It isn’t always easy to believe or understand the concept of messages from the souls of Purgatory and Heaven. I admit to having my doubts. But then I read the diary and visited the convent of Czestowa in Poland and saw the Black Madonna in Jasna Gora just days after the death of Blessed Pope John Paul II.
Those experiences led me to read the book "Hungry Souls: Supernatural Visits, Messages and Warnings from Purgatory" by Brother Gerard J. M. Van den Aardweg, who introduces the reader to modern-day Blesseds, saints, and souls who have experienced the voices and seen the apparitions of those who have gone before us.
Pope John Paul II strongly believed in Purgatory. "Hungry Souls" explains why: "This is how Pope John Paul II explains why Purgatory is necessary, for, he continues, we are called ‘to be perfect like the heavenly Father during our earthly life... sound and flawless before God the Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints’ (1 Thess 3:12)."
"Here John Paul reaffirms the old wisdom concerning the existence of a "state of purification" after death… The place for this correction of the soul’s imperfection is Purgatory," according to Brother Gerard.
The book is filled with colorful and delightful photographs, including the façade of the Sacred Heart of Suffrage in Rome.
One of the first saints we are introduced to is Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, "whose main emphasis is on the human Heart of Christ for the souls in Purgatory and, at the same time, an invitation to the faithful to practice charity for them in union with His merciful heart, for the devotion of the suffering souls is inextricably linked to the devotion of the Sacred Heart. That has been made especially clear by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the apostle of the devotion to the Sacred Heart…" Brother Gerard writes.
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque received revelations about the sufferings of the souls in Purgatory and about Our Divine Lord’s tender love for them and his eager desire for their deliverance; Christ appeared to St. Margaret-Mary Alacoque when she was at prayer.
Among the others who had visions, it is easier to believe and understand those most recent to us: Eugenie von der Leyen, Saint Catherine of Genoa, the children of Fatima, Saint Bernadette of Lourdes, and Saint Faustina, who saw and heard apparitions of Christ when she prayed. She spoke to him and he answered.
I grew especially fond of St. Faustina, because as the sisters of her convent mourned Pope John Paul II, they draped a Vatican flag over the chair in which Blessed Pope John Paul II sat as he spoke to St. Faustina before her death at age 24.
"Hungry Souls" is rich with stories of Purgatory and why Catholics should not only believe in Purgatory, but strive to go there in preparation for heaven and God the Father. I recommend the book for both believers in Purgatory and for those who doubt its existence. It is rich in Catholic theology and filled with stories of the saints and sinners who have and are still spending time there.