For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit givesColossians 1:9
What is Purgatory?
A coal miner is walking home from work when he passes his neighbor’s house. His neighbor is having a party and he invites the coal miner to join him. He insists that he comes, telling him how much he wants him there. The coal miner looks at himself covered in soot from head to toe. Disappointment sinks in as he realizes that he can’t go straight to his neighbor’s party. He tells his neighbor that he’ll come to his party, but he must take a bath first so that he doesn’t get soot all over his house.
I heard this analogy when I was a child, and I still think of it when I think of Purgatory.
A Place of Penance
Purgatory is a place of penance that some souls have to go through before they go to Heaven. Maybe on Earth they didn’t atone for all of their sins, so they have to do more penance before they can enter Heaven. Therefore, Purgatory is not a soul’s final destination, but a pit stop on the way to Heaven.
According to Dante in his Divine Comedy, souls are happy to be in Purgatory because it means that they won’t go to Hell and, eventually, they’ll go to Heaven. Yes, souls might be relieved to be in Purgatory instead of Hell, but we should strive to skip Purgatory altogether by doing our penance on Earth. This way, we can go immediately to Heaven when our earthly lives are over.
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Praying for the Souls in Purgatory
As the souls in Purgatory do their penance, prayers from us help them get to Heaven. Souls in Purgatory cannot pray for themselves, which is why it’s so important that we pray for the souls of the faithful departed. Unfortunately, many people don’t know that Purgatory exists, and some don’t believe in it. This is especially sad considering that these people may have loved ones in Purgatory that they could be praying for.
When I was little, my mom taught me to pray for the souls in Purgatory in case one of our loved ones was there and for souls who don’t have anyone praying for them. Today, I still pray for all the souls in Purgatory with sympathy and confidence knowing that they’ll experience the eternal joy of being with our Father in Heaven soon.
Prayer of St. Gertrude the Great: a powerful prayer for releasing souls from Purgatory
O Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son Jesus, in union with all the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in Purgatory, and for sinners everywhere: for sinners in the Universal Church, for those in my own home and for those within my family. Amen.
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