Taken To Purgatory, Mystic Glimpsed The Fruit Of Her Sacrifices And Intercession
By Susan Tassone
St. Anne Catherine Emmerich, whose revelations on the Passion of Our Lord are so well known, had a special devotion to the souls in purgatory, who often came to ask for her help.
She would kneel on winter nights in the snow, praying for them, until she was stiff with cold.
At other times she would kneel on a piece of wood with sharp edges in order to increase the efficacy of her prayers by her penances; and she often had the consolation of receiving the thanks of the souls she had delivered!
You can also (in your own way). She related the following story.
"When I was still a child, I was led by an unknown person to a place which seemed to me to be purgatory. I saw many souls suffering grievously, who earnestly asked for my prayers. I seemed to be gazing into a deep abyss of vast extent, terrible to look upon; but it was a touching sight, for the place was full of silent persons, who seemed to be in great affliction, and yet there was something in their countenances which showed that in their hearts they had hope in the Mercy of God.
"When I prayed with fervor for the poor souls, I often heard voices around me crying, 'Thank you! Thank you!' When I was older I was going early one morning to Mass, and I chose a lonely road to pray better for the souls in purgatory.
"It was still dark, but the poor souls that hovered above me in the air lighted my way. I was delighted to see them, for I knew them and loved them; and in the night also they used to come and ask for my assistance."
The relationship of Anne Catherine with the suffering souls was affected by the guidance of an angel -- who led her through the vast spaces of purgatory in order that she might be refreshed by the fruits of her penances (seeing, as she was able, those who were destitute of spiritual aid).
"I was with my guide near the poor souls," she noted. "I saw their great desolation, for they cannot help themselves, and the living seem to do so little for them.
"While I was thinking of their misery, I was accidentally separated from my guide. I hastened to find him, searching everywhere until I was nearly fainting with terror and fatigue. I saw him at last, and he said to me, 'Now you understand something of what these poor souls must feel in their longing for help.'
"My guardian angel often led me into solitary places, that I might pray for the poor souls; and in tears, with arms outstretched, I implored God to have mercy on them.
"Those poor souls are so grateful for all that is done for them; and when I offer my sufferings on their behalf, they pray for me in return. It frightens me to see how men neglect and despise the graces that the Church offers them in such abundance while the poor souls in purgatory languish with desire of them."
In his Apostolic Exhortation, Sacrementus Caritatis (The Sacrament of Charity), Pope Benedict XVI highlights what is the source and summit of Christian life, the Eucharist. Among the awesome list of aspects of the Eucharist, emerges the Prayer for the Dead (32). Writes the Pope:
"The Eucharistic celebration, in which we proclaim that Christ has died and risen, and will come again, is a pledge of the future glory in which our bodies too will be glorified. Celebrating the memorial of our salvation strengthens our hope in the resurrection of the body and in the possibility of meeting once again, face to face, those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith. In this context, I wish, together with the Synod Fathers, to remind all the faithful of the importance of prayers for the dead, especially the offering of Mass for them, so that, once purified, they can come to the beatific vision of God. A rediscovery of the eschatological dimension inherent in the Eucharist, celebrated and adored, will help sustain us on our journey and comfort us in the hope of glory (cf. Romans 5:2; Tit 2:13). The Eucharistic banquet comes to the aid of our freedom as we continue our journey and the freedom of the holy souls languishing in purgatory."
[Susan Tassone's books on purgatory are available here. For Masses visit: www.spiritualtreasury.org]
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