Purgatory is a place souls go when they die, who are saved (have sanctifying grace in their soul), but haven’t covered (payed the price) for their sins they chose to commit during their life on earth. Nobody in their life should strive to go to purgatory upon their death, but rather peruse perfection so one may go straight to heaven since purgatory is painful and away from God.
nothing unclean will enter it [heaven] –Revaluation 23:27
Purgatory is a place to purify one’s soul; to prepare it to enter into heaven since nothing impure will enter into heaven. And if a soul didn’t purify itself during their time on earth, they will need to be purified before they are welcomed into heaven. To be purified, souls suffer from different degrees of agony based on the severity of their offenses that they committed during their life on earth which weren’t atoned for after their baptism.
Baptism gives perfect purification and forgiveness, and if a soul were to die immediately after being baptized, they would be pure and go straight to heaven. However, for most people, they commit a vast array of offenses against God after their purification (baptism) and those offenses against God, for the saved who sins have been forgiven through confession, but the punishment for the sins hasn’t been covered, need to be purified in purgatory.
A soul has their entire earthly life to cover (pay the price) for their sins through acts of love (fasting, mercy towards others, sacrifices, etc.) to cover their sins prior to death for the eternal reward.
Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. –1 Peter 4:8
These poor souls in purgatory suffer from a great longing to be united with God (which is described as the worst suffering) and unquenchable fire which burns them to purify their soul. This sounds scary…well it is.
However, purgatory is a great display of God’s mercy. Instead of banishing our undeserving, unclean souls into hell, God in His great love gives us another chance to purify ourselves for those who fell short during their time on earth. Since God’s justice demands such payment for our offenses after baptism, it is His mercy that stands out most in purgatory. The souls in purgatory are elated to be saved and are waiting for their release, through our prayers, from their prison of suffering to embrace the arms of Jesus who awaits them in heaven.
Purgatory isn’t the end of one’s journey, it is the beginning…the beginning of salvation. If someone is approaching death, and they know they haven’t covered all of their offenses to God during their life, they should joyfully await their purification with a grateful heart. For without such mercy, they would surely be doomed for all eternity.
Being scared to suffer is a normal human reaction before someone enters into known pain that they must endure, but the joys from gratitude should supersede any fear that might develop. Just say you contacted a debilitating illness which is terminal if left untreated and the death from that illness is outrageously long and painful. But fortunately for you, the doctors have a sure cure that is 100% successful. However, the cure is extremely painful too, but it is only temporary, and if you endure your treatment, you will be perfect guaranteed, as if you have never been ill and in even better shape than before your illness. Wouldn’t you be incredibly grateful for the treatment because without it you would surely die and suffer forever?
Purgatory is God’s justice displayed through His incredible love and mercy for us. Don’t fear purgatory, but don’t peruse it either. God’s mercy is waiting to love you in heaven forever.
Some Saint Quotes:
St. Faustina says, “I experienced such intense hunger for God that I seemed to be dying of the desire to become united with Him. This lasted only a short time, but I understood what the longing of the souls in PURGATORY was like (Diary, 1186).”
St. Faustina also wrote in her diary about her guardian angel taking her into purgatory, “I saw my Guardian Angel, who ordered me to follow him. In a moment I was in a misty place full of fire in which there was a great crowd of suffering souls” (Diary, 20).
St. Padre Pio:
“I can tell you about the different degrees of Purgatory because I have passed through them. In the great Purgatory there are several stages. In the lowest and most painful, it is like a temporary hell, and here there are the sinners who have committed terrible crimes during life and whose death surprised them in that state. It was almost a miracle that they were saved, and often by the prayers of holy parents or other pious persons. Sometimes they did not even have time to confess their sins and the world thought them lost, but God, whose mercy is infinite, gave them at the moment of death the contrition necessary for their salvation on account of one or more good actions which they performed during life. For such souls, Purgatory is terrible. It is a real hell with this difference, that in hell they curse God, whereas we bless Him and thank Him for having saved us.
Next to these come the souls, who though they did not commit great crimes like the others, were indifferent to God. They did not fulfill their Easter duties and were also converted at the point of death. Many were unable to receive Holy Communion. They are in Purgatory for the long years of indifference. They suffer unheard of pains and are abandoned either without prayers or if they are said for them, they are not allowed to profit by them. There are in this stage of Purgatory religious of both sexes, who were tepid, neglectful of their duties, indifferent towards Jesus, also priests who did not exercise their sacred ministry with the reverence due to the Sovereign Majesty and who did not instill the love of God sufficiently into the souls confided to their care. I was in this stage of Purgatory.
In the second Purgatory are the souls of those who died with venial sins not fully expiated before death, or with mortal sins that have been forgiven but for which they have not made entire satisfaction to the Divine Justice. In this part of Purgatory, there are also different degrees according to the merits of each soul.
Thus the Purgatory of the consecrated souls or of those who have received more abundant graces, is longer and far more painful than that of ordinary people of the world.
Lastly, there is the Purgatory of desire which is called the Threshold. Very few escape this. To avoid it altogether, one must ardently desire Heaven and the vision of God. That is rare, rarer than people think, because even pious people are afraid of God and have not, therefore, a sufficiently strong desire of going to Heaven. This Purgatory has its very painful martyrdom like the others. The deprivation of the sight of our loving Jesus adds to the intense suffering.” –St. Padre Pio