Maria Simma “A soul in Purgatory sees very clearly on the day of his funeral if we really pray for him or if we have simply made an act of presence to show we were there. The poor souls say that tears are no good to them, only prayer. Often they complain that people go to a funeral without addressing a single prayer to God, while shedding many tears; this is useless!”
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Maria, can you now tell us what are the most effective means to help deliver the souls in Purgatory?
Maria Simma: The most efficient means is the Mass.
Why the Mass?
Maria Simma: Because it is Christ who offers himself out of love for us. It is the offering of Christ himself to God, the most beautiful offering. The priest is God’s representative, but it is God himself who offers himself and sacrifices himself for us. The efficacy of the Mass for the deceased is even greater for those who attached great value to the Mass during their lives. If they attended Mass and prayed with all their hearts, if they went to Mass on weekdays — according to their time available — they draw great profit from Masses celebrated for them. Here, too, one harvests what one has sown. A soul in Purgatory sees very clearly on the day of his funeral if we really pray for him or if we have simply made an act of presence to show we were there. The poor souls say that tears are no good to them, only prayer. Often they complain that people go to a funeral without addressing a single prayer to God, while shedding many tears; this is useless!
Concerning the Mass, I will quote a beautiful example given by the Cure of Ars to his parishioners. He told them:
“My children, a good priest had the unhappiness to lose a friend he cherished tenderly, and so he prayed very much for the repose of his soul. One day, God made known to him that his friend was in Purgatory and suffered terribly. The holy priest believed that he could not do better than to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for his dear friend who had died. At the moment of the consecration, he took the host between his fingers and said ‘Holy Eternal Father, let us make an exchange. You hold the soul of my friend who is in Purgatory, and I hold the Body of Your Son in my hands. Well good and merciful Father; deliver my friend and I offer you your Son with all the merits of his death and Passion.’
“The request was answered. In fact, at the moment of the elevation, he saw the soul of his friend, shining in glory, rising to Heaven; God had accepted the deal.
“My children, when we want to deliver from Purgatory a soul dear to us, let us do the same; let us offer to God, through the Holy Sacrifice, His Beloved Son with all the merits of His death and Passion. He will not be able to refuse us anything.”
Don’t waste your earthly sufferings
There is another means, very powerful, to help the poor souls; the offering of our sufferings, our penance, such as fasting, renunciations, etc, — and of course involuntary suffering like illness or mourning.
Maria, you have been invited many times to suffer for the poor souls, in order to deliver them. Can you tell us what you have experienced and undergone during these times?
Maria Simma: The first time, a soul asked me if I wouldn’t mind suffering for three house in my body, for her, and that afterwards I could resume working. I said to myself: “If It will all be over after three house, I could accept it.” During these three hours, I had the impression that they lasted three days, it was so painful. But at the end, I looked at my watch and I saw that it had only lasted three hours. The soul told me that by accepting that suffering with love for three hours, I had saved her twenty years of Purgatory!
Yes, but why did you suffer for only three house to avoid twenty years of Purgatory? What did your sufferings have that was worth more?
Maria Simma: It is because suffering on earth does not have the same value. On earth, when we suffer; we can grow in love, we can gain merits, which is not the case with the sufferings in Purgatory. In Purgatory, the sufferings serve only to purify us from sin. On earth, we have all the graces. We have the freedom to choose.
All this is so encouraging because it gives an extraordinary meaning to our suffering; the suffering which is offered, voluntary or involuntary, even the smallest sacrifices we can make, suffering or sickness, mourning, disappointment…if we live them with patience, if we welcome them in humility, these sufferings can have an unheard-of power to help souls. The best thing to do, Maria tells us, is to unite our sufferings to those of Jesus, by placing them in the hands of Mary. She is the one who know best how to use them, since often we ourselves do not know the most urgent needs around us. All this, of course, Mary will give back to use at the hour of our death. You see, these sufferings offered will be our most precious treasures in the other world. We must remind each other of this and encourage each other when we suffer.
And don’t begrudge your prayers
Another very effective means, Maria tells us, is the Stations of the Cross, because, by contemplating the suffering of the Lord, we begin little by little to hate sins, and to desire salvation for all people. And this inclination of the heart brings great relief to the souls in Purgatory. The Stations of the Cross also move us to repentance; we start repenting when faced with sin. Another point, very helpful to the souls in Purgatory, is to say the rosary, all fifteen mysteries, for the sake of the deceased. Through the rosary, many souls are delivered from Purgatory each year; it must be said here as well that it is the Mother of God herself who comes to Purgatory to deliver the souls. This is very beautiful, because souls in Purgatory call Our Lady the “Mother of Mercy.”
The souls also tell Maria that indulgences have an inestimable value for their deliverance. It is sometimes cruel not to make use of this treasure that the Church proposes for the profit of souls. The subject of indulgences would be too long to explain here, but I can refer you to the marvellous text written by Pope Paul VI in 1968 on the subject. You can ask your parish priest for it, or simply ask at your usual religious bookstore. Therefore, we can say that the great means of helping the souls in Purgatory is prayer in general; all kinds of prayer. Here I would like to give you the testimony of Hermann Cohen, a Jewish artist who converted to Catholicism in 1864 and greatly venerated the Eucharist. He left the world and entered a very austere religious order; he frequently adored the Blessed Sacrament for which he had a great veneration. During his adoration, he would beg the Lord to convert his mother, whom he loved so much.
Well his mother died without having been converted. so Hermann, sick with sorrow, prostrated himself before the Blessed Sacrament, in deep grief, praying: “Lord, I owe you everything, it is true. But what have I refused you? My youth, my hopes in the world, my well-being, the joys of a family, a rest — maybe well deserved — all sacrificed as soon as you called me. And you , Lord, Eternal Goodness, who promised to give back a hundredfold, you have refused me the soul of my mother. My God, I succumb to this martyrdom, I will stop my complaints.” He cried his poor heart out. Suddenly, a mysterious voice struck his ear: “Man of little faith! Your mother is saved. Know that prayer is all-powerful in my presence. I gathered all those you had addressed to me for your mother, and my Providence took account of her in her last hour. At the moment she expired, I came to her; she saw Me and cried: ‘My Lord and my God’! Have courage, your mother has avoided damnation and fervent supplication will soon deliver her soul from the bonds of Purgatory.
And we know that Father Hermann Cohen, soon afterwards, learned through a second apparition that his mother had risen to Heaven.
I recommend strongly as well the prayers of St. Bridget which are most recommended for the poor souls. Let me add something important: the souls in Purgatory can no longer do anything for themselves; they are totally helpless. If the living do not pray for them, they are totally abandoned. Therefore, it is very important to realize the immense power, the incredible power that each one of us has in his hands to relieve these souls who suffer. We wouldn’t think twice about helping a child who has fallen in front of us from a tree and who had broken his bones. Of course, we would do everything for him! So, in the same way, we should take great care of these souls, who expect everything from us, attentive to the slightest offering, hopeful for the least of our prayers, to relieve them from their pain. And it might be the finest way to practice charity. I think, for example, of the kindness of the Good Samaritan in the Gospel, towards the man left half-dead on the roadside bleeding from his wounds. This man depended completely on the good heart of the passer-by.
Maria, why can one on longer gain merits in Purgatory, when one can on earth?
Maria Simma: Because at the moment of death, the time to earn merits is over. For as long as we are living on earth, we can repair the evil we have done. The souls in Purgatory envy us this opportunity. Even the angels are jealous of us, for we have the possibility of growing for as long as we are on earth. But often, the suffering in our lives leads us to rebellion and we have great difficulty in accepting and living it. How can we live suffering so that it bears fruit? Sufferings are the greatest proof of the love of God, and if we offer them well they can win many souls. But how can we welcome suffering as a gift and not as a punishment (as we often do), as a chastisement? We must give everything to Our Lady. She is the one who knows best who needs such and such an offering in order to be saved.
On the subject of suffering, I would like to relate an extraordinary testimony that Maria told us of. It was in 1954, and a series of deadly avalanches had struck a village next to Maria’s. Later, other avalanches had struck, but they had been stopped, in a completely miraculous way, before reaching the village, so that there was no damage. The souls explained that in this village had died a woman who had been ill and was not properly treated; she had suffered terribly for thirty years. And she had offered all her suffering for the sake of her village. The souls explained to Maria that it was thanks to the offering of this woman that the village had been spared the avalanches. She had borne her sufferings with patience. Maria tells us that if she had enjoyed good health, the village could not of been saved. She adds that sufferings borne with patience can save more souls than prayer (but prayer helps us to bear our sufferings).
Maria Simma: We should not always consider suffering as a punishment. I can be accepted as expiation not only for ourselves but above all for others. Christ was innocence itself and He suffered the most for the expiation of our sins. Only in Heaven will we know all that we have obtained by suffering with patience in union with the sufferings of Christ.
Maria, do the souls in Purgatory rebel when faced with their suffering?
Maria Simma: No! They want to purify themselves; they understand that it is necessary.
At the point of death
What is the role of contrition or repentance at the moment of death?
Maria Simma: Contrition is very important. The sins are forgiven, in any case, but there remain the consequences of sins. If one wishes to receive a full indulgence at the moment of death — that means going straight to Heaven — the soul has to be free from all attachment.
Here, I would like to share a very significant testimony given by Maria. She was asked to find out about a woman that her relations believed to be lost, because she had led an awful life. Well, she had an accident, she fell from a train and this accident killed her. A soul told Maria that this woman had been saved, saved from Hell, because at the moment of death, she said to God: “You are right to take my life, because in this way I will not longer be able to offend you.” And this had erased all her sins. This example is highly significant, for it shows that a single moment of humility, of repentance at the moment of death, can save us. This doesn’t mean that she did not go to Purgatory, but she avoided Hell which she perhaps deserved thought her impiety.
Maria, I would like to ask you: at the moment of death, is there a time in which the soul still has the chance to turn towards God, even after a sinful life, before entering into eternity — a time, if you like, between apparent death and real death?
Maria Simma: Yes, yes, the Lord gives several minutes to each one, in order to regret his sins and to decide: I accept or I do not accept to go see God. There, we see a film of our lives.
I knew a man who believed in the Church’s teachings, but not in eternal life. One day, he fell gravely ill, and slid into a coma. He saw himself in a room with a board on which all his deeds were written, the good and the bad. Then the board disappeared as well as the walls of the room, and it was infinitely beautiful. Then he woke up from his coma and decided to change his life.
This is very much like the testimonies of “near death experiences”; the experience of the supernatural light is such that people can no longer live afterwards as they had lived before.
Maria, at the moment of death, does God reveal himself with the same intensity to all souls?
Maria Simma: Each one is given knowledge of his life and also the suffering to come; but it is not the same for everyone. The intensity of the Lord’s revelation depends on each one’s life.
Maria, does the devil have permission to attack us at the moment of death?
Maria Simma: Yes, but man also has the grace to resist him, to push him away. So, if man does not want anything to do with him, the devil can do nothing.
That’s good news! When someone knows he is going to die soon, what is for him the best way to get prepared?
Maria Simma: To abandon himself totally to the Lord. Offer all his sufferings. Be completely happy in God.
And what attitude should one have before someone who is going to die? What is the best that one can do for him?
Maria Simma: Pray hard! Prepare him for death; one must speak the truth.
Maria, what advice would you give to anyone who wants to become a saint here on earth?
Maria Simma: Be very humble. We must not be occupied with ourselves. Pride is evil’s greatest trap.
Maria, please tell us: can one ask the Lord to do one’s Purgatory on earth, in order not to have to do it after death?
Maria Simma: Yes. I knew a priest and a young woman who were both ill with tuberculosis in the hospital. The young woman said to the priest: “Let’s ask the Lord to be able to suffer on earth as much as necessary in order to go straight to Heaven.” The Priest replied that he himself didn’t dare to ask for this. Nearby was a religious Sister who had overheard the whole conversation. The young woman died first, the priest died later; and he appeared to the Sister, saying: “If only I had had the same trust as this young woman, I too would have gone straight to Heaven.”
Thank you, Maria, for this lovely testimony. (At this point, Maria asked for a five-minute break, as she had to go and feed her chickens… But the minute she returned, we continued with our questions.)