Torments of Purgatory: Fire of Purification
The long tradition of the Church tells us that souls cannot be admitted to the eternal kingdom of glory before they are purified by fire. It is not the fire of Hell, which will never die, but one whose harshness will be felt in Purgatory. Such is the affirmation of all doctors of the Church. St. Augustine and St. Thomas called this: the torment by fire. That mere word is frightening. To be completely immersed in a penetrating flame…what cruel torture! Material fire acts only on the body and how terrible are its effects. Who could hold a glowing coal in his hand for only a minute? But the flame in Purgatory acts on the soul itself; it affects the intelligence, the memory, the senses; all our faculties are seized and permeated.
Faced with this torment which we could hardly imagine and which we merit so often through our daily sins, let us ask ourselves this question: who among us could dwell in that devouring fire?
My God save us from the fire in Purgatory. It is the breath of God’s Justice, which ignites it and fuels it. It does not behave like an element but as an instrument of Divine Power, purifying souls without destroying them. This world’s fire is nothing when compared to the flames of Purgatory. The fire of this world is a gift of Providence; that in Purgatory is a creation of Divine Justice.St. Thomas said, The most roaring furnaces, the most ardent flames to which martyrs were condemned are a mere shadow when compared to the devouring flames we must endure in Purgatory.
That flame, said a holy Pontiff, is equal to that of Hell in everything except its duration. The pains of this world, no matter how severe, cannot compare with those in Purgatory. Who could then be so inhuman as to disregard the heart-rending cries of those unfortunate souls who plead unceasingly for our help? If you were in their place and the whole world has as little charity for you as you have for them, how would you define such cruelty? Meditate on this and make the resolutions which you deem necessary.
– Example –
Venerable Stanislas Chocosca, a Dominican, received the visit of a soul from Purgatory, completely enveloped in flames and suffering terribly. He asked the soul if the fire in Purgatory was comparable with that which we have on earth.
The soul told him that the fire of this world is a mere breeze when compared to the flames of Purgatory. The old priest could scarcely believe what he heard and mentioned that he would like to feel the fire, if at all possible. The flaming soul told him, a person still living is incapable of withstanding even a slight sample of that fire, but stretch out your hand towards me and you’ll have some idea of what I’m saying.
Stanislas offered his hand and the deceased let a drop of sweat fall upon it. The pain was so intense that the venerable Stanislas let out a horrible scream and passed out. Other religious rushed to his cell. When he came to, he related the event and the reason for his scream…
Upon hearing the description of the event, all were seized with fear and resolved to multiply their penance and prayers, to flee from worldly pleasures and to tell everyone they met about this extraordinary event, in order to encourage them to avoid Purgatory and to hasten the release of souls!
Venerable Stanislas Chocosca lived for one more year in constant agony from the burn on his hand, which would not heal.
Father Ferdinand de Castille relates another event, which occurred in Zamora Spain.
A pious and virtuous Dominican priest resided in a convent along with a no-less holy Franciscan priest with whom he often discussed the mysteries of the hereafter. They promised to remember each other after their death and vowed to pray for the one who would be the first to die. The Franciscan died shortly after and appeared to the Dominican. He related the terrible suffering he was enduring for trivial offenses he had not expiated…In order to implore his friend’s pity, he let him see the flames which were torturing him, Nothing on earth can demonstrate the ardor of this fire. Do you want proof? He placed his hand on a wooden table into which it immediately embedded itself.
That table, bearing witness to the fire in Purgatory, may be seen in Zamora, province of Leon, Spain. Hear what Catherine of Genoa told us in her biography:
From that Divine Love, I see rays of fire enflame the soul so completely, so fiercely, that they seem capable of annihilating not only the body, but the soul itself. Those flames have a dual purpose: purification and annihilation.
Such is the effect of fire on material things. The difference is that the soul cannot annihilate itself in God but only in its own being. The more it purifies itself, the more it annihilates itself and thus becomes totally purified in God.
Gold, purified to 24 carats cannot consume itself any longer, no matter what flame it is subjected to. What can be consumed in it is simply its own imperfections.
That is how the soul behaves in the Divine Fire. God maintains it in that fire, until all imperfections have been consumed. He brings it to the total purity of 24 carats, each individual soul, according to its degree of impurity. When it is purified, it remains completely in God with nothing of its own; its being now is in God. Once God has recalled a purified soul to himself, that soul, needing no further purification, can no longer suffer. In that state of purity, that soul can no longer feel anything other than the Divine Fire of Love and for all eternity
Let Us Pray
Oh my God! How I dread your Divine Fire when I recall my sensuous life, my countless sins, the Little I have done for you! Have mercy on me Lord! Have mercy also on my brethren, the souls which have preceded me into eternity and who are now in the hands of your Divine Justice. Oh Jesus, be their conciliator and lead them to your kingdom of glory. May they rest in peace!
Let Us Pray
Lord, hear the prayers we will offer up to you every day of this month for the consolation of our deceased brothers and sisters and grant them a place of refreshing light and peace! Hear also the prayers which those souls will offer up to you for our intention that we might ultimately obtain, through their intercession, the graces for which we pray for.