Torments of Purgatory: The Pain of Remorse
– The evil we needed to avoid –
The torments, of which we just spoke, are not the only ones which torture the souls kept captive in this place of atonement. They still feel sadness, bitter regret, desolation and fierce reproaches from their guilty conscience, a thousand times more severe for them than the pain of the flames which makes them suffer without being consumed. In Hell, says the Gospel, the worm that gnaws at the condemned, never dies. In Purgatory, it will surely die one day; but as long as it lives, it bites with cruelty and viciously tears its unfortunate victims. Oh, how terrible is that struggle between a soul and its guilt! From the depths of its suffering, the captive soul looks back sorrowfully on its existence here on earth. In the glow of the flame that tortures it, it clearly sees all the evil it has committed and which it could have avoided with the grace of God, evil which it had never confessed. It discovers millions of sins it has never perceived or which it had considered trivial, having seen no need for an examination of conscience. Forced to recognise its guilt, whereas it would only have had to make an effort to be more loving and just, that poor soul is deeply afflicted and cries out in the delirium of its torture, My God, you are just and your judgement is equitable. I am the only author of my suffering. Oh if I could only start my life on earth over again, Lord how I would serve you and how carefully I would preserve my soul from Purgatory. Vain and sterile regrets! Unfortunately, it is too late!
Let us learn, oh faithful souls. Let us free ourselves from evil. Let us do penance here on earth in order to avoid that fierce torment, that gnawing worm in Purgatory. My God! Strip, burn, crush us in this world and help us avoid that place of penance.
– The good we should have done –
Another torture for the soul in exile is viewing all the good it could have done and yet omitted, all the blessings it received from the bounty of God and which it often misused. What more could God have done for that soul? He nourished it with his Sacraments, fortified it by grace, encouraged it with good examples witnessed in others. Supported by so many gifts, it should have taken giant steps on the road to holiness and arrived like so many to a higher degree of perfection. Yet it often stopped along the way or walked at a snail’s pace. If only it had been generous, had made penance and sacrifices; if only it had accepted the inevitable hardships of life with resignation, it would have made earth its Purgatory and would have entered into the eternal kingdom with little or no purification necessary. Now instead, it must endure, through its own faults and without merit, much greater suffering and torment. Instead of the crown of glory it would have received in Heaven, it is tortured with a crown of flame in Purgatory. How painful is that realisation.
Dear souls, have we not ourselves accomplished very few good deeds? Have we prayed for the souls of our deceased loved ones? Let us make the resolution to do better in the future, with God’s help and through the intercession of our Lady.
– Example –
Gerson, the chancellor of the University of Paris, as distinguished for his virtue as for his eloquence, relates in one of his books the story of a poor mother who had been forgotten in death by her son. God allowed her to appear to her son in order to express her torment and to beg for his prayers, My son, she cried, my dear son! Think of your poor mother who is suffering so much. Consider the terrible torments, to which the Justice of God has condemned me for the sins of my mortal life. The most excruciating for me is remorse, the regret I have for having loved God so little after He had granted me so many graces. I offended such a great, just, loving God, such a tender Father, so generous a benefactor! That very thought is so painful; it kills me continuously; that gnawing worm is like a sharp dagger which pierces me without bringing about my death; it makes me weep tears of blood. Nevertheless, I am forced to beat my chest and cry out, ‘My God, you are just and equitable; if I suffer so much, it is through my own fault, my own great fault!‘ Oh my son! If you still love me, have mercy on me, tear the dagger from my chest, deliver me from this gnawing worm and open the gates of Heaven for me. I beg you, my dear child to serve God more than your poor mother did and to die with contrition in your heart! Faithful to his mother’s warning and plea, the child prayed constantly for his mother and died in holiness.
Let Us Pray
My God, give me the grace to become as holy and as perfect as you want me to be. For being neglectful, the souls in Purgatory are severely punished by regret that tear their hearts continuously. Appease their remorse, Lord, by forgiving their faults. The dagger, which pierces their heart is so painful! Oh Jesus, be their Conciliator! Call your children and our brethren into the bosom of your 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.