Purgatory and the satisfaction of sins


For reasons I cannot understand, this topic has been posted in the Eastern Christian forum when it rather clearly seems to be an apologetics issue.

I would like to get some apologists responding to some of the following exchange.

The burden of our own cross is to embrace Jesus; to live the life he showed us how to live; to take him onto us.


The two questions of purgatory and satisfaction for sin are sharp points of disagreement between Catholics and the Orthodox. They will need resolution in the course of the ecumenical dialogue. So they belong in the Eastern Christianity forum, as well as here in Apologetics but in each place they will have a different emphasis.


My view of purgatory is this:

As all of us who are married know, adjusting to marriage is a very difficult task, learning how to love more deeply. We have to give of ourselves more fully, risk more than we ever have. Learning to love deeply can be very painful!

Imagine 2 elderly married couples.

Couple number 1 fell in love in High School, got married soon thereafter, were pretty much a “perfect fit”, and loved each other madly their entire lives.

Couple number 2 met later in life in a bar. They were both pretty rowdy and loved to have a good time, not necessarily with each other. As time passed however, they knew that they would have to make a choice, and eventually decided upon each other. They grew together gradually in love, hitting many speedbumps due to selfishness and a variety of other bad habits that had to be “unlearned”. Eventually, later in life, they came to truly appreciate each other, and now, near death, they are at the same place in their relationship as couple number 1.

Couple number 1 experienced a lot less pain in growing close, due to being more ready for their love. Couple number 2 still got there, but took a longer and much harder road.

And so it goes with us. Don’t forget, the Church is the Bride of Christ. Some of us will be ready for a perfect union with Christ in a relatively short time, some of us will need to be refined in the fire a little longer (myself included, I freely admit).

Purgatory is not a vengeful God throwing thunderbolts at us like Zeus. Purgatory is a necessary process to get ready to enter into a perfect (and intimate) relationship with God.

Them’s my thoughts.


Saint Augustine and other Catholic Saints say that the pains experienced in purgatory are simply beyond human imagining. I don’t really grasp how such unimaginable suffering, which probably means you cannot even think straight because of the pain, can be a “necessary process to get ready to enter into a perfect (and intimate) relationship with God.” How does so much pain prepare the soul for this intimate relationship?


Are you sure that “beyond human imagining” refers to the intensity of the suffering? Could it not, rather, refer to the nature of the suffering? Since this suffering will always, without fail, do what was not done on earth (bring the person to perfection), it is not unreasonable to expect that there will be something fundamentally different about it as compared to earthly suffering (which does not always, without fail, bring us to perfection).


Learning to let go of all of our shortcomings can be very painful. Since this is the final purgation to holiness, to me it makes sense that it will be more painful than anything we have ever experienced yet. We’re all probably a long way from holiness now, hence don’t understand the pain.

And I agree with the other poster, they might not be referring to the intensity of the pain, it’s hard to say.


Purgatory does not pay for sins. Jesus did that on the cross.
Purgatory pays for the consequences of sin, not the sin itself.


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