“SO GRATEFUL NOT TO BE IN HELL” – A FIRST HAND ACCOUNT OF SOME SOULS IN PURGATORY
[Holy Scripture declares that God will render to every man according to his works; that nothing defiled shall enter heaven; and that some will be saved, ‘as one who has gone through fire’ (Mt 16:27; Apoc 21:27; 1 Co 3:15).]
THE UTTER IMPORTANCE OF MASSES AND PRIVATE PRAYER AND SACRIFICE FOR THE POOR SOULS IN PURGATORY
A FERVENT DESIRE TO HELP THE POOR SOULS
Maria Simma was born the second of eight children on 2nd February 1915 in Vorarlberg in the countryside of Austria. Because the family was poor, the children had to go out to work with other people from an early age in order to contribute to the family income. Being a very pious child, Maria yearned to become a nun. Due to her frail health, however, she was rejected by three convents.
Instead, she then took charge of her father’s household. Upon his death, she remained living in her father’s house on her own. In addition to domestic tasks she grew fruit and vegetables on the plot but the income was scarcely enough to make ends meet. During the period of National Socialism she taught children R.E. for several years.
Her spiritual life was characterised by a child-like love to Mary and a fervent desire to help the poor souls.
According to Fr Alfons Matt, Maria already from an early age expressed the wish to be of assistance to the Holy Souls in Purgatory; she strove anxiously for every indulgence possible to apply them to the Holy Souls. Maria was exhilarated on learning that one’s suffering can be offered for the Poor Souls too, and at an early age she vowed to therefore suffer on their behalf. Because Maria started to be in contact with the Poor Souls, she was asked time and time again by people how their deceased relations and friends were doing. Maria had dedicated her life to the Poor-Souls-Apostolate.
EVEN ONE SINGLE PRAYER CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE
Henceforth, she led a life of prayer and penance for their release. Her pious, simple life made it possible for her to sense people’s inner needs. At all times she endeavoured to help her fellow men.
Once, for instance, when on a train journey, she overheard a passenger swear most dreadfully and repeatedly from an adjoining compartment. She rose from her seat, accosted the man, and asked him to please refrain from swearing in future. Many years later, the same man approached her after his death as a Poor Soul. He thanked her from the bottom of his heart for having reprimanded him for swearing in the train compartment all those years ago, and for her praying one “Our Father” for him there and then. This saved him from eternal damnation, he explained.
SUFFERING FOR THE POOR SOULS
Well, how did Maria Simma experience the Poor Souls? Since the year 1940 they got in touch with her, requesting prayer assistance. She had taken on suffering for the Souls, whereby the month of November was a time of particular mercy for the Poor Souls in this respect. For Maria Simma, on the other hand, those days meant sheer agony and martyrdom.
This happened in roughly the following pattern: When she suffered for a particular soul it felt for Maria as if her limbs were torn apart. Sharp daggers were stabbed into her body from all sides, or, at other times, it felt like being bludgeoned with a blunt iron rod. The sufferings for abortion and unchastity were searing abdominal pains for Maria, accompanied by dreadful nausea. For the sins of yet other souls she perceived being wedged between blocks of ice for hours on end, the piercing cold penetrating the very marrow of her bones, which constituted her suffering for religious lukewarmness and indifference by particular Souls. Despite it being hard for her at times, Maria took all these sufferings upon herself to help the Poor Souls in whatever way she could. Frequently, the pains were so excruciating that she couldn’t have endured them, had it not been for divine assistance.
The Poor Souls appeared to Maria in various forms and in innumerable ways. At times they knocked at her door, on other occasions they just appeared out of thin air. Some looked like people, yet others were difficult to make out at all. The more the Souls were relieved of their sufferings, the clearer they could be perceived.
Secret observers, who had great doubts about the authenticity of Maria’s “apparition stories” were taught to know better before long. The curiosity of some local lads led them to placing a ladder onto the wall of Maria’s house on 6th December 1954, in order to climb up it and to peer through her window. As the window happened to be open they could, unknown to her, witness what was going on in Maria’s bedroom. To their dismay, the youths heard her moaning and crying, and then again, hear how she was answering to somebody – whereby they could not hear the Soul talking in the first place. Most souls Maria was asked to pray for and requested to pray by she did neither know by name nor from anywhere else.
The Poor Souls even alerted Maria Simma about events to come. On the occasion of a disastrous avalanche in the Austrian Alps in 1954, Maria Simma was told by the Poor Souls that there were still people alive who had been buried by a heap of snow, who needed rescuing. Indeed, two days later even the last victim was extricated from the snow in Blons.
“IT IS A GRACE”
In summary, it can be said that Maria’s gift was a special vocation of mercy to help the Poor Souls. This is also evident from notes on 21st November 1954, where Maria wrote: “Frequently it crossed my mind how I could send the Poor Souls directly to their families instead of them coming to me as a messenger. That would be so much more simple and straightforward! One day, however, one Poor Soul gave me a right rap on the knuckles for entertaining such thoughts: ‘Don’t sin against God’s designs! The Almighty distributes His mercies according to His good pleasure. Never ever will you get the power to send any of the Poor Souls to another mortal person. Do you really think God allows us coming to you because of your merits? If it was about merits, many others would receive this grace instead of you! True, already as a child you helped the Poor Souls, but even that was God’s mercy. Why! Some people may have utilised His mercy even better than you. Apart from the saints who worked great miracles already on earth, there existed at all times even greater saints who, although devoid of the grace to work miracles, they nevertheless attained even greater holiness than those whom the Almighty permitted to work miracles. Never forget this principle: Those privileged with many divine graces accordingly have greater demands placed on them!
“God wills that we always ask Him for His mercies. A good, persevering prayer penetrates the clouds and is answered in precisely the way that is best for the one praying!”
“Especially indulgences are of immeasurable value,” the Poor Souls told Maria on another occasion. The indulgences are, after all, the payment valid with God for temporal sins, the guilt of which has to be paid either during earthly life or after.
VIEWING PURGATORY (THE CLEANSING FIRE)
“The Cleansing Fire is in many places,” Maria Simma once answered a question pertaining to Purgatory. “The souls don’t come to me “from the Cleansing Fire”, rather, they come WITH the Cleansing Fire.” Maria Simma did see the many appearances of the Cleansing Fire in different aspects, once this way, another time, another way. She also related that they were myriads of Souls in the Cleansing Fire. It was and is a continuous coming and going. Once she glimpsed a throng of Souls completely unknown to her. Those Souls who had sinned against their Faith when on earth bore a dark flame in the area of their heart; those, who for instance had sinned by indecency carried a red flame. Then again, she also recognised Poor Souls in groups: priests, monks, catholics, protestants, and pagans. As a whole, catholics were yearning very much indeed, but they got help [Holy Masses, private prayers and sacrifices] and many were released quite swiftly. The protestants were in a lighter Cleansing Fire, but because they get less help their agony in Purgatory is all round for longer – and for pagans, who were in an even lighter Cleansing Fire, their pain is also particularly protracted.
GOD’S WONDERFUL JUSTICE
Because of the help they receive, catholics on average get released much quicker. Maria Simma also noticed nuns and monks in Purgatory, who where there because of previous lukewarmness and even heartlessness. Maria saw children as young as six years in Purgatory.
God’s love and justice was revealed to Maria Simma in a most marvellous harmony; in this way, every Soul was cleansed according to the way and manner of their sins, and depending on the cause of their sins.
The individual severity of suffering varies, according to Maria. Some suffer similar to suffering a tedious life on earth, until they can see God face-to-face. The duration can vary greatly even among individual catholics; for example: Maria’s sufferings released a priest from Cologne who was in Purgatory from about 555 A.D. – Of all Souls [catholics, protestants, pagans] a number have to stay in Purgatory until the Last Day. [Especially with Masses, private prayers etc.] some Souls have to endure Purgatory for just half an hour or even less – some literally simply fly through Purgatory to Heaven.
The devil is also permitted to torment Poor Souls, particularly those through whose partial fault other souls did end up in hell.
HOW THE HOLY SOULS FEEL IN PURGATORY
The Poor Souls, according to Maria Simma, suffer with wonderful patience and praise the mercy of God which made it possible for them not to have landed in hell. They are aware that they deserve their painful longing and the wait for Heaven, and they most profoundly regret their previous sins. They particularly keep on beseeching Mary, Mother of Mercy. Maria encountered many Souls who counted on the help of the Mother of God.
Who thinks, while they are on earth, that Purgatory is quite harmless and therefore takes sin lightly, and sins because of this their attitude, must pay bitterly for that afterwards, relates Maria Simma.
Maria Simma died on 16 March 2004. On 1st November 2004 (All Saints), a metal cross was erected on her grave located in Sonntag cemetery, Grosswalsertal valley, Austria. The inscription reads:
“Only in Eternity will you realise how you have used your lifetime, your years, days, hours, and what you could have done with them. Therefore, do use your lifetime to do everything well.”
“If they only knew what Eternity is really like – what wouldn’t people give in exchange for another chance.”
Quotation from the book by Maria Simma, “My Encounters With Poor Souls”.