What is Purgatory like? (What does Purgatory feel like?)

As a theologian, I have this unending thirst for information, which has led me to research various doctrines in Christianity. When we went on missions back in theology school, we would have an opportunity to interact with Catholics since the local Catholic Church organized most mission events. We would have interactive sessions and as expected, any discussion between Catholics and Protestants will always bring the concept of Purgatory up. The more I listened to insight from the Catechists and the Priests, the more I became equipped with knowledge about this doctrine. So, when one of my theology students approached me with a dilemma about Purgatory, I was equipped with all the correct answers. He had been on a quest to find out what happens to our souls in Purgatory after watching a movie on the same. Armed with first-hand information on the concept, I was eager to share my insights and knowledge regarding Purgatory with the entire class. So, what is purgatory like?

According to the Catholic faith, Purgatory is a place where souls are sent to get purified from their sins, to be worthy to enter heaven. Catholic scholars imply that it is a place devoid of the presence of God, which causes the souls to suffer. This suffering then begets purification, after which these souls are sent to heaven.

Join me as I explore what Purgatory is like and how long souls stay in purgatory, among other questions. Keep reading if you are curious to find answers to these questions and more.

What does the Bible say Purgatory is like?

What does Purgatory feel like?
What does the Bible say Purgatory is like? Image source: Pixabay

The Bible does not explicitly mention the word purgatory. However, some scholars claim that in 1st Corinthians 3:11-15, the fire being talked about to test a man’s work is purgatory fire. Verse 15, especially, is used to justify the existence of purgatory fire. It implies that even if a man’s work does not withstand the fire it is subjected to, he will still be saved.

This verse suggests that even if a man’s work is consumed when taken through fire, there is still a chance of his salvation. The concept is then applied when referring to a man’s soul, that even when it is taken through the fire in Purgatory, it will still be saved and enter heaven.

How long do souls stay in Purgatory?

The Catholic faith does not state the duration souls stay in Purgatory.

It is assumed that the time a soul spends in Purgatory depends on God and the severity of that person’s sin. Once a soul has been completely purified of sin and is worthy to enter heaven, it is released from Purgatory.

Despite not having a clear answer as to how long souls stay in purgatory, one thing that is assured is that it is a temporary place, and the ultimate destination afterward is heaven.

Does Purgatory feel like hell?

What is Purgatory like? 
Does Purgatory feel like hell? Image source: Pixabay

The feeling of Purgatory is usually described as a deep longing for God and His presence, and not necessarily the pain and suffering from being burned.

Catholic scholars imply that the purifying fire in Purgatory causes a deep longing for the presence of God. Due to this deep longing, the souls are purified from their sins and long to be sanctified enough to be worthy to enter heaven.

Hell is described as a place of suffering. The souls there will not only suffer from the lack of God’s presence but also from the fire that will burn them eternally. Jesus, in Matthew 8:12, states that hell is full of darkness, and those who are thrown there will weep and gnash their teeth due to the incredible suffering they will be subjected to.

Is purgatory worse than heaven or hell?

Considering Purgatory is a place to go before getting to heaven, it would be safe to assume that it is much more pleasant than hell but not as pleasant as heaven.

Catholic scholars call Purgatory a place of sanctification and purification from one’s sin to enter heaven. The suffering to facilitate the purification process involves having a deep longing for the presence of God, as Purgatory is devoid of it.

Hell is much worse as the souls sent there not only lack God’s presence but also experience suffering by burning eternally. Jesus states in Matthew 13:42 that in hell, there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, which clearly indicates incredible suffering.

Heaven is much better than Purgatory as the souls will experience the full presence of God, will be completely purified from their sins, and be freed from suffering. John, in Revelation 21:4, states that in heaven, there will be no pain crying, or mourning.

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