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Two Notes on Purgatory

91. Note One

It seems that the pains of purgatory are greater than all pains of this life. The pain of loss (that is, the pain of delay incoming to the beatific vision) is the greater of the two types of pain in purgatory. The lesser is the pain of sense.

The greater love and desire one has for what is, at least temporarily, out of one\'s reach, the greater is the pain of being deprived of it. Now, the souls in purgatory have a keen awareness of the great Good which they desire; their love and longing for it surpass anything experienced in this life; hence, their pain is the greater. And the pain of sense, directly imposed on the soul itself as the root principle of sensation, is more keenly felt than pain experienced through bodily members.

The souls in purgatory patiently submit to their penalties, but they long to be freed from them and to be purified from all that blocks them out of heaven.

The devils in hell have no power to afflict the souls in purgatory. Indeed, the souls in purgatory have conquered the demons by avoiding mortal sin or by being contrite for it. The souls in purgatory have actually won heaven, and wait only till they are conditioned to enter it. The holy souls are the victors, and the demons are the vanquished. The vanquished cannot torment or afflict the victors.

The punishments of purgatory purge the souls there of venial sins and cancel the debt owed for venial guilt. Not all venial sins are cleansed from a soul simultaneously; the more persistent or habitual venial sins are more slowly wiped out both as to guilt and punishment. Thus one soul may be liberated from purgatory more quickly than another soul which has committed the same factual venial sins; only the soul first liberated had not committed the sins with the persistency or intensity of the other.

92. Note Two

Those who deny purgatory are actually speaking against the justice of God. For a soul may depart this life in venial sin, and with the remains of forgiven sin upon it. Justice requires these things to be removed by penalty or punishment. But this penalty cannot be the eternal punishment of hell; that punishment would go beyond the requirements of justice. The punishment required must be temporal. Now, temporal punishment after death means purgatory.

It seems likely enough that the fires of punishment of hell and of purgatory are in the same place. Just as the same fire can be used to purify gold and to burn dross, so the one type of punishing fire may purify souls from venial sin and merely afflict souls in mortal sin. Still, no one can say for sure that the one fire afflicts both the souls in purgatory and the damned in hell. Nor can anyone say with certainty just where purgatory is located.

"A single act of uniformity with the divine will suffices to make a saint."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"There is nothing which gives greater security to our actions, or more effectually cuts the snares the devil lays for us, than to follow another person’s will, rather than our own, in doing good."
St Philip Neri

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"Spiritual persons ought to be equally ready to experience sweetness and consolation in the things of God, or to suffer and keep their ground in drynesses of spirit and devotion, and for as long as God pleases, without their making any complaint about it."
St Philip Neri

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