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Purgatory Explained – God’s Mercy (26th Sun. After Pentecost)

Purgatory Explained – God‘s Mercy

St. Felix of Valois – Confessor

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

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

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

“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?’
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 Sacraments. Her body was interred
in a field, as though it were something contagious.

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. 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 charity.


“Purgatory Explained by the Lives and Legends of the Saints” by Fr.
Schouppe, S.J. is available in our Store for only $7.50 –
Also available in our Store are prayers for the Poor Souls:
Litany for the Poor Souls in Purgatory –
Prayer of St. Gertrude the Great –
Pious Invocations for the Souls in Purgatory –
And to be freed from the pains of Purgatory and to help your
The Devotion to the Drops of Blood –
To view these and other prayers in Spanish visit

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

For good Catholic books, articles and religious goods visit


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