Enlivened by a spirit of simplicity, joy and abandonment, she recommended to her sisters to "pray, suffer and work for the Holy Souls" and thereby to help all persons attain the end of their creation. Constitutions no. 6
Mary of Providence, being a woman of her time, was deeply conscious of the suffering of the living and the dead. She wanted to offer her life to God, and that of her sisters, to alleviate and support the suffering of people. She gave her life to be at the service of others and to accompany people in their journey towards God.
“By faith, she discovered the bonds that unite the living and the dead and the riches of the Communion of Saints. She wanted to help all people, particularly those who are forgotten and those who suffer, right through to their final meeting with God”. Const No.3.
Today Helpers continue to walk the road with people through life and to their final encounter with God. Here are reflections on Purgatory from some British Helpers:
‘Purification is an ongoing experience throughout life. This life experience forms part of the final encounter with God before reaching heaven. Final purification occurs when a person dies and meets God at the time of final judgement. The meeting, as I see it, is an experience of purgatory. In meeting the Father, a person meets the intense goodness and love of God. Being in touch with such goodness brings pain to the person as they are in touch with their own failure to live the commandment of love. I see purgatory as an intense encounter with the love of God, where love and pain and where the human and divine meet’
When I am asked about the charism of the Helpers of the Holy Souls, I express it as ‘an accompaniment of people through their life on earth to their final encounter with God’. I believe, as part of the communion of saints, we all accompany one another on life’s journey and through interaction with one another go through some purification. For Helpers to accompany others, the marginalised and the needy on their journey of purification, is their expressed desire, their vowed way of living their Religious Life.
‘I have never really envisaged Purgatory as a place. I think the nearest I can come to expressing Purgatory is more a sense of a ‘state’, a journey which we undertake. On that journey I have to divest myself of all that weights me down, impedes the journey, slows me down. I truly want to stand before God in the fullness of what He created me to be, I have to accept purification on the way of everything that stand between me and Him. When, on this journey I meet and interact with others and in so doing try to help their liberation and receive help from them – a kind of reciprocal aid. Therefore, for me Purgatory is timeless – it is not a ‘place’ to be endured after death, but an ever-present moment, aided by a merciful and loving God who wants all people to achieve the goal of their creation’.