Friday, 3 August 2012

Teresa Higginson on judgement and purgatory: Part II

Continuing from the previous letter to Fr. Powell on purgatory:

Bootle, December 16th 1880

I trust you were able to understand all I wrote in my last.  I think I told you how the soul on leaving the body see herself as she really is, and in this one glance too she sees that through the precious merits of our dear Lord Jesus Christ all her wounds are healed, and when God has healed them He shows them to her, which causes such a fire of burning love to spring up within her that in it are consumed every imperfection and impediment, and in that glance she sees Him too in all the beauty of His infinite perfections; and she is so enamoured of Him that she entirely forgets herself and the reason why she suffers.  She knows it is God's holy will and she adores His infinite wisdom in a silence of unspeakable love.  His will is all she desires, and she could not but choose to be there.

O my Father, it is that very condition which I have told you that I experienced within myself and which those alone can understand whom it pleases God to instruct.  It is, I was going to say the loss, but I mean the separation from God or not being able at once to possess him eternally whom she loves with an unspeakable love that causes the great pain which I have often mentioned and which at times causes such impetuosity in the soul, and yet the whole while such a peace and a holy calm, such a desire to do God's holy will and enjoy Him eternally she would not wish but to remain here, so long as it is to His glory; and the more terrible is this excessive burning the more clearly she sees and desires Him, and the more clearly He shines upon the soul the more her joy increases, but the pain does not grow less, only the length of endurance, and the more the soul knows and loves Him the more terrible the pain.

How shall express the excess of torture that the soul endures?  It is precisely the torments of hell which are caused by the soul seeing in itself something which is displeasing to God whom it knows is infinite Goodness, Wisdom and Love, and as the soul is above the body, so the sufferings which she endures are beyond the comprehension of the body.  The sufferings the poor body can endure are but a painted shadow or as a picture of a fire compared to an immense and terrible furnace.  Yet when it pleases our dear God to send us this purgatory here the body also participates in these unutterable pains...

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