"There we sat and wept: when we remembered Sion." - Psalm 134:1
Imagine an only son who lived for some time willi little dignity and propriety, in a strange land, in a distant country. Recalled by his father, he hastens home, he returns with confidence; but what is his surprise to see that his father, fully informed of the smallest of the details of his life, reminds him of them with exactness, reproaches him for them in presence of all the family assembled for rejoicing and feasting! Tiiis is yet but little: this father, after having shown what pain and sorrow it had cost him to be just and firm, ordered this guilty and unhappy son to withdraw from his presence, and to shut himself up in an obscure and deep cave in a forest, until the time wlien, his errors and faults being sufficiently atoned for, entrance could again be opened and he recalled, never more to be separated from his father. This guilty son had no possible justification. He is shut up in the horrible cave, v^here, in the midst of the most poignant tortures, of the most heart-rending regrets, the image of his father unceasingly presents it- self to him - an image which he vainly endeavors to draw to himself and embrace.
This supposition is dreadful, and yet this punishment can scarcely give us an idea or furnish us with a perception of the state of the souls in Purgatory. Arrived at the edge of the abyss where atonement condemns them to a sorrowful exile, they stop on a shore a thousand times more desolate than any earthly shore, and there, quite full of the thought of the celestial country, they begin to weep its absence with tears that differ from our tears and sighs as heaven differs from earth and time from eternity.
Saint Cyril. - The Exile
To show how far our prayers and good works can be useful to the dead, Saint Cyril employed, in the first ages of Christianity, the following comparison: "Suppose a king," said he, "had sent one of his subjects into exile, and that some of his servants came to entreat him to shorten this punishment or to soften it, and in order to obtain this favor they offered to serve their master with more zeal, ardor, and devotion, and to make personal sacrifices; and that the king on their account sweetened the fate of the exile and terminated it: what shall he have done that was not proper, natural, and reasonable?" Thus does the Lord act. All that can be satisfactory for ourselves He gives us the power to apply to others; the punishments we voluntarily impose on ourselves He consents to impute to the souls in Purgatory, and to let these be substitutes for those which He has inflicted upon them. Now, since God gives us power to relieve them, does He not make it an obligation for us?
Console those who have lost some relative or friend; teach them to make their tears useful and profitable for those they mourn.
O holy country of our souls! O beautiful heaven, of which the best days here on earth are but a feeble reflection! Ah! when shall we enjoy the happiness reserved for us above; when quitting this life, enlightened by the light of faith and hope, supported particularly by the force of our love, we shall see from afar those eternal feasts of which Jesus Christ is the light and consummation: not having power to fly towards you; to wait an hour, a day, years, centuries, before seeing the grandeur of your magnificence and plunging one's self in the torrent of your delights. My God, what an exile!
Therefore have I hastened to cry out for the souls who already suffer this torment
My Jesus, mercy!
- text taken from by Father Celestin Cloquet, translated by a Sister of Mercy, with the Imprimatur of Archbishop Michael Augustine Corrigan, Archdiocese of New York, 18 October 1886