A devout Christian who was sick, praying to be delivered from his malady, was answered by God through a dream.
In that dream, an angel warned the sick man that he had not long to live.
The angel then bade the sick man to choose whether to suffer three more years upon earth or suffer three days in the fires of purgatory.
The sick man chose to suffer three days in the fires of purgatory. Shortly afterward, the sick man died. When he was in purgatory,
the same angel appeared before him to console him.
The suffering soul then said to his celestial visitor, “Thou saidst that I should only suffer here for three days, and now I have been here for at least three years.” “Thou art greatly mistaken,” the angel answered, “thou hast been here only a few minutes. Thy body on earth is not yet cold.”
Truly, no suffering on earth can be compared to the pains of purgatory. Consequently it is far better to expiate one’s sins in this life. Saint Augustine was right when he said, “Lord, here burn, here cut, here consume, but spare my soul in eternity.”
Adapted from Father Francis Spirago’s Anecdotes and
Examples Illustrating the Catholic Catechism (New
York: Benziger Brothers, 1904), 574–575.