Holy Souls Crusade
" It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins" (2 Mac 12:46)
[An interview with Maria Simma written by Sister Emmanuel of Medjugorje]
At the point of death
What is the role of contrition or repentance at the moment of death?
Contrition is very important. The sins are forgiven, in any case, but there remain the consequences of sins. If one wishes to receive a full indulgence at the moment of death -- that means going straight to Heaven -- the soul has to be free from all attachment.
Here, I would like to share a very significant testimony given by Maria. She was asked to find out about a woman that her relations believed to be lost, because she had led an awful life. Well, she had an accident, she fell from a train and this accident killed her. A soul told Maria that this woman had been saved, saved from Hell, because at the moment of death, she said to God: "You are right to take my life, because in this way I will not longer be able to offend you." And this had erased all her sins. This example is highly significant, for it shows that a single moment of humility, of repentance at the moment of death, can save us. This doesn't mean that she did not go to Purgatory, but she avoided Hell which she perhaps deserved thought her impiety.
Maria, I would like to ask you: at the moment of death, is there a time in which the soul still has the chance to turn towards God, even after a sinful life, before entering into eternity -- a time, if you like, between apparent death and real death?
Yes, yes, the Lord gives several minutes to each one, in order to regret his sins and to decide: I accept or I do not accept to go see God. There, we see a film of our lives.
I knew a man who believed in the Church's teachings, but not in eternal life. One day, he fell gravely ill, and slid into a coma. He saw himself in a room with a board on which all his deeds were written, the good and the bad. Then the board disappeared as well as the walls of the room, and it was infinitely beautiful. Then he woke up from his coma and decided to change his life.
This is very much like the testimonies of "near death experiences"; the experience of the supernatural light is such that people can no longer live afterwards as they had lived before.
Maria, at the moment of death, does God reveal himself with the same intensity to all souls?
Each one is given knowledge of his life and also the suffering to come; but it is not the same for everyone. The intensity of the Lord's revelation depends on each one's life.
Maria, does the devil have permission to attack us at the moment of death?
Yes, but man also has the grace to resist him, to push him away. So, if man does not want anything to do with him, the devil can do nothing.
That's good news! When someone knows he is going to die soon, what is for him the best way to get prepared?
To abandon himself totally to the Lord. Offer all his sufferings. Be completely happy in God.
And what attitude should one have before someone who is going to die? What is the best that one can do for him?
Pray hard! Prepare him for death; one must speak the truth.
Maria, what advice would you give to anyone who wants to become a saint here on earth?
Be very humble. We must not be occupied with ourselves. Pride is evil's greatest trap.
Maria, please tell us: can one ask the Lord to do one's Purgatory on earth, in order not to have to do it after death?
Yes. I knew a priest and a young woman who were both ill with tuberculosis in the hospital. The young woman said to the priest: "Let's ask the Lord to be able to suffer on earth as much as necessary in order to go straight to Heaven." The Priest replied that he himself didn't dare to ask for this. Nearby was a religious Sister who had overheard the whole conversation. The young woman died first, the priest died later; and he appeared to the Sister, saying: "If only I had had the same trust as this young woman, I too would have gone straight to Heaven."
Thank you, Maria, for this lovely testimony.
At this point, Maria asked for a five-minute break, as she had to go and feed her chickens... But the minute she returned, we continued with our questions.
The Occupants of Purgatory
Maria, are there different degrees in Purgatory?
Yes, there is a great difference of degree of moral suffering. Each soul has a unique suffering, particular to it; there are many degrees.
Do the poor souls know what is going to happen in the world?
Yes, not everything, but many things.
Do these souls tell you what is going to happen, sometimes?
They simply say that there is something in front of the door; but they don't say what. They only say what is necessary for people's conversion.
Maria, are the suffering in Purgatory more painful than the most painful sufferings on earth?
Yes, but in a symbolic way. It hurts more in the soul.
Yes, I guess it's very difficult to describe... Does Jesus himself come to Purgatory?
No soul has ever told me so. It is the Mother of God who comes. Once I asked a poor soul if she could go to look for a soul I had been asked to find out about. She replied: "No, it is the Mother of Mercy who tells us about it." Also, the souls in Heaven do not come to Purgatory. On the other hand, the angels are there: Saint Michael...and each soul has its guardian angel with it.
Fantastic! The angels are with us...But what do the angels do in Purgatory?
They relieve suffering and provide comfort. The souls can even see them.
Amazing! If this goes on, Maria, you're almost going to make me want to go to Purgatory, with all these stories of angels! Another question: You know, many people today believe in reincarnation. What do the soul tell you concerning this subject?
The souls say that God gives only one life.
But some would say that just one life is not enough to know God, and to have the time to be really converted, that it isn't fair. What would you reply to them?
All people have an interior faith (conscience); even if they do not practice, they recognize God implicitly. Some one who does not believe -- that doesn't exist! Each soul has a conscience to recognize good and evil, a conscience given by God, an inner knowledge -- in different degrees, of course, but each one know how to discern good from evil. With this conscience, each soul can become blessed.
What happens to people who have committed suicide? Have you ever been visited by these people?
Up to now, I have never encountered the case of a suicide who was lost -- this doesn't mean, of course, that that doesn't exist -- but often, the souls tell me that the most guilty were those around them, when they were negligent or spread calumny.
At this moment, I asked Maria if the souls regretted having committed suicide. She answered yes. Often, suicide is due to illness.
These souls do regret their act because, as they see things in the light of God, they understand instantly all the graces that were in store for them during the time remaining for them to live -- and they do see this time which remained for them, sometimes months or years -- and they also see all the souls they could have helped by offering the rest of their lives to God. In the end, what hurts them most is to see the good that they could have done but didn't, because they shortened their lives. But when the cause is illness, the Lord takes this into account, of course.
Maria, have you been visited by souls who "self-destructed," by drugs, overdosing, for example?
Yes, they are not lost. It all depends on the cause of their drug-taking; but they must suffer in Purgatory.
If I tell you, for example, that I suffer too much in my body, in my heart, that it's too hard for me and I wish to die, what can I do?
Yes, this is very frequent. I would say: "My God, I can offer this suffering to save souls"; this gives renewed faith and courage. But no one says this any more nowadays. We can also say that in doing this, the soul gains a great beatitude, a great happiness for Heaven. In Heaven, there are thousands of different types of happiness, but each one is a complete happiness; all desire are fulfilled. Each one know he has deserved no more.
Maria, I'd like to ask you: have people from other religions -- for example, Jews -- come to visit you?
Yes, they are happy. Anyone who lives his faith well is happy. But it is through the Catholic faith that we gain the most for Heaven.
Are there religions where are bad for the soul?
No, but there are so many religions on earth! The closest are the Orthodox and Protestants; there are many Protestants who say the rosary; but the sects are very, very evil. Everything must be done to bring people out of them.
Are there priests in Purgatory?
(I see Maria raising her eyes to Heaven as if to say: Alas!) Yes, there are many. They didn't promote respect for the Eucharist. So faith overall suffers. They are often in Purgatory for having neglected prayer -- which has diminished their faith. But there are also many who have gone straight to Heaven!
What would you say, then, to a priest who really wants to live according to the Heart of God?
I would advise him to pray much to the Holy Spirit -- and say his rosary every day.
Maria, are there any children in Purgatory?
Yes, but Purgatory for them is not very long or painful, since they lack much discernment.
I believe certain children have come to visit you; you were telling me the story of this little child, the youngest one you say, a little girl of four. But tell me: why was she in Purgatory?
Because she had received from her parents, as a Christmas present, a doll. She had a twin sister who had also received a doll. This little four-year-old girl had broken her doll; secretly, knowing that no one was watching her, she went to put the broken doll in the place of her sister's, swapping them, knowing full well in her little heart that she was going to upset her sister -- and she knew very well too that it was a lie and an injustice. Because of this, the poor girl had to do Purgatory.In fact, children often have a more tender conscience than that of adults. It is necessary above all with them to combat lying. They are very sensitive to untruth.
Maria, how can parents help to form the conscience of their children?
Firstly through good example -- this is the most important. Then through prayer. Parents must bless their children and instruct them well in the things of God.
Very Important! Have you been visited by souls who, on earth, practiced perversions? I am thinking, for example, about the sexual domain.
Yes, they are not lost, but they have much to suffer to be purified. For example, homosexuality, this truly comes from the Evil One.
What advice would you give, then, to all those people afflicted by homosexuality, with this tendency in them?
Pray a lot for the strength to turn away from it. They should above all pray to the Archangel Michael; he is the great fighter par excellence against the Evil One.
What are the attitudes of the heart which can lead us to losing our soul for good, I mean going to Hell?
It is when the soul does not want to go towards God, when it actually says: "I do not want."
Thank you, Maria, for making this clear.
Here I would like to mention that on this subject I questioned Vicka, one of the visionaries in Medjugorje, who also told me that those who go to Hell -- and she has seen Hell -- are solely those who decide to go there. It isn't God who puts someone in Hell -- on the contrary, He is the Savior, He begs the souls to welcome His mercy. The sin against the Holy Spirit that Jesus speaks of, which cannot be forgiven, is the absolute refusal of mercy, and this in full awareness, full conscience. Pope John Paul II explains this very well in his encyclical on mercy. Here too, we can do so much with prayer for souls in danger of being lost.
Maria, would you happen to have a story illustrating this?
One day, I was on a train and in my compartment there was a man who didn't stop speaking evil of the Church, of priests, even of God. I said to him: "Listen, you don't have the right to say all that, it's not good." He was furious at me. Afterwards, I arrived at my station, I got down from the train, and said to God: "Lord, do not let this soul be lost." Years later; the soul of this man came to visit me; he told me that he had come very close to Hell, but he was saved simply by this prayer I had said at that moment!
Yes, it's extraordinary to see that just one thought, one impulse of the heart, a simple prayer for someone can prevent them from falling into Hell. It is pride which leads to Hell. Hell is to stubbornly say "NO" against God. Our prayers can elicit an act of humility in the dying, a single instant of humility, however small, which can help them to avoid Hell.
But Maria, it is incredible, all the same! How can one actually say "NO" to God at the moment of death, when one sees him?
For example, a man once told me that he did not want to go to Heaven. Why? Because God accepts injustice. I said to him that it was men, not God...He said: "I hope that I do not meet God after my death, or I will kill him with an axe." He had a deep hatred of God. God grants man free will; he wishes each one to have his free choice.
God gives to everyone during his earthly life, and at the hour of his death, sufficient grace for conversion, even after a life spent in darkness. If one asks for forgiveness, sincerely, of course one can be saved.
Jesus said that it was difficult for a rich person to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Have you seen such cases?
Yes! But if they do good works, works of charity, if they practice love, they can get there, just like the poor.
Maria, do you still have visits these days from souls in Purgatory?
Yes, two or three times a week.
Really! What do you think of the practices of spiritism, for example, calling up the spirits of the departed, Ouija-boards, ect.?
It is not good. It is always evil. It is the devil who makes the table move. It is so important to say this again and again! People really need to hear this because, nowadays, more than ever, these absurd practices are increasing dangerously!
What is the difference between what you are living with the souls of the departed, and the practices of spiritism?
We are not suppose to summon up the souls -- I don't try to get them to come. In spiritism people try to call them forth.
This distinction is quite clear, and we must take it very seriously. If people were only to believe one thing I have said, I would like it to be this: those who engage in spiritism (moving tables, and other practices of that kind) think that they are summoning up the souls of the dead. In reality, if there is some response to their call, it is always and without exception Satan and his angels who are answering. People who practice spiritism (diviners, witches, etc.) are doing something very dangerous for themselves and for those who come to them for advice. They are up to their necks in lies. It is forbidden, strictly forbidden, to call up the dead. As for me, I have never done so, I do not do so, and I never will do so. When something appears to me, God alone permits it.
Of course, Satan can imitate everything that comes from God, and he does. He can imitate the voice and the appearance of the dead, but every manifestation of any kind always comes from the Evil One. Do not forget that Satan can even heal, but such healings never last.
Have you personally ever been tricked by false apparitions? For example, by the devil disquising himself as a soul in Purgatory to speak to you?
Yes. Once a soul came to see me and said to me: "Do not accept the soul which is going to come after me, because it is going to ask you for too much suffering, which you will not be able to bear; you cannot do what it is going to ask." So, I was troubled because I remembered what my parish priest had said to me, that I had to accept each soul with generosity, and I was really troubled about whether or not to obey. So I said to myself: "Maybe it's the demon who is before me and not a soul in Purgatory; the demon in disguise?" I said to this soul: "If you are the demon go away!" At once he gave out a loud scream and left. In fact, the soul who came after him was a soul who had real need of my help; it was very important for me to listen to this soul!
When the devil appears, does holy water always make him leave?
It disturbs him very much and he flees at once.
Maria, you are now very well known, especially in Germany and Austria, but also throughout Europe, thanks to your talks and your book. At the beginning, however you were very hidden. How did it happen that, overnight, people recognized that your supernatural experience was authentic?
It was when the souls asked me to tell their families to give back goods which had been acquired dishonestly. They saw that what I said was true.
At this point, Maria related several testimonies, too long to quote here. Several times souls came to find her, saying: "Go to my family in such and such a village -- which Maria did not know -- "and tell my father, my son, my brother to give back a certain property or amount of money which I acquired dishonestly. I will be delivered from Purgatory when these goods are given back." Maria would have all the details of the field, or exact amount of money, or the property concerned, and the family would be staggered to discover that she knew all these details, because sometimes even they didn't know that these goods had been acquired dishonestly by their relative. Through this, Maria began to be very well known.
Maria, is there official recognition by the Church of this particular charism that you practice with regard to the souls in Purgatory, and also with regard to those who are touched by your apostolate?
My bishop told me that as long as there are no theological errors, I should continue: he has okay'd it. My parish priest, who is also my spiritual guide, confirms these things too.
I would like to ask you a question that may be indiscreet: you have done so much for the poor souls that surely, when you die, in your turn, thousands of souls will be your escort into Heaven; I think that you certainly won't have to pass through Purgatory!
I don't believe that I will go straight to Heaven without time in Purgatory because I have had more light, more knowledge, and therefore my faults are more serious. But all the same, I hope that the souls will help me rise to Heaven!
Certainly! And Maria, do you enjoy this charism? Or is it something burdensome and difficult for you, all these requests from souls?
No, I do not pay much attention to the difficulty, for I know I can help them so much. I can help many souls and I am very happy to do this.
Maria, I would like to thank you also in the name of all readers for this beautiful testimony. But please permit me one last question: so that we might know you better, would you be so good as to tell us a few words about your life?
Well...from when I was little I wanted to enter a convent, but Mother told me to wait until I was twenty. I did not wish to get married. Mother had told me a good deal about the souls in Purgatory and, already at school, these souls helped me a lot. So I said to myself that I had to do everything for them.
After school, I thought about entering a convent; I entered the Sisters of the Heart of Jesus, but they told me that my health was too poor to stay with them. As a child, I had had pneumonia and pleurisy. The Superior had confirmed my religious vocation but advised me to enter an easier order; to wait for some years. I wanted above all a cloistered order; and right away!
But after two more attempts, the conclusion was the same: my health was too poor. So I said to myself that entering a convent wasn't God's will for me. I suffered mentally a great deal. I said to myself that the Lord had not shown me what he wanted of me. Up to the moment he entrusted me with this task for the souls in Purgatory, at the age of twenty-five he'd made me wait eight years.
At home, there were eight of us children. I worked on our farm, starting at the age of fifteen; then I went to Germany as a servant for a peasant family. Afterwards, I worked here at the farm in Sonntag. From the age of twenty-five, when the souls began to come, I had much to suffer for them -- Now I am much better physically. So, there you are.
It was indeed a real pleasure for me to meet Maria Simma, a woman whose life is one of complete devotion. Each second, each hour of her life has a weight of eternity, not only for herself but for so many souls, known or unknown, that she, in many different ways and with so much love, has helped deliver from Purgatory and enjoy the eternal happiness of Heaven.
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