As Gertrude prayed for the repose of the soul of Brother Hermann, a lay brother lately deceased, she inquired what his state was; and Our Lord replied: He is now present, and I have granted himthis favor in return for earnest prayers which have been made for him - I have invited him to assist at this feast. Then she saw Our Lord, as the father of a family, seated at a table, on which were placed all the prayers, oblations, desires, ect., which had been offered for this brother. The soul stood sad and dejected at one end of the table, for he was not yet sufficiently purified to behold the loving countenance of Our Lord; but he soon appeared exceedingly refreshed and comforted by what he beheld before him.
The saint observed with some surprise that the effect of these offerings came to him directly from the offerings themselves, and not as usual from Our Lord, who generally appeared to her to present the souls with the offerings made for them with great joy; but Our Lord sometimes, of His own goodness and in consideration of the merits of those who prayed for him, gave him some consolation Himself, which imparted great satisfaction to the soul.
The Blessed Virgin sat as queen beside her Divine Son, and appeared also to place some gifts on the table, as a reward for the particular devotion which this soul had for her when on earth. The Saints to whom he had been devout also made offerings for him; and by these things, and the earnest love with which they were presented before God, the countenance of the brother became hourly more serene and joyful, and he slowly raised his eyes to gaze upon that blessed Light, which when It is once beheld, imparts eternal joy, and causes all former sorrow to be forgotten.
"But", she continued, "what advantage do you gain from our desire to give you the merit of all the good works which God enables us to perform?" He answered "They are of great utility to me, for they adorn my soul." St Gertrude replied: "But if any person deferred the prayer which they proposed to offer for you on account of sickness, would you suffer from it?" The soul answered: "Delays, which are the result of prudence , do not harm us unless they are caused by negligence." She continued:"Were you nit injured by our prayers during your sickness, as we asked more earnestly for your recovery than for the grace of a happy death? The soul replied: "This did not harm me, for I discovered therein the immense goodness of God, whose tender mercies are over all His works (Ps 144:9), as He was moved to do me even more good from beholding your affection for me". "But will tears shed for you through human affection do you harm?" he answered: "These tears are to me as the kindness of a friend who consoles his friend when in affliction. And when I am in enjoyment of perfect happiness, it will give me as much joy as the congratulations by my faithfulness in your service, which has gained your affection for me."
As Gertrude observed that the soul still continued in the same position, she said to him: "For what fault have you suffered most?" He replied: "For self will and self opinionatedness; for when I did any kindness for others I would not do as they wished, but as I wished myself; and so much do I suffer for this, that if the mental agonies of all mankind were united in one person, he would not endure more more than I do at present." She replied: "And what remedy will be most efficacious for you?" He answered: "To perform acts of the contrary virtue, and to avoid committing the same fault." "But in the meantime, inquired Gertrude ", what will afford you the greatest relief?" He replied: "The fidelity which I practiced toward others when on earth consoles me most. The prayers which are offered continually for me by my friends solace me as good news would solace a person in affliction. each tone of the chant at Mass, or in the vigils which are said for me, seem to me as a most delicious reflection. All that is done for me by others, with a pure intention for God's glory, such as working, and even sleeping or eating, affords me great relief and shortens my sufferings, on account of fidelity with which I labored for others."
On another occasion, when St. Gertrude recited the Pater noster for the same soul, she observed, to her extreme surprise, that his sufferings appeared greatly increased when she repeated the words: "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us". As she inquired the reason of this suffering, he replied: "When I was in the world, I offended God frequently by my unwillingness to forgive those who injured me in any way; and even when I had forgiven them I showed my resentment by a grave manner when I met them; and I suffer for this when ever these words are repeated for me." "And how long will you suffer thus?" inquired the Saint, The soul replied: "I shall suffer until I am entirely purified; but henceforth, by the mercy of God, whenever you say this prayer for me, I shall retain great relief thereby."
When Mass was offered for this soul, he appeared radiant with light and transported with joy. Then Gertrude said to Our Lord;"Is this soul now entirely freed from its sufferings?" Our Lord answered: He is already freed from much suffering, and no human being can form an idea of his glory; but he is not yet so perfectly purified as to be worthy to enjoy My presence, though He is approaching nearer and nearer to this purity by the prayers which are offered for him and he is more consoled and relieved. He added: His obstinacy in following his own will, and his disinclination to submit to the will of others, have prevented him from obtaining relief from your prayers as speedily as he would otherwise have done.
~ Excerpt from The Life and Revelations of Saint Gertrude the Great ~