'It is certain that a person’s sufferings in Purgatory are proportioned to his guilt; and as many are liable to depart this life great debtors to the Divine Justice on account of numerous venial sins and carelessness in atoning for mortal sins, let us this day remember those who suffer most in that place of torments.
Were we to say that the sufferings endured in Purgatory included all the torments arising from all bodily diseases, we should give a terrifying idea of their violence; but St. Augustine, St. Gregory and other Fathers say that our conception would fall very short of the reality, since the torments endured there are incomparably greater than those of the most violent diseases, united with all that could be inflicted by every possible instrument of torture. When we read in Church history of what the holy martyrs have endured for the faith, when we reflect on the torments which the cruelty of barbarians has invented to torture their fellow-men, we shudder with horror, we tremble with alarm, and yet the pains of Purgatory, as was revealed to St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, are incomparably greater.
Do not say that you have no apprehension of Purgatory because those who are confined there are sure of being saved, for though this certainly is a source of indescribable consolation, it does not hinder the sufferings which they continually endure. You will easily conceive this if you consider that though the holy Soul of Our Blessed Lord enjoyed that glory which belonged t it from all eternity, yet this enjoyment in the superior part did not prevent the inferior part from feeling in all their rigour the dreadful torments of His bitter Passion. ‘All that we can form an idea of’ say St. Augustine, is nothing in comparison to the pains of Purgatory; neither the eye has seen, nor the ear heard, anything like to them.’ St. Thomas says: ‘The flames of Purgatory are of the same nature as those of hell, and hence they act, not by a natural movement, but as instruments of the Divine Justice, which is, as it were, the fire of these fires, and endows them with a force which they intrinsically do not possess.’
It is to Purgatory we can best apply the words of Isaiah: ‘The breath of the Lord as a torrent destroys the nations,’ for as the breath of the Lord is the Holy Ghost, the substantial love of the Father and the Son, and as great love occasions great hatred to what is opposed to it, and great hatred great chastisements, this Holy Spirit Himself avenges sin; and as He is God, punishes it as God. Hence it is that all the torments inflicted by men could not equal those of Purgatory, for what would the efforts of creatures be to the omnipotence of God, which is here employed in punishing?
The poor souls so suffering are incapable of helping themselves. On earth, even in the midst of our greatest trials, we can form no idea of such a state.
We have in our power to help these suffering friends of God. We can do so by prayer, alms-deeds, the Holy Mass, and Indulgences, and to do so is certainly a work of mercy and charity. Understanding this full well, the Saints, without exception, have been most earnest and constant in their efforts to help them. Some of them have made this devotion one of the strong characteristics of their sanctity, and we venture to say that no truly devout or sincere Catholic neglects this spiritual work of mercy.
In praying for the dead and gaining Indulgences for them, let us remember that every prayer we say, every sacrifice we make, every alms we give for the repose of the dear departed ones, will all return upon ourselves in hundredfold blessings. They are God’s friends, dear to His Sacred Heart, living in His grace and in constant communion with Him; and though they may not alleviate their own sufferings, their prayers in our behalf always avail. They can aid us most efficaciously. God will not turn a deaf ear to their intercessions. Being Holy Souls, they are grateful souls. The friends that aid them, they in turn will also aid. We need not fear praying to them in all faith and confidence. They will obtain for us the special favours we desire. They will watch over us lovingly and tenderly; they will guard our steps; they will warn us against evil; they will shield us in moments of trial and danger; and when our hour of purgatorial suffering comes, they will use their influence in our behalf to assuage our pains and shorten the period of our separation from the Godhead. ’
Taken from Thirty Days’ Devotion to the Holy Souls ~ ‘Forget Me Nots From Many Gardens’