Ask a Franciscan

What Is Purgatory?  

Who goes there? How can we help them? 

Purgatory is a state of cleansing so that people don’t enter heaven ready to “set straight” everyone who disagrees with them. It enables people not to complain who they sit next to or across from at the heavenly banquet.

Imagine that two state senators who cast opposite votes recently died on the same day and were judged almost ready to be admitted to heaven. To the extent that they want to continue denigrating the other’s vote on that issue, to that extent they are not ready for heaven, where God will be quite enough for everyone there. Imagine a person who died with some racist feelings. Is she or he truly ready to sit opposite a person of that race?

We help the souls in purgatory by praying for them and by living deeply in God’s truth now so that we won’t need a great deal of cleansing before we are ready to take our place at the heavenly banquet.

To learn more, check out our article on what we think about the necessity of purgatory.


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