Ghost encounter: Ask what it wants, not who it is

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    ANGELES CITY – If you see a ghost, don’t ask for its name. Instead, ask what it wants. And then brace for a reply.

    This is among the interesting items in two publications that usually circulate among Catholics in this city on All Saints’ Day, when Filipinos troop to cemeteries to pay respects to their departed relatives.

    The advice on how to deal with ghosts is from a well-published interview of a nun, Sor Emmanuel of mystic Maria Simma of Austria before the latter died in March, 2004. Simma was said to have been visited frequently by souls from Purgatory who sought her prayers for their deliverance into Heaven.

    Retired priest and book author Fr. Edilberto Santos of the Holy Rosary Parish here, said that the concept of souls in Purgatory is basic to Catholic teachings.

    “What the Apostle’s Creed calls the communion of saints is made up of the Church triumphant or those in Heaven, the Church militant or those living on earth, and the Church suffering or those in Purgatory,” he said.

    In Sor Emmanuel’s interview which was published as the first part of a prayer book titled Devotion to the Souls of Purgatory, Simma related her first encounter with a ghost in her home in Sonntag in Austria in 1940. Simma said a man kept on walking back and forth in her room and did not reply when she asked for his identity. She said her hand would pass through the man when she tried to grab him.

    Simma related that when she told her priest-confessor about the incident, the priest advised her to ask what the mysterious man wanted of her, instead of asking for an identity. Doing as advised, Simma later got the reply of her persistent night time visitor who asked that she offer three Masses for his deliverance from Purgatory.

    Another publication which elders are known to bring with them to local cemeteries is one known to Catholics as the Unpublished Manuscript of Purgatory which, like the prayer book containing the Simma interviews, also bear the imprimatur and nihil obstat of Catholic Church authorities.

    The manuscript is supposed to be a  transcript of the conversations between a then living nun identified only as Sister M. de L.C. with a deceased nun named as Sister M.G. in a convent in France, the conversation occurring from 1874 up to the latter’s deliverance from Purgatory in 1890. Catholic authorities labeled the manuscript as “historical” and “credible.”

    The manuscript has continued to fascinate readers with Sister M.G.’s replies to the queries of Sister M de L.C. such as in regard to the location of Purgatory. Said the sister-ghost: “It is in the center of the earth, close to Hell, as you saw one day after Holy Communion. The large number of souls there are confined to a limited space. There are thousands and thousands of souls there. But then what space does a soul occupy?”

    “Each day thousands of souls come to Purgatory and most of them remain thirty to forty years, some for longer periods, others for shorter. I tell you this in terms of earthly calculations because here it is quite different,” the manuscript quoted the ghost as saying.

    In the manuscript, Sister M.G. also provided insights into “sudden and unprepared deaths.”

    “Such deaths are sometimes an act of justice, sometimes one of mercy. When a soul is timid and God knows it is well prepared to appear before Him, He takes it out of this world suddenly to spare it the terrors it might experience at the last moment. Sometimes, also, God takes souls in His justice. They are not for this reason eternally lost, but their Purgatory is much more severe and prolonged than it would otherwise have been, since they were either deprived of the Last Sacraments or received them hastily and so were unprepared for their passage into eternity,” Sister M. G. was quoted to have revealed.

    In this city long absorbed in the American tradition of Halloween trick-or-treat that, though fun for children, nevertheless has promoted ghouls and ghosts as beyond-the-grave prospects, the two publications have become popular among local folk, as their brisk sales at local Catholic bookstores indicate.

    Still, many local families in this city and other areas have been into the Halloween practice introduced decades ago by the Americans at their former US Clark Air Force Base here.

    The Americans established the base initially as a pastureland for cavalry forces in 1901, until it became the biggest US military base outside US mainland up to 1991.

    “We sported masks and we would do the rounds especially in areas where the Americans live. At the end of the day, we had bagsful of imported US chocolates which were not yet as common in local stores in those days,” said local journalist Jojo Due, 37, who spent his youth in Barangay Malabanias near the main gate of the former Clark military base which is now a Freeport.

    When the Americans abandoned Clark in 1991 in the face of the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo and the Senate’s abrogation of the Military Bases Agreement the following year, folk in surrounding communities found the historic former base, where many were reported to have died during World War II, found Clark a favorite hunting ground for alleged ghosts, particularly on or about Nov. 1.

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