You, no doubt, remember the statement that Our Lady made to Lucia at Fatima, when she was asked about the fate of two two girls from the village who had recently Lucia asked Our Lady: “Is Maria das Neves in Heaven?" Our Lady replied: "Yes, she is."

The Lucia asked about the other girl, who was aged around eighteen or nineteen: "And Amelia?"

This time, Our Lady said: "She will be in Purgatory until the end of the world" 

Amelia: until the end of the world!? Surely, a startling and perplexing communication! Some commen­tators have tried to tone it down, but not Lucia herself. In her last booklet, which she wrote not long before her death, Sister Lucia shares her ideas about the shocking remark of Our Lady with respect to Amelia's time in Purgatory, which may serve well as an insight to the mystery of Purgatory. Here follows Sister Lucia’s reflection and explanation:

Lucia later became a religious, eventually joining the Carmelite Order “I have been asked many questions concerning this reply of Our Lady and I don't know too well how to answer them. I didn't ask Our Lady for a clarification, I was too young to think about that. But I have meditated a lot about this detail of the Message.

Our Lady of Fatima
“After all—I ask myself—what is Purgatory, actually? ... We see that the word "Purgatory" means "purification," and as all of us are more or less sinners, all of us need being purified of our own sins, faults, and imperfections, in order to be admitted to the enjoy­ment of the possession of the Kingdom of eternal glory.

We can still realize this purification during this life, if God gives us the time for it: by asking God for forgiveness, with sincere repentance and the resolution to change our life by doing pen­ance, receiving the sacrament of confession.

[At this point, Sister Lucia sums up all kinds of sins and continues] :

“All these things, and many others, too numerous to mention, are against the commandments of the Law of God and require a great purification, even if they have already been confessed and forgiven with respect to their punishment . . . but not expiated with respect to their purification; until this [expiation] renders us worthy to be admitted to the immense ocean of God's Being.

“This purification—that is called "Purgatory"—can be more or less extended, depending on the number of our sins, faults, and imperfections, and on their gravity, for which we have not given complete satisfaction by means of reparation, good works, pen­ance, and prayers.

“And how are we purified in Purgatory, or what purifies us? I don't know very well. In the past, they said that we are purified by being thrown in a hot fire, and that this fire was equal to that of Hell. Modern writers seem not to concord any more with this way of thinking.

“As for me, it seems to me that what purifies us is love, the fire of divine love, which is communicated by God to the souls in pro­portion as every soul corresponds. It is said that if a soul is granted the grace to die with a perfect act of love, that this love puri­fies it totally, so that it can go straight to Heaven. This shows us that what purifies is love, along with contrition, sorrow for having offended God and the neighbor, by sins, faults, and imperfections, because all this is against the first and last commandments of the Law of God: You shall love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole strength. That way, the small or big flame of love—even though it be only a wick that is still smoldering—will not extinguish, but will be scintillating and increasing until it totally purifies the soul and makes it dignified to be admitted, to live in the immense ocean of the Being of God, to participate with all the other blessed ones in the wisdom, power, knowledge, and love of God, in proportion as God wants to com­municate it to every soul; while all united sing the hymn of eternal love, praising and glorifying our God, Creator and Savior.

“I don't know if all I am saying here is exactly so; if Holy Church says it in another way, believe her and not me, who am poor and ignorant; I can be mistaken. This is what I think and not what I know ... Thus we see that our Purgatory can be more or less pro­longed, conform the state of grace and the degree of love of God we find ourselves in at the moment of passing from earthly life to the sphere of supernatural life, from time to eternity.”

The above reflection on Purgatory, by Sister Lucia, was published in Como vejo a Mensagem.