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Purgatory is the process of becoming perfect

I received a request from a reader to explain Purgatory. First, we believe that when we die we will face our particular judgment. At that time God will honor the choice of our lives. We will be destined at that point for one of two fates, eternal damnation or eternal bliss in heaven. If we are saved, and destined for heaven, we may undergo a period of purification until we become perfected by the Grace of Christ Jesus. We are reminded in the Book of Revelation (21:27) that nothing unclean can enter heaven. The process of becoming perfect is called Purgatory.
I will offer some Scripture in a bit, but let me offer an analogy to help us properly understand Purgatory. As I grew up I saw Purgatory as a place of God’s wrath and punishment, rather than the place of great mercy. Imagine a bride dressed in her wedding gown and someone spills a Coke on the front of the dress just minutes before the wedding begins. They clean the dress to the best of their ability, but a stain remains. Can you imagine how self-conscious that bride will be for the entirety of the day? In fact, if she could freeze time and go get the dress cleaned and that spot definitively eradicated she would. Then she could return to the wedding and celebrate with no awkwardness.
When we go to heaven we will be completely known by God and the other people in heaven. God does not want us to go through eternity self-conscious about the stains from our past life. The sins have been forgiven, but I may still have a certain attachment or suffer a stain that holds me. God desires me to be free and completely liberated. The truth is that when I sin I suffer its effects even after I am forgiven. God wants us to be fully alive and fully free to love.
Next time, I will explain the Biblical evidence for Purgatory.
— Pat Arensberg is the Director of the Office for Evangelization and Family Life. Email him at parensberg@mobarch.org
For more information concerning the events of this office, visit us at mobilefaithformation.org

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