CHAPTER VII

Of God’s admirable wisdom in making Purgatory and Hell.

As the clean and purified spirit can find rest only in God, having been
created for this end, so there is no place save Hell for the soul in sin,
for whose end Hell was ordained by God. When the soul as it leaves the body
is in mortal sin, then, in the instant in which spirit and body are
separated, the soul goes to the place ordained for it, unguided save by the
nature of its sin. And if at that moment the soul were bound by no
ordinance proceeding from God’s justice, it would go to a yet greater hell
than that in which it abides, for it would be outside His ordinance, in
which divine mercy has part so that God gives the soul less pain than it
deserves. The soul, finding no other place to hand nor any holding less
evil for it, casts itself by God’s ordinance into Hell as into its proper
place.

To return to our matter which is the Purgatory of the soul separated from
the body when it is no longer clean as it was created. Seeing in itself the
impediment which can be taken away only by means of Purgatory, it casts
itself therein swiftly and willingly. Were there not the ordinance it thus
obeys, one fit to rid it of its encumbrance, it would in that instant beget
within itself a hell worse than Purgatory, for it would see that because of
that impediment it could not draw near to God, its end. So much does God
import that Purgatory in comparison counts not at all, for all that it is,
as has been said, like Hell. But compared to God, it appears almost
nothing.

 

CHAPTER VIII

Of the necessity of Purgatory. How terrible it is.

When I look at God, I see no gate to Paradise, and yet because God is all
mercy he who wills enters there. God stands before us with open arms to
receive us into His glory. But well I see the divine essence to be of such
purity, greater far than can be imagined, that the soul in which there is
even the least note of imperfection would rather cast itself into a
thousand Hells than find itself thus stained in the presence of the Divine
Majesty. Therefore the soul, understanding that Purgatory has been ordained
to take away those stains, casts itself therein, and seems to itself to
have found great mercy in that it can rid itself there of the impediment
which is the stain of sin.

No tongue can tell nor explain, no mind understand, the grievousness of
Purgatory. But I, though I see that there is in Purgatory as much pain as
in Hell, yet see the soul which has the least stain of imperfection
accepting Purgatory, as I have said, as though it were a mercy, and holding
its pains of no account as compared with the least stain which hinders a
soul in its love. I seem to see that the pain which souls in Purgatory
endure because of whatever in them displeases God, that is what they have
willfully done against His so great goodness, is greater than any other
pain they feel in Purgatory. And this is because, being in grace, they see
the truth and the grievousness of the hindrance which stays them from
drawing near to God.

 

CHAPTER IX

How God and the souls in Purgatory look at each other. The saint
acknowledges that in speaking of these matters she cannot
express herself.

All these things which I have surely in mind, in so much as in this life I
have been able to understand them, are, as compared with what I have said,
extreme in their greatness. Beside them, all the sights and sounds and
justice and truths of this world seem to me lies and nothingness. I am left
confused because I cannot find words extreme enough for these things.

I perceive there to be so much conformity between God and the soul that
when He sees it in the purity in which His Divine Majesty created it He
gives it a burning love, which draws it to Himself, which is strong enough
to destroy it, immortal though it be, and which causes it to be so
transformed in God that it sees itself as though it were none other than
God. Unceasingly He draws it to Himself and breathes fire into it, never
letting it go until He has led it to the state whence it came forth, that
is to the pure cleanliness in which it was created.

When with its inner sight the soul sees itself drawn by God with such
loving fire, then it is melted by the heat of the glowing love for God, its
most dear Lord, which it feels overflowing it. And it sees by the divine
light that God does not cease from drawing it, nor from leading it,
lovingly and with much care and unfailing foresight, to its full
perfection, doing this of His pure love. But the soul, being hindered by
sin, cannot go whither God draws it; it cannot follow the uniting look with
which He would draw it to Himself. Again the soul perceives the
grievousness of being held back from seeing the divine light; the soul’s
instinct too, being drawn by that uniting look, craves to be unhindered. I
say that it is the sight of these things which begets in the souls the pain
they feel in Purgatory. Not that they make account of their pain; most
great though it be, they deem it a far less evil than to find themselves
going against the will of God, whom they clearly see to be on fire with
extreme and pure love for them.

Strongly and unceasingly this love draws the soul with that uniting look,
as though it had nought else than this to do. Could the soul who understood
find a worse Purgatory in which to rid itself sooner of all the hindrance
in its. way, it would swiftly fling itself therein, driven by the
conforming love between itself and God.

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