Monday, June 27, 2016

Manifestations of Hell by Fr. François Xavier Schouppe, S.J.- 2

Manifestations of Hell

Second in a Series on Hell

 Fr. François Xavier Schouppe, S.J.

The dogma of hell stands on the infallible word of God; but
 in his mercy, God, to aid our faith, permits at intervals
 the truth of hell to be manifested in a sensible manner.
 These manifestations are more frequent than is thought;
 and, when supported by sufficient proofs, they are 
unexceptionable facts which must be admitted like al
the other facts of history.

St. Francis Jerome

Here is one of these facts.
 It was juridically
 proved in the process 
of the canonization
 of St. Francis of Jerome, 
and under oath
 attested by a large number
 of eye-witnesses.
 In the year AD 1707, St. 
Francis of Jerome 
was preaching, as was his wont, in the 
neighborhood of the city of Naples. 
He was speaking of hell and the awful 
chastisements that await obstinate sinners.
 A brazen courtesan who lived there,
 troubled by a discourse which aroused her
 remorse, sought to hinder it by jests and 
shouts, accompanied by noisy instruments.
 As she was standing close to the window,
 the Saint cried out:
Beware, my daughter, of 
resisting grace; before 
eight days God will 
punish you.

The unhappy creature grew only more
 boisterous. Eight days elapsed, and
 the holy preacher happened to be again
 before the same house. This time she was 
silent, the windows were shut. The hearers,
 with dismay on their faces, told the 
Saint that Catherine - that was the name
 of the bad woman - had a few hours 
before died suddenly. "Died!" he repeated,
 "well, let her tell us now what she has
 gained by laughing at hell. Let us ask 
her." He uttered these words in an
 inspired tone, and every one expected 
a miracle. 
Followed by an immense crowd, he
 went up to the death chamber, and 
there, after having prayed
 for an instant, he uncovers the face 
of the corpse, and says in a loud voice:
 "Catherine, tell us where art thou now."

At this summons, the dead woman lifts her head, 
while opening her wild eyes, her face borrows 
color, her features assume an expression of horrible
 despair, and in a mournful voice, she pronounces
 these words:
In hell; I am in hell.
And immediately, she falls back again into the 
condition of a corpse.

"I was present at that event," says one of the 
witnesses who deposed before the Apostolic
 tribunal, "but I never could convey the 
impression it produced on me and the bystanders,
 nor that which I still feel every time I pass that
 house and look at that window. At the sight of 
that ill-fated abode, I still hear the pitiful cry
 resounding: 'In hell; I am in hell'."

Ratbod, King of the Frisons, who is mentioned
 in ecclesiastical history in the eighth century, 
had said to St. Wolfrand that he was not afraid 
of hell; that he wished to be there with the 
kings, his ancestors, and most illustrious
 personages. "Moreover," he added, "later 
on, I shall be always able to receive baptism."
 "Lord," answered the Saint, "do not neglect 
the grace that is offered to thee. The God
 who offers the sinner pardon, does not 
promise him tomorrow." The King did not
 heed this advice, and put off his conversion.
 A year after, learning the arrival of St. 
Willibrord, he dispatched an officer to him,
 to invite him to come to the court and
 confer baptism on him. The Saint answered
 that it was too late. "Your master," he said, 
"died after your departure. He braved eternal
 fire; he has fallen into it. I have seen him 
this night, loaded with fiery chains, in the
 bottom of the abyss."

St. Francis Xavier Resurrecting the Son
of an Inhabitant of Cangoxima
Nicholas Poussin (1594-1665)

Here is another witness 
from beyond the grave. 
History avers that when 
St. Francis Xavier was 
at Cangoxima, in Japan,
 he performed a great 
number of miracles, of 
which the most celebrated
 was the resurrection of 
a maiden of noble birth. 
This young damsel died in 
the flower of her age,
 and her father, who loved
 her dearly, believed
 he would become crazy. Being an idolater, he
 had no resources in his affliction, and his friends,
 who came to console him, rendered his grief only
 the more poignant. Two neophytes, who came 
to see him before the funeral of her whom he 
mourned day and night advised him to seek help
 from the holy man who was doing such great
 things, and demand from him with confidence 
the life of his daughter. The pagan - persuaded
 by the neophytes that nothing was impossible to
 the European bonze, and beginning to hope 
against all human appearances, as is usual with
 the afflicted, who readily believe whatever 
comforts them - goes to Father Francis, falls
 at his feet, and, with tears in his eyes, 
entreats him to bring to life again his only 
daughter whom he has just lost, adding
 that it would be to give life to himself.

Xavier, touched by the faith and sorrow 
of the pagan, went aside with his companion,
 Fernando, to pray to God. Having come 
back again after a short time, "Go," he said
 to the afflicted father, "your daughter is alive!"

The idolater, who expected that the Saint 
would come with him to his house and 
invoke the name of the God of the Christians 
over his daughter's body, took this speech
 as a jest and withdrew, dissatisfied.
 But scarcely had he gone a few steps
 when he saw one of his servants, who, 
all beside himself with joy, shouted from
 a distance that his daughter was alive. 
Presently, he beheld her approaching. 
After the first embraces the daughter 
related to her father that, as soon as 
she had expired, two horrible demons
 pounced upon her, and sought to hurl 
her into a fiery abyss; but that two
 men, of a venerable and modest
 appearance, snatched her from the 
hands of these executioners and
 restored her life, she being unable
 to tell how it happened.

The Japanese understood who were
 these two men of whom his daughter 
spoke, and he led her directly to Xavier
 to return him such thanks as so great
 a favour deserved. She no sooner saw 
the Saint with his companion, Fernando,
 than she exclaimed: "There are my 
two deliverers!" and, at the same time,
 the daughter and the father demanded 

The servant of God, Bernard Colnago, 
a religious of the Company of Jesus, 
died at Catana in the odor of sanctity 
in they year AD 1611. We read in his
 biography that he prepared for the 
passage by a life full of good works and
 the constant remembrance of death, so 
apt to engender a holy life. To keep in
 mind this salutary remembrance, he 
preserved in his little cell a skull which
 he had placed upon a stand to have it
 always before his eyes. One day it 
struck him that, perhaps, that head had 
been the abode of a mind rebellious 
to God, and now the object of His wrath
. Accordingly, he begged the Sovereign
 Judge to enlighten him, and to cause 
the skull to shake if the spirit that had 
animated it was burning in hell. No 
sooner had he finished his prayer 
than it shook with a horrible trembling,
 a palpable sign that it was the skull of a
 damned soul.

This saintly religious, favored with singular gifts, 
knew the secret of consciences, and, sometimes, 
the decrees of God's justice. One day, God revealed
 to him the eternal perdition of a young libertine, 
who was his parents' heart-scald. The unfortunate
 young man, after having rushed into all sorts of 
dissipation, was slain by an enemy. His mother,
 at the sight of so sad an end, conceived the liveliest
 terrors for her son's everlasting salvation, and 
besought Father Bernard to tell her in what state
 his soul was. Despite her entreaties, Father 
Bernard did not answer by a single word, 
sufficiently showing by his silence that he had
 nothing consoling to say. He was more 
explicit to one of her friends. This person
 inquiring why he did not give an answer 
to an afflicted mother, the religious openly
 said to him that he was unwilling to increase
 her affliction; that this young libertine was
 damned, and that, during his prayer, God
 had shown him the youth under a hideous
 and frightful aspect.

On the 1st of August, 1645, there died in the
 odor of sanctity, at the College of Evora, 
in Portugal, Anthony Pereyra, Coadjutor Brother
 of the Company of Jesus. His history is,
 perhaps, the strangest furnished by the annals
 of this Society. In AD 1599, five years after
 his entrance into the novitiate, he was 
seized by a mortal malady in the Isle of 
St. Michael, one of the Azores; and a 
few moments after he had received the
 last sacraments, beneath the eyes of the
 whole community, who were present at his
 agony, he seemed to expire, and became
 cold like a corpse. The appearance - almost
 imperceptible - of a slight throbbing of the
 heart alone, prevented his immediate burial.
 Accordingly, he was left three whole days on 
his death-bed, and there were already plain signs
 of decomposition in the body, when all of a sudden, 
on the fourth day, he opened his eyes, breathed
 and spoke. He was obliged by obedience to 
account to his superior, Father Louis Pinheyro, 
all that had passed in him after the last pangs 
of his agony; and here is the summary of the
 relation which he wrote with his own hand:

 ' First, I saw from my death-bed
 my Father,St. Ignatius, accompanied
 by some of our Fathers in heaven,
 who was coming to visit his sick 
children, seeking those who seemed
 worthy to be presented to our Lord.
 When he was near me, I thought 
for an instant that he might take 
me, and my heart leaped with 
joy; but he soon described to 
me what I must correct before 
obtaining so great a favor.
Then, however, by a mysterious
 dispensation of Providence, the 
soul of Brother Pereyra was 
momentarily released from his
 body, and immediately the sight 
of the hideous troop of demons,
 rushing headlong upon him, 
filled him with dread. But, 
at the same time, his 
angel-guardian and St.
 Anthony of Padua, his 
countryman and patron,
 put his enemies to flight,
 and invited him in their 
company to take a momentary
 glimpse and taste of something
 of the joys and pains of eternity.
They then, by turns, led me
 to a place of delights, where
 they showed me an
 incomparable crown of glory,
 but one which I had not yet
 merited; then, to the brink of 
the abysmal pit, where I
 beheld souls accursed 
falling into the everlasting
 fire, as thick as grains of 
corn, cast beneath an 
ever-turning millstone. 
The infernal pit was like
 one of these lime kilns,
 in which the flame is 
smothered for an instant
 beneath the heap of materials 
thrown into it, only to fire up 
again by the fuel with a 
more frightful violence.

Led thence to the tribunal of the Sovereign Judge, 
Antony Pereyra heard his sentence to the fire
 of purgatory, and nothing here below, he 
declares, could give an idea of what is suffered 
there, or of the state of anguish to which 
the soul is reduced by the desire and
 postponement of the enjoyment of 
God and of His blessed presence.

So when, by our Lord's
 command, his soul
 was united again to
 his body, neither the
 new tortures of sickness,
 which, for six 
entire months, combined 
with the daily 
help of iron and fire, 
caused his flesh, 
irremediably attacked by the corruption
 of this first death to waste away; nor
 the frightful penances to which, so far 
as obedience allowed him, he never
 ceased to subject himself for the
 forty-six years of his new life, 
were able to quench his thirst for 
sufferings and expiation. He used to say:

All this is nothing to what
 the justice and mercy of
 God have caused me not
 only to see, but to endure.
Finally, as an authentic seal of so many wonders,
 Brother Pereyra detailed to his Superior the
 hidden designs of Providence on the future 
restoration of the Kingdom of Portugal, at
 that time still distant nearly half a century.
 But it may be fearlessly added that the
 most unexceptionable avouchment of all
 these prodigies was the surprising 
sanctity to which Antony Pereyra never
 ceased for a single day to rise.

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