The Second Means: How To Avoid Purgatory
By Anne Van Tilburg
Published on 12/2/2007
The Second Means: How To Avoid Purgatory

The second means: How to avoid Purgatory
The second means of avoiding Purgatory is to satisfy for our sins in this life by doing penance. "Do penance or you shall all likewise perish." Do penance, or you will spend long years in Purgatory, is a fact that there is no getting  away from. This is a terrifying thought.

Many people have such a horror of penance that they never even dream of practicing it. Their idea is that penance is something awful! They think perhaps of the severe penances of the great Saints and of course are afraid to attempt anything of the same kind.

God does not ask us, as a rule, to do what is heroic. When He does, He gives us all the strength necessary, as in the case of the Saints. He asks each one to do a little. If we are afraid of doing much, and it is only natural that some should be, let us do at least a little. No one but a coward is afraid to do a little, especially if he gets so much in exchange.

The easy road to Heaven of Saint Therese, the Little Flower, is to do many little things. As a result of little mortifications, we can deliver ourselves from the awful fires of Purgatory and store up rich merits for Heaven.

Penance is not only easy, it is useful and necessary, not to do penance is the greatest penance of all. As a matter of fact, every man of the world naturally, spontaneously mortifies   himself.
The first principle, for instance, of politeness and good breeding is to sacrifice our whims and tastes for the sake of others. The selfish man is a boor; the generous man is the idol of all.

Again, the only way of securing good health is to by pass the most appetizing foods when they do us harm and to make use of plain foods when they do us good. Overeating is the cause of the vast majority of sickness and premature deaths.

The secret of success is strenuous, methodical, regular work. Generosity, self-denial, method, regularity are other forms of very genuine but practical mortifications. Yet no man can get on without them. To insist on our own likes and dislikes, to do only as we please, is to lead a life filled with difficulties, in which every duty is a burden, every good act an effort and hard work.

Boy and girls scouts are bound to do a kind act every day, even though it costs them great effort. Christians should surely do more. Daily acts of self-restraint, of patience with others, of kindness to others, the exact fulfillment of  daily duty are splendid penances and a great aid to happiness.

The Third Means: Suffering
The third means of avoiding Purgatory is very easy. It consist in making a virtue of necessity, by bearing patiently what we cannot avoid, and all the more since suffering borne patiently becomes easy and light. Suffering, if accepted with calmness and for God's sake loses all its sting. If received badly, in the spirit of revolt and with distaste, it is intensified a hundredfold and becomes almost intolerable.

Everyone is this vale of tears has to face sorrows, innumerable and infinite in variety. Crosses light and crosses heavy are the lot of us all. Strange as it may seem, these sorrows which most of us would gladly give away, are in truth God's greatest graces. They are the little share He offers us of His Passion and which He asks us to bear for love of Him and as penance for our sins.

Borne in this spirit they will lessen considerably our time in Purgatory and very possibly completely remove it - with this difference, that Purgatory, even a Purgatory of  50 or a 100 years will in no way increase our merits in Heaven; whereas every pain and sorrow and disappointment in this life will lessen our suffering in Purgatory and also bring us more happiness and gory in Heaven.

How sad it is that so many Christians make their suffering a thousand times worse than they are and lose all the immense merits that they could so easily gain.

The Fourth Means: How To Avoid Purgatory
The fourth means by which we can lessen our time in Purgatory, or avoid it altogether, is by frequent Confession, Communion and daily assistance at Mass. Confession applies to our souls the Precious Blood of Christ, wipes out our sins, gives us light to see their malice, fills us with horror of sin and, above all, it gives us strength to avoid it.

In Holy Communion we receive the God of infinite mercy and love, the God of all sanctity who comes expressly to pardon our sins and helps us to sin no more. (Of course, if we have committed one or more mortal sins we must first receive pardon in Confession.) He visited the house of Zaccheus once, and in the one visit Zaccheus obtained complete pardon of all his sins.

How is it possible that the same God of goodness and sweetness can come, not into our houses but into our very hearts in Holy Communion and not give us the same and even greater graces. He visited Zaccheus once, He visits us every day if we allow Him. Many, alas, never feel, never grasp the immense joys and consolation of Holy Communion.

The Mass is identical with the Sacrifice of Calvary, in its essence, in its value, in the graces it gives. The Sacrifice of Calvary was sufficient to save all the world, millions and million of souls, and was also sufficient to save countless other sinful worlds had they existed. By assisting at Mass we can apply all these oceans of graces to our own souls, and that not once, but every day. 

Let us go to Mass and Holy Communion every day. We can do nothing better. One day with Mass and Communion is worth a hundred without them. 

Source: How to avoid Purgatory. Father Paul O'Sullivan