Ask a Franciscan

Purgatory Seems Unnecessary

As Catholics, we believe that faith and works are needed to get to heaven. If Jesus died for our sins, why is purgatory needed? Didn’t he already repair what was needed?

Catholics don’t regard faith and works as though they were steps one and two to get into heaven. Genuine faith must always overflow into works of mercy and compassion.

Christians who think that a completely interior faith is quite enough are like the condemned people whom Jesus described in Matthew 25:41–45. Apparently, those folks thought their brand of faith would give them a free pass into heaven.

Catholic belief in purgatory does not contradict belief in Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection. Purgatory is a time of honesty and cleansing. If before I die I have led a pretty moral life but retain a bias against people from Fiji, I will need purgatory’s purification in order to enjoy the eternal banquet where I could be seated across from a Fijian! Without purgatory, heaven could be full of egotists trying to claw their way to the top of the pile.

Ask a Franciscan in St. Anthony Messenger

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