IT'S a subject long overdue, as I had twice said before I was about to dwell on the Manuscript of Purgatory (which used to be known as Unpublished Manuscript on Purgatory), but failed to do so. It’s a publication considered a “historical document” with the appropriate imprimatur and nihil obstat of Catholic church authorities. Now, here it is, the timing even more appropriate after recent columns that dwelt on prophecies with apocalyptic tones, for it can’t be gainsaid that belief in what we declare in the Credo as “life everlasting” should give us strength even in admittedly terrifying times foreseen by mystics.
When my father passed on last year at age 92, the knowledge I had learned from the publication greatly reduced my sorrow. A few minutes after he breathed his last as I led a prayer for the repose of his soul, I looked not at my father’s immobile body but towards the ceiling where he could be floating, still perplexed about the strangeness of his new situation, yet overly concerned over his bereaved family’s grief and telling us, without our hearing him, that he was fine. Yet, almost immediately, he gave me signs he was well and even thankful, further boosting my faith in the afterlife, the everlasting one we cite whenever we pray the Credo
The Manuscript of Purgatory is a word-for-word account of Sister Mary of the Cross, as she encountered the disembodied spirit of Sr. Mary Gabriel who had died in their convent on February 22, 1871, at the age of 36. It turned out that Sr. Mary Gabriel was in Purgatory but was permitted by God to instruct and interact with the former until her ascent to Heaven. The interaction enabled Mary of the Cross to quench her interest in what happens after death. It was an interaction that was to last from 1874 to 1890 and Mary of the Cross put this into writing, with the guidance of a priest, and leaving us an incomparable and astonishing treasure trove of information on the world each of us is to face someday, inevitably.
There used to be copies of the publication, in the form of booklets, sold abundantly at St. Paul’s bookstore, but these days they are rare to find for reasons I do not know. Thus, my decision to spread the good news, even as we continue to face the rising crescendo of tribulations.
Even before the publication saw print, Rev. Fr. Prevel of the Fathers of Pontingy, who had guided Mary of the Cross through her experiences, later wrote to her on Nov. 4, 1912, thus: "Tell me about your dear suffering one, who must now be long since enjoying the glory of her Beloved. Has she abandoned you? Or does she console you in your sorrows? Have you continued writing down what she says? For my part, I have kept most carefully your former notes and have reread them many times."
It was a letter that boosted the credibility of what Mary of the Cross had put in writing, on top of the support of Canon Dubosq, superior of the Seminary of Bayeux and Promotor Fideiin the canonical process for the beatification and canonization of St. Therese of the Child Jesus.
With the publication firmly ensconced, thus, let me share now what I find to be the most interesting quotes from departed Sr. Mary Gabriel, addressing herself to Mary Of the Cross, as she rose from Purgatory to Heaven.
In the following quote, Sr. Mary Gabriel cites other people who have also already passed on, including their former convent mother superior.
“Our Mother Superior is in Heaven since the day of her death, thanks to her suffering and great charity. If you were as perfect as God wishes you to be, He would be ready to bestow many graces upon you. God wants you to be holier than many others. Father ____ is in Purgatory, because he was too fond of giving retreats and preaching in many places, instead of taking care of his parish. If you make the intention, God will accept whatever you do, for all the souls in Purgatory, just as if applied to one particular soul. I am the one who is suffering most at the present moment since I was not true to my vocation.
“Next to the Mass, the Way of the Cross is the best prayer. Observe the strict silence well, because I often violated it. I suffer more than Sister____ because she was faithful to her vocation. Suffering, however, caused her to complain, as she was badly directed spiritually.
“I am not able to give a visible sign. God does not permit it. I am not worthy. Because I have annoyed you so much, God wants you to pray for me. You may also tell this to Sister____ to whom I was a great source of trouble and also to Mother Superior, as I made her suffer much. Poor Reverend Mother, if only she would have some Masses offered up for me. Say a few rosaries for me and make your meditations of the Cross...
“If you could only know what I suffer! Pray for me, please. I suffer intensely everywhere. My God, how merciful You are! No one can imagine what Purgatory is like. Be kind and take pity on the poor souls...
“Do not neglect the Way of the Cross. While on earth you will frequently suffer in body and soul, and often in both together.
“It is so beautiful in Heaven. There is a great distance between Purgatory and Heaven. We are privileged at times to catch a glimpse of the joys of the blessed in Paradise, but it is almost a punishment. It makes us yearn to see God. In Heaven, it is pure delight; in Purgatory, profound darkness...
“Mother E___ is in Heaven because she was a hidden and very spiritual soul. No, indeed I am not the devil; I am Sister Mary Gabriel and I will try you till I am in Heaven. After that, I, in my turn, will pray for you. Yes, I can pray even now and I will do so every day. You will then realize that the souls in Purgatory are not ungrateful.
“Those who are very guilty do not see the Blessed Virgin. It gives great joy to God when anyone is the cause of freeing a soul from Purgatory.” (To be continued)