We take a look at what the Catholic saints and theologians have to say about the afterlife.
According to Réginald Marie Garrigou-Lagrange OP (1877–1964), this is a place where almost all souls go for cleansing and mercy.
The French Catholic theologian says, "Souls that completely escape all purgatory are probably rather rare. Among the good religious whom St. Teresa knew, only three had completed their purgatory on earth" (Life Everlasting., p. 194).
This belief is backed by St. Paul who supposedly alluded to Purgatory in 1 Corinthians 3:13, 15. It reads, "The fire will test what sort of work each one has done … If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire."
Catholic thoughts leaders believe that intense suffering and joy is experienced by souls in purgatory
Aleteia reports that St. Catherine of Genoa once said, "Souls in purgatory unite great joy with great suffering … No peace is comparable to that of the souls in purgatory, except that of the saints in heaven."
In her book, Treatise on Purgatory, she claims that "there is in purgatory as much pain as in hell."
This has been supported by Saint Augustine of Hippo, an early Christian theologian, and philosopher. He said that souls have to deal with the type of fire that "will be more painful than anything man can suffer in the present life."
While the existence of purgatory remains a bone of contention among Christians, the Roman Catholic church insists that it is very real.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), purgatory is a "final purification" (CCC 1031) which is afforded to "all who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified" so that they might "achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven" (CCC 1030).
This doctrine is backed by the following Bible verses:
2 Maccabees 12:45: "But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead so that they might be delivered from their sin."
Revelation 21:27: "Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life."
While the church is convinced of its existence, it is also believed that it can be avoided. In fact, many theologians and saints advise people to do their best to stay away from this place.
Watch the video below to learn more about purgatory.