FATHER RAVIGNAN, an illustrious and holy preacher of the Society of Jesus, also cherished great hope for the welfare of sinners carried away by a sudden death, when otherwise they had borne no hatred in the heart for the things of God. He lived to speak of the supreme moment, and it seems to have been his opinion that many sinners are converted in their last moments, and are reconciled to God without being able to give any exterior sign thereof. In certain deaths there are mysteries of Mercy where the eye of man sees nothing but strokes of Justice. As a last glimmer of light, God sometimes reveals Himself to those souls whose greatest misfortune has been to ignore Him; and the last sigh, understood by Him who penetrates hearts, may be a groan that calls for pardon; that is to say, an act of perfect contrition.
General Exelmans, a relative of this good father, was suddenly carried to the tomb by an accident, and unfortunately he had not been faithful in the practice of his religion. He had promised that he would one day make his confession, but had not had the opportunity to do so. Father Ravignan, who, for a long time had prayed and procured prayers for him, was filled with consternation when he heard of such a death. The same day, a person accustomed to receive supernatural communications thought he heard an interior voice, which said to him, " Who then knows the extent of God's mercy? Who knows the depth of the ocean, or how much water is contained therein? Much will be forgiven to those who have sinned through ignorance."
The biographer from whom we borrow this incident, Father de Ponlevoy, goes on to say, " Christians, placed under the law of Hope no less than under the law of Faith and Charity, we must continually lift ourselves up from the depths of our sufferings to the thought of the infinite goodness of God. No limit to the grace of God is placed here below; while there remains a spark of life there is nothing which it cannot effect in the soul. Therefore we must ever hope and petition God with humble persistency. We know not to what a degree we may be heard. Great saints and doctors have gone to great lengths in extolling the powerful efficacy of prayer for the dear departed, how unhappy soever their end may have been. We shall one day know the unspeakable marvels of Divine Mercy. We should never cease to implore it with the greatest confidence."
~ From Purgatory: Illustrated by the Lives and Legends of the Saints by Fr. F.X. Shouppe, S.J. ~