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This is a doctrine poorly understood by many people but Jesus actually
referred to it when He talked about "sins against the Holy Spirit" which
"would NOT be forgiven in this age or the age to come" (Matt 12:32).
Since "nothing imperfect shall enter Heaven" (Rev 21:27) it seems clear
that no sins are forgiven in Heaven (we will be perfect) and that when we
die "imperfect" there is a sort of "halfway house" after death where God
makes us perfect so we can enter Heaven. It is this "halfway house",
a room in Heaven, which Catholics call purgatory.
Again suggesting purgatory, was this passage where Jesus said:
Many Catholics are very afraid of going to purgatory, partially because of the way some writers have talked about it. St Augustine, for example, referred to it as like hell only the person is saved.
But to me, since purgatory is a room in Heaven for the saved, it cannot be ANYTHING like hell for what makes hell, horrific is the Absence of God and the presence of Satan and the dominance of all the negatives we knew in life including sin.
In purgatory, there is NO SATAN so we are totally out of his range. And there is no sin either. Since these two things cause MOST of our suffering on earth, the suffering we may feel in purgatory will be totally different. Perhaps more like the suffering we feel when we realize we have hurt God and/or another human being with our sin.
Purgatory is a room in Heaven. We should not be afraid of purgatory. It is just the stretch of time between when we die with attachments to the world and imperfections and when we enter into Heaven, perfected by the Grace of God.