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The Role of Purgatory
Q: I have a question on Purgatory......my hope has always been that to suffer here and experience death is enough ... however our Church teaches differently.
I would like to know Fr. Carl's views on this subject.
A: Thank you for your question. As you stated, the Church teaches that there is a purgatory. Your comment is a good one; in a sense you are saying, “have we not suffered enough just living life? Why does there need to be more after death?”
For me, it is a comfort to know there is a second chance if all is not in order at the moment of my death. In purgatory, you are suffering knowing it will end in heaven. Pope Benedict XVI had this to say about purgatory: “It seems clear today that the fire of the judgment of which the Bible speaks is not a form of punishment beyond the grave but rather the Lord himself, whom we encounter at the moment of judgment … It means that when we come face to face with the Lord in judgment all the ‘straw and hay’ of our life will be consumed and nothing will be left but that which is truly lasting. It means that we are transformed by our encounter with Christ into what we really should and could be. The crucial decision for us is, then, that YES that makes it possible for us to receive God's mercy.” (Co-Workers of the Truth, November 15, 1992)
This is the reason I pray for all my deceased loved ones and friends - that my prayers may help to lessen their period of purification, if that is where they are at. A little old-fashioned, I guess, but I believe it is so. At Centering Prayer, I tuck them specifically into my heart before I begin the prayer and let God do whatever needs to be done for their good. Remember, when we sit down in Centering Prayer, we are always praying for everyone past, present and future.
Also, we know that Centering Prayer is a prayer of purification - we consent to God’s presence and action in our lives; we consent to be transformed. In our fidelity to our prayer practice we are preparing for the moment of death and rising … we die to ourselves, which opens us to the heat of God's purifying love as we let go. We die now as much as we can, so we can die as freely as possible into the next phase of God’s plan for us.
These are my thoughts. Thank you for asking to know my view.