Purgatory – What’s your image of it?


My husband Carl and I often talk about the Catholic Church’s teaching. We recently had a good talk about purgatory. The church teaches that purgatory is a state or condition of those who have died in sanctifying grace or the friendship of God who are still in need of purification before they see God. This purification is not at all the same as the punishment of the damned.

Our most recent discussion on purgatory was on the way home from the funeral of a friend of ours. The priest was telling the family to pray not only to God but also to their father who had died. Now that he was with God in heaven, they are able to ask his intercession.

We both were wondering if, as the church teaches, he would spend very much time in purgatory before entering into the presence of God. Our prayer was that his time in that “in-between” place would be very short.

I described my image or perception of purgatory this way….when we die, we are either going to heaven or we aren’t. No “in-between” place for me. However, when I arrive, God may greet me and say “Welcome Joanie, my good and faithful daughter. Wipe your feet before you come in.” My time in purgatory would be determined by how much grit and grime I have to wipe or scrape off my feet. This is my time to purify myself before being able to stand before my God.

It’s like when you get a pedicure; the technician may be able to do it with the mild scrubber because your feet are in pretty good shape. Then, there are times when a sharp shaving tool is needed to cut away the callous surface of your feet in order to reveal the soft skin beneath.

My prayer is that my life has been well-lived and my feet worthy of entrance without the need for too sharp of a tool. Now, when I find myself creating distance between me and God, I realize I need to “go wipe my feet”.

Do you need to wipe your feet today? Of what offense, sin do you need to be cleansed.

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