Torments of Purgatory: The Sentence of Dam
– Deprived of God –
The greatest suffering in Purgatory is not that of fire, as fierce as it may be. A greater suffering is that which theologians call “The sentence of Dam.” In this world, we do not understand the intensity of the suffering caused by being deprived of God because we do not see him directly. We do not love Him with all our heart, we do not think of Him very often. But the souls in Purgatory have seen God on their day of Judgement, and according to St. Ambrosius, Their eyes beheld a great spectacle. God showed himself to them with all his adorable perfection. He imprinted his image so vividly in their spirit, He infused them so fiercely with the glory of his infinite Majesty, that they think of Him continually and love Him with a love that is pure and complete. This insatiable love, this deprivation, this hunger, this thirst for God torments and tortures them. They are continually dying without dying and the Church calls this condition a “death” and rightly so, Lord, deliver them from death.
To get an idea of this torment, imagine a person dying for lack of air. See the efforts that person makes to gulp a little much-needed oxygen, how the chest is distended and the veins bulge in the neck. It is a terrible struggle between life and death. But what is a little air when compared to God? What is it then to die without God, deprived of the soul’s need for God who is the soul’s breath? What living hunger! What painful agony!
Lord, deliver them from that terrible agony and show them your adorable Face. Our Father who art in Heaven, gather your children out of exile!
– Deprived of Heaven –
Truly, the soul in Purgatory is not exiled from its earthly native land but from its true native land, Heaven. It has seen the splendours of its blessed homeland when it appeared before the Lord who is the joy and delight of saints. It recalled that loving invitation, Come, blessed of my Father, yours is the kingdom which has been prepared for you since the creation of the world. It saw and contemplated all its magnificence. Now, unable to enter that homeland, it has to wait for days, weeks, years, centuries, before being able to plunge into that torrent of Goodness which is God himself. My God! What an exile! What a cruel delay!
How heart-rending are the sufferings of that unfortunate soul, When will I be able to see my homeland, my family in Heaven? When will I be reunited to my parents, my brothers and sisters who are in the Glory of God and stretch out their arms to me? When will I be invited to unite my soul to Jesus, my celestial spouse? Oh eternal gates, open up! Open up!
Poor unfortunate soul! It hears a mysterious voice reply, Not yet. Later.
Dear souls, we can open those gates for you. Don’t you know that prayer and charity are the golden keys that will open the gates of Heaven?
Pray continuously and those souls in exile will rise to Heaven, to their beloved homeland, where they will sing forever the mysteries of God.
– Example –
When the captive children of Israel had been taken far from their homeland, unable to see the shores of the Euphrates, they sat down sadly on the strange shore. They wept for the memory of Jerusalem: they had no words of joy, no songs of glory, their harps hanging from the willow trees on the shore were silent.
The Babylonians asked them, Children of Israel, why do you weep?
It is because we remember Zion, our homeland! We remember and we regret!
But, exiled children of Zion, if you sang to sooth your suffering and dispel your sadness… Sing a few songs from your homeland. Sing your national anthem. Sing!
Can children in exile sing patriotic hymns on strange shores? Far from here, we remember, we regret, we sigh, we weep and we tearfully await the consolation of our return. Oh Jerusalem! May our tongue be welded to our palate should we one day forget you!
The souls of our brethren are detained by Divine Justice, far from the homeland which they lovingly long for. They are condemned to a painful exile on strange shores, which are a thousand times more desolate than those of this world.
There they also weep as they remember their heavenly homeland. Their tears differ from ours as Heaven differs from the earth and time differs from eternity. Humans, unless they are ill, instinctively seek nourishment. If they stopped eating being neither sick nor dying, that hunger would never stop growing because that instinct would never diminish.
Imagine if there was in this world, only one bread that could stem the hunger of any creature. Man would suffer intolerable torment in order to have some of that bread. Imagine if only gazing upon that bread was enough to stem that hunger. His instinct would urge him to seek it in order to be contented. If he were told with certainty that he could never see that bread, then that for him would be Hell. He would be in a state of damnation, deprived of all hope of seeing God, true Bread, true Saviour.
But the souls in Purgatory do have the hope of one day contemplating that Living Bread and of being filled with it. Meanwhile, they suffer from hunger and remain in their torment as long as they are unable to stem that hunger with the true Bread, Jesus Christ, true God and Saviour, our Love.
Let Us Pray
Oh merciful God, God so holy, God so Just, let yourself be moved out of love for those unfortunate holy souls. Do not conceal yourself one moment longer from the ardour of their desire, do not repel them any longer: open your bosom and allow them to enter and lose themselves in You. Oh Jesus! Call your children and our brethren to eternal happiness and may the light that never dies shine upon them! May they rest in peace!