Jesus, who was born in England in 1605, and who struggled during forty years in the cause of the Church in that country, given up to heresy, composed a remarkable work on Purgatory, which he had printed at Cologne by William Freyssen, a well-known Catholic publisher. This book obtained a large circulation, and effected a great good among souls, the publisher, Freyssen, being one of those who derived the greatest advantage from it. This is what he wrote to Father Mumford in 1649:

“I write, Father, to inform you of the miraculous and twofold cure of my son and my wife. During the holidays, whilst my office was closed, I set to work reading the book, Mercy Exercised towards the Souls in Purgatory , which you have sent me to print. I was still engaged in reading the work when I was informed that my young son, four years of age, showed symptoms of a serious illness. The malady made rapid progress, the physician lost hope, and preparations for his burial were already thought of. It occurred to me that I might perhaps save him by making a vow in favor of the souls in Purgatory.

“I went to church early in the morning, and fervently besought God to have pity on me, promising by a vow to distribute a hundred copies of your book among the ecclesiastics and Religious free of charge, in order to remind them of the zeal with which they should interest themselves in behalf of the Church Suffering, and of the practices that are best suited to fulfill this duty.

“I acknowledge that I was full of hope. Upon my return home I found the child better. He already asked for nourishment, although for several days he had been incapable of swallowing even a single drop of liquid. The following day his cure was complete; he arose, went out for a walk, and ate with as good an appetite as if he had never been sick. Penetrated with gratitude, my most urgent desire was to fulfill my promise. I went to the College of the Society of Jesus and besought the Fathers to accept my hundred copies, to keep what they wanted for themselves, and to distribute the remainder among the other communities and ecclesiastics of their acquaintance, that the suffering souls, my benefactors, might be comforted by new suffrages.

“Three weeks later, another and not less serious accident happened to me. My wife upon entering the house was suddenly seized with a violent trembling in all her limbs, which caused her to fall insensible to the ground. She soon lost her appetite and the power of speech. All manner of remedies were employed, but in vain. The malady only increased, and all hope seemed lost. Her confessor, seeing her reduced to this condition, sought words to console me, exhorting me to be resigned to the will of God. As for myself, after the protection I had experienced from the good souls in Purgatory, I could not think of despairing. I returned to the same church, prostrated myself before the Blessed Sacrament, and renewed my supplication with all the fervor of which I was capable. ‘O my God,’ I exclaimed, ‘Thy mercy is without limit! In the name of Thine Infinite Goodness, permit not that the restoration of my son to health be atoned for by the death of my wife!’ I then made a vow to distribute two hundred copies of your book in order to obtain copious relief for the suffering souls. At the same time I besought the souls that had formerly been delivered to unite their prayers to those of the others still retained in Purgatory. After this prayer I returned home, and saw my servants running to meet me. They told me that my dear wife was considerably better, that the delirium had ceased and her speech had returned. I hastened to her side and found all was true. I offered her nourishment, which she took with relish. A very short time afterwards she was so completely restored that she accompanied me to the church to return thanks to God for all His mercy.

“Your Reverence may place entire confidence in this statement. I pray you to aid me in thanking Our Lord for this double miracle. – FREYSSEN”

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