Purgatory Explained, Part 2, Chapter 64

Saint Philip NeriArticle

Means to Avoid Purgatory – Confidence in God – Saint Francis de Sales – Saint Philip Neri and Sister Scholastica

The fifth means for obtaining favor before the tribunal of God is to have great confidence in His Mercy. In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped; let me never be confounded, says the Prophet. (Psalm 30) Surely He who said to the good thief, “This day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise,” well merits that we should have an unbounded confidence in Him. Saint Francis de Sales avowed that if he considered his misery only, he deserved Hell; but full of humble confidence in the mercy of God and in the merits of Jesus Christ, he firmly hoped to share the happiness of the elect. “And what would Our Lord do with His eternal life,” said he, “if not give it to us, poor, little, insignificant creatures as we are, who have no hope but in His goodness? Blessed be God! I have this firm confidence in the depth of my heart, that we shall live eternally with God. We shall one day be all united in Heaven. Take courage; we shall soon be there above.”

“We must,” he said again, “die between two pillows; the one, of the humble confession that we merit nothing but Hell; the other, of an entire confidence that God, in His mercy, will give us Paradise.” Having one day met a gentleman who was filled with excessive fear of the judgments of God, he said to him, “He who has a true desire to serve God and to avoid sin, must in nowise allow himself to be tormented by the thought of death and judgment. If they are to be feared, it is not with that fear which dejects and depresses the vigor of the soul; but a fear tempered with confidence, and therefore salutary. Hope in God: who hopes in Him shall never be confounded.”

We read in the Life of Saint Philip Neri, that having gone one day to the Convent of Saint Martha in Rome, one of the Religious, named Scholastica, desired to speak to him in private. This lady had been tormented for a long time with a thought of despair, which she had not dared to make known to anyone; but, full of confidence in the saint, she resolved to open her heart to him. When she went to him, before she had time to say a word, the man of God said to her with a smile, “You are very wrong, my daughter, to believe that you are destined for eternal flames: Paradise belongs to you!” “I cannot believe it, Father,” she replied with a deep sigh. “You do not believe it? That is folly on your part, you will see. Tell me, Scholastica, for whom did Jesus die?” “He died for sinners.” “And now tell me are you a saint?” “Alas!” replied she weeping, “I am a great sinner.” “Therefore Jesus died for you, and most assuredly it was to open Heaven for you. It is thus clear that Heaven is yours. For as to your sins, you detest them, I have no doubt.” The good Religious was touched by these words. Light entered her soul, the temptation vanished, and from that moment those sweet words, Paradise is yours, filled her with confidence and joy.

MLA Citation