Is there "time off for good behavior" in purgatory?

Let’s assume a specific Catholic confesses weekly and receives holy Communion weekly. All in good faith. Between confessions he sins no more than others in a similar life pattern. From time to time people commit sins.

During this one week he does not commit a mortal sin. He dies. However, he lived in sin for several years. Perhaps a second marriage. Perhaps missing Mass. He worked hard to live as a Christen once he realized the errors and sins of his life style. Is he going to purgatory for a long “time”?

Time, at least as we know it in this life, may not exist in the next life. So it wouldn’t be possible to calculate purgatory as if it were a prison sentence from which we could be sprung early for “good behavior.” All that we know about purgatory is that it is a state of cleansing from the temporal consequences due forgiven sins, that the cleansing will in some manner be painful, and that those of us here on earth can help release the souls in purgatory by our prayers for them.

God, in his infinite justice and mercy, will certainly take into account all circumstances that mitigate personal culpability for sin and all that we do in this life to atone for past sins. Beyond that, it is probably best not to worry about the specifics of how much “time” people spend being cleansed in the next life.

**Recommended reading:

Purgatory: God’s Emergency Room for Sinners** by Patrick Madrid

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