Are Most Catholics Meant Only for Purgatory?

Are Most Catholics Meant Only for Purgatory? June 12, 2024

the fires of purgatory purifying one for heaven
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If there is one Catholic concept that Protestants strongly reject, I think it would be purgatory. To our Protestant brothers and sisters, once you die, you can go to heaven if you have truly believed in Christ. It is that simple. Why make it complicated?

But of course, in the end, it is not about simplicity of thought but about truth. We can dig very deeply into something if we can uncover what’s true in the end.

For us Catholics, purgatory is a truth that we accept because it has been revealed by God’s wisdom and guidance to the Church.

Because of this, we don’t always assume that we go straight to heaven after we die. We know that we can still go to a place of purification before doing so.

“Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the ‘eternal punishment’ of sin. On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the ‘temporal punishment’ of sin.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church (1472 )

“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.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church (1030 )

The Acceptance of Purgatory

By accepting the doctrine of purgatory, we continue to pray for our loved ones who have passed away. Since we don’t assume they went straight to heaven, we do our best to pray for them in case they still need to be purified.

Hence, our loved ones are not left on their own on their path towards heaven. They have the Church, the saints and their loved ones who offer prayers, sacrifices and supplications for their sake.

Purgatory is indeed a common idea among us Catholics, and it’s so common that sometimes, we assume that it is the ordinary path we need to take after we die.

But is it? Is it God’s will that we should still undergo the purifying fires of purgatory instead of going to heaven?

The Possibility of Going Straight to Heaven

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain.” (1472)

Let us also read the following:

“Those who die in God’s grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they “see him as he is,” face to face…” – Catechism of the Catholic Church (1023 )

Although the Catholic Church believes in purgatory, it never said that it is the “only way”.

Why then must we assume we’re going there instead of hoping to get straight to heaven?

Sometimes, this belief in purgatory can affect our lives in such a way that we don’t strive anymore for the holiness it takes to see God face-to-face.

Since we assume almost everyone needs to go to purgatory, we may live mediocre lives, accepting to receive our due punishment after death.

We can also undermine God’s mercy by thinking that He “needs” to punish every sin. Didn’t Jesus already take upon Himself the terrible punishment for our sins?

The only reason we still need to be punished is if we refuse to follow Him and let Him purify us continuously in this life.

Do We Need To Be Like The Saints?

One thing that can hinder us is our fear that we can’t live the kind of lives like the saints we read about.

We can’t fast as often nor can we make sacrifices like they did. We don’t see ourselves living the way Mother Teresa did. And we can’t see ourselves in the likes of St. Francis of Assisi or Padre Pio.

But what we must understand is that not every Christian is called to live a life in the very same way that those saints did.

What all of us are called to is to live a life of holiness and love according to our state of life.

“God wishes all to be holy; but some He wishes to be holy for their own sakes, some He wills to be holy for their own sake and for the sake of others also.” – Ven. Joseph Frassinetti

“In this world some are called to lead a life entirely angelic and celestial, which we should reverently admire, not that we should copy their actions, but that we may bless God for the graces He bestowed on them.” – St. Francis de Sales

How Do We Go Straight To Heaven?

St. Therese of Lisieux has some of the most inspiring words for us when it comes to purgatory and going straight to heaven:

“You do not have enough trust. You have too much fear before the good God. I can assure you that He is grieved over this. You should not fear Purgatory because of the suffering there, but should instead ask that you not deserve to go there in order to please God, Who so reluctantly imposes this punishment. As soon as you try to please Him in everything and have an unshakable trust He purifies you every moment in His love and He lets no sin remain. And then you can be sure that you will not have to go to Purgatory.”

God is not more pleased when you still have to suffer and go to Purgatory. God loves you! And He would be more pleased if you could immediately go to Him to see Him face-to-face!

Jocelyn Soriano is the author of the book Defending My Catholic Faith (Straight Answers to Common Catholic Questions).

“Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” – 1 Peter 3:15 (NABRE)

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You may also want to read “When You Can’t Go To Confession, How Do You Obtain God’s Mercy?”

About Jocelyn Soriano
Jocelyn Soriano is an author, poet, and book reviewer. She is an introvert who enjoys a cup of coffee and listening to the cello ****** while working.

She wrote the books To Love an Invisible God, Defending My Catholic Faith and Mend My Broken Heart. She also wrote books on poetry including Poems of Love and Letting Go and Of Waves and Butterflies: Poems on Grief. She has published more than 15 books and developed her own Android applications including God’s Promises and Catholic Answers and Apologetics.

She writes about relationships and common questions about God and the Catholic faith at Single Catholic Writer. She is currently single and happy and she would like everyone to know how happy we can be by drawing close to the love of God!

You can read more about the author here.

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