Do we have to go to purgatory prior to entering Heaven?

16 January 2022

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Do we have to go to purgatory prior to entering Heaven?  A frightful perspective as we imagine purgatory to be a place of tremendous suffering. Yet it is a kind of “patching up” after death. What is it about?

Behind such a question often hides the fear of purgatory. We picture it as a place of tremendous suffering, alike hell, if it were not for its timespan.  Furthermore, sometimes unconsciously, we uphold a representation of an avenging God, ready to chasten the pettiest of our imperfections.     

This depiction is in utter opposition with merciful God revealed in Jesus Christ. For indeed Jesus laid down his own life for us sinners. His sacred heart burning out of love for us sustains but one desire: our redemption.

Purgatory: the gift of love from the heart of God

God cannot be overcome by sin, neither can He resolve to our loss. He offers us this after death purification so as to enable us to live eternally with Him. For “This is the will of God, your holiness: that you refrain from immorality” as asserts St Paul in (1Th 4, 3). Therefore, so that we may be able to accomplish His will, God provides us with all possible means. During our life on earth, He does not stop from imparting His grace so as to enable us to turn away from sin, and from our self-centeredness. He wants our hearts to open up to His Mercy and learn how to love.

Thus, “each soul should be sufficiently purified at the time of death so as to promptly goes up to heaven without having to go to purgatory where it will be retained by her own fault, for having neglected graces which were granted or offered to her.”

Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange.

Purgatory is not the customary way of reaching Heaven

Purgatory is a kind of “patching up” after death to become the saints we ought to have become whilst here on earth. For only the saints go directly to heaven, since “nothing unclean will enter it” (Rev. 21,27).

The soul in purgatory suffers due to the delay in contemplating God. Yet God who is absolute love is the first to suffer from being prevented from our presence. Hence we have to aim at going directly to heaven and seek to avoid purgatory, not out of fear but, “to please our good God” (St Teresa of Lisieux). Love and trust are the only guidelines for the children of God and the only path that leads directly to Heaven.

“Listen to what extent your trust must reach! It needs to make you consider that purgatory is not for you, but only for souls who ignored the All Merciful Love, or who doubted of His purification power.” (Saint Teresa of the Infant Jesus and of the Holy Face)

By Sr. Jeanne-Marie, C.E. Magazine, N°306

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