Who are the dead that suffer in the expiatory flames?
Are they great criminals, public and scandalous sinners,
who have died under the anathema of the Church
and of their fellow citizens?
they are souls sanctified by grace,
who have to expiate only light faults,
slight acts of unfaithfulness,
or even only the temporal punishment
of faults already forgiven.
Among them are some
who acquired on earth eminent virtue,
who consequently, are more humble,
more chaste, more obedient,
and especially more patient than we.
They suffer, without complaint
and even with much love,
intolerable pains which surpass all we can imagine
or endure in this life.
A fire, like that of hell,
burns them without ceasing, without mercy,
and a pain far greater still,
that of loss,
completes their torments.
perhaps, so greviously sinned,
we complain of the slightest suffering!
Are we ignorant of the law
that obliges us to expiate our sins,
in this life or in the next?
And is it not better to pay our debts now to our Lord's mercy,
which forgives so easily,
than to fall later under the blows of His justice,
which requires full payment to the last farthing? (Mat. 5:26)
Moreover, by bearing on earth afflictions and trials,
we embellish more and more our eternal crown,
whilst in purgatory we shall have to pay,
without increase of merit, the whole of our debt to God.
Can we hesitate between those two alternatives,
either to have our purgatory in this life
by suffering patiently and meritoriously,
to await the torments of next life,
when we shall have to satisfy rigorously
and unprofitably for heaven,
the divine justice in full?
Prayer and Resolutions
O Lord, it is evidently more advantageous for me
to deny myself and suffer now for Thee,
than to defer it till later.
Wherefore I embrace from this day forward
all the trials it will please Thee to send me;
bitterness, disgust, annoyances, infirmities,
pains, humiliations and contradiction.
I am therefore resolved,
when tempted to impatience,
to think of purgatory and the souls
so lovingly suffering therein;
often to offer Thee my sufferings in union with Thine,
as an expiation for my sins,
and for the relief of the faithful departed,
who are still indebted to Thy justice.
[From this morning's Meditation book.]