Three panels: To the right, in the perspective of the Divine Judge in the center top: heaven. To the left, in the perspective of the Divine Judge in the center: hell.
Not much purgatory going on here for a painting being promoted by Holy Souls Hermitage! But purgatory is not the point, which, instead, is that, in the end, there will only be heaven and hell. As seen in the painting, just a few a going to heaven while a multitude is going to hell. Heaven is truly heaven, and hell is just hell. For eternity.
Note that those in the center, coming in for the judgement, all look the same, whatever side of the picture they are on. You only notice the difference as they start to be ushered into heaven or hell. Appearences aren’t everything, are they?
When those who are obedient to God die, they are holy souls, having the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity within them: sanctifying grace.
If these holy souls are in purgatory, learning just how much they owe a debt of humble thanksgiving they need to render to God, they can, by way of special privilege, appear to those on earth, asking for prayers. If they do, ever so rarely, mind you, they only do so in the most holy of manners possible. They are holy. They are good and kind. They just need help. They will not harass, upset or scare people. They will not make spooky noises or look like ghosts of whatever kind. They are not poltergeists. They are not malicious, causing trouble until they are appeased in whatever way. They are peaceful and gentle… suffering much to be sure… but always good and kind. Their visit to earth to ask for prayers is made possible in all justice because of the charity of God Himself, uniting the Church Suffering in purgatory with the Church Militant on this earth, not to mention also with the Church Triumphant in heaven.
If these holy souls are in heaven, with grace turned to glory, they can also visit the earth according to the will of God. Saints, you have to know, are not going to scare anyone, make them despair or whatever. They are also peaceful, full of enthusiasm to rejoice in God. This is also made possible in all justice by God’s charity shared in heaven and earth, not to mention purgatory.
If someone dies and goes to hell, however, there is no returning to the earth. This is something God, in all justice, does not permit. There is no link with hell and earth for the damned.
Note that Satan and his minions remain, as it was their task before their own fall from grace to take care of the physical universe and to teach man to love and serve the Lord. Just because they have fallen does not mean that must leave their office. It is retained, except they turn it upside down. Instead of serving man, Satan and his minions accept fallen man’s obeisance. Satan has usurped Adam’s dominion over the universe. In justice, it is his. He is the prince of this world, now of darkness.
Fallen man, man in hell, cannot return to this earth, for their is no link such as there is for the Holy Souls, that of God’s charity. The hatred of hell does not boast of unity of charity, only division, only, how to say it… hell. Just because man in hell is harassed by Satan does not mean that he can return to earth. There are enough fallen angels in hell to bother any man in hell!
The 1614 ritual for exorcism has very sage advice for the exorcist, advice gleaned from millennia of Judeo-Catholic experience: If the devil makes it seem that someone who has died has returned from the dead to bother the possessed person, do not believe it! Remember, the devil is a liar. Really. He’s good at it.
Anecdote: There was a very depressed, distraught woman was seeking advice about what to think, it being that she was terribly confused by the experiences she was having with, apparently, her beloved grandmother. Mind you, her grandmother had died when she was only five years old.
One day, just before she died, she said something beautiful to her, an unforgetable comment that no one else had heard. It was her private, joyful remembrance of her most wonderful grandmother, whom she loved so very much and thought about frequently.
But now, she seemed to be visited by her grandmother by way of apparition. Her grandmother seemed to be in absolute, eternal despair and pain in hell. How could it be, she wondered, that her most wonderful grandmother was in hell? And if she, her grandmother was in hell, how could she possibly make it to heaven herself? Was she now to give in to a similar despair? Commit suicide?
The apparition used the voice of her grandmother, perfectly, and also repeated the comment her grandmother had made to her, that joyful, secret comment, so many years previously. What was she to do? What was she to think? It could not possibly be anyone other than her grandmother, she thought.
Wrong. Satan can follow a family for generations. Why should he not if he can harass people in this way, get them to despair? But… But… But…
No buts about it! No dead person causes trouble. If it has a spiritual provenence and it is trouble, it is always from Satan. The grandmother was likely in heaven, though we should always pray for the repose of the souls of the faithful departed in case they are awaiting our prayers in purgatory, awaiting to rejoice in heaven!
This woman was releived to know that this horrible experience had nothing to do with her grandmother. The relief was such that being harassed by Satan in this way was of little account. And that’s keeping things in their right perspective. Good on this woman!
I should add a word about seances and talking with the dead and other related topics. We’ll save that for, please God, future posts.