The Real Reason Catholics Believe In Purgatory

Even though Tom Petty was born a couple of thousand of years after Christianity came along, it seems that even way back then some of them agreed with Petty that “the waiting is the hardest part,” as he says in his song, “The Waiting.” That’s because the idea of waiting in purgatory became what one of the oldest religions — Catholicism — believed was part of the afterlife experience for some.

While ideas of what happens in a possible afterlife are varied, for Catholics there is a concept of a place or experience some souls have to endure before admission into heaven — allegedly that place isn’t fun, but at least it’s not hell. According to Catholic.com, the scripture says when a person dies they face the judgement of God. Though there is nothing explicit in the Bible about purgatory, as is the case with religious texts, interpretation is everything.

The “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” which is defined as a “compendium of all Catholic doctrine regarding both faith and morals” by U.S. Catholic, says that purgatory is necessary for soul purification because “purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven,” is the price for those “who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified,” per Catholic.com.

Purgatory is believed to 'prepare souls for their heavenly home'

According to Our Catholic Prayers, while it is not comfortable and there will be suffering, the belief is that “their purification ‘pays for the damages’ of their sins. It makes whatever restitution remains for these sins to God.”

As part of the belief system, there is even a prayer for the dead and masses that can be done for those who may be enduring purgatory, but the masses are not necessarily free. Catholic.com reported that critics say that the idea of purgatory is used within the Catholic Church as a money maker, because when a memorial mass for the dead is celebrated at the request of someone who has lost a loved one and wants to pray for their soul, the priest who says the Mass might receive a “stipend,” a token payment. But Catholic.com denies that memorial masses are lucrative.

“Purgatory is consistently denied and vigorously opposed by Protestant Christians,” writes Tenth Presbyterian Church. Not only is purgatory not explicitly mentioned in the Bible, but it also goes against what they see are basic Christian teachings because, as they write, “according to the Bible, we are saved from our sins by trusting in Jesus Christ as our Savior.” Therefore there should be no atonement or purgatory necessary.

But Catholics disagree. Per Our Catholic Prayers, purgatory can be thought of as simply a place to “prepare souls for their heavenly home.”

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