CHAPTER XIII

The souls in Purgatory are no longer in a state to acquire
merit. How these souls look on the charity exercised for them in
the world.

If the souls in Purgatory could purge themselves by contrition, they would
pay all their debt in one instant such blazing vehemence would their
contrition have in the clear light shed for them on the grievousness of
being hindered from reaching their end and the love of God.

Know surely that not the least farthing of payment is remitted to those
souls, for thus has it been determined by God’s justice. So much for what
God does as for what the souls do, they can no longer choose for
themselves, nor can they see or will, save as God wills, for thus has it
been determined for them.

And if any alms be done them by those who are in the world to lessen the
time of their pain, they cannot turn with affection to contemplate the
deed, saving as it is weighed in the most just scales of the divine will.
They leave all in God’s hands who pays Himself as His infinite goodness
pleases. If they could turn to contemplate the alms except as it is within
the divine will, there would be self in what they did and they would lose
sight of God’s will, which would make a Hell for them. Therefore they await
immovably all that God gives them, whether pleasure and happiness or pain,
and never more can they turn their eyes back to themselves.

 

CHAPTER XIV

Of the submission of the souls in Purgatory to God’s will.

So intimate with God are the souls in Purgatory and so changed to His will,
that in all things they are content with His most holy ordinance. And if a
soul were brought to see God when it had still a trifle of which to purge
itself, a great injury would be done it. For since pure love and supreme
justice could not brook that stained soul, and to bear with its presence
would not befit God, it would suffer a torment worse than ten purgatories.
To see God when full satisfaction had not yet been made Him, even if the
time of purgation lacked but the twinkling of an eye, would be unbearable
to that soul. It would sooner go to a thousand hells, to rid itself of the
little rust still clinging to it, than stand in the divine presence when it
was not yet wholly cleansed.

 

CHAPTER XV

Reproaches which the souls in Purgatory make to people in the
world.

And so that blessed[1] soul, seeing the aforesaid things by the divine light,
said: “I would fain send up a cry so loud that it would put fear in all men
on the earth. I would say to them: ‘Wretches, why do you let yourselves be
thus blinded by the world, you whose need is so great and grievous, as you
will know at the moment of death, and who make no provision for it
whatsoever?’

“You have all taken shelter beneath hope in God’s mercy, which is, you say,
very great, but you see not that this great goodness of God will judge you
for having gone against the will of so good a Lord. His goodness should
constrain you to do all His will, not give you hope in ill-doing, for His
justice cannot fail but in one way or another must needs be fully
satisfied.

“Cease to hug yourselves, saying: ‘I will confess my sins and then receive
plenary indulgence, and at that moment I shall be purged of all my sins and
thus shall be saved.’ Think of the confession and the contrition needed for
that plenary indulgence, so hardly come by that, if you knew, you would
tremble in great fear, more sure you would never win it than that you ever
could.”

 

ENDNOTES

1. This epithet, and perhaps all this sentence down to “said”,
have probably been added by an editor.

 

CHAPTER XVI

This Soul shews again how the sufferings of the souls in
Purgatory are no hindrance at all to their peace and their joy.

I see the souls suffer the pains of Purgatory having before their eyes two
works of God.

First, they see themselves suffering pain willingly, and as they consider
their own deserts and acknowledge how they have grieved God, it seems to
them that He has shewn them great mercy, for if His goodness had not
tempered justice with mercy, making satisfaction with the precious blood of
Jesus Christ, one sin would deserve a thousand perpetual hells. And
therefore the souls suffer pain willingly, and would not lighten it by one
pang, knowing that they most fully deserve it and that it has been well
ordained, and they no more complain of God, as far as their will goes, than
if they were in eternal life.

The second work they see is the happiness they feel as they contemplate
God’s ordinance and the love and mercy with which He works on the soul.

In one instant God imprints these two sights on their minds, and because
they are in grace they are aware of these sights and understand them as
they are, in the measure of their capacity. Thus a great happiness is
granted them which never fails; rather it grows as they draw nearer God.
These souls see these sights neither in nor of themselves but in God, on
whom they are far more intent than on the pains they suffer, and of whom
they make far greater account, beyond all comparison, than of their pains.
For every glimpse which can be had of God exceeds any pain or joy a man can
feel. Albeit, however, it exceeds the pain and joy of these souls, it
lessens them by not a tittle.

 

CHAPTER XVII

She concludes by applying all she has said of the souls in
Purgatory to what she feels, and has proved in her own soul.

This form of purgation, which I see in the souls in Purgatory, I feel in my
own mind. In the last two years I have felt it most; every day I feel and
see it more clearly. I see my soul within this body as in a purgatory,
formed as is the true Purgatory and like it, but so measured that the body
can bear with it and not die little by little it grows until the body die.

I see my spirit estranged from all things, even things spiritual, which can
feed it, such as gaiety, delight and consolation, and without the power so
to enjoy anything, spiritual or temporal, by will or mind or memory, as to
let me say one thing contents me more than another.

Inwardly I find myself as it were besieged. All things by which spiritual
or bodily life is refreshed have, little by little, been taken from my
inner self, which knows, now they are gone, that they fed and comforted.
But so hateful and abhorrent are these things, as they are known to the
spirit, that they all go never to return. This is because of the spirit’s
instinct to rid itself of whatever hinders its perfection; so ruthless is
it that to fulfill its purpose it would all but cast itself into Hell.
Therefore it ever deprives the inner man of all on which it can feed,
besieging it so cunningly that it lets not the least atom of imperfection
pass unseen and unabhorred.

As for my outer man, it too, since the spirit does not respond to it, is so
besieged that it finds nothing to refresh it on the earth if it follow its
human instinct. No comfort is left it save God, who works all this by love
and very mercifully in satisfaction of His justice. To perceive this gives
my outer man great peace and happiness, but happiness which neither lessens
my pain nor weakens the siege. Yet no pain could ever be inflicted on me so
great that I would wish to depart from the divine ordinance. I neither
leave my prison nor seek to go forth from it: let God do what is needed! My
happiness is that God be satisfied, nor could I suffer a worse pain than
that of going outside God’s ordinance, so just I see Him to be and so very
merciful.

All these things of which I have spoken are what I see and, as it were,
touch, but I cannot find fit words to say as much as I would of them. Nor
can I say rightly what I have told of the work done in me, which I have
felt spiritually. I have told it however.

The prison in which I seem to myself to be is the world, my chains the
body, and it is my soul enlightened by grace which knows the grievousness
of being held down or kept back and thus hindered from pursuing its end.
This gives my soul great pain for it is very tender. By God’s grace it
receives a certain dignity which makes it like unto God; nay, rather He
lets it share His goodness so that it becomes one with Him. And since it is
impossible that God suffer pain, this immunity too befalls the souls who
draw near Him; the nearer they come to Him, the more they partake of what
is His.

Therefore to be hindered on its way, as it is, causes the soul unbearable
pain. The pain and the hindrance wrest it from its first natural state,
which by grace is revealed to it, and finding itself deprived of what it is
able to receive, it suffers a pain more or less great according to the
measure of its esteem for God. The more the soul knows God, the more it
esteems Him and the more sinless it becomes, so that the hindrance in its
way grows yet more terrible to it, above all because the soul which is
unhindered and wholly recollected in God knows Him as He truly is.

As the man who would let himself be killed rather than offend God feels
death and its pain, but is given by the light of God a zeal which causes
him to rate divine honor above bodily death, so the soul who knows God’s
ordinance rates it above all possible inner and outer torments, terrible
though they may be, for this is a work of God who surpasses all that can be
felt or imagined. Moreover God when He occupies a soul, in however small a
degree, keeps it wholly busied over His Majesty so that nothing else counts
for it. Thus it loses all which is its own, and can of itself neither see
nor speak nor know loss or pain. But, as I have already said clearly, it
knows all in one instant when it leaves this life.

Finally and in conclusion, let us understand that God who is best and
greatest causes all that is of man to be lost, and that Purgatory cleanses
it away.

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