Letter From Beyond

The following was found among the papers left by a nun who died in a convent in Germany. It is not completely clear whether this was a vision or just a vivid dream. It is remarkable that Sister Claire was actually able to read the letter in the dream; in dreams, the written word is too visually unstable to read. Also remarkable about the dream is the orthodoxy of every detail of the letter. (Footnotes indicating Catholic doctrine are provided.) Whether or not this is a private revelation, it is a very poignant meditation on hell.

Let us think of Hell while we are still living, so that we will not fall into it after we die.
In my youth, I had a friend, Anne, who lived near my house. That is to say, we were mutually attached as companions and co-workers in the same office. After Anne married, I never saw her again. We never had what can be called a real friendship, but rather an amiable relationship. For this reason, when she married well and moved to a better neighborhood far from my home, I didn’t really miss her that much.
In mid-September of 1937 I was vacationing at Lake Garda when my mother wrote me this bit of gossip: “Imagine, Anne N. died. She lost her life in an automobile accident. She was buried yesterday in M. cemetery.”
I was shocked by the news. I knew that Anne had never been very religious. Was she prepared when God called her suddenly from this life? The next morning I assisted at Mass in the chapel of the convent boarding house where I was rooming. I prayed fervently for the eternal rest of her soul and offered my Holy Communion for that intention.
Throughout the day I was unsettled, and that night I slept fitfully. Once, I awoke suddenly, hearing something that sounded like my door being opened. Startled, I turned on the light, noting that the time on the clock on my nightstand showed ten minutes after midnight. The house was quiet and I saw nothing unusual. The only sound was from the waves of Lake Garda breaking monotonously on the garden wall. There was no wind. Nonetheless, I thought I heard something else after the rattling of the door, a swooshing sound like something being dropped. It reminded me of when my former office manager was in a bad mood and dropped some problem papers on my desk for me to resolve.
Should I get up and look around? I wondered. But since all remained quiet, it didn’t seem worthwhile. It was probably just my imagination, somewhat overwrought by the news of the death of my friend. I rolled over, prayed several Our Fathers for the Poor Souls in Purgatory, and returned to sleep. I then dreamed that I arose at six to go to morning Mass in the house chapel.
Upon opening the door of my room, I stepped on a parcel containing the pages of a letter. I picked it up and recognized Anne’s handwriting. I cried out in fright. My fingers trembled, and my mind was so shaken I couldn’t even think to say an Our Father. I felt like I was suffocating, and needed open air to breathe. I hastily finished arranging myself, put the letter in my purse, and rushed from the house.
Once outside, I followed a winding path up through the hills, past the olive and laurel trees and the neighboring farms, and then on beyond the famous Gardesana highway. The day was breaking with the brilliant light of the morning sun. On other days, I would stop every hundred steps or so to marvel at the magnificent view of the lake and beautiful Garda Island. The sparkling blue tones of the water delighted me, and like a child gazing with awe at her grandfather, I would gaze with admiration upon the ashen-colored Mount Baldo that rose some 7,200 feet above the opposite shore of the lake.
On this morning, however, I was oblivious to everything around me. After walking a quarter of an hour, I sank mechanically to the ground on the riverbank between two cypress trees where only the day before I had been happily reading a novel, Lady Teresa. For the first time I looked at the cypress trees conscious of them as symbols of death, something I had taken no notice of before, since these trees are quite common here in the south.
I took the letter from my purse. There was no signature, but it was, beyond any doubt, the handwriting of Anne. There was no mistaking the large, flowing S or the French T she made that used to irritate Mr. G. at the office. It was not, however, written in her usual style of speaking, which was so amiable and charming, like her, with those blue eyes and elegant nose. Only when we discussed religious topics did she become sarcastic and take on the rude tone and agitated cadence of the letter I now began to read.
Here, word for word, is the Letter from Beyond of Anne V. as I read it in the dream.

Read the letter here.

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26 Responses to Letter From Beyond

  1. Cassie says:

    Talk about extra incentive to not let the seemingly small graces be turned away, eh?

    Something that struck me in the letter was this:

    Even though I tried to avoid Him, God sought me out. I prepared the way for grace by the works of natural charity I often did, following the natural inclination of my nature. At times, too, God attracted me to a church. When I took care of my sick mother even after a hard day of work at the office, which was no small sacrifice for me, I strongly felt these attractions to the grace of God.
    Once, in the hospital chapel where you used to take me during our free time at mid-day, I was so moved that I found myself just one step away from conversion. I wept.
    The pleasures of the world, however, shortly swept me up in a torrent and drowned out this grace. The thorns choked out the wheat. Making the rationalization that religion is sentimentalism, the argument I heard at the office, I cast away this grace also, like so many others.

    It struck me because I can speak from experience that sufferings can certainly be enough to make you consider God. When I was just finishing high school, my Mom became terminally ill, and I put my own life on hold to take care of her for a year before she died. It was during that time that I went from being an atheist to a stubborn agnostic to a believer. So reading this part of the letter was very humbling, knowing that had I rejected God’s advances at that point, that I may never have accepted them later. I could’ve instead been caught up in worldly things like she was, and that would’ve been that.

    Thank you for posting this.


  2. Tom Fisher says:

    Just like the Screw-tape letters, this may do some good. However unlike the Screw-tape letters, the author of this piece does not clearly acknowledge that the ‘letter from hell’ is a literary creation. It is possible that people who are uneducated, or just not terribly bright, might think they are actually reading a letter from a damned soul.


  3. toadspittle says:

    Remarkable bit of “remembering from” a dream. How much can we remember from any dream?Think about it.

    Unfortunately, I must get personal here: Raven and Burro (and others, to be sure) – aren’t you deeply ashamed of this kind of pernicious drivel running on our poor old CP&S?
    I know it’s not necessary to remind either of you to be honest – I’d just like you to publish your answers.
    Still, maybe I’m wrong.

    Can anyone on here write and confirm that – in their honest opinion – the “condemned,” posthumous, letter-writing, woman quoted here – did sufficient evil in her life to deserve the the hideous, God-designed, torments of Hell – for all eternity?
    I’d very much like to know.
    And I’d like to think I’m not the only one. What do you think, Kathleen?


  4. toadspittle says:

    “Just like the Screw-tape letters, this may do some good.”
    How so, Tom? I see it doing nothing but harm, misery, and grief to the fearful, ignorant, snivelling, and credulous – and merely amusing the others.(Like you.)


  5. johnhenrycn says:

    In my honest opinion, Toad (16:06) who can say beyond any doubt that this letter (which I previously linked on CP&S a couple of days ago, btw, and for which I deserve one of them “hat tip” thingamajigs :)) is entirely a work of fiction? In my honest opinion, even if it is fiction, it has a good deal of polemical merit and should be on the reading lists of all R.C.I.A. catechumens. Finally, and again in my honest opinion, it ill behoves Catholics to speculate on whether any particular deceased person – with the possible exception of Judas – has gone to Hell.


  6. johnhenrycn says:

    …I do think it’s fiction, but I stand by my last remark regardless.


  7. toadspittle says:

    “…who can say beyond any doubt that this letter… … is entirely a work of fiction?”
    Nobody, JH – and we could say much the same about “Moby Dick,” “Madame Bovary,” or ” War And Peace.” But would you let any of these affect the way you live your life day to day*? I think this account is intended to just that.
    The “letter” strikes me as being a sort of deliberate mental poison – intended to traumatise the simple minded into submission. (Although it might just be intended as a harmless bit of fun, I suppose.)

    * But Moby might be handy, if you decide to take up whaling.


  8. mmvc says:

    Whether or not souls can or do communicate from the hereafter with us ‘earthlings’, be it from hell, purgatory or heaven, is an interesting question.

    This ‘Letter from Beyond’ reminded me in some ways of a lengthy account I read some years ago in which a damned priest warned about the reality of hell by speaking through a possessed soul during exorcism. I read it in German but it is available online in English for those who might be interested. What struck me was that in both cases, despite being most reluctant to ‘speak out’, the alleged damned souls somehow felt compelled to do so.


    Another fascinating phenomenon (not sure if either is Church approved) is that of Maria Simma who in her life time was said to have had many visits from Souls in Purgatory:


    I agree with Johnhenry that it’s good to read a wake-up call like this from time to time. After all it highlights what Our Lord repeatedly warned us about: death coming like a thief in the night, storing up heavenly rather than earthly treasures, loving Him by following His commandments and thus avoiding those everlasting fires… etc.


  9. Cassie says:

    @ mmvc

    Whether or not souls can or do communicate from the hereafter with us ‘earthlings’, be it from hell, purgatory or heaven, is an interesting question.

    I read a book recently that might interest you. It was written by a man named Gerard J.M. Van Den Aardweg and is called “Hungry Souls: Supernatural Visits, Messages, and Warnings from Purgatory.” It details several documented accounts of times when people (many Saints included) were visited by the Poor Souls to request their prayers and sufferings be done on their behalf in order to help shorten their time in Purgatory. Includes photos of burn marks left in books, a folded corporale, clothing, and various other things by flaming-hot hands, some of which are on display at the Museo del Pergatorio, which was founded by Father Victor Jouët just over a hundred years ago.

    You should check it out. It’s very sobering.


  10. mmvc says:

    Thank you for the tip, Cassie. I see the book is available for a reasonable price on Amazon – it’ll be next on my reading list after the Life of Anna Katharina Emmerick.


  11. mmvc says:

    Thank you too, Cassie, for sharing how through the suffering you endured whilst caring for your terminally ill mother (may she rest in peace!) you came back to the Faith. Although the details of my experience vary from yours, it was also suffering that finally brought me to my knees and to earnest commitment to the Lord after a long time of resisting His many promptings and invitations. Although I’m now desperate for a lapsed close family member to return to his childhood faith, in my human weakness I also find myself worrying that it may the painful way of the cross that will lead him back…


  12. Brother Burrito says:

    Dear JH,

    I published this article which I found today as an open tab in my browser. I had obviously clicked on JH’s link away back, and hadn’t got round to reading it before this afternoon. Hat tip to JH! Yay, send us more stuff like that please.

    The jury is still out on Judas:



  13. Robert says:

    If you are interested
    Father Malachy Martin book on exorcism cases Hostage To The Devil is worth reading. The Cases are true but the names changed. The Demon can be forced to speak the Truth!

    Dreams that come from God?
    There are many in the Bible but these of St Joseph are especially important because of the dangers to the Life of Jesus and Mary.

    Matthew 1
    20 But while he thought on these things, behold the angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost.

    Matthew 2
    13 And after they were departed, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying: Arise, and take the child and his mother, and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell thee. For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the child to destroy him.

    Matthew 2
    19 But when Herod was dead, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph in Egypt,

    Pilates Wife!!
    Matthew 27
    19 And as he was sitting in the place of judgment, his wife sent to him, saying: Have thou nothing to do with that just man; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.

    Acts Of Apostles 2
    17 And it shall come to pass, in the last days, (saith the Lord,) I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.

    So Dreams Yes can come from God!

    Is this True? I don’t know! Is it possible Yes? Why not?

    The theological notes are genuine. The lesson is valid.

    There are many saints and holy souls who were given knowledge of the departed, including St Pio. Therese Neumann are just a couple there are many more.


  14. johnhenrycn says:

    Toad (18:38) asks whether we would or should let works of fiction affect the way we live day-to-day. What an asinine question from a smart but world-weary man who should have seen the absurdity of that rhetorical (h/t Cockles and Mussels Malone of Dublin) the split second it left his arthritic finger. I’d be embarrassed to say my way of living has been unaffected by reading Shakespeare and some other Greats, not to mention Genesis. Toad – the very model of a modern major cynical (philistine). Toad, will you be dancing nude in the Moratinos (or Penzance) town square under the full moon tonight in celebration of the summer solstice? Please send us some pics.


  15. Tom Fisher says:

    How so, Tom? I see it doing nothing but harm, misery, and grief to the fearful

    Boccaccio tells us that when Dante walked the streets of Verona the old women would point to his beard* and say they could see the singes from his journey to hell. I don’t know if there’s any truth in that story. But I like it.

    *Which is interesting as the Botticelli portrait means we imagine him as clean shaven.


  16. toadspittle says:

    Quite right, JH. I was dead wrong to say that. Asinine, indeed. My own life has been considerably affected by numerous works of fiction, including – Powell, (Anthony, not Enoch) Waugh, Greene, Camus, etc., even a movie or two – “The Hustler,” all spring to mind.
    …And even the loony letter from Hell affected me, when I think about it. Cheered me up no end.

    Alas, my nude dancing days are done. But I was an awesome sight in my prime, a hundred or so years ago.
    Physically, I have remained preternaturally young, as all on CP&S are aware – but in the nude dancing photos my body has eerily aged – and now resembles that of a 75-year-old.
    …So the “pics” must stay safely locked away in the attic of my adobe hovel.


  17. Tom Fisher says:

    The “letter” strikes me as being a sort of deliberate mental poison – intended to traumatise the simple minded into submission

    I know what you mean Toad. I was a bit uneasy about that as well, which is partly why I felt the urge to state the obvious, and point out that it is fiction.

    Moby Dick,” “Madame Bovary,” or ” War And Peace.” But would you let any of these affect the way you live your life day to day?

    Yes, I would. Stories and literature have shaped my life ever since I was told tales like ‘The boy who cried wolf’ or parables like the ‘good Samaritan’ when I was a wee tot.


  18. toadspittle says:

    Now Mr Fisher rightly takes Toad to task (nice alliteration) re being affected by books and fiction stuff.
    (In case anyone wonders why I singled out “The Hustler,” – I went and found the very clip on Youtube)

    No need to explain.


  19. kathleen says:

    Toad @ 16:06 yesterday, asks me what i think about “the Letter from Beyond”!

    Well, Toad, I can’t see any evidence of it being “pernicious drivel” as you state! The story is certainly interesting, possibly true (who knows?), and a good way of shaking us out of our lethargy or complacency, innit? 😉

    Hell is for real, and a place of utter despair, for the souls in Hell have lost God! Therefore the suffering and torments of Hell must be unimaginably terrible… in total contrast to the bliss of Heaven which is beyond our wildest imaginings (re 1 Corinthians 2:9) whilst we plod along here on Earth with a blurred vision of our final destiny.

    In the Creed we affirm our belief in all that “is seen and unseen” – IOW, in a world beyond our material world. Man’s “restless heart” yearns for more than an earthly animal existence; he is not complete without it and remains unfulfilled until he is united with God. We were made for Heaven; we are called towards it again and again during our lives. (Lovely testimony here from Cassie BTW.) But the choice must be made by us.
    Choose to resist the loving graces bestowed on us by God to the bitter end, I will not serve, and we shut the door on Heaven forever. The only other alternative is Hell – absence of God!
    Think about it.

    mmvc – thank you for those fascinating stories you link to above.


  20. toadspittle says:

    We cannot know if Hell is real or not, Kathleen. Those who “know” it to be real, really only “know” that they are convinced that it is real.
    Nothing to stop anyone believing Hell to be real, of course. And it might be true.
    Which applies to everything metaphysical, and a great deal of everyday baggage, as well.
    But you, and many others, will never see that – I fear.

    “Man’s “restless heart” yearns for more than an earthly animal existence;”
    No doubt it does – mine does, on occasions.
    But that is no guarantee I will get what I yearn for. Any more than if I yearned to be 25 years old again, and six and a half feet tall.


  21. Crow says:

    With all due respect, John Henry, I would be careful putting this one on the RCIA list for catechumens – they would run a mile!


  22. johnhenrycn says:

    Crow says …they would run a mile!

    So? Are we looking for zealous catechumens or tepid ones? People enrolled in RCIA for marriage preparation purposes might find this letter off-putting, much like they will be uncomfortable hearing about many Catholic doctrines; but let’s admit it – the tortures of hell are part of Catholic doctrine.

    For adults who enroll in RCIA for reasons other than the necessity of doing so in order to marry a Catholic in sacramental marriage – this is just the kind of stuff (or *guff* in your lectionary ?) which turned them away from the make-nice superficialities of Protestantism. I know whereof I speak.


  23. johnhenrycn says:

    Edit: “…this is just the kind of stuff (or *guff* in your lectionary ?) which led them to the Church and away from the make-nice superficialities of Protestantism.”
    There, that’s better 😉


  24. Sarah says:

    The question I have is how did Sister Clare read the letters from God in her dreams?


  25. johnhenrycn says:

    Reading print in one’s dreams is possible. I think read in my dreams because print, not pictures, is the main way I connect with important things. I do read in my dreams. I think.


  26. vivacristo1000 says:

    Jesus warned about damnation and hell repeatedly. St Faustina in her visions of the afterlife described the road to hell as filled with people dancing and partying with the noise if the world, not realizing they were heading toward the abyss. Jesus said: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” Being that Jesus is God Incarnate, we need to heed to His warnings. Here are a few examples:

    You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, a and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

    “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

    “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny. (A reference to Purgatory).

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.


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