Purgatory Explained, Part 2, Chapter 54

detail of a stained glass window of Saint Louis Bertrand stained glass window, date and artist unknown; swiped with permission from the flickr account of Father Lawrence Lew, OPArticle

Advantages – Salutary Thoughts – Make Satisfaction in this Life rather than in the Next – Saint Augustine and Saint Louis Bertrand – Brother Lourenco – Father Michel de la Fontaine

Besides the advantages which we have already considered. Charity towards the departed is very salutary to those who practice it, because it stimulates them to fervor in the service of God, and inspires the holiest thoughts. To think of the souls in Purgatory is to think of the sufferings of the other life; it is to call to mind that all sin demands expiation, either in this life or the next.

Now, who does not understand that it is better to make satisfaction here, since future chastise ments are so terrible? A voice seems to come forth from Purgatory, repeating these words of the Imitation, “Better is it to purge away our sins and to cut off our vices now, than to keep them for purgation hereafter.”

We call to mind, also, this other sentence, of which we read in the same chapter: “There, one hour of punishment will be more grievous than a hundred years of the most bitter penance here.” Then, penetrated with salutary fear, we willingly endure the sufferings of the present life, and we say to God with Saint Augustine and Saint Louis Bertrand, Domine, hie ure, hie seca, hie non parcas, ut in aeternum parcas – “Lord, apply here iron and fire; spare me not in this life, in order that You may spare me in the next.”

Penetrated with these thoughts, the Christian regards the tribulations of the present life, and especially the sufferings of a painful malady, as a Purgatory upon earth which will dispense him from Purgatory after death.

On 6 January 1676 there died in Lisbon, at the age of sixty-nine years, the servant of God, Gaspar Lourenco, Brother Coadjutor of the Society of Jesus, and porter of the professed house of that Institute. He was full of charity towards the poor and towards the souls in Purgatory. He knew not how to spare himself in the service of the unfortunate, and was marvellously ingenious in teaching them to bless God for their misery, which was to purchase Heaven for them. He himself was so penetrated with the happiness of suffering for Our Lord, that he crucified his flesh almost without measure, and added other austerities on the vigils of Communion days. At the age of seventy- eight, he would accept of no dispensation from the fasts and abstinences of the Church, and allowed no day to pass without taking the discipline at least twice. Even in his last illness, the Brother Infirmarian said that the approach of death did not make him divest himself of his hair shirt, so great was his desire to die upon the cross. The sufferings of his agony, which were most cruel, might have taken the place of the most rigorous penances. When asked if he suffered much, I am undergoing my Purgatory before departing for Heaven,” he replied with a joyous air. Brother Lourenco was born on the day of Epiphany; and Our Lord had revealed to him that this beautiful day was to be also that of his death. He designated the hour on the previous night; and when the Infirmarian visited him at daybreak, he said to him with a smile expressive of doubt, “Is it not today, brother, that you expect to go and enjoy the vision of God?” “Yes,” he replied, “as soon as I shall have received the Body of my Saviour for the last time.” In fact, he received Holy Communion and expired without struggle and without agony.

There is, then, every reason to believe that he spoke with a supernatural knowledge of the truth when he said, “I am undergoing my Purgatory before departing for Heaven.”

Another servant of God received from the Blessed Virgin herself the same assurance that his earthly suffering would take the place of Purgatory. I speak of Lather Michel de la Lontaine, who slept sweetly in the Lord on 11 February 1606, at Valencia, in Spain. He was one of the first missionaries who labored for the salvation of the people of Peru. His greatest care when instructing the new converts was to inspire them with a sovereign horror of sin, and to lead them to great devotion towards the Mother of God, by speaking of the virtues of that admirable Virgin, and teaching them to recite the beads in her honor.

Mary, on her part, did not refuse the favors asked of her. One day when, exhausted with fatigue, he lay prostrate in the dust, not having strength to rise, he was visited by her whom the Church styles with reason Comforter of the Afflicted. She reanimated his courage, saying to him, “Confidence , my son; your fatigues will take the place of Purgatory for you; bear your sufferings patiently, and on leaving this life your soul will be received into the abode of the blessed.”

This vision was for Father de la Fontaine during life, but especially at the hour of his death, a source of abundant consolation. In gratitude for this favor, he each week practiced some particular penance. At the moment when he expired, a Religious of eminent virtue saw his soul take its flight to Heaven in company of the Blessed Virgin, the Prince of the Apostles, Saint John the Evangelist, and of Saint Ignatius, the founder of the Company of Jesus.

MLA Citation