Bishop Martin - The Progress of a Soul in the Beyond

- Chapter 59 -

he speaker immediately returns to the door where the sisters are, and leads them to Bishop Martin.
(When they are all surrounding Bishop Martin, he asks them): "Dear sisters and ladies, what happened to you and how did you get into such distress? You surely went to confession, communicated, told your beads endlessly - sometimes rather rattling them off than praying.
There would have been plenty of other devotional exercises, strict fasting, and the veneration of sacred relics, the font and incense. No doubt you carried out all your various duties indefatigably. How, then, did you come to be in such a wretched state?"
(Says one of the Sisters of Charity): "Oh, you dear friend, the good Lord will know that better than we. Believe me, I, and all these sisters of my order, were true martyrs!
Day and night we were on our feet, nursing the sick untiringly. Often we did even more than the severe rules of our order demanded. We fasted and prayed constantly and went to confession and communion several times during the week. And if ever thoughts of marriage or sex molested us, we would shout: 'Jesus, Mary and Joseph, protect our chaste bodies from such temptations of Satan!'
And if, after doing this three times in succession, it still did not help, we ran to the church. If there, too, we were unable to find help, we castigated our flesh till we drew blood, or we put on the girdle of penance. If all that still did not help, then the confessor had to apply means of exorcism, which, however, could only be used successfully with our younger sisters. We older ones had to have cold baths, or even, sometimes, blood-letting.
You see, dear friend, how severe our lives were. Many a watch-dog would not have envied us.
We surely were justified in expecting celestial joys for all these hardships and, considering the watch-dog existence we had on earth, surely that would not be asking too much? So we were absolutely convinced that the celestial joys would be ours, as has been promised to all who, for Christ's sake, leave all they have in the world and choose the narrow, thorny path of the cross for the sake of celestial glory.
But just look at the celestial glory we did attain! Don't we look like old hags with our dark grey complexions and our dirty rags? Our figures are like those of mummies, and we are hungry like sharks and thirsty like the Sahara. This is now our heaven for which we hoped with such certainty! What notion is one to get of such a divine justice?
On my arrival here from earth, I saw a bad woman - nothing but a harlot. She was carried away to heaven by shining angels - the beast! But not a cat has come to see me so far, much less an angelic being from heaven! Is that justice? Oh, what misery, what misery!
I brought many an honest girl, young, rich and beautiful, to my order, but they now curse me for having deceived them. What a bother! For my zeal I may now be called to account by the Eternal Judge!"
Here, several younger Sisters of Charity step forward and shout: "Yes, yes, it is all your fault, you old slut, you beast! You did everything to induce us to join your charitable riff-raff order! And when we did not want to take the vows, since we realized we had better chances in the world than in your brothel, you did everything in your power to prevent our withdrawal.
And when, eventually, we were coerced into taking the vows in a similar frame of mind to that one of an army recruit, having to swear allegiance, namely: 'You must, or the devil will get you!' - we were treated worse than the poorest of souls in purgatory or even in hell. And we were severely threatened not to let our dear parents know how shamefully we were treated. Only in the confessional to the father confessor were we permitted to complain, because he had to be silent about it anyway.
Now we demand the promised heaven from you to which we are more entitled than you are! Where is it? Take us there, or we shall lay violent hands upon you!"
The first nun throws herself at Bishop Martin's feet, entreating him to help her.