Of the state of the souls in Hell and of the difference between
them and those in Purgatory. Reflections of this saint on those
who are careless of their salvation.
Hence it is manifest that there is perversity of will, contrary to the will
of God, where the guilt is known and ill will persists, and that the guilt
of those who have passed with ill will from this life to Hell is not
remitted, nor can be since they may no longer change the will with which
they have passed out of this life, in which passage the soul is made stable
in good or evil in accordance with its deliberate will. As it is written,
“Ubi te invenero,” that is in the hour of death, with the will to sin or
dissatisfaction with sin or repentance for sin, “Ibi te judicabo.” Of which
judgment there is afterwards no remission, as I will shew:
After death free will can never return, for the will is fixed as it was at
the moment of death. Because the souls in Hell were found at the moment of
death to have in them the will to sin, they bear the guilt throughout
eternity, suffering not indeed the pains they merit but such pains as they
endure, and these without end. But the souls in Purgatory bear only pain,
for their guilt was wiped away at the moment of their death when they were
found to be ill content with their sins and repentant for their offences
against divine goodness. Therefore their pain is finite and its time ever
lessening, as has been said.
O misery beyond all other misery, the greater that human blindness takes it
not into account!
The pain of the damned is not infinite in quantity because the dear
goodness of God sheds the ray of His mercy even in Hell. For man dead in
sin merits infinite pain for an infinite time, but God’s mercy has allotted
infinity to him only in time and has determined the quantity of his pain;
in justice God could have given him more pain.
O how dangerous is sin committed in malice! Hardly does a man repent him
thereof, and without repentance he will bear its guilt for as long as he
perseveres, that is for as long as he wills a sin committed or wills to sin
Of the peace and the joy there are in Purgatory.
The souls in Purgatory have wills accordant in all things with the will of
God, who therefore sheds on them His goodness, and they, as far as their
will goes, are happy and cleansed of all their sin. As for guilt, these
cleansed souls are as they were when God created them, for God forgives
their guilt immediately who have passed from this life ill content with
their sins, having confessed all they have committed and having the will to
commit no more. Only the rust of sin is left them and from this they
cleanse themselves by pain in the fire. Thus cleansed of all guilt and
united in will to God, they see Him clearly in the degree in which He makes
Himself known to them, and see too how much it imports to enjoy Him and
that souls have been created for this end. Moreover, they are brought to so
uniting a conformity with God, and are drawn to Him in such wise, His
natural instinct towards souls working in them, that neither arguments nor
figures nor examples can make the thing clear as the mind knows it to be in
effect and as by inner feeling it is understood to be. I will, however,
make one comparison which comes to my mind.
A comparison to shew with what violence and what love the souls
in Purgatory desire to enjoy God.
If in all the world there were but one loaf of bread to feed the hunger of
all creatures, and if they were satisfied by the sight of it alone, then
since man, if he be healthy, has an instinct to eat, his hunger, if he
neither ate nor sickened nor died, would grow unceasingly for his instinct
to eat would not lessen. Knowing that there was only that loaf to satisfy
him and that without it he must still be hungry, he would be in unbearable
pain. All the more if he went near that loaf and could not see it, would
his natural craving for it be strengthened; his instinct would fix his
desire wholly on that loaf which held all that could content him; at this
point, if he were sure he would never see the loaf again, he would be in
Hell. Thus are the souls of the damned from whom any hope of ever seeing
their bread, which is God, the true Savior, has been taken away. But the
souls in Purgatory have the hope of seeing their bread and wholly
satisfying themselves therewith. Therefore they suffer hunger and endure
pain in that measure in which they will be able to satisfy themselves with
the bread which is Jesus Christ, true God and Savior and our Love.