11 Unforgettable Quotes from Saints on Death and Purgatory

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At this time of year, remembering death surrounds us- in the changing of the seasons and the leaves turning brilliant colors and falling to the ground and in the holy days we celebrate of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Often, death is an uncomfortable thing to think or talk about, but here are 11 saints on death and purgatory.

 

1. St. Gregory Palamas

“As the separation of the soul from the body is the death of the body, so the separation of God from the soul is the death of the soul.  And this death of the soul is the true death….Thus the violation of God’s commandment is the cause of all types of death, both of soul and body, whether in the present life or in that endless chastisement.  And death, properly speaking, is this: for the soul to be unharnessed from divine grace and to be yoked to sin.  This death, for those who have their wits, is truly dreadful and something to be avoided.  This, for those who think aright, is more terrible than the chastisement of Gehenna.  From this let us also flee with all our might.  Let us cast away, let us reject all things, bid farewell to all things: to all relationships, actions and intentions that drag us downward, separate us from God and produce such death.  He who is frightened of this death and has preserved himself from it will not be alarmed by the oncoming death of the body, for in him the true life dwells, and bodily death, so far from taking true life away, renders it inalienable.”

 

2. St. Gregory of Nyssa

“And so man separated himself from the fruit of all good things, and by his disobedience he was filled with the fruit that brings destruction.  And the name of that fruit was mortal sin.  Straightway he died to the more perfect life: he passed from a divine life to one on the level with irrational beasts.  Once death was mingled with his nature, mortality was passed on to all generations of his children.  Hence we are born into a life of death, for, in a certain sense, our very life has died.  Our life is indeed dead because we have been deprived of immortality.  But the man who is aware that he lives in the midst of two lives can cross the barrier between them, such that by destroying the one he can give the victory to the other.  Man by his death to the true life entered into this life of death.  So too, when he dies to this irrational life of death, he is restored to life eternal.  And so there is no doubt but that we cannot enter into this life of blessedness unless we die to sin.”

 

3. St. Basil the Great

“As the Lord thought good so it came to pass. Let us adopt those marvelous words.  At the hands of the righteous Judge, they who show like good deeds shall receive a like reward….He whom we love is not hidden in the ground; he is received into heaven.  Let us wait a little while, and we shall be once more with him.  The time of our separation is not long, for in this life we are all like travelers on a journey, hastening on to the same shelter.  While one has reached his rest another arrives, another hurries on but one and the same end awaits them all.”

 

4. St. John the Wonderworker

“Limitless and without consolation would have been our sorrow for close ones who are dying, if the Lord had not given us eternal life. Our life would be pointless if it ended with death. What benefit would there then be from virtue and good deed? Then they would be correct who say: ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!’ But man was created for immortality, and by His resurrection Christ opened the gates of the Heavenly Kingdom, of eternal blessedness for those who have believed in Him and have lived righteously. Our earthly life is a preparation for the future life, and this preparation ends with our death. ‘It is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment’ (Heb 9:27). Then a man leaves all his earthly cares; the body disintegrates, in order to rise anew at the General Resurrection. Often this spiritual vision begins in the dying even before death, and while still seeing those around them and even speaking with them, they see what others do not see.”

 

5. St. Cyprian of Carthage

“When once you have departed this life, there is no longer any place for repentance, no way of making satisfaction. Here life is either lost or kept. Here, by the worship of God and by the fruit of faith, provision is made for eternal salvation. Let no one be kept back either by his sins or by his years from coming to obtain salvation. To him who still remains in this world there is no repentance that is too late.”

 

6. St. John Vianney

“If we were required to die twice, we could jettison one death. But man dies once only, and upon this death depends his eternity. Where the tree falls, there it shall lie. If, at the hour of death, someone is living in bad habit, the poor soul will fall on the side of hell. If, on the other hand, he is in the state of grace, it will take the road for heaven. Oh, happy road!”

7. St. Therese of Lisieux

“It is not Death that will come to fetch me, it is the good God. Death is no phantom, no horrible specter, as presented in pictures. In the catechism it is stated that death is the separation of soul and body, that is all! Well, I am not afraid of a separation which will unite me to the good God forever.”

 

8. St. Bernard of Clairvaux

“How consoling it is to see a just man die! His death is good, because it ends his miseries; it is better still, because he begins a new life; it is excellent, because it places him in sweet security. From this bed of mourning, whereon he leaves a precious load of virtues, he goes to take possession of the true land of the living, Jesus acknowledges him as His brother and as His friend, for he has died to the world before closing his eyes from its dazzling light. Such is the death of the saints, a death very precious in the sight of God.”

 

9. St. Alphonsus di Ligouri

“…is not he a fool who seeks after happiness in this world, where he will remain only a few days and exposes himself to the risk of being unhappy in the next, where we must live fore eternity? We do not fix our affections on borrowed goods, because we know that they must soon be returned to the owner. All the goods of this earth are lent to us…”

 

10. St. Thomas Aquinas

“The more one longs for a thing, the more painful does deprivation of it become. And because after this life, the desire for God, the Supreme Good, is intense in the souls of the just (because this impetus toward him is not hampered by the weight of the body, and that time of enjoyment of the Perfect Good would have come) had there been no obstacle; the soul suffers enormously from the delay.”

 

11. Prayer of St. Gertrude for the Souls in Purgatory

Eternal Father I offer you the most precious blood of your divine son Jesus in union with the masses said throughout the world today for all the holy souls in purgatory for sinners everywhere sinners in the universal church those in my own home and within my family. Amen. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”

 

As we prepare for Advent and to welcome the Christ Child into our world and our hearts, let us start with death to self and by remembering and praying for the souls in purgatory, that we all someday may enjoy eternal life with God.

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