For Catholics, our #1 goal is eternal life in heaven and spending eternity with God. And we want that for everyone. That’s why we pray for the dead, that the souls being purified in Purgatory may achieve the holiness necessary to enter into the joy of heaven. But what if you don’t have any Catholic friends or family? Does that mean that you’re guaranteed to spend longer in Purgatory?
That was the concern of a listener named Norma, who called-in to Father Simon Says™ to ask if she could pray for herself now while she’s still alive so that her time in Purgatory will be shorter.
Father Simon responded, “What you can do, and people leave something in their will if they can, is have Masses said for the repose of their soul. That you can do.”
Sensing the fear in Norma’s question, Father Simon explained that while Purgatory will be difficult, she shouldn’t anticipate that it will be akin to the torments of Hell.
He told her, “I don’t know if you’ve ever had that experience where you’re in bed and someone turns on the overhead light and you tell them to turn that thing off, because it hurts. You know, light is difficult.”
“I have a lot of light in me, and I’ve also got a lot of darkness. And someday I’m going to stand before the God who is light from light, the God who is love. And St. John said that we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. In other words, I’m going to stand before God. The souls in Purgatory have chosen light. A lot of darkness in us still, but they’ve chosen light.”
Offering his theory of Purgatory to help Norma understand this, Fr. Simon said, “The light of God burns away everything that is not light, and the love of God burns away everything that isn’t love. And there’s a great difference between Hell and Purgatory. We used to think of Purgatory as Hell’s back porch, but really it’s Heaven’s front porch. I get to finish up the stuff I didn’t get to finish up here.”
Fr. Simon pointed out that rather than something to fear, Purgatory is a gift that the Lord gives us. He said, “I think Purgatory is one of the most beautiful things in the Catholic canon. Because in Purgatory you will have hope, and you will have love, and you will have joy. Now, it is still not great. I would much rather go straight to heaven. But this will be a much more welcome process than you might think. That’s not to say it’s not painful. Remember the light turned on over your head.”
Addressing Norma’s fears that she will have no one to pray for her after she dies, Father Simon encouraged her, saying, “You’re not as alone as you think. You’ve got the guardian angels. Ask the guardian angels to pray for you. You have saints that you can ask to pray for you. You’re not going to be abandoned in Purgatory, because you are a member of the communion of saints. I regularly pray at Mass for the poor souls in Purgatory, and that includes those who don’t have many social contacts in their life. So you’re not going to be alone, and don’t be alone now if you can help it. Draw close to the family of faith.”
Listen to the full conversation below:
You can join Relevant Radio in praying for the souls in Purgatory by participating in our Novena of Masses for the Holy Souls. Join us at Noon and 7:30 p.m. Central each day until November 24 to offer Masses for the souls in Purgatory. You can tune-in on your local station or watch the Mass online.