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For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith
For the Kingdom of God to come!
Archangela Panigarola, prioress of the monastery of St. Martha in Milan, had an extraordinary zeal for the relief of the souls in Purgatory; she prayed and made others pray for them. However, she rarely thought of the soul of her father Gothard, even though she had loved him dearly during his life. Sometimes the thought came to her, and she resolved to recommend him in particular: then she thought of something else or of other souls, and the forgetfulness persisted. An unexpected and marvelous event drew her out of this insensitivity.
On the day of the feast of the dead, she had shut herself up in her cell to pray for them and to perform various acts of penance on their behalf. Suddenly her guardian angel appeared to her, took her by the hand and led her in spirit to Purgatory. There, among the souls she saw, she recognized that of her father, immersed in a pond of icy water. As soon as he had recognized his daughter, he rose towards her and shouted: “Alas! Archangela my daughter, how could you forget so long your unhappy father, in the tortures which he suffers here? You show yourself animated by a sweet charity towards strangers; I have seen many of them ascend to heaven by your suffrages: and for me, your father, to whom you owe so much, who loved you, raised you, favored you, you have not the least feeling of compassion! Don’t you see that I am lying in this lake of ice with unbearable pain, as a punishment for my lukewarmness in the service of God and my indifference to His law and the salvation of souls? Ah, be moved only once with pity for your father, and by the fervor of your prayers make him obtain mercy at last and ascend to the abode of glory and rest!”
Archangela remained speechless at these reproaches, which she recognized as deserving; soon her grief poured out in a torrent of tears, and it was amidst the sobs that she was able to answer these few words, “I will do, O my beloved father, all that you ask of me, and I will do it immediately. May the Lord grant that my supplications deliver you!”
The angel then led her to another place. She asked him how it was that, having often intended and formed the resolution to pray for her father, she had mostly forgotten him, and why God had allowed such a distraction. “I even remember, she said, that one morning, as I began to intercede for him, I was ravished in spirit, and it seemed to me that I was offering him a very white loaf of bread, but that he looked at it with a disdainful air and refused to take it. This made me fear that he was damned. The fact is that I hardly thought of praying for him, while I thought of it for so many others who are not attached to me by any bond.”
The angel replied, “Your forgetfulness was permitted by God as a punishment for the little zeal of your father, when he was alive, to work for his salvation. He had no bad morals, it is true, but he showed no eagerness for the pious works that Heaven inspired him to do, and when he did do any of them, it was without the desired attention or intention. God usually imposes this penalty on those who have spent their lives in this way, without any eagerness for good: He allows them to behave as they have behaved towards the Lord. Forgetting for forgetting. This was the meaning of the refusal of the bread that was shown to you. But now you must multiply your suffrages in his favor, and obtain from the divine mercy that She may draw him out of this place of torment.”
Archangela was returned to her, but so moved, so broken with grief, that she had not a moment’s peace; it seemed to her that she always heard the groans and cries of her poor father, and she shed all the tears from her eyes. We cannot say how many prayers, fasts, and macerations she made for this dear soul. She used to ask for the deliverance of souls in the name of the most precious Blood of the Savior and of the infinite Love He showed us on the cross; from now on she added a new invocation, that of the merits of the divine Mother, when on Calvary she contemplated Her Son expiring. Finally, when eternal justice had been satisfied, the soul of Gothard appeared to her, luminous, flooded with joy; she thanked her in the most touching terms; after which she rose triumphantly to heaven, leaving Archangela as happy as she had previously been with sorrow and regret.