I have thought abnout this too. We do know that Mary went straight to heaven, and the good thief on the cross did as well.
Moses and Elijah did. There are many Saints we can assume did.
Most of the above mentioned were perfect by the time of death. By perfect I mean though they retained their free will, and personalities, pretty much everything they did was pleasing to God.
If Purgatory makes us perfect the question is, can we become perfect before we die and avoid Purgatory (which is nearly as bad as hell according to mystical visions over the last 2000 years).
The people I mentioned were imperfect if you think like boring humans that an equalateral triangle is perfect or a circle is perfect. I think God seeks a different kind of perfect in his creation. Sure, symetry and balance are virtues, but what about all those quirky Saints with imperfections and personalities? What about Moses who sinned in his lifetime, or Elijah? they were passionate people.
So when people say we can’t be perfect in this life, I think they have a boring vision of perfect. If you change your vision of perfect to one more worthy of God’s creativity then our hopes become what he truly hopes from us. Can perfect be a triathelete with 20-20 vision who has an IQ off the charts and can quote scripture at will? It depends. can perfect be a girl with downs syndrome who loves everyone she’s ever met with such perfect love and who’s very nature changes peoples moods for the better and helps others love more perfect? Yea, I think she very well could be. My cousin is that girl and I have seen how she can be a perfect fit in all our lives. Saint Francis, and Padre Pio might be locked up in insane asylums in some cultures, but to God they were perfect versions of themselves.
Thats the key.
I don’t think perfect is a diamond. I think perfect is an old oak tree that grows wild in all directions. There are weeds around it, and maybe even some termites in the wood, but it is perfect in a creative sort of way. God is the most creative of all, so his vision of perfect won’t fit ours, but we can guess based on who we feel He wants us to be.
The good thief was perfect, becasue that day he went to heaven as Jesus said he would. But lets not rejoice at an example of a sinner going straight to heaven without repaying all his sins in Purgatory. He DID repay all his sins on the cross. Imagine how painful that experience was. If thats what it took for him to be made perfect and go straight ot heaven what will it take us if we wait till we die to “repay every last farthing”? God offers us ways every day in little sufferings to do penance. If we complain to ourselves and others about suffering then it is just suffering. If we offer it up to God it becomes penance. That is what the Good Thief did when he admited he was being justly punished. His salvation came when he recognized Jesus as his saviour and asked Him to remember him in heaven. His penance was admitting he deserved what was happening to him.
We can do the same thing. There are also indulgences and other ways of knocking off Purgatory time through good works. We can also help others get through Purgatory through our prayers. Teach others of Purgatory beause ignorance of it, like Hell, will not make it go away for anyone!