God’s Mercy is Greater: The Teaching of St. Therese of Lisieux on Purgatory


God’s Mercy is Greater: The Teaching of St. Therese of Lisieux on Purgatory
by Father Dr. Hubert van Dijk, ORC.

“One does not need to go to Purgatory”

The common teaching within the Church is that Purgatory can hardly be avoided. While still only a novice, the saint commented about this with one of the sisters, Sr. Maria Philomena, who believed in the near impossibility of going to heaven without passing through purgatory:

You do not have enough trust. You have too much fear before the good God. I can assure you that He is grieved over this. You should not fear Purgatory because of the suffering there, but should instead ask that you not deserve to go there in order to please God, Who so reluctantly imposes this punishment. As soon as you try to please Him in everything and have an unshakable trust He purifies you every moment in His love and He lets no sin remain. And then you can be sure that you will not have to go to Purgatory.

She even said that we would offend God if we didn’t trust enough that we would get to heaven right after dying.

God is Father rather than Judge.

Once St. Therese had a confrontation regarding this topic with Sr. Marie Febronia, who not only was sixty-seven years old but also was sub-prioress. She had heard that St. Therese encouraged the novices to believe that they could go straight to heaven. She did not like this as she considered this kind of confidence presumptuous, and thus she reproached St Therese. St Therese tried lovingly and calmly to explain to Sr. Febronia her point of view but with no success as Sr. Febronia clung to belief. For St. Therese God was more Father than Judge, and she took the liberty of finally responding, “My sister, if you look for the justice of God you will get it. The soul will receive from God exactly what she desires.”

The year had not passed when, in January 1892, Sr. M. Febronia together with other sisters fell prey to the flu and died. Three months later Sr. Therese had a dream which she related to her Mother Prioress and which was then documented: “O my Mother, my Sr. M Febronia came to me last night and asked that we should pray for her:. She is in Purgatory, surely because she had trusted too little in the mercy of the good Lord. Through her imploring behavior and her profound looks, it seemed she wanted to say, You were right. I am now delivered up to the full justice of God but it is my fault. If I had listened to you I would not be here now.”


Thanks for posting this! Yet again, God gives us signs of His Mercy and love. Bless you for being His messenger today.


Praise be to God’s Mercy!


This morning’s Mass readings were a powerful reminder of God’s desire to purify us. We need to ask for his healing, cooperate with the graces He sends, and trust that He will finish the work He has begun in us.

From today’s First Reading:

The Holy Spirit says: Oh, that today you would hear his voice, “Harden not your hearts . . .Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart, so as to forsake the living God. Encourage yourselves daily while it is still “today,” so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin. We have become partners of Christ if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end.

From today’s Gospel Reading:

A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched the leper, and said to him,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.


Beckymarie… thank you, so much for this. I just love the teachings of St. Therese. She reminds us that there are so many chances for purification in the normal course of our daily routines. Offer everything to God… out of love! And trust that He will do the rest.



Such a lovely teaching on the mercies of Our Lord!

This reminds me of a discussion between Thomas Merton and one of his friends when he was a layperson, which is printed in the front of one of my books by him. His friend asks him what he wants to be, and Merton says, “a good Catholic.”

His friend tells him, “what you should say is you want to be a saint.”

Of course Merton insist, “I can’t be a saint.I can’t be a saint…”

In reply Merton’s friend tells him, “All that is necessary to be a saint is to want to be one. Don’t you believe that God will make you what He created you to be if you consent to let Him do it? All you have to do is desire it.”

When we tell another we’re not as good as the saints or think to ourselves, “wow, I wish I were like him” or, “I wish I were as pious as her,” what we really should be thinking is, “I must redidicate myself to the Lord.”

Failure to be a saint means we are spending too much time living our own lives and not enough time allowing Him to live through us!

In Hopes of One Day Attaining Heaven, by His Grace.


Hi Stephen,

I love Saint Thomas Aquinas’s answer to his sister when she asked him what one needs to do to become a saint.

He replied, “Will it.”


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