PURGATORY: A Fearful Thing


#1

Well, it’s like the old “I’m not afraid of flying, I’m afraid of crashing” joke. As a fairly recent convert to Catholicism (2001), I admit that I’m absolutely terrified at the prospect of death, mostly because of the situation I’ll be finding myself in immediately after death, that is, purgatory. This is what we Catholics have to look forward to? Torment, pain and suffering for God-only-knows (literally) how long? I guess we can say it’ll be “a ‘good’ kind of pain” (sort of like a “dry heat”?), but this is no comfort or consolation whatsoever. The prospect of it fills me with a sense of horror, of abject terror, and I can find no way to come to terms with this impending sober reality. Anyone else have a hard time with this?

:bigyikes:

Blessings,

Don
+T+


#2

I once heard a Catholic priest say that the cleansing process after death may happen in a blink of the eye. Confess your sins and participate in the other sacraments (especially the most Precious and Holy Eucharist). Keep the faith brother–you’ll be fine–God is all merciful. :slight_smile:


#3

It has been said that those in purgatory experience great suffering. Yet they also experience greater happiness than anything they ever experienced here on earth. They are nearer to God than ever and know assuredly that they are destined for the beatific vision.


#4

I suggest you read St. Catherine of Genoa’s Treatise on Purgatory.

The Saints have always looked forward gladly to suffering for love of their Savior. Purgatory is kind of like that. :slight_smile:


#5

Don’t we do enough suffering in this life?


#6

No consolation? You think possessing the certain knowledge that you will soon be in heaven is no consolation? That’s what all the souls in Purgatory can rest assured about.

I mean ‘soon’ eternally speaking, of course, since however much time we spend in purgatory will indeed be the blink of an eye compared to our eternal bliss in heaven.

I find the notion of Purgatory hugely consoling. It’s like knowing you’re about to undergo an operation but that it will certainly cure you of your illness, and even leave you much healthier than you were beforehand, and that it will ensure you perfect health for all eternity!!!


#7

Some do and some don’t. In fact, some even do more than enough–like St. Paul:

Col. 1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church:

This is why indulgences are efficacious for those in Purgatory. The faithful suffering of one member of the Body is meritorious for what is lacking in another member. An indulgence is an application of this vicarious merit (not the merit of act itself, but the merit that the act has been is enriched with, merit earned by other members of the Body throughout the centuries). This also is why praying for the dead is efficacious in general.


#8

Some of us do, of course, and go straight to heaven.

The majority of us don’t embrace penance (as required by Our Lord) and suffering enough to truly atone for our sins though.


#9

Well, I’m not looking forward to Purgatory, but I can’t say that I “fear” it.

I think the fact that I have so many faults can be discouraging at times with the prospect that I’m not yet perfect in God’s eyes. And since I’m not yet perfect, there is a distinct possibility that I may be going to Purgatory.

However, since I am making an effort to please God and desire to be perfect for Him, that is my consolation. God knows our hearts better than we know ourselves. This too is a consolation to me.

The reality of Purgatory is actually consoling too. I can’t imagine not living up to the Scripture passage in Revelation that says that nothing unclean can enter heaven. Without Purgatory, many if not all of us, wouldn’t be clean at the moment of death and wouldn’t be going to Heaven.


#10

It is said that some people have their Purgatory on earth. In some cases: yes. In other cases, no.


#11

Well, as someone entering Holy Orthodoxy, I no longer adhere to the doctrine of purgatory–a middle place of suffering and/or fire before entering heaven. We are called to carry our Cross in this life. There is very much pain and suffering and opportunity for reconciliation while we are here. But since this is a conversation about “purgatory”, I will bow out.

Blessings to all


#12

Consider the alternative…that is if you don’t go straight to heaven.
I am willing to suffer the pains of purgatory with the final assurance that I will be with God in heaven!! Alleluia!


#13

Do we? Does everybody? How would you judge?


#14

OP, if it helps alleviate your fears then think of Purgatory as being exactly like childbirth - sure there’s some pain involved but what a wonderful blessing comes out of it!


#15

The ultimate purpose which God wills for all suffering is our sanctification / purification / perfection. If we suffer in purgatory it is only because the very act of sanctification / purification / perfection is suffering to those who need it. Becoming transformed from disordered to ordered hurts. The more you can progress on that journey in this life, the less you’ll have to “worry about” in purgagory.


#16

If anyone wants to not go through purgatory, then there are many things you can do in this life to make up for what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ on behalf of the church (Col 1:24). And to be honest, many of them are not that hard to do (indulgences). Take advantage of what the church has to offer!

And finally, if one does go through purgatory, just know that it is only because of necessity. And rejoice! For your assurance is given and your delivery is at hand. By the “time” you are done, you will be glad and ready to enter into your eternal home.


#17

If purgatory exists, and you have no way of knowing how long your suffering will be required of you, then you have good reason to fear it, and it would be strange not to fear it.

I think the fact that I have so many faults can be discouraging at times with the prospect that I’m not yet perfect in God’s eyes. And since I’m not yet perfect, there is a distinct possibility that I may be going to Purgatory.

However, since I am making an effort to please God and desire to be perfect for Him, that is my consolation. God knows our hearts better than we know ourselves. This too is a consolation to me.

The reality of Purgatory is actually consoling too. I can’t imagine not living up to the Scripture passage in Revelation that says that nothing unclean can enter heaven. Without Purgatory, many if not all of us, wouldn’t be clean at the moment of death and wouldn’t be going to Heaven.

The bible tells us that the reason nothing unclean will enter heaven is because of the suffering and death of Jesus, who has already completed the purgation of sins for those who trust only in Him.

Rom. 5:18-19
Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

Phil. 3:9
and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

One of the two criminals who was crucified along with Jesus did trust in Jesus and he was cleansed (purged) of his sins.

Luke 23:43
Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

The bible tells us that we are saved by God’s grace, which is a free gift. No one can earn their way into heaven by their own sufferings. The gospel is “good news” but some religious institutions have nullified the good news by their tradtions.


#18

I’m not an expert on Purgatory, but here’s my 2 cents.

There are 3 aspects to getting into Heaven.

  1. We’ve sinned against God, who is infinite, and there is no way for us to repair the indignity against Him, which is what Jesus’ death and suffering does for us.

  2. We’ve sinned against other of God’s children - and there is punishment due for this (e.g. if you rob a bank and spend all the money, then get caught, you will be punished even if the Bank “forgives” you for the crime itself, they still want the money back.) But for the sake of argument, let’s assume that Jesus already did this for us too.

  3. Our disordered desires. To be in Heaven, we must be like God, we must think like God. Our wills must be totally conformed to God’s will and desires. Let’s say you die “saved”, but the last thing on your mind was “I wish I had worked longer at the office so I could have had that Mercedes, the vacation home on the Riviera, gotten my revenge on so-and-so, risen to the presidency of the company, become world famous…and boy was it fun with all those loose women…etc.”

Obviously, we are not yet thinking like God.

Purgatory is the place where these desires are purged. To the extent that we have not already purged them from our souls on earth, they still need to be purged. How can you be praising and worshiping God with your mind wandering off to these other desires?

Letting go of these desires is painful. Exchanging material (and familiar) things for spiritual things is difficult. Hence the torment.


#19

If nothing imperfect can enter heaven, and we are imperfect, then obviously something will happen to us before entering heaven which will bring us to perfection.


#20

Even Protestants will accept Purgatory on some level if they honestly think about it long enough.

Check out what some Protestants have to say:

Purgatory In All But Name
catholic.com/thisrock/1998/9801fea2.asp


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