Are We in Purgatory Right Now? (Is There Purgatory on Earth)

While studying Theology, I got interested in the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory. I visited the local Priest and Catechist to learn more about this subject and even wrote a paper on it. Recently one of my students wanted to know whether we are in Purgatory. He believed that our present suffering could purify us in this life and exempt us from Purgatory after death. We sat in my office, and I answered him based on my research on this topic and knowledge of the Scripture. You’re probably wondering what I said to him, so let’s start with the basics. Are we in Purgatory right now?

The short answer is no. Catholicism suggests that Purgatory is a state of purification that follows death. The Souls of those who die with unconfessed venial sin go to Purgatory for cleansing before they can see God. The Catholic Church further teaches that Souls in Purgatory don’t have physical bodies and are already assured of seeing God. Therefore, based on this, the idea that we are currently in Purgatory is false.

Join me in delving deeper into the dynamics of Earthly suffering and Purgatory. I’ll explore common questions surrounding Purgatory and how Souls in Purgatory move to Heaven.

How do you know if you’re in Purgatory?

Are We in Purgatory Right Now? 
How do you know if you’re in Purgatory? Image source: Pixabay

One way to know you’re in Purgatory is that you experience both suffering and peace. We get this idea from St. Catherine of Genoa’s Treatise on Purgatory. According to St. Catherine, the Souls in Purgatory undergo as much pain as those in Hell. However, this pain goes beyond the physical and results from being denied the Beatific vision. The Souls long to see God but can’t because they aren’t purified. Interestingly, St. Catherine also teaches that the Souls in Purgatory experience immense peace despite their suffering because they know their suffering is temporary and they will soon see God. Therefore, based on St. Catherine’s teaching, you’ll know you’re in Purgatory if your suffering fills you with hope and assurance of seeing God.

Do you believe that we are in Purgatory on Earth?

No. Catholicism teaches that Purgatory is a state of purification after death. As such, God may purify us on Earth through suffering, but that doesn’t mean we are in Purgatory right now. The Church further teaches that Purgatory is reserved for those who die in grace and encourages us to pray for the dead. As such, it would be contradictory for Purgatory to be on Earth.

Can you experience Purgatory while on Earth?

Is There Purgatory on Earth?
Can you experience Purgatory while on Earth? Image source: Pixabay

Yes. Remember, Purgatory is a state of purification. This implies that God could use some of our suffering to purify us here on Earth. However, this doesn’t exempt you from Purgatory when you die. The Catholic Church believes suffering on Earth could be a form of Temporal punishment for our sins that doesn’t remove all impurity hence the need for Purgatory.

How do Souls in Purgatory get to Heaven?

Catholicism implies that Souls in Purgatory get into Heaven through our prayers, indulgences, and penance undertaken for their sake. The Church teaches that Souls in Purgatory are unable to help themselves. However, we can help them on their journey to Heaven through our prayers for them. We can also hold Gregorian masses for them.

Reference Section




Treatise on Purgatory

Purgatory on Earth

Gregorian Masses

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