Spirit Daily



On Day We Remember Dead, Recognize Too That Trials Of Life Help Avoid Purgatory


[adapted from After Life, by Michael H. Brown]

We should thank God for everything in life. We thank Him for the easy times and thank Him for the trials, which are His way of caressing and purging us. When we suffer well on earth it erases entire decades of purgatory, which we remember in a special way today as we remember all the departed souls.

Asked how a person can do purgatory on earth, Padre Pio once remarked, “By accepting everything from God’s hands. By offering everything up to Him with love and thanksgiving so as to enable us to pass from our deathbed to paradise.”

The bottom line: Every minute on earth is an opportunity to merit Heaven and escape purgatory. In the afterlife we can no longer sin (short of rebellion) because we no longer have the same kind of temptation, and the same blindness to God. The test is over. Now the wrong decisions must be atoned for and that can take seconds, minutes, days, months, or years. According to writer Jan Connell, the seer Marija Lunetti of Medjugorje was told that a person remains in purgatory “until someone else among the people still on earth corrects, through God’s graciousness, all the deliberate violations that soul has caused to God’s loving plan for the universe and His beloved children who interacted, in His plan, with that soul. Marija has said that the Blessed Mother told her one hour in purgatory is more painful than the longest, hardest life on earth.”

Some say there are terms in purgatory that last centuries. At Fatima the children were told of one soul who would be in purgatory until the end of the world.

Others say there are souls—especially loving and devout souls—who fly right through and are with God the day they die.

This is especially true of devout nuns and priests, who may pass through purgatory so fast they hardly catch a glimpse of it.

The key is expiation and that comes through earthly trials. On earth we’ll never understand the mystery of suffering, but it corrects, it purifies. I’m not saying all suffering is necessary. There are times when our actions bring needless anguish. There are times when we suffer for our foolishness. It is not all redemptive suffering.

But much of what we suffer is to purify us for the afterlife and when we offer our suffering to Jesus it’s very powerful.  

So is fasting. Fasting and doing penance on earth allow us to elude many sufferings which at some levels of purgatory can be a state of discomfort comparable to standing all day in wet sand, or like being detained in a small dingy room. It may be like spending months with a sickly feeling.

“Purgatory has levels just like Heaven has levels,” said Sondra Abrahams, a Louisiana woman who had the death experience. “It has the lowest level that’s closest to Hell, a warm spot. It’s not really fires. I hear people say fires are burning you but the fire is within the person. It’s the burning desire to be with God and to be with Christ. They know where Heaven is. They know they had their opportunity here on earth but they did not take advantage of it to do good and to do His work. You can’t enter Heaven without being purified. Purgatory is a sad place. I call it the sad zone. I saw people crying and praying for us. They can’t ask anything for themselves. That’s why the prayers on earth for them are so important."

Let me repeat as it can’t be repeated enough that there are many souls in purgatory who do not receive prayers. God allows them benefit from the prayers said for other people who are already in Heaven but there is never enough. There is suffering due to a lack of it. This is why we hear of “haunted” homes. This is why we hear of the dead trying to communicate with us. While we have to be careful and stay away from contacting the dead (because demons can disguise themselves as the deceased), there are times when God permits a soul to initiate such contact to remind a living person of the need for prayer.

Many times the only cure for a haunted house is to have a Mass said for whoever is haunting the place. Such souls come to us in dreams. “God can miraculously permit the souls of the faithful departed to manifest themselves to the living for a useful end, and principally in order to manifest some truth or other,” said the famous mystical theologian Adolphe Tanqueray. At Medjugorje the Virgin said, “There are in purgatory souls who pray ardently to God, but for whom no relative or friend prays on earth. God makes them benefit from the prayers of other people. It happens that God permits them to manifest in different ways, close to their relatives on earth, in order to remind men of the existence of purgatory and to solicit their prayers to come close to God Who is just but good.”

I remember visiting a relative one day when suddenly, across the room, away from either one of us, a picture of her with her late husband went crashing from one level of the end table to the lower surface. Immediately I was given the impression that this man, who had died about ten years before and happened to be Protestant, was reaching out for prayers. The intuition was intense and my aunt said the picture had never done that before.

Another time I was visiting my parents and while in prayer I suddenly saw a woman frantically waving at me.

It was in my mind’s eye but in a way I don’t usually see things. It was a woman who had lived up the street from my parents, a woman I didn’t know well but who had died some years before and was desperately trying to get my attention.

It was my impression that she needed prayers because she was in acute pain and no one was praying for her -- which on this day affords us exactly this opportunity, in a way that is special.


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