Can suffering in life serve like purgatory?

What about those who are still alive on earth will our souls be sent to purgatory or because we are already suffering on earth do to physical pain due to lets say shut failure and that the said person who is suffering now on earth will their time in purgatory be shorter because they have suffered more pain here on earth than others have at some point?

Still alive when?

1 Like

I don’t understand your first question about being still alive. Still alive when? Are you asking if life on earth can be a kind of purgatory?

As to whether or not pain counts… only God knows. I’d say it depends on the person’s spiritual life and how “well” they are suffering. In the end, we are all trying to progress to living a life that is free from attachment to sin. We are all trying to be saints.

If your pain causes you to be a miserable old so and so who is uncharitable and quick to anger, and who does not frequent the sacraments, I’d imagine you would still spend time in purgatory or worse upon your death.

By contrast, if you offer your pain up for others, frequent the sacraments, become detached to your sin, and avail yourself of God’s Grace such that you grow in holiness… I’d imagine you are more likely to avoid a lengthy stay in purgatory.

Of course, it’s not up to us. It’s up to God. Jesus will judge us according to how well we have kept his commandments.

1 Like

Yes I 'm asking that can life be a kind of purgatory while we are still alive on earth. Like this person goes through shunt failure during their time on earth multiple times over the course of their life will their stay in purgatory be shorter than someone else’s that doesn’t suffer physical pain or even psychological pain while on earth?

I stand by my previous answer. It depends. Prayers for this person going through shunt failures. I know a little of what that is like. I hope they are able to find lasting relief.

It could be. I wouldn’t call it “purgatory on earth”, but if you suffer more in this life, and you willingly and consciously offer up these sufferings as penance for your sins, you might shorten your time in purgatory. Catholics piously believe that suffering and penance offered in this life is far more efficacious (and perhaps even less painful!) than basically being “forced to expiate your sins” in purgatory. In this life, you can grow in holiness. In purgatory, you are basically frozen the way you were at the moment of your death, and you cannot grow, you can only be purified.

I’m not sure to what extent any of this is dogmatic, or solemnly defined in any way by the Church, but you will find such descriptions throughout any traditional Catholic works on the subject. When it comes right down to it, we know little about purgatory other than that it exists.

You are discussing the ‘life on earth is hell’ topic. This topic is related to why we suffer. There are some very good youtubes on this by Bishop Barron and Venerable Fulton Sheen. I recommend watching them , rather then the potential to be led astray on CAF with this issue. It is a big one.

Purgatory isn’t about suffering. It’s about the purifying of the soul by showing us our faults and making us repair them with God’s help. Physical or mental pain on Earth may suck, but unless it helps turn your soul entirely towards virtue and God, it doesn’t do anything for the afterlife. That’s at least how I see it.


1473 The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace.

This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit