– What is Purgatory? –
Faith teaches us that Purgatory, as the word indicates, is a place of suffering and atonement. There, Divine Justice continues to purify souls not yet pure enough to be admitted into Paradise, where nothing stained may enter; it is not Hell where there is no longer Redemption; it is an intermediary place situated between the infinite joys of Heaven and the infinite flames of Hell. It resembles Hell in the intensity of suffering and Heaven by the holiness of those who are suffering there. It is a flame that devours but that purifies; it is a journey of tears, but it is not the place of eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth of which Scripture speaks. When the time of purification is over, God will call to himself those souls cleansed by suffering to share in his eternal happiness.
Thus, Purgatory is a temporary sentence, which will cease to exist following the final judgement.
That is Purgatory. That is where most of the souls who have ended their pilgrimage here on earth find themselves, suffering and weeping in atonement. Immediate entrance into Heaven is the privilege of very few. Purgatory is where some of our relatives and dear ones may very well be. It is where we might end up ourselves! And maybe soon! Who can flatter oneself as to think, at the moment of death, to be in such a state of purity as to not need to make reparation?
It is thus important for us to get to know the state of those poor souls in order to have compassion for their sufferings and in return to be worthy of their prayers.
– Why Purgatory? –
When a soul appears before the Divine Judge, if it is exempt of any stain, Jesus himself will open up Heaven’s gates and grant it the crown promised to the blessed. If that soul has only a few small stains on its garment, what will become of it? Where will it go? What will happen to those souls not pure enough to enter heaven but not so unclean as to deserve Hell? Will they never see the face of God? Let us praise God who has created a means to reconcile his Justice with his Mercy by placing Purgatory between Heaven and Hell. Souls will be purified there like gold in a blast furnace. There, souls will be cleansed of all impurities caused by sins. Tertulien, speaking of the suffering souls must endure in Purgatory calls them the torments of Mercy.
There is a reason for the existence of Purgatory. It is necessary for completing the penance which we did not do while on earth, to satisfy Divine Justice and to earn an immense glory through atonement. It is a creation of the mercy of God that can be called the 8th sacrament, the sacrament of fire, for those souls, which the Church’s true sacraments did not purify perfectly.
Glory be then to the Divine Mercy which by means of Purgatory saves the souls of our loved ones, and provides us with means of alleviating their suffering and allows the gates of Heaven to open for them.
– Example –
A priest ended his homily on the subject in Purgatory with the following, A few days ago, I received news of my father’s death. Unable to be near my family, I felt devastated. I hadn’t had the opportunity of giving him a final kiss, to close his eyes with the hands he had loved to kiss after they had received the anointing of priesthood. In my anguish and pain, the only consolation I can find is in recommending him to your prayers, you who are so good and indulgent. I am filled with this consolation as I go to the altar to offer the Holy Sacrifice for the repose of my beloved father’s soul. I know that our prayer will alleviate his suffering, shorten his stay and deliver him from Purgatory and open Heaven’s gates where he has invited me to join him in the house of God. It is a holy and beneficial deed, that of praying for the deceased! Purgatory is a creation of God’s mercy.
Let Us Pray
My God, I adore your eternal decrees; I confess that Purgatory, which reconciles your Justice and Mercy, is a product of your Love. Lord, help me avoid that place of suffering and deprivation by my penance, and may my prayers obtain through your paternal indulgence the release from exile of those suffering souls who call unto you so ardently. Dear Jesus, be their Conciliator! Call your dear children and our brethren to eternal rest and may your light shine upon them! May they rest in peace!