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Our Lady of Purgatory

The gratitude of the souls in Purgatory

Gratitude is undoubtedly in proportion to the service rendered, and also in proportion to the elevation of heart of the one who has been obliged. How then can the souls in Purgatory, once in Heaven, not obtain favors from those who have led them there by their prayers?

A poor servant girl, brought up as a Christian in her village, had adopted the holy practice of having a mass said every month from her modest savings for suffering souls. Brought with her masters to the capital, she did not miss a single mass, making it a law to attend the divine Sacrifice herself, and to unite her prayers to those of the priest, especially in favor of the soul whose atonement needed only a little more to be completed.

God soon tested her with a long illness, which not only made her suffer cruelly, but also made her lose her place and exhaust her last resources. The day she was able to leave, she had only twenty cents left for all her money. After praying a trusting prayer to Heaven, she set out to find a condition. She had been told of an employment office at the other end of the city, and was on her way there when the church of St. Eustatius stood in her way. The sight of a priest at the altar reminded her that she had missed her regular mass for the dead that month, and that this was the very day she had been seeking this consolation for many years. But how could she do this? If she gave up her last franc, she would not even have enough left to satisfy her hunger. It was a struggle between her devotion and human prudence. Devotion won out. “After all,” she said to herself, “the Good Lord sees that it is for Him, and He would not abandon me!” She entered the sacristy, handed in her offering, and then attended the mass with her usual fervor.

She continued on her way, a few moments later, full of an understandable anxiety. Without any means of support, what would she do if she missed a job? She was in these thoughts, when a pale young man, of a slender size, of a distinguished bearing, approached her and said: “Are you looking for a job? – Yes, sir. – Well, go to such and such a street, such and such a number, to Madame Z’s; I think you will suit her and that you will be well there.” And he disappeared into the crowd of passers-by, without waiting for the thanks that the poor girl addressed to him.

She was shown the street, recognized the number, and went up to the apartment. A maid came out, holding a package under her arm, and muttering words of complaint and anger. “Is Madame there?” asked the newcomer. – Perhaps yes, perhaps no,” replied the other. “What do I care? Madame will open it herself if it suits her; I have no more to do with it. Farewell.” And she went downstairs. Our heroine rings trembling, and a gentle voice tells her to go on. She finds herself in front of an elderly lady, of venerable appearance, who encourages her to state her request. “Madam,” said the maid, “I learned this morning that you needed a maid, and I have come to offer myself to you: I have been assured that you would welcome me with kindness. – But, my dear child, what you are saying is quite extraordinary. This morning I had no need of anyone; only half an hour ago I chased away an insolent maid, and there is not a soul in the world, apart from her and myself, who still knows it. Who then sent you? – It was a gentleman, madam; a young gentleman whom I met in the street, who stopped me for it, and I blessed God for it, for I must absolutely be placed today: I have not a penny left.”

The old lady could not understand who this personage was, and was lost in conjecture, when the maid, looking up over a piece of furniture in the little drawing-room, beheld a portrait. “Here, madam,” she said at once, “don’t look any further: this is exactly the figure of the young man who spoke to me; it is from him that I have come…”

At these words, the lady utters a great cry and seems ready to lose consciousness. She was told the whole story, of the devotion to the souls in purgatory, of the morning mass, of the meeting with the stranger; then, throwing herself around the poor girl’s neck, she embraced her effusively, and said to her: “You will not be my servant, you are from this moment my daughter! It is my son, my only son that you have seen; my son dead for two years, who owed his deliverance to you, I cannot doubt it, and to whom God has allowed to send you here. Bless you, then, and let us now pray together for all those who suffer before entering blessed eternity.”

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