St Teresa of Avila speaks of the Holy Souls

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St Teresa speaks of purgatory & the Holy Souls

‘I know a person who, apart from wanting to die in order to see God, wanted to die so as not to feel the continual pain of how ungrateful she had been to One to whom she ever owed so much and would owe.  Thus it didn’t seem to her that anyone’s wickedness could equal her own, for she understood that there could be no one else from whom God would have had so much to put up with and to whom He had granted so many favours.  As for the fear of hell, such persons don’t have any.  That they might lose God, at times – though seldom – distresses them very much.  All their fear is that God might allow them out of His hand to offend Him, and they find themselves in as miserable a state as they were once before.  In regard to their own suffering or glory, they don’t care.  If they don’t want to stay long in purgatory, the reason comes from the fact of their not wanting to be away from God – as are those who are in purgatory – rather than from the suffering undergone there.’ IC 7.7.3

‘…understood how much more severe the feelings of the soul are than those of the body, and reflected that such must be the nature of the sufferings of souls in purgatory, for the fact that these souls have no body doesn’t keep them from suffering much more than they do through all the bodily sufferings they endure here on earth.’ IC 7.11.3

‘I was told that someone who had been our provincial was dead.  I had had some dealings with him and was indebted to him for some good deeds.  He was a person of many virtues.  As soon as I learned he was dead, I felt a lot of disturbance because I feared for his salvation in that he had been a superior for twenty years.  Being a superior is something I am indeed very afraid of since I think having souls in one’s charge involves a lot of danger; with much anxiety I went to an oratory.  I offered up for him all the good I had done in my life, which must in fact amount to little, and so I asked the Lord to supply from His own merits what was necessary for that soul to be freed from purgatory.

While beseeching the Lord for this as best I could, it seemed to me that person came out from the depths of the earth at my right side and that I saw him ascend to heaven with the greatest happiness.’ L 38.26-27


‘One of the nuns in the house who had been a great servant of God had been dead a little more than a day and a half.  A nun was reciting a reading in the choir from the Office of the dead, which was being said for the departed soul, and I was standing so as to recite the verse with her.  When she was half through the reading, I saw the nun who had died; it seemed to me her soul had come out at my right side just as in the previous case and was going to heaven.  This was not an imaginative vision as was the former one, but like the others I mentioned; yet this kind is as certain as the imaginative visions.’ L38.28


‘Eighteen or twenty years ago another nun died in the house I was in.  She had always been sick and been a very good servant of God, devoted to her choir duties and most virtuous.  I thought certainly she would not enter purgatory, because the illnesses she had suffered were many, and that she would have a surplus of merits.  Four hours after her death, while reciting the hours of the Office before her burial, I understood she departed from purgatory and went to heaven.’ L38.30


‘Another friar of our order, a truly very good friar, was seriously ill; while I was at Mass, I became recollected and saw that he was dead and that he ascended to heaven without entering purgatory.  He died at the hour I saw him, according to what I learned later.  I was amazed he hadn’t entered purgatory.  I understood that since he was a friar who had observed his vows well the Bulls of the order about not entering purgatory were beneficial to him.  I don’t know why I came to understand this.  I seems to me it must have been because being a friar doesn’t consist in the habit – I mean in wearing it – but in enjoying the state of higher perfection, which is what it means to be a friar.’ L38.31


‘I don’t want to say anything more about these things, for as I have said there’s no reason for my doing so – although there are many things the Lord has granted me the favour of seeing.  But of all that I’ve seen, I haven’t know any soul that did not enter purgatory, with the exception of the soul of this father and that of the holy Friar Peter of Alcantara and the Dominican father I mentioned.  In the case of some, the Lord was pleased that I behold the degrees of glory they possess, and he showed me the places assigned to them.  Great is the difference that lies between the glory of some and that of others.’ L38.32


‘ much greater the sufferings of souls in hell and purgatory are than what can be understood of them from bodily sufferings here on earth.’ ST 59.17


‘I beg you to strive to be such that we might merit from God two things: First, that among the numerous learned men and religious there be many who wll meet these requirements I mentioned that are necessary for this battle, and that the Lord may prepare those who do not meet them; one who is perfect will do much more than many who are not.  Second, that after being placed in this combat, which as I say, is not easy, they may receive protection from the Lord so as to remain free of the many perils there are in the world, and stop their ears in order not to hear the siren’s song on this dangerous sea.  If we can obtain some answers from God to these requests, we shall be fighting for Him even though we are very cloistered.  And if some of our requests are answered, I would consider well worthwhile the trials I have suffered in order to found this little corner, where I have also sought that this rule of our Lady and Empress be observed with the perfection with which it was observed when initiated.


Do not think it is useless to have these petitions continually in your heart, for with some persons it seems a difficult thing for them not to be praying a great deal for their own soul.  But what better prayer is there than these petitions I mentioned:  If you are uneasy because you think your sufferings in purgatory will not be shortened, know that by this prayer they will be; and if you must still pay some debts, so be it.  What would it matter were I to remain in purgatory until judgement day if through my prayer I could save even one soul?  How much less would it matter if my prayer is to the advantage of many and for the honour of the Lord.  Pay not attention to suffering s that come to an end if through them some greater service is rendered to Him who endured so many for us.’ WP 3.5-6


‘May it please His Majesty to give us His love before He takes us out of this life, for it will be a great thing at the hour of death to see that we are going to be judged by the One whom we have loved above all things.  We shall be able to proceed securely with the judgement concerning our debts.  It will not be like going to a foreign country but like going to our own, because it is the country of one whom we love so much and who loves us.  Remember here, my daughters, the gain there is in this love, and the loss in not having it.  Such a loss puts us in the hands of the enemy, in hands so cruel, hands so hostile towards everything good, and so fond of everything bad.


What will become of the poor soul that, after being freed from the sufferings and trials of death, falls immediately into these hands?  What terrible rest it receives!  How mangled as it goes to hell!  What a multitude of different kinds of serpents!  What a terrifying place!  What a wretched inn!  If it is hard for a self-indulgent person (for such are the ones who will be more likely to go there) to spend one night in a bad inn, what do you think that sad soul will feel at being in this kind of inn forever, without end?


Let us not desire delights, daughters; we are well-off here; the bad inn lasts for only a night.  Let us praise God; let us fore ourselves to do penance in this life.  How sweet will be the death of one who has done penance for all his sins, of one who won’t have to go to purgatory!  Even from here below you can begin to enjoy glory!  You will find no fear within yourself but complete peace.

As long as we have not reached this state, Sisters, let us beseech God that if therefore we are to receive sufferings, they will be received here below.’ WP 40.8-10

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