From Forums of the Virgin Mary [translation]:
Why people fall into purgatory and how to help those who are there
Purgatory is not only a reality of faith, but various mystics and seers have been brought to visit it.
And they received visits from purgative souls to ask for intercession to free themselves from there faster.
It is not just a theory; saints and Popes have had these contacts and have discerned that it is not about hallucinations produced by the evil one.
But on the other hand, purgatory is one of the greatest fruits of God’s mercy.
Because if only the pure enter Heaven, then those who have minor sins, but who are sins in the end, and offend God, could not enter Heaven.
Here we will talk about the things that are known about purgatory, how people are purified there and what you should do to avoid falling there, as well as helping those who are being purified there at this time.
Purgatory is an official teaching of the Church and is biblical.
The Bible says in Revelation 21:27 that nothing unclean will enter Heaven, and purgatory is the way that “the righteous are made perfect,” according to Hebrews 12:23.
And it is important to remind Protestants, who get fired up saying that the word “purgatory” is not in the Bible; but neither is the word “Christmas,” or “rapture,” or “Lord and personal savior,” for example.
Purgatory is God’s instrument to make us perfect before entering Heaven.
It is not a “second chance” for salvation, because everyone in purgatory is already saved.
There are burned the earthly imperfections that remain in our souls, after our venial sins have been forgiven in Confession.
Purgatory is God’s merciful vision of his relationship with human beings.
Instead of all sinners being condemned to hell for offending Almighty God for non-mortal sins, He extends His forgiveness to us in this life with the sacraments of Baptism, the Eucharist, Confession, and the Anointing of the Sick.
And also, after death, with Purgatory.
Because a single venial sin that has not been cleansed excludes a person from the Presence of the Holy God.
So He has provided the purging fires of purgatory, so that dying believers, still stained by sin, can become clean to pass to the afterlife.
And there we will become what we were created to be, images of God, without any attachment or contamination due to sin.
The Church says two things about purgatory.
First, that the souls of the just, that is, who do not have mortal sins, who at the moment of death are burdened with venial sins, go through purgatory, before entering Heaven.
And second, that the living faithful can come to the aid of the souls in purgatory with their intercessions.
So then, there is purgatory and we can help the souls there with our prayers.
And also with our sacrifices and asking for Masses for them, for example, the Gregorian ones.
And we also know that the souls for whom we intercede will intercede for us once they reach Heaven, whether we are on earth or have fallen into purgatory.
Some saints like Saint Faustina Kowalska and seers have had the privilege of seeing purgatory and she describes it as a gray and gloomy place.
And how when future saints cannot pray for themselves, they begged Saint Faustina to pray that she would pray for them.
There are many mystics in history to whom souls from purgatory appeared, asking for prayers to be released more quickly.
And there are some interesting things about purgatory that can be deduced from the Scriptures, from the teachings of the Church fathers and doctors, and from supernatural visions.
[The lowest parts of] purgatory are close to hell.
It is the same fire that torments the souls, although it is surely of less intensity and it is with different objectives.
However, it is not even for everyone.
There are different levels of purgatory, the lowest reserved for those who repented the least while on earth, although they received the gift of perfect contrition before dying.
This area is very much like hell, with the exception that the damned souls in hell curse God, while those in purgatory praise God.
While the highest level of purgatory is described as a place where the longing to see God is the main punishment.
The least pain of purgatory outweighs the greatest pain of this life, that is why it is considered a grace to live purification already on earth.
And one difference is that, the pain of the soul for having the Divine vision of God, will be greater than any sensation of loss of the earth, because our desire to see God is completely pure.
The desire of the soul is not hampered or distracted by the things of the body.
And the soul knows that if it had not been repressed by the weight of sin on earth, it would have already met God in Heaven. [scroll]
Souls in purgatory voluntarily suffer their punishments, such as when the person voluntarily agrees to undergo painful surgical procedures to restore health.
And they long to get out quickly to live with God, hence the many stories of souls in purgatory who appear on earth.
If any of these souls appear to you, just pray to know what they want, do not enter into dialogue because it may be a trap of the evil one, and then intercede for the souls.
There are souls who are released more quickly from purgatory than others, because some venial sins stick to us more persistently than others, because we are more inclined to give ourselves to them repeatedly.
And since what sticks more persistently cleanses itself more slowly, it takes more time to root out sin from the soul.
On the other hand, the soul of a lay person is more likely to be liberated than the soul of a priest or nun.
Because according to the Divine vision, the religious have had many more opportunities to satisfy their sins during their mortal life, than the laity.
And the Scriptures say that as far as those who have been given much, much will be asked.
What happens on earth is not disclosed within purgatory, but the souls who are there know those people who are interested in them on earth.
And God sometimes allows those on earth to receive a prayer, a warning, or some information from them.
At the highest level of purgatory souls can pray for the people of earth.
And as souls are more purified and at higher levels, God allows more prayers to come to them from earth to accelerate their purification.
Saint Michael the Archangel is the one in charge of purgatory.
It is he whom God has entrusted to lead souls to the place of atonement and take them to their eternal home after purification.
In other words, he is the one who preferably accompanies souls to purgatory after death and who then leads them to heaven, although not the only one.
The Blessed Virgin goes to purgatory on her feasts and returns to Heaven with many souls and while she is there, the purgatives do not suffer because these are special occasions, the same as happens with Archangel Michael at his party.
But it is the archangel who goes most often to show compassion, encourage purgatives in their sufferings, and tell them about heaven.
People are also visited by their guardian angel.
Lately there are two opposing visions, one is that everyone is saved automatically and after death they go straight to heaven.
Which is heresy regarding Catholic doctrine.
And another is that no one is saved from going through purgatory, which is also a sin, of presumption.
Purgatory can be avoided.
If you want to avoid it, and you really should attend the sacraments, especially Confession and the Eucharist.
Have true contrition for your sins and forgive everyone who has hurt you.
Pray, give alms to the poor, fast, and show mercy for all with prayers, deeds, and kind words.
Go to the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Consecrate yourself to Jesus through the Blessed Virgin Mary.
And most importantly, trust totally in God’s mercy.
And finally, don’t joke about how old you could be in purgatory, because if you think that way, you don’t really trust God’s mercy.
Well, so far we wanted to talk about the things that Catholics should know about purgatory, to handle themselves.
[resources: The Secrets of Purgatory]