In my last semester at theology school, I decided to research all about the Catholic doctrine on Purgatory. Luckily, the seminary near my school welcomed any interested researchers on Catholic doctrine with open arms and I took the opportunity to learn about Purgatory from various Fathers. Yesterday, I interrupted a heated argument on my online Christian platform where two members argued about purgatory and heaven. One argued that everyone must go to purgatory before heaven, while the other member refuted this. As a well versed person in this topic, I decided to end the argument with a detailed explanation on the same. So, do you go to purgatory before heaven?
The Catholic Church teaches that souls elected to see heaven but are not totally pure at the point of death head to purgatory to be cleansed and purified before entering heaven. However, it is important to note that several theologians and denominations disagree with the concept of purgatory as it does not have enough biblical basis.
So, join me as I cover some interesting facts about purgatory. I will look at how long one stays in this in-between space before going to heaven and if everyone must go there. Keep reading to learn about this and more.
Does everyone go to purgatory before heaven?
No, not everyone goes to purgatory before heaven. It is key to note that the doctrine and beliefs of purgatory are not universal but are mostly limited to the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church catechism explains that souls that die while in a good relationship with God but are still imperfect are the ones that head to purgatory to be made clean and pure before entering heaven. If you die before you repent and confess your sins, then you will not go to purgatory but to hell. Souls that are believed to have no blemish, like those of martyrs, are believed to go to heaven directly after death.
Is purgatory a temporary or permanent place?
Purgatory is believed to be a temporary place where those predestined to go to heaven but are attached to some sin go to be cleansed and refined. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the elect temporarily goes to a place of purging where they are cleansed before being allowed to be in God’s presence in heaven. Every soul will have a different experience in purgatory as we sin differently and are attached to different types of sin. Therefore, purgatory is not eternal, but again there is no specific time limit put on it.
It is key to note that there is a huge difference between hell and purgatory. Catholic teachings agree with protestant teachings that hell is eternal. However, Protestants do not buy the doctrine of purgatory, but the Catholic Church notes that the pain and suffering in purgatory is only for a while before the souls head to heaven.
How long is purgatory before going to heaven?
There is no definite time that one will stay in purgatory before going to heaven. However, the Catholic Church provides several ways to shorten a soul’s stay in purgatory. For example, priests praying for the souls in purgatory or their relatives holding masses for them is believed to shorten the stay of one in purgatory. Furthermore, the kind of suffering one undergoes during purging also determines their stay in this in-between place. The Catholic Church also believes that the services and gifts offered by the living will also impact the time a soul spends in purgatory.
Where do dead souls go immediately after death?
There are several views as to where souls go immediately after death. Some people believe that souls go to a state of slumber after death, awaiting the second coming of Jesus. Others believe that souls go to heaven or hell after they die, depending on their beliefs and way of living while on earth. However, according to the Catholic Church, pure souls head to heaven, those who have not repented head to hell, and those who have been elected but have some blemish on them head to purgatory for cleansing.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.