Let's start by reviewing what the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1030-1032) teaches about Purgatory:
- “All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.”
- “The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. ... The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire...”
- “This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture...”
- “From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God...”
- “The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead...”
Despite this clear doctrine, some people still claim that “we suffer our Purgatory only in this life, not in the next.” Who came up with this hot mess?! The first time I heard this I thought the speaker was joking. Then I started hearing this over and over again by people who thought the concept sounded “cool.”
We're obviously not in Purgatory for many reasons:
- Souls in Purgatory have already bought the ticket―they're simply waiting for the bus. It's odd to think that people passing off this nonsense are now claiming to have lived exemplary, virtuous lives in a previous lifetime which have “merited” them this current state of existence.
- Souls in Purgatory are spiritual beings sans corporeal entanglements. We have physical bodies—therefore we can't be in Purgatory.
- Souls in Purgatory have already lived lives on Earth and are in the process of being purified. We have no recollections of lives prior to the one we are currently living—therefore we can't be in Purgatory.
- Souls in Purgatory are blessed. They have either actively avoided mortal sins on Earth and aren't prone to commit them again. If we see people around us committing sins, this should serve as red flag indicating we aren’t in Purgatory.
- Souls in Purgatory pray for souls on Earth. Exactly for whom are people stricken by this silly belief praying for?
- Souls in Purgatory are being purified by the Divine Fire of God's Love. One doesn’t see too much of that on TV these days.
- And, speaking about technology, why would there be technology, or oak trees for that matter, in Heaven's vestibule? For that matter, why would there be HIV/AIDS, genocide, pornography, abortion-on-demand, cable TV, Robert’s Rules of Order, killer bees or state lotteries in Purgatory?
- If we were in Purgatory, the coffee would be a whole lot better.
Sorry, Virginia, we're not in Purgatory. You've got a whole lot of living before you're lucky enough to land there.