What is the true nature of Purgatory?

In Purgatory do you get purified AND punished? In the Catholicism for Dummies book it says that when Jesus died for our sins, that was to make sure we could have a chance of not going to Hell, be we must STILL be punished for our sins, and that’s what Purgatory is for. Even in a book written by a Priest it said we have “mental agony” in Purgatory. Also, in a Catholic Answers book it said straight out that we experience punishments in Purgatory. The Catechism doesn’t seem to indicate any “punishment”, however. After hearing different Catholic sources contradict one another, I want the ONE truth; Is there purification AND punishment in Purgatory (keep in mind the theory that Jesus died for our possibility to avoid hell, NOT to avoid US from being punished from our sins)?

Dear PMV,

Purgatory is a state of being purged. To purge is to purify. This doesn’t exclude the fact that one’s purging is also a punishment, a paying back or making up for our sinful behavior. We refer to Purgatory as a state in which we suffer the temporal punishment due to our sins.

See what Mark Shea has to say on Purgatory:

catholic.com/thisrock/2001/0103fea2.asp

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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