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Flávia Ghelardi reviews Fr. Martin Jugie's spiritual classic about Church teaching on Purgatory and how we can pray for suffering souls.

For some years now my devotion to the Holy Souls of Purgatory is growing, so with great joy I received Fr. Martin Jugie's classic book to review. Even though The Truth About Purgatory and the Means to Avoid It  was originally published back in 1949, now is the time when we most need the teachings we can learn from it.


Truth About Purgatory


The truth about the existence of Purgatory has been neglected for some time. Most funerals I´ve attended, what we hear is that the deceased is in peace, enjoying Paradise. … But what our Church teaches is that, most likely, the person is suffering her purification in Purgatory. And the sad part of all this is that, if people don´t believe or don´t think about Purgatory, this poor soul of a dear friend or relative, will have to stay longer in that place, the antechamber of Heaven.

This book was reprinted in a very appropriate time. We all need to learn more about Purgatory, about how we can help the Holy Souls who suffer there and, mostly, how we can avoid being one of them when we die.

In the first part of The Truth About Purgatory, the author explains the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory based on the dogmas and the teachings of the Church, but also with information from private revelations that some saints and privileged souls received. This later part we don´t have to believe, but they are shown in such a reasonable way that is difficult to push them away.

We can learn about the place, population, and society in Purgatory, the pains and the life in Purgatory and also the relations between the Church Triumphant and the Church Militant and Purgatory. There is very interesting information here and one that I found fascinating is about the liturgy in Purgatory.

We know how the liturgy is here on earth, that has been celebrated by the Church since the beginning of Catholicism and we also know something about the liturgy in Heaven, as shown by St. John in the book of Revelations. But I never thought about the liturgy in Purgatory… and it´s reasonable that the Holy Souls, as part of the Church, also celebrate a type of liturgy.

The second part of the book, the means of avoiding Purgatory, is a real treasure! I was amazed to see how many means we have to go straight to Heaven. They are divided into three groups: the sacramental means, holy dispositions and salutary practices and certain excellent and salutary acts of charity.

My first reaction about thinking of avoiding Purgatory was that it could be an act of pride. Who am I to think I should go straight to Heaven? But then I was reminded by this book that this is exactly what God wants for all of us: to be saints and go straight to Heaven. And since it is the will of God, it should be my will too and the will of all His beloved children.

Some means are very simple and even “easy,” like frequent confession, frequent Communion, and indulgences (a true treasure from our Mother Church). For those who can be skeptical about it, here is a quote from the book:

Ask yourself the question: what have I done more difficult than this, to obtain remission incomparably greater than of the temporal punishment, the remission of the mortal sin itself and of the eternal pain entailed? You went and knelt at the feet of a priest who represented Christ, and you said: ‘Father, I have sinned’; and he raised his hand over you, forgiving you in the Name of Jesus Christ. What more simple in its means, what more marvelous in its effects? Do you forget that the love of God for us knows no bounds; that He has given us His Only Son, and has allowed Him to offer Himself as a victim for our sins, that the rights of justice might be fully satisfied? What God asks of us is faith in His love and a return of love. If we give that return of love, He will forget all. ‘For charity covereth a multitude of sins’ (1Pet. 4:8)


I think this last passage is the key to understanding the ways to avoid Purgatory: charity, love. And only by practicing charity, learning how to love God and our neighbor, will we manage to erase all the consequences of our sins while we are still here on earth and will be able to go see our Creator face to face right after death.

And only charity can explain some extraordinary means to avoid Purgatory and also to help the Holy Souls who are still suffering there, as described in the book. One that caught my attention was the heroic act.

It consists in offering to God, for the relief of the souls in Purgatory, all the satisfactory works done during one´s life and all the suffrages which shall be offered for one´s soul after death.


It´s hard to imagine a greater love than to give all your good works and prayers and indulgences to relief the suffering of the Holy Souls, even the ones you shall receive after death! Of course, this type of act is not for everyone and should be done only with a lot of discernment and the advice of one´s spiritual director, since God takes very seriously the promises we make.

The Truth About Purgatory taught me so many things about these brothers and sisters who are saved, but are still paying their debts to Divine Justice and how I can help them. It especially helped me see some wonderful ways to avoid being one of them after my death.




Copyright 2022 Flávia Ghelardi
Images: Canva