Maria Simma of Austria (1915-2004) lived a holy life and was privileged to have regular visits from the souls suffering in Purgatory.
She received permission from her local Bishop and from her parish priest to make known these visits as long as she did not include theological errors in her communications.
Following are excerpts from a published interview between Maria Simma and Sister Emmanuel of Medjugorje that occured in 1997 in Sonntag, Austria.
… suffering on earth does not have the same value [as suffering in Purgatory].
On earth, when we suffer, we can grow in love,
we can gain merits, which is not the case with the sufferings in Purgatory.
In Purgatory, the sufferings serve only to purify us from sin.
On earth, we have all the graces. We have the freedom to choose.
All of this is so encouraging because it gives an extraordinary meaning to our sufferings.
The suffering which is offered, voluntary or involuntary, even the smallest sacrifices we can make, suffering or sickness, mourning, disappointments… if we live them with patience, if we welcome them in humility, these sufferings can have an unheard-of power to help souls.
The best thing to do is to unite our sufferings to those of Jesus, by placing them in the hands of Mary.
She is the one who knows best how to use them, since often we ourselves do not know the most urgent needs around us. All this, of course, Mary will give back to us at the hour of our death.
You see, these ‘sufferings offered’ will be our most precious treasures in the other world.
We must remind each other of this and encourage each other when we suffer.
Let me add something important: the souls in Purgatory can no longer do anything for themselves; they are totally helpless.
If the living do not pray for them; they are totally abandoned.
Therefore, it is very important to realize the immense power, the incredible power that each one of us has in our hands to relieve these souls who suffer.
We wouldn’t think twice about helping a child who has fallen in front of us from a tree, and who had broken his bones. Of course, we would do everything for him! So…
in the same way, we should take great care of these souls who expect everything from us, attentive to the slightest offering, hopeful for the least of our prayers, to relieve them from their pain. And…
it might be the finest way to practice charity.
Question: Why can one no longer gain merits in Purgatory, when one can on earth?
… at the moment of death, the time to earn merits is over.
For as long as we are living on earth, we can repair the evil we have done.
The souls in Purgatory envy us of this opportunity.
Even the angels are jealous of us, for we have the possibility of growing for as long as we are on earth.
Question: Often… suffering in our lives leads us to rebellion, and we have great difficulty in accepting and living it. How can we live suffering so that it bears fruit?
Sufferings are the greatest proof of the love of God, and if we offer them well, they can win many souls.
Question: What is the best way to deal with our suffering? [i.e. viewing suffering as a gift, and not as a punishment or as a chastisement as we are apt to do]?
We must give everything to Our Lady. She is the one who knows best who needs such and such an offering in order to be saved.
We should not always consider sufferings as a punishment. It can be accepted as expiation not only for ourselves, but above all for others.
Christ was innocence itself, and He suffered the most for the expiation of our sins.
Only in Heaven will we know all that we have obtained by suffering with patience in union with the sufferings of Christ.
Question: Do the souls in Purgatory rebel when faced with their suffering?
No! They want to purify themselves; they understand that it is necessary.
Question: 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 remains ‘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.
Question: Is there a time, [around] the moment of death, 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 and see God. Then 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.
Question: 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.
Question: 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. [Think more about helping others than about helping yourself.]
Pride is evil’s greatest trap.
Question: Can one ask the Lord to do one’s Purgatory on earth, in order not to have to do it after death?
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 the young woman, I too would have gone straight to Heaven.’
Question: 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.
Question: Are the sufferings in Purgatory more painful than the most painful sufferings on earth?
Yes, but in a symbolic way.
It hurts more in the soul.