Purgatory question


I was reading a magazine article from the Reformed Church in America (church I currently attend). They questioned the idea of purgatory b/c (paraphrasing here) what if John P. Catholic was given 1000 years in purgatory starting in 1990 AD, but the Lord comes back before then? Will that soul still be in purgatory, or will they get out early? Also, the RCA believes that purgatory puts the immediacy of Jesus’ return on the back burner b/c everyone has to go through purgatory.

There’s also the verse about once to die and then the judgment, or something like that. That one gets thrown out a lot. I don’t have a good argument against this.



I think we don’t actually know how long purgatory takes, but that since it’s in the afterlife, all current concepts of time are probably in error.


I think we have to look at the difference between the particular judgment and the last judgment. See CCC 1038-1041:

1042 At the end of time, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness. After the universal judgment, the righteous will reign for ever with Christ, glorified in body and soul. The universe itself will be renewed:

The Church . . . will receive her perfection only in the glory of heaven, when will come the time of the renewal of all things. At that time, together with the human race, the universe itself, which is so closely related to man and which attains its destiny through him, will be perfectly re-established in Christ.

At that time, all of the souls in purgatory will be gathered into heaven (as that is where all souls in purgatory end up in the end).


Pope Benedict puts this “time” element in perspective:[INDENT]It is clear that we cannot calculate the “duration” of this transforming burning in terms of the chronological measurements of this world. The transforming “moment” of this encounter eludes earthly time-reckoning—it is the heart’s time, it is the time of “passage” to communion with God in the Body of Christ

Encyclical Spe Salvi, 47


I’m sorry however this argument makes little sense. Purgatory is a separation from God to clean the soul of a good person who died with a less than clean soul. Purgatory is not a time based penalty as jail. Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory well exist past the days of the earth so there would be no conflict with Jesus’ return. Upon death we believe people do get judged however exactly what happens is unknown for example we believe saints go straight to heaven, the damn depart also, however the rest of us may go to heaven or maybe in another state before heaven. Additionally the Church teaches we reunite with our bodies after Jesus returns.

hope that helps

*Now, there are several places in Scripture that indicate the existence of a place of purification after death. The most well-known passage in the Old Testament about this truth is found in the Second Book of Maccabees. The passage is a little long, but it is worth quoting at length because it is so important:

Judas Maccabees and his men went to gather up the bodies of the slain (after the battle) and bury them with their kinsmen in their ancestral tombs. But under the tunic of each of the dead they found amulets sacred to the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. So it was clear to all that this was why these men had been slain… He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to 2,000 silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way… It was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from sin." (2 Mac. 12:39-40, 43, 45-46)

In the New Testament Christ warns us that “we will not be released until we have paid the last penny” (Mt 5:26), and St. Paul states in his First Letter to the Corinthians that “if someone’s work is burned up… the person will be saved, but only by fire” (3:15). Now the doctrine of purgatory alone can explain this passage of St. Paul’s. Karl Keating, a well-respected apologist, explains, “this ‘loss’ that he speaks about cannot refer to hell, because no one is saved there; and it cannot refer to heaven, because there is no suffering by fire there.” *opusangelorum.org/Formation/Purgatory.html


I would also like to add this

“Each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:13-15).

The day here is refering to the day of judgment.Sinse there will be no suffering in heaven and the suffering mentioned has to take place not in heaven and not here on earth the options here are limited.Purgatory is more like a state and not a place.I think when push comes to shove protestants believe in a final purification but just don’t like the work purgatory.


People are frequently confused when it comes to time in purgatory. The time whether it be days, months, or years does not refer to time actually spent in purgatory. These time frames refer to the time spent in penance while alive in order to be purged from the need to be cleansed in purgatory after death.

I hope this helps.


This shows the RCA’s lack of understanding regarding the subject of Purgatory. Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory are in eternity-- outside of time.

Yes, the Particular Judgment occurs at the moment of our death. The Catholic Church does not teach otherwise.

closed #9

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