Mary Succors Her Clients in Purgatory.
Fortunate, indeed, are the clients of this most compassionate Mother, for not only does she succor them in this world, but even in purgatory they are helped and comforted by her protection. And as in that prison poor souls are in the greatest need of assistance, since in their torments they cannot help themselves, our Mother of Mercy does proportionately more to relieve them. St. Bernardine of Sienna says, ‘that in that prison, where souls which are spouses of Jesus Christ are detained, Mary has a certain dominion and plenitude of power, not only to relieve them, but even to deliver them from their pains.’
And, first, with respect to the relief she gives, the same Saint, in applying those words of Ecclesiasticus, ‘I have walked in the waves of the sea.’ adds, ‘that it is by visiting and relieving the necessities and torments of her clients, who are her children.’ He then says, ‘that the pains of purgatory are called waves, because they are transitory; unlike the pains of hell, which never end: and they are called waves of the sea, because they are so bitter. The clients of Mary, thus suffering, are often visited and relieved by her.’ ‘See, therefore,’ says Novarinus, ‘of what consequence it is to be the servant of this good Lady, for her servants she never forgets when they are suffering in those flames; for though Mary relieves all suffering souls in purgatory, yet she always obtains far greater indulgence and relief for her own clients.’
The Divine Mother once addressed these words to St. Bridget: ‘I am the Mother of all souls in purgatory; for all the pains that they have deserved for their sins are every hour, as long as they remain there, in some way mitigated by my prayers.’ The compassionate Mother even condescends to go herself occasionally into that holy prison to visit and comfort her suffering children.
And what other consolation have they in their sufferings than Mary, and the relief they receive from this Mother of Mercy? St. Bridget once heard Jesus say to His holy Mother, ‘You are My Mother, the Mother of Mercy, and the consolation of souls in purgatory.’ The Blessed Virgin herself told the Saint, ‘that as a poor sick person, bedridden, suffering, and abandoned, is relieved by words of encouragement and consolation, so are the souls in purgatory consoled and relieved by only hearing her name.’ The mere name of Mary, that name of hope and salvation, and which is frequently invoked by her beloved children in their prison, is a great source of comfort to them; ‘for,’ says Novarinus, ‘that loving Mother no sooner hears them call upon her, than she offers her prayers to God, and those prayers to God, and these prayers, as a heavenly dew, immediately refresh them in their burning pains.’
Mary not only consoles and relieves her clients in purgatory, but she delivers them by her prayers. Gerson says, ‘that on the day of her assumption into heaven purgatory was entirely emptied.’ Novarinus confirms this, saying, ‘that it is maintained by many grave authors, that when Mary was going to heaven, she asked, as a favor from her Son, to take all the souls then in purgatory with her.’ ‘And from that time forward,’ says Gerson, ‘Mary had the privilege of delivering her servants.’ St. Bernardine of Sienna also positively asserts, ‘that the Blessed Virgin has the power of delivering souls from purgatory, but particularly those of her clients: by her prayers, and by applying her merits for them.’ Novarinus says, ‘that by the merits of Mary, not only are the pains of those souls lessened, but the time of their sufferings is shortened through her intercession.’ She has only to ask, and all is done.
Why should we not hope for the same graces and favors, if we are devout clients of this good Mother? And if we serve her with more special love, why can we not hope to go to heaven immediately after death, without even going to purgatory? This really took place in the case of Blessed Godfrey, to whom Mary sent the following message, by brother Abondo: ‘Tell Brother Godfrey to endeavor to advance rapidly in virtue, and thus he will belong to my Son and to me; and when his soul departs, I will not allow it to go to purgatory, but will take it and offer it to my Son.’ And if we wish to relieve the holy souls in purgatory, let us do so by imploring the aid of our Blessed Lady in all our prayers, and especially by offering the Rosary for them, as that relieves them greatly.
We read, in the life of Sister Catherine of St. Augustine, that in the place where she resided there was a woman, of the name of Mary, who in her youth was a sinner, and in her old age continued so obstinate in wickedness, that she was driven out of the city, and reduced to live in a secluded cave; there she died, half consumed by disease, and without the sacraments, and was consequently interred in a field like a beast. Sister Catherine who always recommended the souls of those who departed from this world, with great fervor, to God, on hearing the unfortunate end of this poor old woman, never thought of praying for her, and she looked upon her (as did every one else) as irrevocably lost. One day, four years afterwards, a suffering soul appeared to her, and exclaimed: ‘How unfortunate is my lot, Sister Catherine; you recommend the souls of all those that die to God: on my soul alone you had not compassion!’ ‘And who are you? asked the servant of God. ‘I am,’ she replied, ‘that poor Mary, who died in the cave.’ ‘And are you saved?’ said Catherine. ‘Yes,’ she answered, ‘by the mercy of the Blessed Virgin Mary.’ ‘And how?’ ‘When I saw myself at the point of death, loaded with sins, and abandoned by all, I had recourse to the Mother of God, saying, Lady, you are the refuge of abandoned creatures: behold me, at this moment, abandoned by all; you are my only hope; you alone can help me: have pity on me. The Blessed Virgin obtained for me the grace to make an act of contrition. I died, and am saved; and besides this she, my Queen, obtained that my purgatory should be shortened, by enduring, in intensity, that which otherwise would have lasted for many years: I now only want a few masses to be entirely delivered; I beg you to get them said, and on my part, I promise always to pray for you to God and to Mary.’ Sister Catherine immediately had the masses said; and after a few days that soul again appeared to her, shining like the sun, and said: ‘I thank you, Catherine: behold, I go to Paradise, to sing the mercies of my God, and to pray for you.’
O Queen of Heaven and earth! O Mother of the Lord of the world! O Mary, of all creatures the greatest, the most exalted, and the most amiable! It is true, that there are many in this world who neither know thee, nor love thee; but in heaven, there are many millions of angels and blessed spirits, who love and praise thee continually. Even in this world, how many happy souls are there not, who burn with thy love, and live enamored of thy goodness! O, that I also could love thee, O Lady, worthy of all love. O that I could always remember to serve thee, to praise thee, to honor thee, and engage all to love thee. Thou hast attracted the love of God, whom, by thy beauty, thou hast, so to say, torn from the bosom of His Eternal Father, and engaged to become man, and be thy Son. And shall I, a poor worm of the earth, not be enamored of thee? No, my most sweet Mother, I also will love thee much, and will do all that I can to make others love thee also. Accept then, O Mary, the desire that I have to love thee, and help me to execute it. I know how favorably thy lovers are looked upon by God. He, after His own glory, desires nothing more than thine, and to see thee honored and loved by all. From thee, O Lady, do I expect all; through thee the remission of my sins, through thee perseverance. Thou must assist me at death, and deliver me from purgatory; and finally, thou must lead me to heaven. All this thy lovers hope from thee, and are not deceived. I, who love thee with so much affection, and above all other things, after God, hope for the same favors.
Each day recommend the poor souls in purgatory to our Blessed Lady and offer prayers on their behalf.