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Purgatory – God’s Mercy

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Our Lady of the Rosary Library



Relief of the Holy Souls — For whom are we to Pray? — Great Sinners —
Father Ravignan and General Exelmans — The Widow in Mourning and the
Venerable Cure d Ars — St. Catherine of St. Augustine and the Sinner Dead
in a Grotto


Taken from the book “Purgatory Explained” by Fr. Schouppe, S.J. – Part II,
Chapter XXXIII (TAN Books).

Father Ravignan, an illustrious and holy preacher of the Society of Jesus,
also cherished great hope for the welfare of sinners carried away by a
sudden death,

when otherwise they had borne no hatred in the heart for the
things of God.

He lived to speak of the supreme moment, and it seems to
have been his opinion that many sinners are converted in their last
moments, and are reconciled to God without being able to give any exterior
sign thereof. In certain deaths there are mysteries of Mercy where the eye
of man sees nothing but strokes of Justice.

As a last glimmer of light, God
sometimes reveals Himself to those souls whose greatest misfortune has been
to ignore Him ; and the last sigh,

understood by Him who penetrates hearts,
may be a groan that calls for pardon ; that is to say, an act of perfect
contrition. General Exelmans, a relative of this good father, was suddenly
carried to the tomb by an accident,

and unfortunately he had not been
faithful in the practice of his religion. He had promised that he would one
day make his confession, but had not had the opportunity to do so. Father
Ravignan, who, for a long time had prayed and procured prayers for him, was
filled with consternation when he heard of such a death. The same day, a
person accustomed to receive supernatural communications thought he heard
an interior voice, which said to him,

“Who then knows the extent of God’s
mercy? Who knows the depth of the ocean, or how much water is contained
therein? Much will be forgiven to those who have sinned through ignorance.”

The biographer from whom we borrow this incident, Father de Ponlevoy, goes
on to say, “Christians, placed under the law of Hope no less than under the
law of Faith and Charity, we must continually lift ourselves up from the
depths of our sufferings to the thought of the infinite goodness of God. No
limit to the grace of God is placed here below;

while there remains a spark
of life there is nothing which it cannot effect in the soul. Therefore we
must ever hope and petition God with humble persistency. We know not to
what a degree we may be heard.

Great saints and doctors have gone to great
lengths in extolling the powerful efficacy of prayer for the dear departed,
how unhappy soever their end may have been. We shall one day know the
unspeakable marvels of Divine Mercy. We should never cease to implore it
with the greatest confidence.”

The following is an incident which our readers may have seen in the Petit
Messager du Coeur de Marie, November 1880. A Religious, preaching a mission
to the ladies at Nancy, had reminded them in a conference that we must
never despair of the salvation of a soul,

and that sometimes actions of the
least importance in the eyes of man are rewarded by God at the hour of
death. When he was about to leave the church, a lady dressed in mourning
approached him and said, “Father, you just recommended to us confidence and
hope; what has just happened to me fully justifies your words. I had a
husband who was most kind and affectionate,

and who although otherwise
leading an irreproachable life, entirely neglected the practice of his
religion. My prayers and exhortations remained without effect. During the
month of May which preceded his death, I had erected in my room, as I was
accustomed to do, a little altar of the Blessed virgin, and decorated it
with flowers, which I renewed from time to time.

My husband passed the
Sunday in the country, and each time he returned he brought me some
flowers, which he himself had plucked, and with these I used to adorn my
oratory. Did he notice this? Did he do this to give me pleasure, or was it
through a sentiment of piety towards the Blessed Virgin? I know not, but he
never failed to bring me the flowers.

“In the beginning of the following month he died suddenly, without having
had time to receive the consolations of religion. I was inconsolable,
especially as I say all my hopes of his return to God vanish. In
consequence of my grief, my health became completely shattered, and my
family urged me to make a tour in the south.

As I had to pass through
Lyons, I desired to see the Cure d Ars. I therefore wrote to him asking an
audience, and recommending to his prayers my husband, who had died
suddenly. I gave him no further details.

“Arrived at Ars, scarcely had I entered the venerable Cure’s room than, to
my great astonishment, he addressed me in these words: ‘Madame, you are
disconsolate; but have you forgotten those bouquets of flowers which were
brought to you each Sunday of the month of May?’


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It is impossible to
express my astonishment on hearing M. Vianney remind me of a circumstance
that I had not mentioned to any one, and which he could know only by
revelation. He continued, ‘God has had mercy on him who honoured His Holy
Mother. At the moment of his death your husband repented; his soul is in
purgatory; our prayers and good works will obtain his deliverance.'”

We read in the Life of a holy Religious, Sister Catherine of St. Augustine,
that in the place where she lived there was a woman named Mary, who in her
youth had given herself up to a very disorderly life, and as age brought no
amendment, but, on the contrary,

she grew more obstinate in vice, the
inhabitants, no longer willing to tolerate the scandal she gave, drove her
from the city. She found no other asylum than a grotto in the forest,
where, after a few months, she died without the assistance of the

Her body was interred in a field, as though it were something

Sister Catherine, who was accustomed to recommend to God the souls of all
those of whose death she heard, thought not of praying for this one,
judging, as did every one else, that she was surely damned.

Four months later the servant of God heard a voice saying, “Sister
Catherine, how unfortunate I am!

You recommend to God the souls of all; I
am the only one upon whom you take no pity!” “Who then are you?” replied
the sister. “I am poor Mary, who died in the grotto.” “What! Mary, are you
saved?” “Yes, by the Divine Mercy I am.

At the point of death, terrified by
the remembrance of my crimes, and seeing myself abandoned by all, I called
upon the Blessed Virgin.


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In her tender goodness she heard me, and obtained
for me the grace of perfect contrition, with a desire of confessing, had it
been in my power to do so.

I thus recovered the grace of God and escaped
Hell. But I was obliged to go to Purgatory, where I suffer terribly. My
time will be shortened, and I shall soon be liberated,

if a few Masses are
offered for me. Oh! have them celebrated for me, dear sister, and I shall
ever remember you before Jesus and Mary.”

Sister Catherine hastened to fulfill this request, and after a few days the
soul again appeared, brilliant as a star, and returning thanks for her


“Purgatory Explained by the Lives and Legends of the Saints” by Fr.
Schouppe, S.J. is available in our Store for only $10
(, a must-read for all Catholics.
Also available in our Store “Prayer of St. Gertrude the Great” for the Poor
Souls – (Feast of St. Gertrude – Nov. 16)

Sincerely in Christ,
Our Lady of the Rosary Library
“Pray and work for souls”

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