Vigils Reading – All Souls

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Vigils Reading – All Souls

November 2, 2022

From Purgation and Purgatory by St. Catherine of Genoa 1

The souls in purgatory cannot think, “I am here, and justly so because of my sins,” or “I wish I had never committed such sins for now I would be in paradise,” or “That person there is leaving before me,” or “I will leave before that one.” They cannot remember the good or evil in their past nor that of others.

Such is their joy in God’s will, in his pleasure, that they have no concern for themselves but dwell only in their joy in God’s ordinance. They see only the goodness of God, his mercy toward all. Should they be aware of other good or evil, theirs would not be perfect charity. Only once do they understand the reason for their purgatory: the moment in which they leave this life. After this moment, that knowledge disappears. Immersed in charity, incapable of deviating from it, they can only will or desire pure love. There is no joy save that in paradise to be compared with the joy of the souls in purgatory.

As the rust of sin is consumed the soul is more and more open to God’s love. Just as a covered object left out in the sun cannot be penetrated by the sun’s rays, in the same way, once the covering of the soul is removed, the soul opens itself fully to the rays of the sun. Having become one with God’s will, these souls, to the extent that he grants it to them, see into God.

Joy in God, oneness with him, is the end of these souls, an instinct implanted in them at their creation. All that I have said is nothing compared to what I feel within, the witnessed correspondence of love between God and the soul; for when God sees the soul pure as it was in its origins, he tugs at it with a glance, draws it and binds it to himself with a fiery love. God so transforms the soul into himself that it knows nothing other than God. He will not cease until he has brought the soul to its perfection.

That is why the soul seeks to cast off any and all impediments, so that it can be lifted up to God; and such impediments are the cause of the suffering of the souls in purgatory. Not that the souls dwell on their suffering; they dwell rather on the resistance they feel within themselves against the will of God, against his intense and pure love bent on nothing but drawing them up to him. And I see rays of lightning darting from that divine love to the creature, so intense and fiery as to annihilate not the body alone but, were it possible, the soul. The soul becomes like gold that becomes purer as it is fired, all dross being cast out.

The last stage of love is that which does its work without human doing. If humans were to be aware of the many hidden flaws in them, they would despair. These flaws are burned away in the last stage of love. God shows the soul its weakness, so that the soul may see the workings of God. If we are to become perfect, the change must be brought about in us and without us; that is, the change is to be the work not of human beings nut of God.

This, the last stage of love, is the pure and intense love of God alone. The overwhelming love of God gives the soul a joy beyond words. In purgatory great joy and great suffering do not exclude one another.

1A Word in Season – vol. IV – Sanctoral – Augustinian Press – 1991 – pg 215



November 2, 2022
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