Our time in Purgatory


When I pray for the souls in Purgatory I can’t help wondering if they are aware of how long they have been in Purgatory. Will we be aware of how much time we are spending in Purgatory when we die?


In one sense maybe. In another it may be irrelevant. What I mean is Heaven is outside of time. Purgatory is outside of time too. We have 24 hour days, they have infinity. So a day in our lives won’t be the same as a day in purgatory.

However, they still have knowledge of their days on earth. So from this aspect they might be aware of how long they are there, it just won’t be relevant to their situation.

At least in my humble opinion.


Thanks for the reply. When I posted my question some similar threads came up so I will read those too. I tried a search but I am not very good a picking the precise words to put in the search box to come up with what I am looking for.


People in purgatory are so close to being in heaven but not there yet so the anticipation may make time feel longer then what has actually passed. Also the purification sufferings they have to endure may affect their concept of how much time has passed. I injured myself once and while I was in pain and being treated in the hospital I lost all sense of how long I was in the treatment room for. It was only when I emerged that I learned how long my treatment took which was several hours. The pain had blocked out all other thoughts and concerns. Hopefully the pain in purgatory wont be quite that bad though.



I came across a reference to that very thing in a book called ‘Purgatory explained by the lives and legends of the Saints’ by Fr. F.X. Schouppe, S.J.

There are more than this one, but this is pretty precise.

A man was suffering from a terrible illness, he was in so much pain that he prayed fervently for God to reduce his suffering or take him away. God sent an Angel to the man asking him if he would be willing to trade another year of that suffering for 3 days in Purgatory. Of course the man jumped at the chance.

So God took him and placed him in Purgatory. Well, it seems from all the other references that we are given God allows our Guardian Angels to comfort us while we are there, so when that mans Guardian Angel came to check on him, he asked why he had been there so long, it was only supposed to be 3 days. Well, his Angel asked him how long he thought he had been there - the man replied “at least several years and I was only supposed to be here 3 days!” The Angel replied that he had only been there for 15 minutes. He said that the pain is so intense, and we feel the pain as though it is a physical pain, that a few seconds feels like days, and a few minutes like years.

We also feel the pain of separation from God, but we are also given, from His Mercies, the knowledge that it will end and we will be rewarded in the end - making it all bearable. Also - apparently, Mary provides respite from the sufferings - one day a week we are released from our chambers, and on Her Holy days.

If that is the image of Purgatory…and it appears it is, then I shudder to think of Hell. I also shudder at the prospect of Purgatory.

One thing that immensely helps is Masses said for the dead. As well as fervent prayers and offerings directed towards the dead. Then, they will also pray for you when your time comes.




Hey John, I believe that Mary gives respite from purgatory every Saturday, but only to those who wear her scapula, and are devoted.

In addition, I have read a book containing writings of Padre Pio. It is called “Holy Souls”. You can only buy it at the shrine of Padre Pio.

At any rate Padre Pio, would see the souls from purgatory, asking for help, usually in the form of a mass for their respite.

But in it he says that Purgatory souls are suffering tremendous pain, such that if they were to be entrenced in the fires on earth, they would compare it to us becoming drenched in cold water, as compared to the fires of purgatory.

But at the same time, they are described as being hopeful and thankful for their condition, and I dare say sometimes joyous, in that they still have the mercy of God, with the angels helping them, and the thought they will one day be in heaven. Although the suffering is great.


Regarding “time” in Purgatory, here is what our current Pope wrote in His book, Eschatology:“The transforming ‘moment’ of this encounter 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.
. . .
”[Purgatory] 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.
. . .
“Encounter with the Lord is this transformation.”

Joseph Ratzinger, Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life, p. 230-231
When concepts of “time” are used to describe “sequence”, it does not necessarily mean time as we know it. Think of how Scripture will refer to heaven “above”. But is that preposition a physical reality or metaphysical?


That is entirely possible - I don’t remember specifically. Although it caught my attention, the story of the man and his 15 minutes made more of an impression. :stuck_out_tongue:

Looked it up quick, out of curiosity.

Yes, you’re correct - it is Saturdays, and those who wore the scapular are given respite, then lastly those who had particular devotion to Her.

Good News!



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