I always find it interesting that whenever someone passes away, people will often comment that the deceased person is now in heaven. Does every deceased person go straight to heaven when they die? It’s a nice thought, but do people really think it’s that easy to get into heaven? Boom! You die and you are now in heaven? Think about it. Everyone likes to believe that they are a good person and worthy of going to heaven. The reality, however, is that no one wants to think of the alternative. What if you really were not that good of a person (come on now, dig deep and reflect)?
Death and the great beyond are, as difficult as this may be for some people to accept, as bureaucratic and frustrating as Life. Why would you believe it is any different just because you died? At the time of death, some people (and religious faiths) believe that you are immediately subject to judgment. Let me explain this in a way everyone can relate to. Basically, you have to account for your life. Think “American Idol”. Most deceased people will get buzzed and do not get to move on to heaven immediately. Really? Yes, sort of.
But how could this be? How does this happen? You probably think “I am not that bad of a person”. “Aren’t there worse people than me who have done worse things than I did?” Afterall, I went to Catholic school and was routinely beaten in this Life. Wasn’t that punishment enough? I can’t even look at a yard stick or a map pointer without wincing. Do you really think that kind of existential whining and moral comparative justification is going to get you into heaven? Probably not.
In the afterlife you don’t get into heaven just because you lived and died. There is more to it than just having merely participated in Life. It’s about what you did with your Life. You could leave it all to chance of course and hope that when you die (and are trying to enter heaven) God doesn’t pull a Clint Eastwood (like in the movie Dirty Harry) and says to you “you’ve gotta ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”.
Who then gets to go straight to heaven when they die . . . very holy people (like the saints), maybe some of the popes and other religious people who devoted their lives to God (like the saints), religious martyrs (some saints and some not) and all dogs (but not cats for obvious reasons). So how does everyone else get into heaven? Through Purgatory . . . neither Heaven nor Hell.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) defines purgatory as a “purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven,” which is experienced by those “who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified” (CCC 1030). It notes that “this final purification of the elect . . . is entirely different from the punishment of the damned” (CCC 1031).
From Catholic Answers https://www.catholic.com/tract/purgatory
I don’t even want to know what the CCC says about “the punishment of the damned”. So Purgatory is more a condition of existence than an actual physical place. And you were probably thinking that Purgatory is just a ski resort in Durango, CO (https://www.purgatoryresort.com/)? If you think Purgatory is like that then chances are you are going to end up in Purgatory. That’s OK, most everyone does. However, this raises another question. How long do souls spend in Purgatory?
The length of time souls are detained in Purgatory depends on:
- the number of their attachments to temporal things/their faults
- on the malice and deliberation with which these have been committed;
- on the penance done, or not done, the satisfaction made, or not made, for sins during life;
- Much, too, depends on the prayers offered for them after death.
What can be safely said is that the time souls spend in Purgatory, as a rule, is very much longer than people commonly imagine.
From Prayers4reparation’s Blog https://prayers4reparation.wordpress.com/2016/01/27/how-long-do-souls-remain-in-purgatory/
Oh boy, this is not looking good for me on all four counts. Given this description of Purgatory there seems to be some examples of Purgatory right here on Earth that come to mind:
- Waiting in line at the Division of Motor Vehicles
- Your first date ever
- Going to the dentist
- Driving in the left lane of a highway behind someone going 45 mph with their right blinker on
- Attending Catholic school
Of course, not everyone believes in Purgatory. Which is why those people are going to Purgatory. Just because you don’t believe in Purgatory doesn’t mean that Purgatory doesn’t exist . . . read this:
This may be a lot to digest. And most of us will have plenty of time to reflect on this when we are in Purgatory. But until then, it may be helpful to reflect on the following:
“Marriage is neither heaven nor hell, it is simply purgatory” – Abraham Lincoln
“The same fire” (which he decides to be material) ” torments the damned in hell and the just in purgatory…The least pain in purgatory exceeds the greatest in this life. – Thomas Aquinas
“You may never reach that glorious moment until you die, so live life on the edge halfway between heaven and hell…and let’s all dance in the middle in purgatory.” – Lady Gaga
‘“Rocky’ represents the optimistic side of life, and ‘Rambo’ represents purgatory.” – Sylvester Stallone
“So we have Stairway to Heaven and Highway to Hell…and yet no Carpool to Purgatory” – www.upjoke.com
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