Confused about Purgatory.

My present understanding on purgatory is that:

When someone goes to purgatory, the soul is purified by the grace which is giving due to Christ’s sacrifice upon the cross. Am I right so far?

In 1 Corinthians 3:15 it says “If any man’s work burn, he shall SUFFER LOSS; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.” Paul is speaking of purgatory here and when he says “suffer loss” what does he mean?

Thank you.

That passage is often cited by Catholic apologists when discussing purgatory. It is not sufficiently explicit enough to establish Biblical “proof” but it is certainly favorable to a purgatory interpretation, and it’s awkward to explain it otherwise.

As far as “loss” is concerned - I have always understood this to refer to our time in purgatory (which we could otherwise be spending in heaven - thus a loss).

This is how I understand Purgatory. The pain and progress are a function of our unlikeness to Christ to being like Him untill as written " we will see Him as He is because we will be like Him.

Imagine Hades the Saturday when Jesus entered. The presence of His Holy Soul among the generations of the past effected them in that eternity entered their existence and so Judgement. Those in the bossom of Abraham rejoice and enjoy the presence of their Lord in as much as their union of likeness allows. They will follow closely and be seen coming out of their graves in Jerusalem on Sunday. Some souls are drawn to Christ but their souls too distorted by corruption to be nearer His Holy Soul. Spiritual union isn’t a function of the amount of space between two people but a function of likeness. Purgatory imo is an experience of losing what we are made of that is unlike Our Lord. As our soul loses the unnatural distortions formed by a life born into a body of sin the pain diminishes and the consolations increase. When the soul is no longer deformed by it’s earthly life in a body subject to death it is prepared for beatitude of Heavenly life .:twocents:

purgatory is a place of punishment people go to who died in a state of grace and did not finish making up for their sins.

if there was no purgatory 99% of people would go to hell, not that many people die in a state of perfection

after we go to confession we are in a state of grace, if we commit a mortal sin, we go to hell if we die, if we didn’t repent

everytime we sin we put a nail in the wall, when we go to confession the priest removes that nail but the hole is still there, we have to make up for our sins, the best way to make up for your sins is the Rosary, Divine Mercy prayer and good works,

also have masses said for yourself and for the souls in purgatory, and always remember the souls in purgatory when you pray, they need help more then anyone, purgatory is basically hell with a time limit, always pray for the suffering souls

God Bless

D-R Bible, Haydock Commentary:

Ver. 12-15. Now if any man build, &c. This is a hard place, says St. Augustine, lib. de fid. & Oper. chap. xvi. tom. 6. p. 180. The interpreters are divided, as to the explication and application of this metaphorical comparison, contained in these four verses. St. Paul speaks of a building, where it is evident, says St. Augustine, that the foundation is Christ, or the faith of Christ, and his faith working by charity. The difficulties are 1. Who are the builders. 2. What is meant by gold, silver, precious stones, and what by wood, hay, stubble. 3. What is meant by the day of the Lord. 4. What by fire, how every one’s work shall be tried, and how some shall be saved by fire. As to the first, by the builders, as St. Paul had before called himself the first architect, who had laid the foundation of the faith of Christ among the Corinthians, interpreters commonly understand those doctors and preachers who there succeeded St. Paul: but as it is also said, that every man’s works shall be made manifest, St. Augustine and others understand not the preachers only, but all the faithful. As to the second difficulty, if by the builders we understand the preachers of the gospel, then by gold, silver, &c., is to be understood, good, sound, and profitable doctrine; and by wood, hay, stubble, a mixture of vain knowledge, empty flourishes, unprofitable discourses; but if all the faithful are builders, they whose actions are pure, lay gold upon the foundation; but if their actions are mixed with imperfections, venial failings, and lesser sins, these are represented by wood, hay, stubble, &c. 3. By the day of the Lord, is commonly understood either the day of general judgment, or the particular judgment, when every one is judged at his death, which sentence shall be confirmed again at the last day. 4. As to fire, which is mentioned thrice, if we consider what St. Paul says here of fire, he seems to use it in different significations, as he many times does other words. First, he tells us, (ver. 13.) that the day of the Lord…shall be revealed; or, as it is in the Greek, is revealed in, or by fire; where, by fire, is commonly understood the just and severe judgments of God, represented by the metaphor of fire. Secondly, he tells us in the same verse, that fire shall try every one’s work, of what sort it is. This may be again taken for the examining and trying fire of God’s judgments: and may be applied to the builders, whether preachers only or all the faithful. Thirdly, he tells us, (ver. 14. and 15.) that some men’s works abide the fire of God’s judgments, they deserve no punishment, they are like pure gold, which receives no prejudice from the fire: but some men’s works burn, the superstructure, which they built upon the faith of Christ, besides gold, silver, precious stones, had also a mixture of wood, hay, stubble, which could not stand the trial of fire, which met with combustible matter, that deserved to be burnt. Every such man shall suffer a loss, when his works are burnt, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire. Here the apostle speaks of fire in a more ample signification: of a fire which shall not only try, and examine, but also burn, and punish the builders, who notwithstanding shall also, after a time, escape from the fire, and be saved by fire, and in the day of the Lord, that is, after life (for the time of this life is the day of men). Divers of the ancient fathers, as well as later interpreters, from these words, prove the Catholic doctrine of a purgatory, that is, that many Christians, who die guilty, not of heinous or mortal sins, but of lesser, and what are called venial sins, or to whom a temporal punishment for the sins they have committed, still remains due, before they can be admitted to a reward in heaven, (into which nothing defiled or unclean can enter) must suffer some punishments for a time, in some place, which is called Purgatory, and in such a manner, as is agreeable to the divine justice, before their reward in heaven. These words of the apostle, the Latin Fathers in the Council of Florence[1] brought against the Greeks to prove purgatory, to which the Greeks (who did not deny a purgatory, or a third place, where souls guilty of lesser sins were to suffer for a time) made answer, that these words of St. Paul were expounded by St. Chrysostom and some of their Greek Fathers (which is true) of the wicked in hell, who are said to be saved by fire, inasmuch as they always subsist and continue in those flames, and are not destroyed by them: but this interpretation, as the Latin bishops replied, is not agreeable to the style of the holy Scriptures, in which, to be saved, both in the Greek and Latin, is expressed the salvation and happiness of souls in heaven. It may not be amiss to take notice that the Greeks, before they met with the Latins at Ferrara, of Florence, did not deny the Catholic doctrine of purgatory. They admitted a third place, where souls guilty of lesser sins, suffered for a time, till cleansed from such sins: they allowed that the souls there detained from the vision of God, might be assisted by the prayers of the faithful: they called this purgatory a place of darkness, of sorrow, of punishments, and pains, but they did not allow there a true and material fire, which the Council did not judge necessary to decide and define against them, as appears in the definition of the Council. (Conc. Labb tom. xiii. p. 515.) (Witham) — The fire of which St. Paul here speaks, is the fire of purgatory, according to the Fathers, and all Catholic divines. (Calmet) — St. Augustine, expounding Psalm xxxvii. ver. 1., gives the proper distinction between this fire of purgatory and that of hell: both are punishments, one temporary, the other eternal; the latter to punish us in God’s justice, the former to amend us in his mercy.

I like this passage to support purgatory, as does Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict). From his book Introduction to Christianity, he writes:*If [Purgatory] is understood in a properly Christian way when it is grasped christologically, in terms of the Lord himself as the judging fire which transforms us and conforms us to his own glorified body, then we shall come to a very different conclusion [than theologian Gnilka who denied a purgatorial interpretation of 1 Cor. 3:10-15]. Does not the real Christianizing of the early Jewish notion of a purging fire lie precisely in the insight that the purification involved does not happen through some thing, but through the transforming power of the Lord himself, whose burning flame cuts free our closed-off heart, melting it, and pouring it into a new mold to make it fit for the living organism of his body?*So you see how the transforming power is encounter with Christ himself, or as you said, grace itself. Also, Ratzinger refers to the “loss” of the closed-off heart. Our impurities are removed. The whole imagery of melting and pouring into a new mold is based on the language of the text. In 1 Corinthians 3, the precious metals are contrasted with wood/hay/straw - the things that burn up. This imagery is a reference to the ancient process of “smelting” in which precious metals were purified by fire of junk particles. You see references to this process in the Old Testament (eg. Ps 12:6, Is 48:10, Ez 22:22).

Getting back to Ratzinger:The essential Christian understanding of Purgatory has now become clear. Purgatory is not, as Tertullian thought, some kind of supra-worldly concentration camp where man is forced to undergo punishment in a more or less arbitrary fasion. Rather* it is the inwardly necessary process of transformation in which a person becomes capable of Christ, capable of God and thus capable of unity with the whole communion of saints**.*That help? :o

I have a guestion about purgatory. If God only knows my state of grace when I die, who would determine my state of grace, which would determine my length of time in purgatory? If indulgences shorten my time in purgatory, how do you know how many to work for on my behalf if you dont know how long that I am going to be there? And finally, if you arent there with me, how do you know if im still there or not? No one has been able to answer these questions for me yet or maybe choose not to because there is no definitive answer. Does someone offer up an arbitrary number of years and thats what the church goes by? I am asking these questions out of genuine curiosity. If this thread is addressing the subject of purgatory I figured it would be the best one to go to.

once you go to confession and confess your sins, your in a state of grace, if you commit a mortal sin, you need to go back and confess again, once you are in a state of grace, good works and prayer minimizes your time in purgatory, (the Rosary,Divine Mercy are amazing for minimizing time) also you can have masses said for you, which is the #1 way of minimizing time, after this comes the Rosary, praying and having masses said for the suffering souls helps tremendously,

purgatory is hell with a time limit,

one day is like a 1000 years

when we die we get judged whether were going to heaven or hell, if your going to heaven God The Son will tell you what time you are guilty of in purgatory

everyone goes through purgatory(the people that go to Heaven), if we don’t make up for our sins in this life time, we finish them off in the next,

Matt. 5:26,18:34; Luke 12:58-59 – Jesus teaches us, “Come to terms with your opponent or you will be handed over to the judge and thrown into prison. You will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” The word “opponent” (antidiko) is likely a reference to the devil (see the same word for devil in 1 Pet. 5:8) who is an accuser against man (c.f. Job 1.6-12; Zech. 3.1; Rev. 12.10), and God is the judge. If we have not adequately dealt with satan and sin in this life, we will be held in a temporary state called a prison, and we won’t get out until we have satisfied our entire debt to God. This “prison” is purgatory where we will not get out until the last penny is paid.

read the book “Purgatory explained” by F.X Schouppe hands down one of the best if not the best book on purgatory.

this is my understanding of why souls go to purgatory.

I’ll give you a analogy and ill give you a basic theological understanding.

ok the analogy think for a second that you have just died and you are on your way to haven you see the gates of heaven ahead, but you look down at yourself and you are all filthy and dirty. You see to the right a door that says purgatory, with a sign that says. If you are dirty and would like to clean yourself up enter into here. OBviously not wanting to entering heaven all dirty you go into purgatory and get cleaned. Once you are completely clean you go to heaven.

Now the theological understanding. In all sin there are three things involved. One is Guilt, the second is the corruption of the natural good, and the third is what is called debt of punishment.

so first confession forgives all guilt

second the corruption the natural good, is only forgiven if you bring it up in confession.

Third the debt of punishment is forgiven is doing the penance for the sins that you have confessed.

ANY sins that you have forgotten to confess, while they are forgiven their debt has not been paid. Also any veinal sin that is unforgiven. So you go to purgatory to pay this debt and forgive any veinal sins.

keep in mind one unforgiven mortal sin sends you straight to hell.

You may be going by a misunderstanding about purgatory and indulgences, in which a soul is in purgatory for a specified length of time and each indulgence knocks a specific amount of time off that “sentence.”

In fact, we know very little about how time works for souls in purgatory. It may not even be meaningful to speak of time in purgatory. The process could take just an instant at the particular judgment after one’s death. Or it might be measured in something we would recognize as time. We just don’t know.

It’s true that indulgences used to have a number of days attached, but contrary to popular belief, that never referred to time removed from one’s sentence in purgatory. Long ago, a Christian guilty of serious sin would have to spend long periods of time in penance before he could rejoin the congregation for worship. The Church would attach indulgences to certain prayers or actions to show that they “counted extra,” taking days off one’s penance even if the action itself only took a few minutes. Later, even after penances themselves were greatly shortened to a matter of a few prayers after confession, the days attached to indulgences remained for awhile and were frequently confused for “days off purgatory.”

Nowadays, indulgences are simply either “partial” or “plenary” (full), with no time value attached.


St. Faustina vision of 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. They were praying fervently, but to no avail, for themselves; only we can come to their aid. The flames, which were burning them, did not touch me at all. My Guardian Angel did not leave me for an instant. I asked these souls what their greatest suffering was. They answered me in one voice that their greatest torment was longing for God. I saw Our Lady visiting the souls in Purgatory. The souls call Her “The Star of the Sea”. She brings them refreshment. I wanted to talk with them some more, but my Guardian Angel beckoned me to leave. We went out of that prison of suffering. * ‘My mercy does not want this, but justice demands it. Since that time, I am in closer communion with the suffering souls.’” (Diary, 20)*

Just something to add to the mix of some of the posts I’m reading. Do not get hung up on “time” in Purgatory as x number of days or years. More from our Pope when he was Cardinal Ratzinger::*"The transforming ‘moment’ of [Purgatory] cannot be quantified by the measurements of earthly time. It is, indeed, not eternal but a transition, and yet trying to qualify it as of ‘short’ or ‘long’ duration on the basis of temporal measurements derived from physics would be naive and unproductive. The ‘temporal measure’ of this encounter lies in the unsoundable depths of existence, in a passing-over where we are burned ere we are transformed. To measure such Existenzzeit, such an ‘existential time,’ in terms of the time of this world would be to ignore the specificity of the human spirit in its simultaneous relationship with, and differentation from, the world. *(Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), Eschatology, p. 230-231)**A dimension of “time” has never been a part of the definition of purgatory. When in history a saint mentioned “time” in purgatory, it’s purpose was to show a magnitude or degree of necessary purification from the sin. This is similar to language in the Old Testament which equated sin to “weight” or to an “unclean” mark or to “debt” that demands removal or satisfaction. Yet these Scriptural figures do not mean that sin has actual kilograms, dirt, or financial connotations. This is also the same with when it is said heaven “above” as if there is a geographic coordinate where heaven is “located.” So too, “time” should not be viewed as a literal part of the dogma.

Partially correct. Many Priests may not accept confession. There is wide variance within the RC in regards to this issue.

God Bless,

the only reason a priest should not accept a confession is if he can clearly see without a doubt that you are truly sorry for what you have done. Even then a priest who do his best to describe why what you did was wrong and why you shouldn’t do it.

Priests want to give you God’s Grace of forgiveness if they have to spend 20 extra minuets trying to get it they will do it.

Nothing should get in the way of a priest wanting someone to come closer to God and gaining salvation.

but please tell me where am I off on my understanding on purgatory. Forget about the analogy.

from what I understand. Purgatory is the place where you are purified you are made white as snow.

what makes you dirty are two things sin (if you have mortal you cannot be purified, but if you only have venial you can be) and the debt of punishment. If you still have either of these things still on your soul at the time of death you will have to spend time in purgatory. I couldn’t imagine any other reason why someone would spend time in purgatory.

plus it is speculated I think, that it is possible that by the grace of God you are taken straight out of purgatory by the act of someone on earth, or even our blessed mother. I believe it is the case that anyone who devoutly wheres a scapular medal our blessed mother will go to purgatory and bring them to have white as snow.

I’m actually going to try and start every once and a while do a plenary indulgence not for myself but for one soul in purgatory, so that their time can be shorted and they can reach heaven white as snow.

I think a plenary indulgence gained for a soul in Purgatory will actually end their time in Purgatory.

sorry i worded that last one strangly I meant to say it would end their time in purgatory

mia culpa

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