Saint Mary Magdalen de Pazzi Visions of Purgatory
The deliverance of a Poor Soul from Purgatory
The Lord raised her to the heights of Mount Tabor. She had been as close as one can be on earth to the Beatific Vision; now she was to walk the Way of the Cross to Calvary with her Lord. It was time for Him to share with her those Poor Souls in Purgatory whom He dearly loves.
One day, while praying before the Blessed Sacrament, Saint Mary Magdalen de Pazzisaw the tortured soul of one of the sisters, who had passed on recently. She saw her rising painfully from the earth, encircled by leaping flames wrapping themselves around her body. The only thing that kept them from scorching the sister’s body was a sparkling white robe covering her, shielding her from the blazing fire. She had been faithful to the Rule. She had led a pious life. Then why was she coming to Sister Mary Magdalen like this? This sister explained that she had grudgingly spent time before the Blessed Sacrament while she was alive. And now, she was being denied her Spouse’s Beatific Vision. She went over to where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed and remained kneeling at the foot of the altar, oblivious to the flames about her, adoring her Lord so very preciously present in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Oh how she had longed to see Him, once more! Worse than the furnace, which enveloped her in Purgatory, was the loss of the vision of her Lord. She remained motionless, her eyes transfixed on her Savior. At the end of her hour with her Lord in this Garden of Gethsemane, her penance ended, St. Mary Magdalen saw the sister rise to Heaven.
Saint Mary Magdalen de Pazzi glimpses the various levels of Purgatory
One day, while praying in the garden of the Convent with the other religious, she became enraptured in ecstasy and saw before her the pits of Purgatory opening. She later shared that she heard a voice, beckoning her to follow and witness the pain, the Poor Souls in Purgatory had to endure. The voice explained this was so that when she prayed for them, she would pray relentlessly and compassionately. The sisters heard her say: “Yes, I will go.”
She began to pace in circles round and round the spacious garden, for two hours, hesitating at times, as if in great pain. She later confided that these were times when she contemplated the suffering of the Poor Souls before her in Purgatory. Her back bent, as if carrying the sorrow of the world, her tiredness increased and her strength seemed to be ebbing away. As she saw the intense agony of the Poor Souls, the blood drained from her face; she rung her hands helplessly, tears streaming from her eyes. She wept: “Mercy, my God, mercy! Descend, O Precious Blood, and deliver these souls from their prison. Poor souls! you suffer so cruelly, and yet you are content and cheerful. The dungeons of martyrs in comparison with these were gardens of delight. Nevertheless there are those still deeper. How happy should I esteem myself were I not obliged to go down into them.”
She descended deeper into the pits of Purgatory. She thought she had suffered all she could until she came upon Religious in a level filled with greater terror and suffering! What could they have done to deserve this act of Justice! She never shared the cause of their punishment or the type of sufferings they had to endure, but the sisters could hear her sighing deeply and weeping helplessly, with each step.
Souls making retribution for sinning out of ignorance
Then God in His mercy, had the voice lead her into a more merciful level of Purgatory. It was the place reserved for simple souls and those of children who had sinned more out of ignorance than out of malice and forethought. Their suffering appeared to be less painful than that of the other Poor Souls she had viewed before. Mary Magdalen saw their Guardian Angels beside them strengthening and sustaining them with their presence. Although Purgatory is a place of hope and anticipation, of all the Poor Souls, these were the closest to realizing the end of their journey, and of being with the Holy Trinity, Mary and our entire Heavenly Family of Angels and Saints in Heaven.
The Pain of Souls who were guilty of hypocrisy on earth
Anxious to leave, but obedient to the voice who was her guide in Purgatory, Sister Mary Magdalen continued a few more steps, to a place more painful than any she had encountered in Purgatory. What could these souls have done to deserve this intense purging? She was told, these were those who were guilty of hypocrisy. Oh how much damage is done by those who pretend to be and do good, who gain the confidence of innocent lambs, only to lead them astray and oftentimes into Hell. Our Lord spoke plainly to such as these when He said: “Whoever causes one of these little ones, who believe in Me, to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone come around his neck, and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
The dungeon of those who had lacked charity toward others
Going a little further, she came upon a large group of souls who looked as if they had been pinned under a huge cement pillar. She was told that these were the souls of those who had shown little patience and charity toward those less fortunate, and of those who willfully resorted to disobedience toward their superiors and instilled acts of disobedience in others. As she went deeper into this dungeon, and looked at the suffering of these Poor Souls, her face became more and more filled with pity and dismay for these souls who had lost all their earthly smugness and self-assuredness. They looked so helpless. They remind us of the rich man who asked for a drop of water from Lazarus.
Sister Mary Magdalen enters a Purgatory much like Hell
[Author’s Note: People ask us why there is a level so much like Hell. The best way we can explain is by giving an example. Suppose Adolf Hitler made a perfect Act of Contrition just before he died. He would be saved; but he would have a great debt to pay in Purgatory in retribution for the inhumane atrocities he had committed. We believe he would be at the very bottom pit of Purgatory, until the end of the world!]
Shortly thereafter, the sisters saw St. Mary Magdalen become greatly agitated. She let out an anguished cry. The voice had led her into one of the deepest levels of Purgatory, most resembling the region of Hell. As she approached what appeared to be a bottomless pit, she saw souls writhing in pain; their suffering beyond description. She had entered the level of Purgatory reserved for “Liars.” She sobbed.
When we bear false witness against someone, the harm is irrevocable; the incurable effects much like that of a terminal illness. As with cancer, the poison of lies cannot be self-contained; it spreads and destroys the good along with the bad, everything and everyone with which it comes in contact. The damage to one’s name and very self can never be totally erased, mankind always preferring to think the worst. There are wounds of many kinds that can be healed, but the wound to one’s reputation is a wound which attacks the very personhood of a human being. The punishment in Purgatory, much like that of Hell, is very severe because although these sins have been confessed, and absolution has been granted, the damage is so far-reaching, oftentimes affecting whole families, churches, communities, countries, the world. It is as the English poet, John Donne wrote:
“No man is an island entire of itself;
Every man is a piece of the continent,
a part of the main;
If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less,
As well as if a promontory were,
As well as if a Manor of thy friends,
or of thine own were;
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind;
And therefore never send to know
for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.”
So it is with a lie; it is like a pebble thrown into a body of water; the small ripple spreads and spreads covering the entire area, affecting the river which spills into the ocean, covering the universe. There is no such thing as a small lie, just as there is no such thing as a small cancer that is malignant. Although with cancer, sometimes it can be all cut out, but still you do not know when it can resurface. We can admit we have lied, a paper can retract a false statement but as we have so often seen, the lie can come back to haunt us nonetheless. Is this book on Heaven, Hell and Purgatory written to frighten you? No, not at all. But if we did not report authentically what the Saints saw and experienced, we are as bad as liars who falsify or withhold the truth, often telling you what you want to hear, rather than what you have to hear.
Souls who sinned through weakness
When Sister Mary Magdalen approached this next dungeon, she was told these were souls who sinned through weakness. She was surprised to see them in a separate dungeon from those (in Purgatory) who were paying for the damage done by sinning through ignorance. All about her, she saw frantic flames licking at the already scorched souls. The fire was more furious than had been in the dungeon of ignorance. Why? What is the difference of the one sin from the other? With those who sinned out of ignorance, a debt had to be paid for the harm done, but their sin was done unwittingly; they knew no better. With the souls in this dungeon, they knew full well while on earth, the seriousness of the sin and its repercussions, but whether bending to self-interest, self-preservation, fear of rejection or just plain peer pressure, they chose to do it nonetheless. They pay not only for the damage done to their own souls but for the harm done to other souls.
Souls who had chosen the false gods of materialism
Someone once said that if an announcement were made that Jesus was coming that very moment, there would be people rushing off to the mall; there would be those who had to finish decorating their new home, others buying that new model car, and then those getting their hair styled. A priest at a retreat, asked us all to put down on paper the most important areas of our lives. Then he said to put next to those listed, the time spent on each. Try it! It really blew us away! Naturally, Jesus was on the top of the list as the most important. But how much time do we spend on Him versus the items lower down right to the bottom of the list? Do we give Jesus a five minute call, dropping in on Him waiting for us in the Tabernacle? Is going to Mass on Sunday, a “let’s get it over” thing, “I’ve done my obligation” thing in our life? Do we realize that it is Jesus Himself Who is coming to us under the appearance of a Host? Or are we impatiently waiting for the Mass to be over so we can spend the rest of our Sunday enjoying ourselves or doing good things but not holy things? What St. Mary Magdalen saw were those souls of whom our Pope John Paul II speaks, those for whom no amount of money and possessions is enough; they lived each day to protect what they had and to get more and more of that which they did not need but instead desired. Their possessions became the keepers and they the slaves. She saw all the blindness of avarice in those here who had spent every waking moment seeking and trying to hold onto possessions that would most assuredly perish, instead of striving to attain those which would most assuredly guarantee everlasting life.
She saw all these souls being thrown into the fire, like raw crude metal which needs to have all earthly impurities burned away so that only precious gold remains. Was all these souls had strived for and accumulated worth this? Thank God, they only knew that one time when standing before Our Lord, they saw the times they had hurt Our Lord, and seeing, condemned themselves to Purgatory, understanding that one time why they needed to spend this time here. Once there, they only wait for that time when they will be released and be able to see the Beatific Vision of God.
How many can look down on these Poor Souls? How many of us can look forward to time there? Choose God, before it is too late. Remember what Jesus said: “As was in the days of Noah, so will it be when the Son of Man comes. For in those days before the Flood, people were eating and drinking, taking wives, taking husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and they suspected nothing till the great Flood came and swept all away. It will be like this when the Son of Man comes. Then of two men in the fields, one is taken and one is left; of two women at the millstone grinding, one is taken and one left.
“So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your Master is coming. You may be quite sure of this that if the householder had known at what time of night the burglar would come, he would have stayed awake and would not have allowed anyone to break through the wall of the house. Therefore you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Souls who had been soiled by impure thoughts and actions
A young man came up to us one day, and said that his confessor had told him, it was alright to think about other women, but not to act on the thought - that the sin was in the doing not the thinking. Well, we told the young man that he probably misunderstood the priest because sin begins in the mind. Thoughts that are not fought become actions. Surely, thoughts can be temptations by the demons and we are not responsible for those thoughts. But should we entertain and persist willingly in these thoughts, they will most assuredly lead us to act upon these impure thoughts and sin. Impure and unholy thoughts begin in the mind and then travel to the other members of the body.
Her next stop was a dungeon that was filled with an unbearable stench, infested by filth and mire, diseased souls bearing the marks of such highly fatal, infectious and contagious diseases, such as the Bubonic Plague ( the social ills of our time - Syphilis, Aids and etc). She was almost overcome by waves of nausea, the sight and smell was so offensive. She was told that this was the place reserved for those whose souls had been tainted by impure actions.
A special place for the proud and ambitious
The sisters saw her rushing to another place in the garden. She later shared that, not able to view the disgusting spectacle any longer, the presence of so much decay and pestilence almost choking her, smothering her so she could barely breath, she had to flee to the next place no matter how horrible it might be; anything had to be better than this. The next area of Purgatory was dedicated to those souls whose focus in life had been to be popular, to be admired, to be looked up to. Their aims were ambitious, to the exclusion of any and all human feeling for others; their philosophy being, the end justifying the means, What ever it takes to succeed, go for it. Well, they went for it, and now they were in this dungeon of obscurity, with no one to console them. These souls sought the elusive treasures of this world, and the world and its lies betrayed them. They chose the respect of men over the Divine Respect of God and as always the father of lies, who leads us to this folly, betrayed them and here they were. The respect of humans died with them, and now much of their suffering, like that of others in Purgatory, was the longing to behold the Divine Image of that God to Whom they gave second place on earth.
Souls who had not thanked Our Lord for His plentiful Gifts
Coming toward the end of her journey into Purgatory, her next to last stop was reserved for those who prayed when they needed help from the Lord but, like the nine lepers, never thanked Him. They lit the candles in petition, but forgot Him in thanksgiving. When their petitions were granted, they soon forgot it was the work of the Lord and began to believe Satan’s lie that it was their doing and not the Lord’s, or that it was due to circumstances not miracles that the course of their lives had changed for the better.
These souls were immersed in a pool of boiling, bubbling, molten lead, many of them barely able to stay afloat. It seemed as if their cries would penetrate past the walls of Purgatory. Oh, she thought, If only those on earth could hear and see these poor souls, how they would pray!
The Last Stop
The last stop was a place of the least pain and suffering. It was filled with those souls who had not committed any grave wrongdoing, but out of lack of prudence had been guilty of lesser faults, venial sins. The problem with these sins is that they could have led to more serious mortal sins. They’d had a Guardian Angel (as all of us have), who warned them when they were doing something that could lead them astray and they, through pride or lack of wisdom, or just plain desire, chose to ignore the messenger of God and commit these minor infractions; then it is God’s Justice that they be cleansed of these imperfections by sharing to a lesser degree the suffering of the other Poor Souls in Purgatory.
At last, peace!
Saint Mary Magdalen de Pazzi left the garden hurriedly. She was heard pleading with the Lord to spare her this suffering in the future. She implored the Lord not to subject her to this again as she did not believe that her spirit could survive it. She shared she did not know why He had chosen her to share in these heartbreaking scenes, if not to make her aware of the hurt He suffers when we are party to the smallest sin, and to encourage her to avoid any stain of sin which would separate her from Him, not only in this world but in the next.
Saint Mary Magdalen sees her brother in Purgatory
Mary Magdalen saw her brother when she was visiting the different dungeons of Purgatory. He had led a truly Christian life, but he had received the many Graces to enable him to do so; therefore his responsibilities were great and he had failed to fulfill them as he should. There were faults that he had not atoned for, while still alive. Many times, Mary Magdalen had tried to warn him, but to no avail; he knew what he was doing. He shared that although he whole-heartedly accepted the suffering necessary to make him presentable to God, he longed to be in His presence. He pleaded with her to receive 107 Holy Communions, to help him make restitution for the times he had not put the Lord first in his life. Good and holy sister, she did as he had requested, all the while pleading with the Lord on his behalf.
The Sister who did not correspond to God’s Grace
There is another serious imperfection which requires God’s Justice and must be satisfied. It is the violation of God’s Grace. Grace is God’s Gift to us, and to not cooperate with it, is to throw it back in God’s Face. It is a precious Gift, a Gift to help us on our pilgrimage on earth.
The Sister whom Saint Mary Magdalen saw in Purgatory was guilty of not having appreciated God’s Grace on three different occasions. When we speak of this Sister’s offense against God, we must understand: “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”
Religious are granted special Graces to practice their vocations faithfully and fully. Heavenly Graces, as with earthly gifts, are to be appreciated to the extent they are given: the size of the gift, the importance of the Giver, and the thought behind the gift. With Religious, these Graces are imparted by the Perfect Spouse Who provides them with all His Heart. He bestows these Graces upon them, knowing His beloved brides; and knowing them, He knows their needs. He carefully fashioned them for Himself, in His Mind and Heart before the world began. Because He loves them, He desires to protect them for His very own. Imagine the Wounds on Jesus’ Heart when His religious, His brides refuse His Gifts. Such is what happened with this Sister who was in Purgatory.
Saint Mary Magdalen begins with the sister’s “rejection of an infusion of Grace” she received on one of the Church’s Feast Days. Although she was supposed to dedicate this day to the Lord, this sister chose to do some embroidery, instead. She heard that inner voice tell her, she was to observe this Holy and Solemn Feast in prayer and meditation. Although it was not urgent and could have waited, she chose to disobey the Rule and follow the dictates of the world with its shallow compensations.
Another time, knowing that there was a problem in the Community and she should tell her Superior, she chose to be silent. Knowing that sharing this would ultimately benefit the other Sisters, she elected to be still. Knowing how they would initially react, she traded God’s Divine Respect for that of the human respect of the Sisters. If she had realized the consequences of putting their acceptance or rejection before God’s, would she have done so?
The third fault is one that most of us have to fight, our inordinate attachment to our loved ones on earth. When this sister became the Bride of Christ, she pledged to Him her undying love, placing Him before all others. This was the covenant she made with the Lord. Her Spouse gave her His all, showering her with His Love. She, on the other hand, found herself becoming more and more involved with the concerns and ongoing demands of her family. Knowing this displeased her Lord, having the presence of His Grace there to advise and admonish her, she ignored it believing she could make it up to the Lord, and He would understand. She had forgotten Jesus’ words:
“Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”
Well, as we said before, you never know when the Lord is coming. Remember the story of the bridesmaids awaiting the Bridegroom? Five fell asleep without preparing oil for their lamps and five were prudent and were prepared when He unexpectedly arrived. When He came, the five who were unprepared asked for oil from the five who had prepared; they refused. When the five unprepared asked the Lord to “open the door” for them, He replied: “`I tell you solemnly, I do not know you.’ So stay awake, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
Needless to say, the Sister did not have time to make it up to the Lord, for she died soon after she had betrayed her commitment to the Lord.
Saint Mary Magdalen began to pray for her soul. Sixteen days after her death, the Sister appeared to Mary Magdalen and announced her deliverance from Purgatory. It shocked St. Mary Magdalen that this Sister, who was known for her piety, had suffered this long in Purgatory. When St. Mary Magdalen asked Why? the Sister shared that she had to make atonement for those times that she had ignored God’s Grace and put the world before Him. She said her period of suffering would have been much longer, had the Lord not taken into consideration her fidelity to Him (most of the time), and her faithful following of the Rule, as well as her good will in handling countless situations, and her love toward her other Sisters.