The state of souls
in purgatory. They are exempt from all self-love.
This holy soul, while still in the flesh, was placed in the purgatory
of the burning love of God, in whose flames she was purified from
every stain, so that when she passed from this life she might be ready
to enter the presence of God, her most sweet love. By means of that
flame of love she comprehended in her own soul the condition of the
souls of the faithful in purgatory, where they are purified from the
rust and stain of sins, from which they have not been cleansed in this
world. And as in the purgatory of that divine flame she was united
with the divine love and satisfied with all that was accomplished in
her, she was enabled to comprehend the state of the souls in
purgatory, and thus discovered concerning it:
"As far as I can see, the souls in purgatory can have no choice but to
be there; this God has most justly ordained by his divine decree. They
cannot turn towards themselves and say: `I have committed such and
such sins for which I deserve to remain here;' nor can they say:
`Would that I had refrained from them, for then I should at this
moment be in paradise;' nor again: `This soul will be released before
me;' or `I shall be released before her.' They retain no memory of
either good or evil respecting themselves or others which would
increase their pain. They are so contented with the divine
dispositions in their regard; and with doing all that is pleasing to
God in that way which he chooses, that they cannot think of
themselves, though they may strive to do so. They see nothing but the
operation of the divine goodness which is so manifestly bringing them
to God that they can reflect neither on their own profit nor on their
hurt. Could they do so, they would not be in pure charity. They see
not that they suffer their pains in consequence of their sins, nor can
they for a moment entertain that thought, for should they do so it
would be an active imperfection, and that cannot exist in a state
where there is no longer the possibility of sin. At the moment of
leaving this life they see why they are sent to purgatory, but never
again, otherwise they would still retain something private, which has
no place there. Being established in charity, they can never deviate
therefrom by any defect, and have no will or desire, save the pure
will of pure love, and can swerve from it in nothing. They can neither
commit sin, nor merit by refraining from it.
The joy of souls in
purgatory. The saint illustrates their ever increasing vision of God.
The difficulty of speaking about their state.
"There is no peace to be compared with that of the souls in purgatory,
save that of the saints in paradise, and this peace is ever augmented
by the inflowing of God into these souls, which increases in
proportion as the impediments to it are removed. The rust of sin is
the impediment, and this the fire continually consumes, so that the
soul in this state is continually opening itself to admit the divine
communication. As a covered surface can never reflect the sun, not
through any defect in that orb, but simply from the resistance offered
by the covering, so, if the covering be gradually removed, the surface
will by little and little be opened to the sun and will more and more
reflect his light.
"So it is with the rust of sin, which is the covering of the soul. In
purgatory the flames incessantly consume it, and as it disappears, the
soul reflects more and more perfectly the true sun who is God. Its
contentment increases as this rust wears away, and the soul is laid
bare to the divine ray, and thus one increases and the other decreases
until the time is accomplished. The pain never diminishes, although
the time does, but as to the will, so united is it to God by pure
charity, and so satisfied to be under his divine appointment, that
these souls can never say their pains are pains.
"On the other hand, it is true that they suffer torments which no
tongue can describe nor any intelligence comprehend, unless it be
revealed by such a special grace as that which God has vouchsafed to
me, but which I am unable to explain. And this vision which God
revealed to me has never departed from my memory. I will describe it
as far as I am able, and they whose intellects our Lord will deign to
open will understand me.
Separation from God
is the greatest pain of purgatory. In this, purgatory differs from
"The source of all suffering is either original or actual sin. God
created the soul pure, simple, free from every stain, and with a
certain beatific instinct toward himself. It is drawn aside from aim
by original sin, and when actual sin is afterwards added, this
withdraws it still farther, and ever as it removes from him its
sinfulness increases because its communication with God grows less and
"And because there is no good except by participation with God, who,
to the irrational creatures imparts himself as he wills and in
accordance with his divine decree, and never withdraws from them, but
to the rational soul he imparts himself more or less, according as he
finds her more or less freed from the hindrances of sin, it follows
that, when he finds a soul that is returning to the purity and
simplicity in which she was created, he increased in her the beatific
instinct, and kindles in her a fire of charity so powerful and
vehement, that it is insupportable to the soul to find any obstacle
between her and her end; and the clearer vision she has of these
obstacles the greater is her pain.
"Since the souls in purgatory are freed from the guilt of sin, there
is no barrier between them and God save only the pains they suffer,
which delay the satisfaction of their desire. And when they see how
serious is even the slightest hindrance, which the necessity of
justice causes to check them, a vehement flame kindles within them,
which is like that of hell. They feel no guilt however, and it is
guilt which is the cause of the malignant will of the condemned in
hell, to whom God does not communicate his goodness, and thus they
remain in despair and with a will forever opposed to the good will of
between the state of the souls in hell and that of those in purgatory.
Reflections of the saint upon those who neglect their salvation.
"It is evident that the revolt of man's will from that of God
constitutes sin, and while that revolt continues, man's guilt remains.
Those, therefore, that are in hell, having passed from this life with
perverse wills, their guilt is not remitted, nor can it be, since they
are no longer capable of change. When this life is ended, the soul
remains forever confirmed either in good or evil according as she has
here determined. As it is written: Where I shall find thee,
that is, at the hour of death, with the will either fixed on sin or
repenting of it, there I will judge thee. From this judgment
there is no appeal, for after death the freedom of the will can never
return, but the will is confirmed in that state in which it is found
at death. The souls in hell, having been found at that hour with the
will to sin, have the guilt and the punishment always with them, and
although this punishment is not so great as they deserve, yet it is
eternal. Those in purgatory, on the other hand, suffer the penalty
only, for their guilt was cancelled at death, when they were found
hating their sins and penitent for having offended the divine
goodness. And this penalty has an end, for the term of it is ever
approaching. O misery beyond all misery, and the greater because in
his blindness man regards it not!
"The punishment of the damned is not, it is true, infinite in degree,
for the all lovely goodness of God shines even into hell. He who dies
in mortal sin merits infinite woe for an infinite duration; but the
mercy of God has made the time only infinite, and mitigated the
intensity of the pain. In justice he might have inflicted much greater
punishment than he has done.
"Oh, what peril attaches to sin willfully committed! For it is so
difficult for man to bring himself to penance, and without penitence
guilt remains and will ever remain, so long as man retains unchanged
the will to sin, or is intent upon committing it.
Of the peace and joy which
are found in purgatory
"The souls in purgatory are entirely conformed to the will of God;
therefore, they correspond with his goodness, are contented with all
that he ordains, and are entirely purified from the guilt of their
sins. They are pure from sins, because they have in this life abhorred
them and confessed them with true contrition, and for this reason God
remits their guilt, so that only the stains of sin remain, and these
must be devoured by the fire. Thus freed from guilt and united to the
will of God, they see him clearly according to that degree of light
which he allows them, and comprehend how great a good is the fruition
of God, for which all souls were created. Moreover, these souls are in
such close conformity to God, and are drawn so powerfully toward him
by reason of the natural attraction between him and the soul, that no
illustration or comparison could make this impetuosity understood in
the way in which my spirit conceives it by its interior sense.
Nevertheless I will use one which occurs to me.
A comparison to
express with how great violence of love the souls in purgatory desire
to enjoy God.
"Let us suppose that in the whole world there were but one loaf to
appease the hunger of every creature, and that the bare sight of it
would satisfy them. Now man, when in health, has by nature the
instinct for food, but if we can suppose him to abstain from it and
neither die nor yet lose health and strength, his hunger would clearly
become increasingly urgent. In this case, if he knew that nothing but
the loaf would satisfy him, and that until he reached it his hunger
could not be appeased, he would suffer intolerable pains, which would
increase as his distance from the loaf diminished; but if he were sure
that he would never see it, his hell would be as complete as that of
the damned souls, who, hungering after God, have no hope of ever
seeing the bread of life. But the souls in purgatory have an assured
hope of seeing him and of being entirely satisfied; and therefore they
endure all hunger and suffer all pain until that moment when they
enter into eternal possession of this bread, which is Jesus Christ,
our Lord, our Saviour, and our Love.
Of the marvelous
wisdom of God in the creation of purgatory and of hell.
"As the purified spirit finds no repose but in God, for whom it was
created, so the soul in sin can rest nowhere but in hell, which by,
reason of its sins, has become its end. Therefore, at that instant in
which the soul separates from the body, it goes to its prescribed
place, needing no other guide than the nature of the sin itself, if
the soul has parted from the body in mortal sin. And if the soul were
hindered from obeying that decree (proceeding from the justice of
God), it would find itself in a yet deeper hell, for it would be
outside of the divine order, in which mercy always finds place and
prevents the full infliction of all the pains the soul has merited.
Finding, therefore, no spot more fitting, nor any in which her pains
would be so slight, she casts herself into her appointed place.
"The same thing is true of purgatory: the soul, leaving the body, and
not finding in herself that purity in which she was created, and
seeing also the hindrances which prevent her union with God, conscious
also that purgatory only can remove them, casts herself quickly and
willingly therein. And if she did not find the means ordained for her
purification, she would instantly create for herself a hell worse than
purgatory, seeing that by reason of this impediment she is hindered
from approaching her end, which is God; and this is so great an ill
that in comparison with it the soul esteems purgatory as nothing. True
it is, as I have said, like hell; and yet, in comparison with the loss
of God it is as nothing.
Of the necessity of
purgatory, and of its terrific character
"I will say furthermore: I see that as far as God is concerned,
paradise has no gates, but he who will may enter. For God is all
mercy, and his open arms are ever extended to receive us into his
glory. But I see that the divine essence is so pure - purer than the
imagination can conceive--that the soul, finding in itself the
slightest imperfection, would rather cast itself into a thousand hells
than appear, so stained, in the presence of the divine majesty.
Knowing, then, that purgatory was intended for her cleaning, she
throws herself therein, and finds there that great mercy, the removal
of her stains.
"The great importance of purgatory, neither mind can conceive nor
tongue describe. I see only that its pains are as great as those of
hell; and yet I see that a soul, stained with the slightest fault,
receiving this mercy, counts its pains as naught in comparison with
this hindrance to her love. And I know that the greatest misery of the
souls in purgatory is to behold in themselves aught that displeases
God, and to discover that, in spite of his goodness, they had
consented to it. And this is because, being in the state of grace,
they see the reality and the importance of the impediments which
hinder their approach to God.
How God and the
soul reciprocally regard each other in purgatory. The saint confesses
that she has no words to express these things.
"All these things that I have said, in comparison with those which
have been represented to my mind (as far as I have been able to
comprehend them in this life), are of such magnitude that every idea,
every word, every feeling, every imagination, all the justice and all
the truth that can be said of them, seem false and worthless, and I
remain confounded at the impossibility of finding words to describe
"I behold such a great conformity between God and the soul, that when
he finds her pure as when his divine majesty first created her he
gives her an attractive force of ardent love which would annihilate
her if she were not immortal. He so transforms her into himself that,
forgetting all, she no longer sees aught beside him; and he continues
to draw her toward him, inflames her with love, and never leaves her
until he has brought her to that state from whence she first came
forth, that is, to the perfect purity in which she was created.
"When the soul beholds within herself the amorous flame by which she
is drawn toward her sweet Master and her God, the burning heat of love
overpowers her and she melts. Then, in that divine light she sees how
God, by his great care and constant providence, never ceases to
attract her to her last perfection, and that he does so through pure
love alone. She sees, too, that she herself, clogged by sin, cannot
follow that attraction toward God, that is, that reconciling glance
which he casts upon her that he may draw her to himself. Moreover, a
comprehension of that great misery, which it is to be hindered from
gazing upon the light of God, is added to the instinctive desire of
the soul to be wholly free to yield herself to that unifying flame. I
repeat, it is the view of all these things which causes the pain of
the suffering souls in purgatory, not that they esteem their pains as
great (cruel thought they be), but they count as far worse that
opposition which they find in themselves to the will of that God whom
they behold burning for them with so ardent and so pure a love.
"This love, with its unifying regard, is ever drawing these souls, as
if it had no other thing to do; and when the soul beholds this, if she
could find a yet more painful purgatory in which she could be more
quickly cleansed, she would plunge at once therein, impelled by the
burning, mutual love between herself and God.
How God makes use
of purgatory to complete the purification of the soul. That she
acquires therein a purity so great that if she were yet to remain
after her purification she would cease to suffer.
"From that furnace of divine love I see rays of fire dart like burning
lamps towards the soul; and so violent and powerful are they that both
soul and body would be utterly destroyed, if that were possible. These
rays perform a double office; they purify and they annihilate.
"Consider gold: the oftener it is melted, the more pure does it
become; continue to melt it and every imperfection is destroyed. This
is the effect of fire on all materials. The soul, however, cannot be
annihilated in God, but in herself she can, and the longer her
purification lasts, the more perfectly does she die to herself, until
at length she remains purified in God.
"When gold has been completely freed from dross, no fire, however
great, has any further action on it, for nothing but its imperfections
can be consumed. So it is with the divine fire in the soul. God
retains her in these flames until every stain is burned away, and she
is brought to the highest perfection of which she is capable, each
soul in her own degree. And when this is accomplished, she rests
wholly in God. Nothing of herself remains, and God is her entire
being. When he has thus led her to himself and purified her, she is no
longer passable, for nothing remains to be consumed. If when thus
refined she should again approach the fire she would feel no pain, for
to her it has become the fire of divine love, which is life eternal
and which nothing mars.
The desire of souls
in purgatory to be purified from every stain of sin. The wisdom of God
in veiling from them their defects.
"At her creation the soul received all the means of attaining
perfection of which her nature was capable, in order that she might
conform to the will of God and keep herself from contracting any
stain; but being directly contaminated by original sin she loses her
gifts and graces and even her life. Nor can she be regenerated save by
the help of God, for even after baptism her inclination to evil
remains, which, if she does not resist it, disposes and leads her to
mortal sin, through which she dies anew.
"God again restores her by a further special grace; yet, she is still
so sullied and so bent on herself, that to restore her to her
primitive innocence, all those divine operations which I have
described are needful, and without them she could never be restored.
When the soul has reentered the path which leads to her first estate,
she is inflamed with so burning a desire to be transformed into God,
that in it she finds her purgatory. Not, indeed, that she regards her
purgatory as being such, but this desire, so fiery and so powerfully
repressed, becomes her purgatory.
"This final act of love accomplishes its work alone, finding the soul
with so many hidden imperfections, that the mere sight of them, were
it presented to her, would drive her to despair. This last operation,
however, consumes them all, and when they are destroyed God makes them
known to the soul to make her understand the divine action by which
her purity was restored.
How joy and
suffering are united in purgatory
"That which man judges to be perfect, in the sight of God is defect.
For all the works of man, which appear faultless when he considers
them feels, remembers, wills and understands them, are, if he does not
refer them to God, corrupt and sinful. For, to the perfection of our
works it is necessary that they be wrought in us but not of us. In the
works of God it is he that is the prime mover, and not man.
"These works, which God effects in the soul by himself alone, which
are the last operations of pure and simple love in which we have no
merit, so pierce and inflame the soul that the body which envelops her
seems to be hiding a fire, or like one in a furnace, who can find no
rest but death. It is true that the divine love which overwhelms the
soul gives, as I think, a peace greater than can be expressed; yet
this peace does not in the least diminish her pains, nay, it is love
delayed which occasions them, and they are greater in proportion to
the perfection of the love of which God has made her capable.
"Thus have these souls in purgatory great pleasure and great pain; nor
does the one impede the other.
The souls in
purgatory are not in a state to merit. How they regard the suffrages
offered for them in this world.
"If by repentance the souls in purgatory could purify themselves, a
moment would suffice to cancel their whole debt, so overwhelming would
be the force of the contrition produced by the clear vision they have
of the magnitude of every obstacle which hinders them from God, their
love and their final end.
"And, know for certain that not one farthing of their debt is remitted
to these souls. This is the decree of divine justice; it is thus that
God wills. But, on the other hand, these souls have no longer any will
apart from that of God, and can neither see nor desire aught but by
"And if pious offerings be made for them by persons in this world,
they cannot now note them with satisfaction, unless, indeed, in
reference to the will of God and the balance of his justice, leaving
to him the ordering of the whole, who repays himself as best pleases
his infinite goodness. Could they regard these
alms apart from
the divine will concerning them, this would be a return to self, which
would shut from their view the will of God, and that would be to them
like hell. Therefore they are unmoved by whatever God gives them,
whether it be pleasure or pain, nor can they ever again revert to
Of the submission
of the souls in purgatory to the will of God
"So hidden and transformed in God are they, that they rest content
with all his holy will. And if a soul, retaining the slightest stain,
were to draw near to God in the beatific vision, it would be to her a
more grievous injury, and inflict more suffering, than purgatory
itself. Nor could God himself, who is pure goodness and supreme
justice, and the sight of God, not yet entirely satisfied (so long as
the least possible purification remained to be accomplished) would be
intolerable to her, and she would cast herself into the deepest hell
rather than stand before him and be still impure."
Reproaches of the
soul in purgatory to persons in this world
And thus this blessed Soul, illuminated by the divine ray, said:
"Would that I could utter so strong a cry that it would strike all men
with terror, and say to them: O wretched beings! why are you so
blinded by this world that you make, as you will find at the hour of
death, no provision for the great necessity that will then come upon
"You shelter yourselves beneath your hope in the mercy of God, which
you unceasingly exalt, not seeing that it is your resistance to his
great goodness which will be your condemnation. His goodness should
constrain you to his will, not encourage you to persevere in your own.
Since his justice is unfailing it must needs be in some way fully
"Have not the boldness to say: `I will go to confession and gain a
plenary indulgence and thus I shall be saved.' Remember that the full
confession and entire contrition which are requisite to gain a plenary
indulgence are not easily attained. Did you know how hardly they are
come by, you would tremble with fear and be more sure of losing than
of gaining them.
Showing that the
sufferings of the souls in purgatory do not prevent their peace and
"I see that the souls in purgatory behold a double operation. The
first is that of the mercy of God; for while they suffer their
torments willingly, they perceive that God has been very good to them,
considering what they have deserved and how great are their offences
in his eyes. For if his goodness did not temper justice with mercy
(satisfying it with the precious blood of Jesus Christ), one sin alone
would deserve a thousand hells. They suffer their pains so willingly
that they would not lighten them in the least, knowing how justly they
have been deserved. They resist the will of God no more than if they
had already entered upon eternal life.
"The other operation is that satisfaction they experience in beholding
how loving and merciful have been the divine decrees in all that
regards them. In one instant God impresses these two things upon their
minds, and as they are in grace they comprehend them as they are, yet
each according to her capacity. They experience thence a great and
never-failing satisfaction which constantly increases as they approach
to God. They see all things, not in themselves nor by themselves, but
as they are in God, on whom they are more intent than on their
sufferings. For the least vision they can have of God overbalances all
woes and all joys that can be conceived. Yet their joy in God does by
no means abate their pain.
with an application of all that has been said concerning the souls in
purgatory to what the saint experiences in her own soul.
"This process of purification to which I see the souls in purgatory
subjected, I feel within myself, and have experienced it for the last
two years. Every day I see and feel it more clearly. My soul seems to
live in this body as in a purgatory which resembles the true
purgatory, with only the difference that my soul is subjected to only
so much suffering as the body can endure without dying, but which will
continually and gradually increase until death.
"I feel my spirit alienated from all things (even spiritual ones) that
might afford it nourishment or give it consolation. I have no relish
for either temporal or spiritual goods through the will, the
understanding, or the memory, nor can I say that I take greater
satisfaction in this thing than in that.
"I have been so besieged interiorly, that all things which refreshed
my spiritual or my bodily life have been gradually taken from me, and
as they departed, I learned that they were all sources of consolation
and support. Yet, as soon as they were discovered by the spirit they
became tasteless and hateful; they vanish and I care not to prevent
it. This is because the spirit instinctively endeavors to rid itself
of every hindrance to its perfection, and so resolutely that it would
rather go to hell than fail in its purpose. It persists, therefore, in
casting off all things by which the inner man might nourish himself,
and so jealously guards him, that no slightest imperfection can creep
in without being instantly detected and expelled.
"As for the outward man, for the reason that the spirit has no
correspondence with it, it is so oppressed that nothing on earth can
give it comfort according to its human inclinations. No consolation
remains to it but God, who, with great love and mercy accomplishes
this work for the satisfaction of his justice. I perceive all this,
and it gives me a great peace and satisfaction; but this satisfaction
does by no means diminish my oppression or my pain. Nor could there
possibly befall me a pain so great, that it could move me to swerve
from the divine ordination, or leave my prison, or wish to leave it
until God is satisfied, nor could I experience any woe so great as
would be an escape from his divine decree, so merciful and so full of
justice do I find it.
"I see these things clearly, but words fail me to describe them as I
wish. What I have described is going on within my spirit, and
therefore I have said it. The prison which detains me is the world; my
chains, the body; the soul, illuminated by grace, comprehends how
great a misery it is to be hindered from her final end, and she
suffers greatly because she is very tender. She receives from God, by
his grace, a certain dignity which assimilates her to him, nay, which
makes her one with him by the participation of his goodness. And as it
is impossible for God to suffer any pain, it is so also with those
happy souls who are drawing nearer to him. The more closely they
approach him the more fully do they share in his perfections.
"Any delay, then, causes the soul intolerable pain. The pain and the
delay prevent the full action both of what is hers by nature, and of
that which has been revealed to her by grace; and, not able as yet to
possess and still essentially capable of possessing, her pain is great
in proportion to her desire of God. The more perfectly she knows him,
the more ardent is her desire, and the more sinless is she. The
impediments that bar her from him become all the more terrible to her,
because she is so wholly bent on him, and when not one of these is
left she knows him as he is.
"As a man who suffers death rather than offend God does not become
insensible to the pains of death, but is so illuminated by God that
his zeal for the divine honor is greater than his love for life, so
the soul, knowing the will of God, esteems it more than all outward or
inward torments, however terrible; and this for the reason that God,
for whom and by whom the work is done, is infinitely more desirable
than all else that can be known or understood. And inasmuch as God
keeps the soul absorbed in himself and in his majesty, even though it
be only in a slight degree, yet she can attach no importance to
anything beside. She loses in him all that is her own, and can neither
see nor speak, nor yet be conscious of any injury or pain she suffers,
but as I have said before it is all understood in one moment as she
passes from this life. And finally, to conclude all, understand well,
that in the almighty and merciful God, all that is in man is wholly
transformed, and that purgatory purifies him."