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Help! I'm afraid of Purgatory! - Here's what you need to know
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For many Catholics, Purgatory is a scary word. Not only is it associated with suffering, but it is also associated with controversy. Few people, even strong Catholics, understand Purgatory. Fortunately, Purgatory is not a mystery, and the Church's teaching on the matter is clear. Here's how you can learn what you need to know, and perhaps put your fears to rest.
LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Purgatory is a state of being in which souls are purified before they can enter heaven. Every soul that enters Purgatory will eventually enter heaven, which is great news. There is suffering in Purgatory, but it is not at all like the suffering in Hell. Purgatory is a place of mercy, and Catholics should not be so afraid of it that they recoil from the practice of their faith. Here's how you can learn more.
Catholic Online School, which provides a free world-class Catholic education to anyone, anywhere, is adding a new course on the subject of Purgatory. The course will teach what Purgatory is, what happens when we die, as well as offer apologetics and an overview of how belief in Purgatory shapes our faith. The course has three lessons in seven parts. Each part is accompanied by a video, and is followed by a quiz to check your understanding after each part is completed.
Considerable attention is paid to the idea that souls in Purgatory are suffering. Some have reported visions of Purgatory which include fire, and seem very much like Hell. Yes, there is suffering in Purgatory, but it is not like the suffering in Hell. In Hell, there is no end to the torment. In Purgatory, there is an end. The suffering in Purgatory comes from having to wait to enter heaven. Souls are cleansed of their sins, but not by a literal fire. Instead, fire is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. We are therefore cleansed by a holy fire, and not one that is anything like the fires of hell.
Catholics have no need to feel terrified of Purgatory. However, this does not mean we should behave without regard to it, or ignore the souls in Purgatory. Remember, while Purgatory is vastly different from Hell, it is still a state we do not wish to endure longer than necessary. Therefore, we should seek to lead holy lives, filled with virtue. We should seek reconciliation when we sin, and we must remember to pray for all the souls in Purgatory. We can also seek the intercession of the Virgin Mary and all the saints, for the cause of those in Purgatory, and for ourselves.
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