The pain of Purgatory is the penalty of sin,
and sin is a greater evil than all the other evils
of the whole world. Even the least venial sin
deliberately committed, is a worse evil than all the
physical misery men have endured from the Creation
until now. Hence, the corresponding punishment
must involve greater suffering than any
earthly anguish. Some have even maintained that
the lightest suffering in Purgatory is more intolerable
than the worst suffering on earth, and this
opinion has in its favor the authority of St. Thomas
himself. What reason, then, have I to dread Purgatory
and seek to atone for sin now!
The physical pain that the soul suffers in
this life is dulled, in that it comes through the
medium of the corruptible body, but in Purgatory
it directly and immediately affects the soul.
Hence, it comes with far greater intensity, inasmuch
as the soul is the root and spring of all sensibility.
It will be more closely in contact with the
fire, and at the same time the fire will be endowed
with a power to torture it with misery far
worse than the utmost pangs which can be inflicted
when the body intervenes.
The pain that we suffer in this life has necessarily
a limit by means of the weakness of the
body. Men faint away under extreme torture. But
in Purgatory the soul, freed from the body, will
have no such limit fixed to its agony; its power
of endurance will be in proportion to the suffering
it has deserved. How can I avoid this awful
agony that threatens me? Cultivate a love of
mortification now, and a hatred of any unlawful
indulgence of the body.