At the expressed desire of the Directors of the Bulletin "Notre Dame de la Bonne Mort," this pamphlet is published with all the reservations ordered by the Church in the decree of Urban VIII, and as a purely historical document.
It was sent to that periodical by a zealous and devout missionary and is a pious document based on alleged conversations between a nun and a soul in Purgatory.
No one can deny off-hand the possibility, or in fact, the reality of such apparitions of souls in Purgatory to persons still living. Such apparitions are not rare and there are many accounts of them. They are of frequent occurrence in the lives of the Saints. God allows these apparitions and manifestations both for the relief of the souls in question who thus arouse our pity, and to instruct us by showing us the rigor of divine justice when it comes to faults which we often treat lightly.
A nun, identified for us merely as Sister M. de L. C., of a convent at V., without warning began to hear prolonged sighs beside her. This was in November 1873. She cried out, "Oh, who are you, you frighten me. Whatever you do, don’t show yourself. Tell me, who are you?" No answer was forthcoming. The sighs continued and came even nearer. In vain did the poor Sister multiply her prayers, communions, ways of the cross, and rosaries. The sighs did not cease and remained unexplained until February 15, 1874, when a voice she recognized was heard saying: "Do not be afraid, you will not see me in my sufferings. I am Sister M.G." Sister M.G. was a nun who had died at V., a victim to devotion and duty, February 22, 1871, at the age of 36.
This is a testimonial about Sister M. de L. C. herself. Let us add that all witnesses of her life were agreed that Sister M. de L. C. was endowed with a sound judgment, and keen and cultured intellect, and possessed a great amount of common sense. In the spiritual life, she never sought the extraordinary. On the contrary, she avoided it.
Sister M. de. L. C. kept her director well informed of all that happened. He was the Reverend Father Prevel of the Fathers of Pontigny, who later became General of his congregation. Prominent priests have declared without hesitation that it contains nothing contrary to Faith, nothing that is not in accord with the true principles of the spiritual life, rather matter that will edify devout souls.
If you could only know what I suffer! Pray for me, please. I suffer intensely everywhere. My God, how merciful You are! No one can imagine what Purgatory is like. Be kind and take pity on the poor souls.
May 1874. I have been in the second Purgatory since the Feast of the Annunciation. On that day I saw the Blessed Virgin for the first time. In the first stage, we never saw her. The sight of her encourages us and this beloved Mother speaks to us of Heaven. While we see her, our sufferings are greatly diminished.
You do well to pray to St. Michael and to urge others to do so. One is indeed happy at the hour of death when he has had confidence in some of the saints. They will be his protectors before God in that terrible moment.
Make it a practice to live in the presence of God with a pure intention. God seeks devoted souls who will love Him for His own sake. These are very few. He wants you to be one of His true friends. Many think they love God, but they love Him for their own sakes.
February 1875. Watch carefully over your interior life. Keep all your small troubles for Jesus alone. He is well able to make up to you for whatever He takes from you. Your life must be one of unceasing interior acts of love and of mortification, but God alone must know of it. Do nothing extraordinary. Lead a very hidden life, yet one closely united to Jesus.
Love God very much. How happy are the souls that do this. They possess a treasure! The great penance of your life will be, not the absence of your Jesus but great sorrow for all the pain you have given Him, by your failure to love Him as you desire, in return for the overwhelming number of graces which He has showered upon you and which He will continue to shower upon you.
Love everyone, but do not put your trust entirely in anyone, because Jesus wants to be your great confidant. Everything for Him and for Him alone. Perform all your actions in the presence of God as I have so often told you. Consult Him before all you do or say. Let your life be one of faith and love... Do nothing to distinguish yourself. Without offending anyone, avoid the company of those who are too unreserved and those who are uncharitable. As for yourself, be busy about your own affairs. Keep your opinions to yourself and never express them unless obliged to do so. Be preoccupied with only that one subject, the mainspring of your life, Jesus.
December 8, 1875. Love God intensely. Do not fear your own suffering. Trust in Him, never in yourself. Die to yourself from morning to night... Do not breathe or live except for Jesus Christ. God must be your only confidant. Complain to no one except for Him. Be quite hidden from the eyes of everyone else.
Feast of the Annunciation. When God wishes a soul to be entirely His, He begins by crushing it, very much as apples are crushed in the press — to extract its passions, its self-seeking, in a word, all its defects. When a soul is sufficiently broken, He reshapes it according to His will. If it is faithful, it is soon transformed. Only then does Jesus load it with His choicest graces and inundate it with His love.
Jesus wants you to deal with Him, as with an intimate friend, without any fear whatsoever. It is true that His Majesty is frightening and that you are not worthy to have such intimate converse with your Jesus, but is He not the Master that enriches whomsoever He wills? Ask Jesus to make you rich in every virtue, as He wishes you to be, but in the meantime, shape your life in accordance with His inspirations. Enlarge your heart because what Jesus desires above all things is to see in it His love. What wonderful graces you will receive if you are faithful, graces you have never even thought of.
May 12th. Mortify yourself corporally, but more especially spiritually. Forget yourself. Deny yourself in everything. Never look at what others are doing. God does not demand the same perfection from everyone. All are not enlightened in the same way, but you, whom Jesus Himself enlightens, look only to Him, let Him be your aim and object in everything.
Never grow weary in your work. Begin each day as if you had so far done nothing. This continual renouncement of one’s will and comfort and one’s own opinions is a long martyrdom, but it is most pleasing to God. God wants you to be something special, not as regards your exterior, but in your inner soul. He asks of you a union with Himself, so great that you never lose sight of Him, even amidst your absorbing occupations.
While on earth one truly cannot picture or imagine what God really is, but we (in Purgatory) know and understand Him for what He is, because our souls are freed from all the ties that fettered them and prevented them from realizing the holiness and majesty of God, and His great mercy. We are martyrs, consumed as it were by love. An irresistible force draws us towards God who is our center, but at the same time another force thrusts us back to our place of expiation. We are in the state of being unable to satisfy our longings. Oh, what a suffering that is, but we desire it and there is no murmuring against God here. We desire only what God wants. You on earth, however, cannot possibly understand what we have to endure.
Be ingenious in mortifying yourself and in breaking your own will. Be especially nice to those who are less agreeable to you than to others, no matter what wrong they may have done to you. This means renouncing yourself and pleasing Jesus. Nothing else matters. It is on these occasions that you must silence the human will, but you must do it because Jesus wills it. Do not allow self-love to get the upper hand, but do all blindly to please Jesus alone.
1879, Retreat in September. We see St. Michael as we see the angels. He has no body. He comes to get the souls that have finished their purification. It is he who conducts them to Heaven. He is among the Seraphim as Monsignor said. He is the highest angel in Heaven. Our own Guardian Angels come to see us but St. Michael is far more beautiful than they are. As to the Blessed Virgin, we see her in the body. She comes to Purgatory on her feasts and she goes back to Heaven with many souls. While she is with us we do not suffer. St. Michael accompanies her. When he comes alone, we suffer as usual. When I spoke to you of the great and the second Purgatory, it was to try and make you understand that there are different stages in Purgatory. Thus I call that stage of Purgatory great or worst where the most guilty souls are, and where I stayed for two years without being able to give a sign of the torments I was suffering. The year you heard me groaning, when I began to speak to you, I was still in the same place.
In the second Purgatory, which is still Purgatory but very different from the first, one suffers a great deal, but less than in the great place of expiation. Then there is the third stage, which is the Purgatory of desire, where there is no fire. The souls who did not desire Heaven ardently enough, who did not love God sufficiently, are there. It is there that I am at this moment. Further, in these three parts of purgatory, there are many degrees of variation. Little by little, as the soul becomes purified, her sufferings are changed.
The more a soul loves Jesus the more meritorious all its actions are in His sight. It is only love that will be rewarded in Heaven. All that is done for any other motive will count as nothing. Love Jesus truly, once and for all, as He wants you to. Then I also shall benefit in that I shall have great relief in all my sufferings.
Is God not more pleased with me these last few days? Yes, He is more pleased because you are striving more to give Him pleasure. Have you noticed His goodness and special watchfulness over you? Has He not also given you much joy these days? He will always act like that towards you. The more you do for Him the more He will do for you. I am so happy to see that you are really beginning to love God, who is so good, and to work seriously at your perfection. If by remaining a little longer in Purgatory I could obtain that you should arrive at perfection God demands of you to accomplish His designs, I would willingly bear that suffering. Never look back to examine your conduct in the past. Leave it entirely in the hands of God and go steadily forward. Your life must be summed up in two words: Love and Sacrifice. Sacrifice from morning to night, but always with Love. If only you knew what God is, there is no sacrifice that you would not be willing to make, no suffering that you would not endure for Him. If you could see Him for but one minute you would be perfectly satisfied and consoled... What then must it be to see Him for all eternity?
What is the best way of honoring St. Michael? The best and most efficacious way of glorifying him in Heaven and honoring him on earth is to spread devotion to the souls in Purgatory, and to make known the great mission he fulfills towards these suffering souls. It is he who is entrusted by God to lead the souls to the place of expiation and to bring them to their eternal home after purification. Each time a soul arrives to increase the number of the elect, God is glorified, and this glory in some way communicates itself also to the celestial minister. It is an honor for him to present to Our Lord the souls that will sing their thanks and His mercies through all eternity. I could never make you understand the intense love which the Heavenly Archangel has for his Divine Master, and the love which God in His turn has for St. Michael. Neither can I convey to you a true idea of the love and pity St. Michael has for us. He encourages us in our sufferings by speaking to us of Heaven.
How do they celebrate the feast of St. Michael in Purgatory? On that day St. Michael comes to Purgatory and returns to Heaven with a great number of souls, especially with those who had been devout to him in life.
I can tell you about the different degrees of Purgatory because I have passed through them. In the great Purgatory there are several stages. In the lowest and most painful, like a temporary hell, are the sinners who have committed terrible crimes during life and whose death surprised them in that state. It was almost a miracle that they were saved, and often by the prayers of holy parents or other pious persons. Sometimes they did not even have time to confess their sins and the world thought them lost, but God, whose mercy is infinite, gave them at the moment of death the contrition necessary for their salvation on account of one or more good actions which they performed during life. For such souls, Purgatory is terrible. It is a real hell with a difference, that in hell they curse God, whereas we bless Him and thank Him for having saved us.
Next to these come the souls, who though they did not commit great crimes like the others, were indifferent to God. They did not fulfill their Easter duties and were also converted at the point of death. Perhaps they were unable to receive Holy Communion. They are in Purgatory for the long years of indifference. They suffer unheard of pains and are abandoned either without prayers or if they are said for them, they are not allowed to profit by them. There are in this stage of Purgatory religious of both sexes, who were tepid, neglectful of their duties, indifferent towards Jesus, also priests who did not exercise their sacred ministry with the reverence due to the Sovereign Majesty and who did not instill the love of God sufficiently into the souls confided to their care. I was in this stage of Purgatory.
In the second Purgatory are the souls of those who died with venial sins not fully expiated before death, or with mortal sins that have been forgiven but for which they have not made entire satisfaction to the Divine Justice. In this part of Purgatory, there are also different degrees according to the merits of each soul. Thus the Purgatory of the consecrated souls or of those who have received more abundant graces, is longer and far more painful than that of ordinary people of the world.
Lastly there is the Purgatory of desire which is called the Threshold. Very few escape this. To avoid it altogether, one must ardently desire Heaven and the vision of God. That is rare, rarer than people think, because even pious people are afraid of God and have not, therefore, a sufficiently strong desire of going to Heaven. This Purgatory has its very painful martyrdom like the others. The deprivation of the sight of our loving Jesus adds to the intense suffering.
Where is Purgatory situated? It is in the center of the earth, close to Hell, as you saw one day after Holy Communion. The large number of souls there are confined to a limited space. There are thousands and thousands of souls there. But then what space does a soul occupy? Each day thousands of souls come to Purgatory and most of them remain thirty to forty years, some for longer periods, others for shorter. I tell you this in terms of earthly calculations because here it is quite different. Oh, if people only knew and understood what Purgatory is and what it means to know that we are here through our own fault. I have been here for eight years and it seems to me like ten thousand. Oh my God! Tell all this to the Father, so that he may learn from me what this place of suffering is like and may make it better known in the future. He will be able to find out for himself how profitable it is to have a great devotion to the holy souls in Purgatory. God often accords more graces through the intercession of these suffering souls than through prayers of the saints. Let the Father, when he wishes to be sure of obtaining what he wants, ask the souls who have loved Our Lady most. These, in consequence, she wishes most of all to release. He will see whether his prayer is heard or not.
The justice of God keeps us in Purgatory, and we deserve it, but His mercy and His Fatherly Heart does not leave us here bereft of consolation. We ardently desire complete union with Jesus, but He desires it almost as much as we do. On earth, He sometimes communicates Himself to certain souls in a most intimate manner (to few, because, so few will listen to Him) and He delights in revealing His secrets to them. The souls that receive these favors are those that seek to please Him in all their conduct and who live and breathe only for Jesus and try to please Him.
Then what happened to the prayers Father P. said for them? Those in Heaven for whom prayers are said on earth can apply those prayers to the souls they wish to benefit. It is a very consoling thought for those in the other world to know that their relatives and friends on earth do not forget them, even though they have no further need of prayers. In return, they are not ungrateful.
The judgments of God are very different from those of the world. He takes into account the temperament and character of each and what is done by carelessness or pure malice. To Him who knows the most secret recesses of the heart, it is not difficult to see what goes on there. Jesus is very good, but He is also most just.
Tell me what happens during the agony and after. Does the soul find itself in light or darkness? Under what form is the sentence pronounced? I had no agony as you know, but I can tell you this, that at the last decisive moment, the devil lets loose all his rage against the one that is dying. God permits souls to go through these last trials in order to increase their merits. Souls that are strong and generous, in order that they may have a more glorious place in Heaven, have often had, at the end of their lives and in the moment of death, terrible combats with the angel of darkness. You have been a witness to this. But they always come out victorious. God never allows a soul that has been devoted to Him during life to perish at the last moment. Those souls who have loved the Blessed Virgin and invoked her all their lives will receive from her many graces in their last struggles. It is the same for those who have been really devout to St. Joseph, to St. Michael, or to any of the saints. I have already said one is glad to have an intercessor with God in those dreadful moments. Some souls die quite tranquilly without experiencing any of those trials. God has His designs in everything. He does or permits all for the good of each particular soul.
Tell me, in what does true sanctity consist? You know that very well, but as you wish it I shall repeat it to you, though I have already told it to you many times. True sanctity consists in renouncing oneself from morning to night, in being a living sacrifice, in constantly putting aside the human self, in allowing God to work in and with you as He pleases, to receive the graces He sends you with profound humility, recognizing yourself quite unworthy of them, to live as constantly as possible in the Divine Presence, to perform all your actions under the eye of God, wanting Him to be the only witness of your efforts and your only reward. This is the sanctity wished for and demanded by Jesus of all those who desire to be His only and to live His life. All the rest is pure illusion.
Some souls have their Purgatory on earth by suffering, others by love, for love is a true martyrdom. The soul that really tries to love Jesus finds that notwithstanding all its efforts it does not Love Him as much as it wants to, and that is for that soul a perpetual martyrdom caused by a love which is not without great suffering. It is, as I told you, rather like the state of a soul in Purgatory, who continually leaps up towards Him who is its only desire, and who at the same time is hurled back because its expiation is not complete.
Very few souls get any prayers, the majority are totally abandoned and no thought or prayers are given to them on earth.
I have told you there are some souls who do their Purgatory at the foot of the altar. They are not there for faults they have committed in the church, because those faults which attack Jesus directly, Jesus present in the Tabernacle, are punished with terrible severity in Purgatory. The souls that are there in adoration are there as a reward for their reverent behavior in the Sacred Presence. They suffer less than if they were in Purgatory itself, and Jesus, whom they contemplate with the eyes of their soul and of faith, softens their pains by His invisible Presence.
Have you a more perfect knowledge of God than we have? What a question! Of course we know Him far better and love Him far more. Indeed, it is just that which causes our greatest suffering. On earth you simply do not know what God is. There, each one of you has an idea of what you think God is, according to your very limited knowledge, but when we leave our covering of clay and when nothing impedes the liberty of our souls, we at last begin to know God, His goodness, His mercy, His love. After this clearer view and the thirst for union, our souls yearn for God. This is our very life and we are forever repulsed because we are not sufficiently pure. This, in a word, is our worst suffering, the hardest, most bitter. Oh, if only we were allowed to come back to earth, after knowing what God really is, what a different life we would lead! But what useless regrets, and yet on earth you do not think of these things and live as if you were blind. Eternity is no account to you. The earth, which is only a journey and receives only the body which in itself turns to dust, is the sole object to which almost all of your desires tend and you do not even think of Heaven while Jesus and His love are entirely forgotten.
God loves simple souls. You must go to Him, therefore, with good will, always ready to sacrifice yourself to please Him. You must act with Jesus as a little child does with its mother, trusting in His goodness and placing all your spiritual and temporal interest with great confidence in His Divine Hands. Having done this, try to please Him in everything without troubling yourself about anything else. God does not regard great acts or heroic deeds as much as He does simple actions or small sacrifices, provided these are done with love for Him.
Sometimes even a tiny sacrifice, which was known only to God and to the soul, may be far more meritorious than a great one that was loudly applauded. One must be very interior on order not to take for oneself any of the praise given one. God seeks souls empty of self so as to fill them with His love. He finds but a few. Self-love leaves no place for Jesus. Do not let any opportunity to mortify self pass by, especially interior mortification. Jesus has many graces to give you during Lent. Therefore, prepare yourself by a redoubling of your fervor, but above all, love Jesus. He is so little loved by the world and so outraged by it.
The Blessed Virgin loves you very much. On your part love her with all your heart and do all you can to procure her the greatest possible glory.
France is indeed very guilty, but unfortunately she is not the only one. At this moment there is not a single Christian kingdom that is not openly or by underhanded means trying to expel God from its midst. The secret societies and their master, the devil, are formenting and stirring all this trouble.
This is now the hour of the prince of darkness. While he is in power he may do his worst, but God will show that He alone is Master. He may use severity to manifest His power, but even in His vengeance, Jesus is yet always merciful.
St. Michael will intervene in the personal struggle of the Church which is so terribly persecuted, but not so easily destroyed as the wicked think. It is he who is also the special patron of France and who will help her to take rank as the eldest daughter of the Church, because notwithstanding all the wickedness that is committed in France, there is still much good and so many devoted souls there. I do not know when St. Michael will intervene; you must pray very much for this intention. Invoke the Archangel, remind him of his titles and beseech him to intercede with Christ, over whose Heart he has such influence. But be sure that the Blessed Virgin is not forgotten. France is her kingdom, privileged over all others. She will save it. Those who promote the recitation of the Rosary everywhere deserve praise. It is this prayer that is the most efficacious in the present time of need.
What are the few moments we have to pass on earth compared to eternity? At the hour of death, you will not find that you have done too much. Be very generous, do not listen to yourself but always look at the goal to which Jesus calls you. That is sanctity, pure love. Then go forward and never look back. Great crosses, crosses that often break the heart, so to say, are the portion of God’s own friends.
October 16th. It is useless for you to worry about the souls entrusted to you, to reprove them or to try to make them a little more spiritually inclined. You will only succeed in as far as you yourself are spiritual. It is only through the overflow of your own piety that you can put it into their hearts. If you yourself are not what you ought to be, if you are not closely united with Jesus, your words will reach their ears but will not enter into their hearts, and so your effort will not be fruitful. Do you see how good it is to be united to Jesus? That is the only true happiness on earth.
September 1882. Jesus has done very much for you and He will do still more for you in the future, but you must correspond with His graces in a generous spirit. The souls that arrive at the height of perfection that He demands of them are mistresses of His Heart. He refuses them nothing. When you will have arrived at that stage, Jesus and yourself will be but one. Your sentiments, your thoughts and your desires will be the same. Be good, therefore, make haste to become a saint to procure great glory for your one Friend who waits for that moment to inundate your soul with His grace. You do not yet make sufficient effort in watching over your interior and in keeping before your mind the Divine Presence of Jesus. Try to take the trouble and you will be powerfully helped. Jesus is only waiting for a little good will on your part and He will do the rest. Say to yourself every day, "Since Jesus began to give me so many special graces, what have I become? What ought I to be? What would I be if I had always corresponded well?" These thoughts meditated on for a few minutes will do much good to your soul. Only reflect seriously on them, for it is the will of God that I have told you. He also desires that you work seriously at your perfection because upon it depends that of many others. Jesus has such an intense love for you that He desires to pour upon you His choice graces which He shares only with His intimate friends. Hasten by your prayers and sacrifices the happy moment which will witness the Divine union that Jesus wishes to form with your soul.
All things pass and pass quickly. Do not fret so much about things that will end one day. Aim at what will never end. By our holy actions united to Jesus, let us embellish our heavenly throne. Let us raise it up a few steps nearer to Him whom we shall contemplate and love throughout eternity.
I am going to try to make you understand, as far as you can upon earth, what Heaven is like. There are ever new Feasts which succeed each other without interruption. There is happiness, always new and such, it would seem, as has never been enjoyed. It is a torrent of joy which flows unceasingly over the elect. Heaven is above all and beyond all - GOD: God loved, God relished, God delighted in; in one word, it is to be satisfied with God without ever being satisfied!
The more a soul loves God on earth, the higher she advances in perfection, the more she will love and understand God in Heaven. Jesus is the true joy upon earth and the eternal felicity of Heaven.
A soul in Purgatory