Torments of Purgatory: Duration of suffering for the souls in Purgatory

– What is the duration? –

The Church has not defined anything specific as to the duration of the suffering in Purgatory, but it clearly demonstrates what it believes by celebrating anniversary Masses, for the souls of the deceased. It thus believes that the atonement can be long even lasting for centuries. It is also the belief of the Holy Pontiffs.

Cardinal Bellarmin said that the duration could last until judgement day for some souls if the Church did not intervene. Alas! There are souls who have been languishing in Purgatory for many years.

Who can tell us the length of time and the suffering we will have to endure for our sins so as to remove the stain which sin leaves behind on our souls? How long will it take to purify it, that it may shine with the beauty of Angels?

Oh fathomless mystery of the Judgement of God! 

Oh how greatly does that duration add to the rigours of this suffering! Suffering horribly and for so long! To wait! To wait indefinitely! What pain, what martyrdom for those souls! The intensity of their suffering makes the duration seem even longer.

Lord, alleviate their suffering, ease the intensity of the flame, which our brothers, our sisters and our friends must endure, especially those who will have to remain the longest in that place of atonement.

– What are the causes? –

Let us not be surprised by the terrible duration of the torment in Purgatory. One of the most holy Sisters of the Visitation, Sister Marie-Denise, according to all historians was the recipient of extraordinary graces for the relief of the deceased, noted that many things inevitably affected the duration of the atonement:

  1. The perfect purity of a soul before it can possess God.
  2. The multitude of our venial sins.
  3. The little contrition we express and the little penance we make for our confessed sins.
  4. The absolute inability for souls to relieve their own suffering.
  5. The abandonment, the strange abandonment of the dead, our guilty neglect of their plight: these reflections are serious and unfortunately they are so true.

So as of now, let us not be too hasty in canonising our poor deceased! We need so much to believe that they are in the kingdom of beatitude and peace that we are anxious to convince ourselves that they have already arrived. Thus we stop praying for them.

See how the saints thought and behaved so differently. They prayed their whole life long for those who had preceded them in death. Let us do the same.

We could not keep a fingertip in the flame of Purgatory for a minute without uttering screams of agony. How could we allow through our own neglect the souls of those whom we loved so much to be plunged into the fire of Purgatory for years and years? That would be too cruel!

Beloved souls, we will never forget you. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, help us to pray!

– Example –

A man who had been imprisoned for years petitioned a rich and powerful woman. She had the necessary wealth and influence to deliver the man and to put an end to his suffering. This is what he wrote to this woman, Madame, on October 25th of this year, 1760, I will have been suffering in this prison for 100,000 hours and I will have yet another 200,000 hours to endure. I beg you madam to have pity on one whose suffering is so long and painful!

Was the heart of that woman touched by such eloquence? I don’t know. But it seems to me that little more could be added in so few words, I have been suffering for 100,000 hours and I have yet to face another 200,000 hours! He had counted the hours!

In a French monastery, two priests who had a great zeal for the suffering of the poor souls in Purgatory made a solemn promise to each other: they would celebrate their morning Mass for the first one who died.

One of the priests died. The following morning, his colleague celebrated his morning Mass for him. During his prayers of thanksgiving at the end of the Mass, he saw his friend appear before him shining in glory… The glorious soul then took on a more somber look and said to his friend, My brother, where is your faith? You do not deserve God’s pity on your soul! You left me in Purgatory for over a year before celebrating the Mass we had promised each other?

The priest answered in shock, What are you saying? Your body has not yet been buried! You left this world only a few hours ago and I have just finished celebrating the Mass I had promised…

The soul of the deceased monk then sighed, Oh how terrible is the suffering in Purgatory. I am now flying to heaven where I will implore God to grant you what you did for me because that Mass was needed for my release from Purgatory.

That is how the souls in Purgatory calculate the duration of their suffering. It is not by hours or by days that they are numbered but by years and centuries and those years seem to be an eternity for them. My Lord, forgive me and have mercy upon me. Through the merits of your Holy Passion, deliver the souls in Purgatory!

Let Us Pray

I fall at your feet, oh my God, seized with fright at the thought of the terrible torments, so long and intense, endured by the souls in Purgatory! Full of compassion for those unfortunate prisoners, I beg you in the name of Jesus Christ to look upon them with mercy and to put an end to their martyrdom. Oh Mary, sweet consolation of the afflicted, be their Conciliator! Deliver your children from captivity! May they rest in peace by your side in Heaven!

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.