Purgatory question


I am a relatively new convert with a question about Purgatory.

Let’s say that I have lived a life of sin up to age 40, and then got serious about my faith and lived a holy life until my death at age 80. Will I be paying for my pre-40 sins while in Purgatory, or will my soul be sufficiently cleansed by my later holy life that it will not be necessary?

I guess I’m wondering if Purgatory works on the “tally your sins” system, or on the “until your soul is healed” system.

Thanks very much!


I think “until the soul is healed” is a better view.


The length of a stay in Purgatory is difficult to assess. Much of it would depend on the penance and perhaps even suffering you do in your earthly life. There are many things we can do to avoid purgatory and honestly, I think we should all try to do as much as we can. Personally, I believe everyone should strive to avoid purgatory as best as they can.

I cannot remember the exact quote, but I once heard Father Corapi say something to the effect. “If you aim for heaven and miss, at least you will land in Purgatory and eventually be purified and join the the Lord. But if you aim for Purgatory and miss, well…”


Baptism remits the temporal punishment due to sin that was committed until that point. As the Council of Trent put it,[INDENT]For, in those who are born again, there is nothing that God hates; because, There is no condemnation to those who are truly buried together with Christ by baptism into death; who walk not according to the flesh, but, putting off the old man, and putting on the new who is created according to God, are made innocent, immaculate, pure, harmless, and beloved of God, heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ; so that there is nothing whatever to retard their entrance into heaven.

(See also Catechism of the Catholic Church 1263).
[/INDENT]So if a man is baptized the moment he turns 40 years old, he won’t suffer from any temporal punishment due to the sins he committed in the previous 40 years.

It helps to consider the nature of “temporal punishment”: it’s not a penalty imposed from without, but it comes within the nature of sin itself. The ***Catechism ***describes this punishment as the “unhealthy attachment to creatures”.

Purgatory in this perspective is a transition in which we are healed of the attachments that we’ve inflicted on ourselves by choosing creatures — especially the #1 Creature: “Me” — over the Creator, without whom our hearts cannot rest.


Hi Tom-

You can offer to God whatever suffering (Col 1:24) or charity (1 Peter 4:8) that you do in this life to God. This will assist in paying the price Christ tells us about. (Matthew 5:23-26)

You can ask for indulgences. Praying for the holy Father or regular spiritual reading of the bible grants indulgences. you can also offer those indulgences for those in Purgatory.




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