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Judy Leonard wrote:

Hi guys,

I have been increasing my prayers for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, especially through holy hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament, using Susan Tassone's book, "Praying in the Presence of Our Lord for the Holy Souls".

I began to wonder, at the end of time, on the last day, will Purgatory still exist afterwards?

If not, what happens to those who are "living" on that day — and how will they make reparation, as very few people are "perfect" enough, at the time of death, to enter into eternal glory?

Thank you for considering my question.

Yours in Christ,

Judy Leonard

  { At the end of time, will Purgatory exist? }

John replied:

Judy,

Thanks for the question.

Purgatory will no longer exist after the end of time. Those who are alive at the Lord's Coming will be perfected and purified at that time. Remember, on the last day, the dead shall rise. All souls will receive resurrected bodies. The damn will receive eternal punishment in the flesh. Purgatory is meant to purify the soul. Once we receive our resurrected bodies, they will need completely purified souls so purgatory ends with the Resurrection of the body.

It's important not to get caught up in the various paradigms used to explain purgatory. The actual doctrine as found in the Catechism is pretty simple.

  1. There is purification after death for those who have not been fully sanctified in this life.

  2. This purification involves pain.

  3. The living can pray for the souls being purified and those souls can pray for the living.

  4. Souls being purified are destined for heaven.

Any attempts to define purgatory in terms of time and space are simply attempts to grasp a Mystery beyond our comprehension. They are theological opinions and paradigms that provide us with a "relative" understanding. We live inside time and space, so we think in terms in time and space, but time and space could be metaphors for intensity.

Purification after physical death is simply the completion of the work of Christ started in us on earth. As St. Paul wrote to the Philippians:

“He who began a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

If you really need paradigm to relate to, you could say that, as the last day grows near, God increases the intensity of the purification process on earth or in the after life, but again, that's just a metaphor. For all we know, purgatory is a momentary condition for everyone. Nevertheless, the prayers of those living in the future are made efficacious for those who died centuries ago. Remember, God stands outside of time and makes the past, present to us, and our present, present to those in the past. For example, your great grandmother might have died in 1935 and "could" have been purified instantaneously due to your prayers in 2009 for her soul. Your prayers would have been applied to her purification.

Finally, it's important to understand the nature of the pain suffered in purgatory. The pains of hell are punishment for rejecting mercy. The pains of purification are healing pains. Yes, they've been described as "temporal punishment", but even temporal punishment is for the benefit of the person being "punished".

The "temporal punishment" juridical metaphor is one of several metaphors that can be used to explain the process. Purgatory could just as easily be explained as a Holy Ghost Hospital, where patients suffer healing pain. Yes, the pain is real, it is a source of torment, but at the same time it is a source of joy, because the person realizes they are getting better.

I hope this helps,

John DiMascio

Mike replied:

Hi Judy,

I think it's great that you have a devotion to the Holy Souls.

I wanted to make sure you and other readers were aware of my other apostolate besides AskACatholic.com:
Helpers of the Holy Souls. You can find it at: http://www.helpersoftheholysouls.com

We are in the process of trying to start up Purgatory Prayer Programs around the world. So far we have sent out 5 Prayer programs. It comes with a suggested Prayer Program format that you can modify to your liking.

If you are interested, click on this link, send me the required information, and I will send you one of our FREE Purgatory Prayer Programs.

Once again, it's just a suggested format, but I think it would be a great starting point for any Helpers of the Holy Souls Prayer Program or whatever you wish to call your prayer program.

Take care and Happy New Year!

Mike

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