Arnaud Dumouch, 2005,

Accueil histoires

Purgatory on earth

Translated by Alain Quenneville

“And lead us not into temptation.”


This story shows how unadvisable it is for us to judge life’s failure or success. God’s criteria are not ours.


Andre was a small child in who’s the cradle the fairies had leaned. He received all talents as well as beauty, intelligence and success. 50 years later, he had become a known researcher. Elected mayor of his city, he was the happy husband of a beautiful woman and the father of three girls.


God’s angel appointed, since his conception, to watch over Andre and to lead him towards eternal life, was observing his charge’s life. He wasn’t very pleased with what he was seeing. It could only observe vanity and a certainty derived from his conceit. This 50-year-old little boy was walking through his existence with the arrogance of one to whom nothing resists. Moreover, spoiled by the life, he was pushing inconsequence to the point of boredom. “My wife is gracious and of good humour, courteous and twinkly, nice and smiling…” said he in a blasé tone which left no room for error. In short, André couldn’t even see the treasure any more that the life had put on his path. All this accumulated pride worried the angel: “This child is heading straight for hell.”

This is why, in Andre’s fiftieth year, Heaven decided that it was time to save him fro himself. And to do it, it used a mean which one can only understand in light of the importance of the stake at hand, namely the eternal life or death: He was subjected it to temptation.


First stage

The trap, which the angel opened under the feet of Andre, was traditional. In his research laboratory, André noticed a new laboratory assistant quickly: 35 years old (quite younger than his wife) and all a thither for the research service director. She wasn’t any prettier than his wife. The advantage was that: she wasn’t his wife. And thus, imperceptibly, the quiet force of Andre and the female admiration of the laboratory assistant created the inevitable chemistry. Andre felt alive again.


Being a practical man, he very quickly acknowledged his adventure to his wife. Then he organized his divorce, ensuring at the same time to put the blame on his flabbergasted wife who, expressed complete surprise and exhibited a total depression. She didn’t defend herself. Admittedly, he couldn’t prevent that his daughters from turning on him of him with their anger and sticking up for their mother. It was a chink in his probity armour. But it didn’t matter: His new youth stimulated him.

Andre then redoubled his energy. He managed his workload as researcher, mayor and the organization of his new home.


Second phase

One year passed. And time infallibly reveals the souls.

Initially, Andre’s wife, “this housewife” according to his opinion, was source of a certain surprise for him. Against all odds, she remarried very quickly, to a doctor, himself a divorcee. They recomposed a family of five children and they settled in a splendid house. Andre did not confide this to anyone, but for him this was the object of a certain humiliation. That also raised questions in his mind: “Had something been going on before my divorce?”


Third stage

Another year passed. And time is the enemy of appearances.

His new wife showed herself different from what he had imagined. After a time of admiration had passed, she showed herself to be increasingly demanding. She followed him. And it was shown he submitted to his new wife as much as he had been dominating his former wife, however, the more effort he spent to be nice and attentive, more it seemed to fuel her contempt. She didn’t admire him any more…

The laboratory assistant left him suddenly one day. He returned the evening to the house, the house where he had raised his three daughters, and which he had, through a brilliantly organized divorce, torn from his wife. He found himself all alone there. She hadn’t left a thing of her personal affairs, not even the photo albums of their short idyll.


Fourth stage

Still another year passed. Time reveals all vanities. Rumours gossip and stories quickly made the rounds. This small-minded laboratory assistant undertook to fuel speculation through, her small bourgeois character and her selfishness. Andre didn’t let on. But he was really devastated. She had ripped his heart and handed to him (It shouldn’t be denied that André loved her.) and, more than his heart, his reputation whose importance he only discovered today the (one sees often only what one has lost): his reputation. In two years, he had destroyed his family and had been made to look like a fool. He didn’t even try to contact his former wife. It was a question of pride. And so he busied himself still more in his activities. He could feel the whisperings behind his back, but nobody spoke to him about nothing.

Andre never allowed his emotions to show, but his decision was made. The honour and love didn’t exist; life didn’t have direction any more. He wrote a will in which he specifically asked his ex-wife not to come to his funeral. It was the ultimate petty revenge that showed his spirit’s level of ruin. He was avenging himself because she was happy, and he wasn’t…

Andre’s body was found in his house, dead. No one even tried to reanimate him. He was chemist. He had prepared his end with a care that didn’t leave any hope of survival. The news struck the town with stupor. His burial was very public, each meditating on his destiny. Downtown, there were the usual gossipmongers, a party of those who took the wife’s defence; those who said that one should keep quiet about a man’s destiny couldn’t be judged so easily. The main street was renamed in his honour.


The particular judgment

Andre guardian angel greeted him, in the passage of death, had become a little boy again. In three years, God had breached his armour of respectability, under a succession of blows. But heaven admired how God, through his angel, had wanted Andre to fall to a visible and humiliating mortal sin (adultery, and suicide) to save him from a more serious and invisible mortal sin (pride) which would certainly have led him to hell. In three years, and right up to his ultimate and petty testamentary revenge, he had definitively lost all his illusion.


Then here’s what happened: At the moment when Christ appeared to him, the true sense of his life was presented to him. Andre burned at the feet of Christ all he had formerly adored: the glory, an overrated reputation, and his old responsibilities. He agreed to come in front of Him again as a simple child full of faults, faults for which he was asking for forgiveness.

And he repented so powerfully and so well that was with total love he surrendered himself to purgatory. The remaining purification of his pride was swift because he didn’t have any problem declaring himself unworthy completely unworthy of Heaven! Nevertheless it is the attitude that pleases God.


When a man loves and becomes humble to the point of scorning his old vanity, what is missing for him to enter Heaven?

Truly, he has failed by not having settled the consequences of his past sins. And he wants to redeem himself, so much since becoming a righteous man, because of his great love.

He didn’t receive any indulgence. André’s debt wasn’t forgiven. Christ made him accountable for it by entrusting him, as payment, a great responsibility: to protect, jointly with their angels, the wife he had given up, his mistress source of her purification, then his daughters and his future grandchildren. Thus, as debt payment, he accepted an apostolate that would last for several centuries.

Today, André sees God face to face. His debt of sorrow will have to be settled very concretely when 30 years later at the hour of her death, he received his wife and manifest his love and repentance to her. He’ll have then to receive his mistress, in 32 years and to renew for her this apostolate that will draw her to heaven. He will greet them both with a great gentleness and without any desire to condemn them. Because where of he is, André knows what it is that to be a sinner … and forgiven