Purgatory - Do most people end up there?

After reading through the following site, it seems to imply that most souls end up in one of several levels of purgatory for purification.


It seems like only souls that outright reject and refuse God will end up in hell.

I cringe even asking for clarification, as I want to avoid curiosity and trust in God’s providential judgment, but this assertion about purgatory makes me feel like the majority of people will ultimately end up in Heaven. We will either spend our earthly life with much suffering, as was the case with many of the Saints, or we will spend another lifetime in purgatory being cleansed and prepared for Heaven.

The ugly, selfish self inside me feels almost like, ‘why bother?,’ why bother striving so devoutly on earth if I will ultimately be side by side by so many lukewarm souls in Heaven some day?

This seems almost Universalist or Unitarian in belief, so I’m not sure if the article/site is credible or not.

Ultimately, I want to strive to be most pleasing to God, as obedient as I possibly can. I am not looking to just ‘get by’ in my faith, so will not be basing my future behavior on what is or isn’t the case with purgatory. I guess I’m just looking for a better understanding of what we actually know.

Thanks for any direction you may have.
God bless.

None of us know where we will end up after this life. We can only pray that we die in a state of grace and hope for God’s mercy. It isn’t our place to say anything else.

That link is scary. I’m probably one of those people you don’t want to be associated with in heaven. I’ll be doing some serious purgatory time. Do me a favor, though. While you’re up there enjoying the beatific vision, pray for me.

Try my site where I discuss the Mystery of Purgatory:

Leaving aside that it is a compilation of private revelations interpreted by a private individual, I skimmed the article and could not find anywhere that says or implies most souls go to purgatory. It has been stated before that most *heaven-bound *souls first pass through purgatory, but it’s not Church teaching. There are many websites quoting Padre Pio as saying something to that effect, but I can’t find a single one which gives a source (book, periodical, manuscript, etc.). That said, I believe it’s very likely that most heaven-bound souls first go to purgatory, because avoiding purgatory takes effort, and we like things easy.

I get that you are not consenting to this thought, but I don’t get the complaint. S. Paul said the sufferings of this life are not even worth comparing with the glory to be revealed–and he didn’t specify that this was only true for the most holy of saints. Everyone in heaven is a saint, full of divine grace and charity. Their capacity varies for sure, from thimble to water tower, but even the least saint in heaven would be a joy to be with. But they aren’t the object of the beatific vision anyway, God is. Our deep joy will come from having immediate knowledge of him.

As far as having to suffer, it is much less painful if we do it now (animated by charity), than in purgatory. And if we grow in charity, the saints tell us that charity makes even suffering sweet. Not that it makes it less painful, but it is not as much of a burden. Think of sacrifices you’re willing to make for your spouse or children. They are made easy by your willingness, by your love.

OK… this is nit-picky, but… no one “ends up” in purgatory – anyone who’s there is “just passing through”… :wink:

It seems like only souls that outright reject and refuse God will end up in hell.

This is true… but the important question is, "what does it mean to “outright reject and refuse God?” The way the statement is made, it makes it sound like it refers only to a short list of hardened criminals and sociopaths, but here’s the thing: the answer is “anyone who is in a state of mortal sin.” That sounds like it widens up the population greatly! :sad_yes:

The ugly, selfish self inside me feels almost like, ‘why bother?,’ why bother striving so devoutly on earth if I will ultimately be side by side by so many lukewarm souls in Heaven some day?

In heaven, none of us will be ‘lukewarm’; having been cleansed of the temporal punishment for our sins, we’ll all be on fire for God!

Pax Christi!

It’s my guess (and no more than that) that most souls go to Purgatory; a lot, sadly, are lost; very few go straight to Heaven.

There are some private revelations (unapproved?) that agree with this, but this is speculation.

Go to confession; repent; pray. In this way more of us will (at least) get passing grades, even if few get all As.

God bless.

Sorry, I should have specified where in the text I was given the impression that most souls enter Purgatory…

In the sections: “From the manuscript of Sister M. de L.C., written from 1874-1890” and “Another explanation of the levels in Purgatory from this same book,” it was said of the lowest levels of Purgatory:

“In the lowest and most painful, it is like a temporary hell, and here there are the sinners who have committed terrible crimes during life and whose death surprised them in that state. It was almost a miracle that they were saved, and often by the prayers of holy parents or other pious persons. Sometimes they did not even have time to confess their sins and the world thought them lost, but God, whose mercy is infinite, gave them at the moment of death the contrition necessary for their salvation on account of one or more good actions which they performed during life. For such souls, Purgatory is terrible. It is a real hell with this difference, that in hell they curse God, whereas we bless Him and thank Him for having saved us.”

“Great sinners who were indifferent towards God, and religious who were not what they should have been are in the lowest stage of Purgatory. While they are there, the prayers offered up for them are not applied to them. Because they have ignored God during their life, He now in His turn leaves them abandoned in order that they may repair their neglectful and worthless lives."

It is my own personal interpretation, from this text, that if “sinners who have committed terrible crimes during their life” and “great sinners who were indifferent towards God” were saved, that the majority of the population may likely be saved. Maybe I’m naïve, but I don’t presume the greater population of humans to be among those who commit terrible crimes. Those who are indifferent… Yes, this would predictably be a larger percentage of the population. And if both groups are spared and allowed into the lowest level of Purgatory? My conclusion, again, based on this text, is that the majority are saved through God’s infinite and generous mercy. My soul cannot begin to fathom the mercy of God… Praise His Holy name.

God’s mercy is infinite; in a way, we can’t even fathom what He might do.

However, Revelation doesn’t tell us that God supplies ‘contrition’ for us that we do not personally experience. And it certainly doesn’t tell us that we merit such ‘imputed contrition’ on the basis of good works! This is not the teaching of the Church!

“Great sinners who were indifferent towards God, and religious who were not what they should have been are in the lowest stage of Purgatory. While they are there, the prayers offered up for them are not applied to them.

SIGH. This is even worse! Prayers offered for the souls in purgatory are not applied to them? God ignores and abandons them? People “repair their [own] lives” in purgatory?

Seriously… what is this stuff, that masquerades itself as consonant with Catholic teaching??? :eek:

John Martin, what jumped out at me the most from your explanation was the following:

"The servant did not want to do without the “satisfaction” of having the money the other owed him, while his own master was willing to do without the satisfaction of having the money this wicked servant owed him. Jesus was telling his disciples when you give up your “rightful satisfaction” that someone stole from you (by their trespassing against you) you are being like your Father in heaven, and like his Son, Jesus, who did without his life so you would be forgiven.

Why would that enable full forgiveness of all experiences of satisfaction that we stole? Because when you give up your hope of satisfaction, your anticipation, you are actually giving up your life. We think we need to experience this satisfaction to be “fully alive”, but giving up this anticipation of the justice owed to you is letting go of life you had once wanted in order that another person would not suffer. You are suited for heaven because you are looking to your Father to grant you life in spite of the “death of not being fulfilled” with repayment from those who have sinned against you."

I guess the basis of my question in this thread stems from a sinful desire to have some sort of satisfaction, that those who have wronged me will end up paying the price of their crime somewhere down the road. I forgive them, pray for them, and do my best to love them, and trust that God knows the truth and will act providentially in His judgment and mercy.

This is all a good reminder for me to keep a simple faith, to live with the charity and mercy of which we are instructed, and to not seek the answers or details on the bigger questions, questions that I, in my limited, selfish mind seek to know. This sort of wonderment will certainly not get me on the fast-track to Heaven :slight_smile: .

Now I see what you mean, but I think you’re reading too much into the text. The lowest level of purgatory has great sinners. So has hell. There is nothing in the text to indicate which has more.

To be sure, there is hope for everyone, even the worst sinner. Thanks be to God.


Maybe not, but what would be the fun in that!

To answer the OP question, I would speculate that very very few people would leave this life in such a state that they would need to undergo no purgation whatsoever before entering the heavenly abode.

If only those who have been perfectly cleansed can enter heaven, then most of us will need a bath.


Please bear in mind that the text you are reading is not Church teaching.

No, keep wondering, and keep asking - you are on a good track to heaven (a track that seems difficult here, but will be extremely fast if you stay on it)

I find that your “simple faith and life with Charity and Mercy” are required, however, in order to ask and find understanding. Why? Because without them, the answers are sought from people who cannot answer (in other words, not sought from Jesus, from his Church). That answer you found at my website is the understanding of St. Thomas Aquinas, put into “American Speech” - so you were hearing from a Doctor of the Church, and I believe you had some understanding there.

There are good and understandable answers to every Mystery of Revelation, available to everyone who trusts that Revelation (That Revelation is Jesus, the Christ - the Mystery in the flesh, who takes his followers aside, takes you aside, and explains to them the Mystery of Himself and gives you His Name and His Spirit so you can understand and live in this Mystery).

I don’t think the souls in Heaven are lukewarm any longer. Nor are they lukewarm in Purgatory. :smiley:


It seems most likely that the majority of people go to hell. But of those who are heaven-bound, the praxis of the Church implies that most of these souls do experience purgation since we pray for them.

Sure hope they do.

Don’t most all of us wash up before dinner?

How much more so wouldn’t we want to before going to the marriage supper of the Lamb?

Well at the first supper of the Lamb, the Lamb himself did say to Peter, who asked the Lord to wash his hands and head in addition to his feet, “He that is washed, needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly.” :smiley:

A very good point.

It has become my impression though I don’t know if it is correct Church teaching or not, that purgatory will not only be an individual thing. It appears to me that reconciliation among spouses siblings, relatives, friends, enemies needs to occur prior, and so if a separated couple, one dies, that one will be in purgatory until the spouse dies and reconciliation is made there in purgatory between the two, and they will be there until they resolve their differences.

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