BESIDES the consolations which the souls receive from the Blessed Virgin, they are also assisted and consoled by the holy angels, and especially by their guardian-angels. The doctors of the Church teach that the tutelary mission of the guardian-angel terminates only on the entrance of their clients into Paradise. **If, at the moment of death, a soul in the state of grace is not yet worthy to see the face of the Most High, the angel-guardian conducts it to the place of expiation, and remains there with her to procure for her all the assistance and consolations in his power. **
It is an opinion common among the holy doctors, says Father Rossignoli, that God, who will one day send forth His angels to assemble the elect, also sends them from time to time into Purgatory, there to visit and console the suffering souls. No doubt there cannot be any relief more precious than the sight of the inhabitants of Heaven, that blessed abode whither they will one day go to enjoy its glorious and eternal felicity. The Revelations of St. Bridget are filled with examples of this nature, and the Lives of several saints also furnish a great number. Venerable Sister Paula of St. Teresa, of whom we have spoken above, had an extraordinary devotion towards the Church suffering, for which she was rewarded here below with miraculous visions. One day, whilst saying a fervent prayer for this intention, she was transported in spirit into Purgatory, where she saw a great number of souls plunged in flames. Close to them she saw our Saviour, attended by His angels, who pointed out, one after the other, several souls which He desired to take to Heaven, whither they ascended in transports of unutterable joy. At this sight the servant of God, addressing herself to her Divine Spouse, said to Him, “O Jesus, why this choice* among such a vast multitude?” “I have released,” He deigned to reply, “those who during life performed great acts of charity and mercy, and who have merited that I should fulfil my promise in their regard, Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”
. . . The following is an account of that of St. Magdalen de Pazzi, a Florentine Carmelite, as it is related in her Life by Father Cepare. . .
Some time before her death, which took place in 1607, the servant of God, Magdalen de Pazzi, being one evening with several other Religious in the garden of the convent, was ravished in ecstasy, and saw Purgatory open before her. At the same time, as she made known later, a voice invited her to visit all the prisons of Divine Justice, and to see how truly worthy of compassion are the souls detained there. . .
Each time she interrupted her walk, she contemplated attentively the sufferings which were shown to her. She was then seen to wring her hands in compassion, her face became pale, her body bent under the weight of suffering, in presence of the terrible spectacle with which she was confronted.
. . . [Then] were the dungeons of simple souls, and of children in whom ignorance and lack of reason extenuated many faults. Their torments appeared to her much more endurable than those of the others. Nothing but ice and fire were there. She noticed that these souls had their angel-guardians with them, who fortified them greatly by their presence; but she saw also demons whose dreadful forms increased their sufferings.
. . . Let us narrate a third vision relating to the interior of Purgatory, that of St. Lidwina of Schiedam. . .
. . . she saw an angel seated sadly on the curb of a well. “Who is that angel?” she asked of her guide. " It is," he replied, " the angel-guardian of the sinner in whose lot you are interested. His soul is in this well, where it has a special Purgatory." At these words, Lidwina cast an inquiring glance at her angel; she desired to see that soul which was dear to her, and endeavour to release it from that frightful pit. Her angel, who understood her, having taken off the cover of the well, a cloud of flames, together with the most plaintive cries, came forth.
“Do you recognise that voice?” said the angel to her. “Alas! yes,” answered the servant of God. “Do you desire to see that soul?” he continued. On her replying in the affirmative, he called him by his name; and immediately our virgin saw appear at the mouth of the pit a spirit all on fire, resembling incandescent metal, which said to her in a voice scarcely audible, "O Lidwina, servant of God, who will give me to contemplate the face of the Most High? "
. . . It is, then, not astonishing that harshness towards our neighbour, and every other fault against Charity, should be severely punished in the other life.
Of this we have several proofs, taken from the Life of Blessed Margaret Mary.
. . . On another occasion our Lord showed Blessed Margaret a large number of souls in Purgatory, who, for not having been united with their Superiors during their life, and for having had some misunderstanding with them, had been severely punished and deprived after death of the aid of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints, and also of the visits of their angel-guardians. Several of those souls were destined to remain for a long time in horrible flames. Some even among them had no other token of their predestination than that they did not hate God. Others, who had been in religion, and who during life showed little charity towards their sisters, were deprived of their suffrages, and received no assistance whatsoever.