A child is told “Do not play ball in the living room or you might break something”. The child ignores the command, plays ball and breaks a statue. The child is sent to their room, phone privileges are taken away and the child must pay for the statue. It may appear the child was not forgiven because the child was punished. This is not the case. The opposite of forgiveness is condemnation. The child was not condemned and not cast out of the home. The child was forgiven. But there had to be consequences or the child would do it again. There also needed to be some “penance” to restore order.
Purgatory must exist
“Be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). The Apostle Paul tells us that we cannot be in the presence of God unless we are holy, “Strive…for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). The Apostle John, speaking of Heaven, says “nothing unclean will enter it” (Revelations 21:27). If sins are forgiven to remove eternal punishment but a stain of sin is left that needs cleansed, there must be a way to remove the stain.
Some say Jesus wiped away our sins and paid the price, so we are holy and there is no stain of sin. These words are not found anywhere in Scripture. They are mere interpretations of Scripture by some non-Catholics. Did the crucifixion of Jesus really wipe out every sin from the past and future? Can one really get drunk every day, totally ignore going to church and have marital affairs with no remorse, and still receive the same judgement at death as Mother Teresa?
Purgatory is Scriptural
“Be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). The Apostle Paul tells us that we cannot be in the presence of God unless we are holy, “Strive…for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). The Apostle John, speaking of Heaven, says “nothing unclean will enter it” (Revelations 21:27). Paul tells us that those who build on the foundation of Christ will have their works tested on the Day (of judgement). Those whose works are burned up “will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:13). The fire being Purgatory.
In the second book of Maccabees, some Jews who died in battle were found with good luck charms around their neck. In fear of their salvation, Judas prayed for the dead that their sin would be wiped out. “Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be absolved from their sin” (2 Maccabees 12:46). If a person immediately goes into eternal paradise or punishment upon death, there would be no need to pray for the dead. This verse is clear proof Purgatory must exist.
Purgatory is a gift from God
“All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (Catechism, 1030). Purgatory is not a second chance and Purgatory is not a punishment. It seems hard to believe that burning in terrible fire is a gift. Those in Purgatory suffer more than anything we can imagine on earth. However, they also have the joy of knowing their salvation is assured. The Lord is waiting for them after their purification. They, too, are part of the body of Christ. We call them “The Church suffering”.
Saint John Vianney was walking down the street and saw a woman he never met before. He walked up to her and said “Do not despair. Your husband is saved and in Purgatory. After he jumped off the bridge he repented and prayed before his death”. This is a gift. Even someone who commits suicide but repents at the end can be saved. Do not let anyone tell you the Church teaches all those who commit suicide go to eternal punihment. That is not true. Only unrepented mortal sin is punished.
Pray for those in Purgatory
Those in Purgatory need our prayers, as in Maccabees. The whole body of Christ helps each other. We pray for their purification and release from Purgatory. They, in turn, will pray for us.
Purgatory can be avoided
Purgatory is not required. If the entire point of Purgatory is to be purified, we can be purified in this life. Purgatory can be avoided under three conditions: 1) There is no unrepented sin, 2) all penance has been paid and 3) there is no attachment to the world. The best way to avoid Purgatory, or spend less time there, is to live a holy life and frequently receive the Sacraments. Attend Mass weekly and go to Reconciliation often. Jesus gave power to the Apostles and our priests to forgive sins “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (John 20:23). If Jesus did everything on the cross, there was no Purgatory and "it was finished", why would he give His Apostles the power to forgive sins? Think about it.....