“The souls in purgatory pray for us, and their prayers are even more effective than ours, because they are accompanied by their suffering. So, let’s pray for them, and let’s pray them to pray for us.” –Saint Padre Pio
Some people fear purgatory. Not me. I think suffering in purgatory would actually be easier to bear than the suffering on earth. Fear and dread of suffering would be absent, and that is what makes our suffering doubly awful. Those in purgatory would have already experienced firsthand the mercy and justice of God. Touched by God, how could there be fear or dread? These souls would fully understand the spiritual goods that can come of suffering, the greatest being a purer love.
This is not to say fear and dread of suffering are bad. To the contrary, here on earth they are essential. They are the things that inspire us avoid unnecessary suffering, drive us to seek healthy ways to live, and seek treatment when we need it.
Regardless of how much or little we suffer our attitude is the thing that brings us closer to heaven. We can allow fear and dread to consume us making us run from our problems and pain in unhealthy ways or we can practice purgatory-suffering; that is, facing it squarely so suffering can impart its gifts: Humility with regard to our human state and associated predicaments. A gentle and kind spirit toward ourselves and others. Diligence in loving ourselves by taking reasonable actions to improve our pains. Patient long-suffering with increasing trust and confidence in God especially when treatments and our actions can’t take the pain away.
God’s Will is not for us to suffer. But since we must by reason of our humanity let’s open ourselves to the gifts it can bring. Pray for those who have gone before us but also ask them to pray for you. We are all on this journey to God together.
“for the lamb who is in the center of the throne will Shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Rev 7:17
Quote of Padre Pio was found on the free Apple phone download of Laudete, which I highly recommend; Scripture verse from USCCB website; Stain Glass from Cathedral of San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico photographed by Daderot, Oct 21, 2011 and released to public domain and retrieved on Wikimedia.