based on the philosophy of the ‘the passion of accepting purgatory as an act of love to attain life with God in heaven’ as described by Saint Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510) and accepted as part of the Church’s theological doctrine after its publication in 1556.
SELF INDULGENCE or THE PAINFUL PASSION OF LOVING PURGATORY
In the Italian port of Genoa in fourteen ninety one
A friar, selling indulgences, stopped a passing holy nun.
“Blessed sister”, he called to her, “I know your love of God
Surpasses all your other wants, in his shoes you would be shod
So that, if death suddenly struck you down, and as to him you ran
You’d feel all your sins had been forgiven, ever since your life began.
“But holy though your life now is, surely must you not still pay
For those forbidden deeds you did before your first conventual day?
How long in purgatory must you spend to totally cleanse your soul
And so make you worthy to meet your God? How long? You cannot say.
But I have a week’s plenary indulgence to delete your spiritual shame
If daily you recite these hundred prayers honouring your Lord’s name.
“For 10 pieces of silver donated to my charitable works and cause
I’ll tell you the prayers to say” – she gave twenty without a pause.
A week later to the day in the hospital chapel where she nursed
The ill, the old, the terrified and dying, both blessed and accursed,
She fell upon her knees and intoned the psalms the friar had sold to her.
She’d said the hundredth on the seventh day, her soul by then so fair.
But behind her stood Caterenetta, the matron of that healing house
Who said “Sister, Did a Friar sell you prayers to meet your holy spouse?
And are you shriven, soul quite clean? My dear, have you ever thought?
What it was he sold you and what exactly it was that you bought?
To go directly to your God your body must die now, yes this very day.
Indulgences aren’t for future sins, to forgive them you still have to pray
“Each morn and night, confessing everything you do that’s wrong.
Purgatory must be served for each sin committed your whole life long.
But don’t look so afraid and sad, you can yet see your God soon.
Living a life of human trials working hard, and kindly until you swoon,
Wearing out the human body,ignoring hunger and spurning a comfy bed
So at death your forgiven soul goes straight to God, on whose love it fed.
You see this earthly life can be your purgatory if you devote yourself
Entirely to hardship for others’ sakes and leave on the tempting shelf
Everything you covet through purely human and corporal desires
And live, instead, a life of charity for those God loves, created and aspires
To love for ever, and like you, see them love him also in return.
Do this until you die, my dear, and his holy vision at once you’ll earn.”