The following story about a soul in purgatory appearing to his daughter should move us all to pray for our loved ones who have died. Every time I think or dream of a friend or family member who has passed away, I think of it as they are in need of a Mass being offered for their repose. It is also good to have Mass offered for our deceased priests and religious.
You can read the entire article on purgatory based in part on the writings of certain saints here.
In 1870, Belgium fought as an ally with France against Germany.
In September of that year, Sister Maria Serafina, a Redemptorist nun in Malines, Belgium, was suddenly seized with inexplicable sadness.
Soon after, she received the news that her father had died in that war.
From that day on, Sister Maria repeatedly heard distressing groans and a voice saying, "My dear daughter, have mercy on me!"
Subsequently, she was besieged with torments, which included unbearable headaches. While laying down one day, she saw her father surrounded with flames and immersed in profound sadness.
He was suffering in Purgatory and had received permission from God to beseech prayers from his daughter and relate Purgatory's suffering to her. Thus he said:
I want you to have Masses, prayers and indulgences said on my behalf. Look how I am immersed in this fire-filled hole! Oh! If people knew what Purgatory is, they would suffer anything to avoid it and alleviate the suffering of souls here. Be very holy, my daughter, and observe the Holy Rule, even in its most insignificant points. Purgatory for religious is a terrible thing!
Sister Maria saw a pit full of flames, spewing black clouds of smoke. Her father was immersed in the pit where he was burning, horribly suffocated and thirsty. Opening his mouth she saw that his tongue was entirely shriveled.
"I am thirsty, my daughter, I am thirsty."
The next day, her father visited her again saying, "My daughter, it has been a long time since I saw you last."
"My father, it was just yesterday . . ."
"Oh! It seems like an eternity to me. If I stay in Purgatory three months, it will be an eternity. I was condemned for many years, but, due to Our Lady's intercession, my sentence was reduced to only a few months."
The grace of coming to earth was granted to him through his good works during his life and because he had been devoted to Our Lady receiving communion on all her feast days.
During these visions, Sister Maria Serafina asked her father several questions:
"Do souls in Purgatory know who is praying for them, and can they pray for us?"
"Yes, my daughter."
"Do these souls suffer, knowing that God is offended in their families and in the world?"
Directed by her confessor and her superior, she continued to question her father:
"Is it true that the sufferings of Purgatory are much greater than all the torments of earth and even of the martyrs?"
"Yes, my daughter, all this is very true."
Sister Serafina then asked if everyone who belongs to the Scapular Confraternity of Carmel (those who wear the scapular), is freed from Purgatory on the first Saturday after death:
"Yes," he answered, "but only if they are faithful to the Confraternity's obligations."
"Is it true that some souls must stay in Purgatory for as long as five hundred years?"
"Yes. Some are condemned until the end of the world. These souls are very guilty and entirely abandoned."
"Three main things draw God's malediction over men: failure to observe the Lord's Day through work, the very widespread vice of impurity, and blasphemy. Oh my daughter, how these blasphemies provoke the wrath of God!"
For over three months, Sister Serafina and her community prayed and offered penance for the soul of her tormented father who often appeared to her. During the elevation of the Host at Christmas Mass, Sister Maria saw her father shining like a sun with matchless beauty.
"I finished my sentence, and have come to thank you and your sisters for your prayers and pious exercises. I will pray for you in Heaven."