The word “Purgatory” all too often invokes images of suffering, tormented souls. The word never appears in the Bible but has nevertheless become a major bone of contention within the Church. Beginning my faith journey as a Protestant, Purgatory was presented to me as a Catholic teaching that proves that Catholics do not understand the saving grace of the message of Jesus Christ—that Catholics somehow believe that they will be made to pay for their sins in torment after they pass from this life. The sad truth, though, is that is exactly what many Catholics have been taught through the age of the Church regardless of the truth of what the Bible communicates and what official Church doctrine states. During my conversion process into the Catholic Church, I began to come to the understanding that this doctrine was not a Catholic fabrication, but a beautiful truth so very clearly illustrated throughout Scripture. God is our loving healer, and once the scales begin to fall from the eyes of our understanding and we learn to read scripture, not through Protestant or Catholic lenses, but through lenses of how much God loves us, we will begin to see clearly how much our loving Father desires to heal us from the filth of this life. What we need to understand is that God is not a vindictive spirit that gets some type of sick feeling of satisfaction out of watching those whom He created suffer. The truth is that Purgatory is a place where our loving Lord brings us to wash us free from the wounds suffered in this life. It is not a place of punishment for sin, but a place where we will learn to wade out into deep places of the healing waters of Heaven. Once we truly understand this truth within our hearts, we will begin to thirst for this place of existence that we call Purgatory.
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