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Does Purgatory Exist?

Do the dead need our prayers, penitence, and payments to ensure their entrance into heaven?

By Jeff Wehr

Confusion about what happens to a soul at the time of death has led many sincere Christians to believe they can assist their departed loved ones towards a happier and holier state in the next life through prayer, almsgiving, and mass. Some religions teach that most people don’t finish getting ready for heaven in this life and need another chance after they die. The solution is purgatory—an opportunity for departed souls to be perfected before encountering a holy God who cannot allow sin in His presence. 

The Latin term purgatio means “to cleanse or purify” and is understood to be a state of the soul after death where final purification takes place before entering paradise. Mark, who was raised Catholic, was taught that purgatory was a real place where you might burn for 100,000 years before you were good enough to go to heaven. He was

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  1. 2 Maccabees 12:43–46, Douay–Rheims Bible.

Image credits

  • © Fr James Bradley, Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0