In New Book Seer Recounts Instances With 'Earthbound' Souls And Purgatory
By Michael H. Brown
Two weeks ago we carried the account of Dr. George G. Ritchie, a Virginia medical doctor who had a dramatic brush with death during a severe bout of a pneumonia-like illness while he was twenty years old and in the army. Fascinating was his description of what he glimpsed on the "other side," including souls that seemed earthbound -- tied to earth as restless spirits -- because of over-attachment to things, obsessions, and sins of this world. In one case he allegedly saw discarnate souls filling a bar and trying to grab drinks or enter the bodies of drunken soldiers. These were alcoholics who had never shaken their addiction and thus were bound to that circumstance.
Dr. Ritchie's account confirms what certain Catholic saints have also seen, including St. Padre Pio -- the incredible Italian priest who once said he ministered to more people who were deceased than living. In one case St. Pio recounted hearing a commotion at the front of a church late one night; when he went down from the choir loft to see what it was (a candelabra had fallen), he found a young monk cleaning the altar, a monk who had died at the monastery long ago but was was being allowed by God to do his purgatory on earth (during life, he had neglected daily duties such as cleaning).
Do such souls actually exist? Is there really a "purgatory"?
Of this we have no doubt. It is biblical (read 2 Maccabees, among other Scriptures that refer to the ancient Jewish custom of praying for the dead) -- and it is now also reported by Venezuelan seer Maria Esperanza Bianchini. In an updated book of interviews, (Bridge to Heaven, available in our bookstore), she discusses the afterlife and her husband Geo recalls that "there have been many visits from the souls in purgatory. I especially remember one occasion when my wife had the experience of going through purgatory.
"This was in 1973," says Geo. "Our Lord allowed Maria to visit purgatory and it happened in front of a group of people. One of the souls was desperate and grabbed her hand and when Maria came out of purgatory, she found her hand was burned -- like when you get burned by hot water, with like a red spot on her hand that hurt. But in the end it was very beautiful because the soul was saved. This soul told Maria her name, and it turned out to be a Venezuelan girl that our daughter, Maria Coromoto, knew. Maria also saw many other souls who extended their arms asking for help, as if in desperation. This girl had the chance to grab Maria and told her she was from Caracas. ‘Please help me,’ she said, as she grabbed the little finger and palm on my wife’s right hand.
"Because of that impression, Maria started to pray for her everyday, and one day she felt the soul was released from purgatory. It was very moving. Maria said the soul would give a sign when she was released from purgatory, and the day Maria felt this girl’s release, a tree that was at our house -- like a dry tree, in hibernation -- suddenly bloomed. When Maria saw it, it was filled with white flowers. It had been dry, nearly dead, or hibernating, and now it was blooming! It was a sign from the girl in purgatory. It was beautiful. Real flowers from a dry tree!"
In the book, Esperanza describes purgatory as "exactly the same feeling that you have in a cemetery. That’s the way it looks and the feeling you have when you’re there – the feeling of sadness you get from a cemetery, and of loneliness."
Though only "taken" to purgatory the one time, she and her husband have recalled countless times that souls have approached Maria looking for prayers to release them from the same kind of earthbound state described by both Dr. Ritchie. (Return from Tomorrow, in our bookstore), and Padre Pio. Explains Geo: "[Such souls] are wandering. They are 'stuck' -- tied to what they left behind. They are wandering around the world without having a place to stay. There have been spirits that came close to Maria, spirits that seemed like they were destroyed, devastated. They had been wandering in like space and as they got closer to Maria, she couldn’t see them as recognizable figures, but as shades, like amorphous forms without shape, and suddenly when Maria started praying for them, these amorphous forms recovered their human form, and thanks to prayer, started to rise to the Light. That’s the way special people from God have the grace to help all those souls without light – lost souls. It’s an important mission – to get close to the Light of God."
Although Maria discourages talk about it and answers questions only when pressed, it is alleged that she has also been visited by many heavenly spirits, including St. Peter, St. Therese the Little Flower, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Anthony Mary Claret, St. Mother Cabrini, St. John Bosco, St. Mary Mazzarello, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Paul the Apostle, and St. Josemarie Escriva -- the recently canonized Spanish saint.
How about St. Padre Pio? "Yes," Maria says. Does he look different now? "No. He presents himself exactly the way he is, in a very natural way."
These of course are the souls in Heaven. These are those who are not in an earthbound or purgatorial state. How do we get there? How do we avoid purgatory, or at least the deep part of purgatory?
"We all pass through purgatory," she says in the book. "In order not to pass through, it is necessary to live a very saintly life. Husbands must love their wives the right way and take care and love in forming the children. Our Lord lives among us. Our Lady lives among us. We don't see them, but we feel them in our hearts. Silence brings to our hearts the recollection and peace to interact with the people we love."
Like other mystics and those such as Dr. Ritchie who have glimpsed the hereafter, Esperanza visualizes the passage to Heaven as a span over to another side, and to cross this bridge, above all else, she emphasizes, takes faith, humility, and love. Especially love. These form the "bridge to Heaven."
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