Purgatory is not a third place, but a kind of ante-chamber of heaven.
It’s where you go to finish your homework. It’s where you go to wash up before dinner.
Belief in purgatory is both compassionate and common sense.
It is compassionate because it allows for a place for us to go to finish the work of becoming “perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect” It is compassionate because it takes human responsibility seriously and allows us to continue to co-operate with God’s grace for our soul’s purification.
Purgatory is common sense because all of us realize that very few of us are saints ready to enter directly into God’s presence, but also we know that (hopefully) not many of us are so desperately evil as to reject God forever and go to hell.
Therefore what do we say at funerals? We can be consistent with Catholic beliefs and also be compassionate
We can say, “Thank God for George’s life. What a terrific man he was. We’ll all miss him, and you can bet I will continue to pray that God will complete his work of grace in George’s life”
We can say, “Thank God for Jimmy. May God continue to lead him into his life, light and happiness.”
Purgatory is therefore a doctrine not only full of compassion and common sense, but also full of confidence, joy and eternal hope.