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How long might we spend in Purgatory? November 19, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, catachesis, disconcerting, Four Last Things, General Catholic, Holy suffering, mortification, reading, religious, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.

How long might even very faithful souls spend in Purgatory? Fr. Schouppe, SJ, answers in his book.  I would not take the discourse below as a discouragement, and one could certainly argue with some of the assumptions made, but instead focus on our immense need we must feel of charity for the souls in Purgatory who depend on us for the alleviation of their suffering.  Certainly, what Fr. Schouppe explains below was the dominant belief in the Church in the latter half of the 19th century and for many other periods, as well.  Jansenism, you might say, but I think we would be most remiss to dismiss the probability of long stays in Purgatory for many of us.

Another key factor discussed below is our great need to do penance and works of mercy for the expiation of our own sins:virgen carmen animas

Father Mumford of the Company of Jesus, in his Treatise on Charity Towards the Departed, bases the long duration of Purgatory on a calculation of probability, which we shall give in substance. He goes on the principle that, according to the words of the Holy Ghost, The just man falls seven times a day (Prov XXIV:16),  that is to say, that even those who apply themselves most perfectly to the service of God, notwithstanding their good will, commit a great number of faults in the infinitely pure eyes of God. We have but to enter into our own conscience, and there analyze before God our thoughts, our words, and works, to be convinced of this sad effect of human misery.  Oh how easy it is to lack respect in prayer, to prefer our ease to the accomplishment of duty, to sin by vanity, by impatience, by sensuality, by uncharitable thoughts and words, by want of conformity to the Will of God!  The day is long; is it very difficult for even a virtuous soul to commit, I do not say seven, but twenty or thirty of 20130412-estampita_almas_del_purgatorio_santa_misathis kind of faults and imperfections?

Let us take a moderate estimate, and suppose that you commit about ten faults a day: at the end of 365 days, you will have the sum of 3650 faults. Let us diminish, and, to facilitate the calculation, place it at 3000 per year.  At the end of ten years this will amount to 30,000, and at the end of twenty years to 60,000. Suppose that of these 60,000 faults you have expiated half by penance and good works , there will still remain 30,000 to be atoned for.

Let us continue our hypothesis – if you die after these twenty years of virtuous life, and appear before God with a debt of thirty thousand faults, and each one of those faults requires an hour in Purgatory to expiate them………these 30,000 faults will mean three years, three months, and fifteen days in Purgatory.  Thus even a good Christian who watches over himself, who applies himself to penance and good works, finds himself liable for over three years in Purgatory.animas del purgatorio

The preceding calculation is based on an estimate which is lenient in the extreme.  Now, if you extend the duration of the pain, and, instead of an hour, you take a day for the expiation of a fault; if, instead of having nothing but venial sins, you bring before God a debt resulting form mortal sins, more or less numerous, which you formerly committed; if you assign, on the average, as St. Frances of Rome says, seven years for the expiation of one mortal sin, remitted as to the guilt, who does not see that we arrive at an appalling duration and that the expiation may easily be prolonged for many years, and even for centuries.

Years and centuries of torments!  Oh! if we only thought of it, with what care should we not avoid the least faults! with what fervor should we not practice penance to make satisfaction in the world! 

———-End Quote———

All I can say is, yikes. I have committed many egregious sins, and continue to do so today.  I fear I may spend a very, very long time in Purgatory.  Lord have mercy on me!  I fear Your just wrath!

How contrary is the above to popular presentations today about the afterlife?  How does the above, which was considered very mainstream theological guidance to lay people less than a century ago, square with what is taught in the vast majority of parishes and other Catholic outlets today?  How many instant canonizations have you been to?  How many souls are not being prayer for?

Oracion para que las animas del Purgatorio concedan una peticion



1. Don - November 19, 2014

The problem with this long stays in Purgatory exercise is when the time arrives for the Second Coming of Jesus. Surely no one will go to Purgatory then and those in Purgatory will not be left behind after the Last Judgement. Only Heaven or …………

So these types of exercises are futile in trying to figure out how long a soul may remain in Purgatory. Then too Purgatory is not part of time, at least as far as we comprehend time. So useless exercise IMO.

2. TG - November 19, 2014

We should all just pray for the poor souls every day and offer Masses for them. There are people that still believe in purgatory and offering Masses. Recently, I requested Masses for two deceased parishioners and this year was booked. I was also selective of the dates for Sundays and First Fridays so that did make it more difficult. I also like to enroll loved ones in perpetual enrollments so they will be prayed for after I die.

3. Pat Scott - November 19, 2014

I just posted my old, yellowed, copy of Father Schouppe’s book on my FB page yesterday. Very informative book, which adds ways to avoid Purgatory. Work it off by offering up EVERYTHING, self denial, praying for the poor souls, making the Five First Saturdays, wearing a Brown Scapular, making use of the Sacraments, etc..
The other book by Father Schouppe, is “Hell, the Dogma of Hell” which includes “How to Avoid It”. I highly recommend it also. People I have given copies to–found it a real eye opener since you don’t hear about Hell from the pulpit these days.
And yes, most stays in Purgatory are very long, especially when those serving time and appearing to saints feel after 15 minutes in Purgatory that that have been there for what seems like an eternity.

TG - November 20, 2014

I think of Father Schouppe’s book as saving my eternal life.

Tantumblogo - November 20, 2014


4. Lynne - November 19, 2014

I think Father Z said that as we approach the Second Coming and so Purgatory will be going away, our time on Earth will be like time spent in Purgatory… Yikes!

5. Mitchell H. - November 19, 2014

Tantum, based on the sermon we heard a couple of weeks ago, I expect my time in Purgatory – if I’m fortunate enough to get there – will be measured not in centuries, but millennia!

Tantumblogo - November 19, 2014

I’m afraid I am right there with you. Can souls commiserate in Purgatory? I know they can’t in hell, and wouldn’t even be able to.

6. guy Mcclung - November 20, 2014

I have a deal with a brother-in-law: We have noticed that at all the funerals we go to over the last two decades, including the ones in Catholic churches, all the dead are declared saints, canonized on the spot. We both expect a papal legate to pop up at the rosary with the official canonization documents. Our deal: whoever dies first, the other one will say at the rosary that this dude was not a saint, did his sins, repented, and we should all pray for the repose of his soul, RIP etc, since he more than likely will be in purgatory for a while; this despite all the good works of his saintly wife. Pray for those there now – it is like this insurance for any organization with those on top and those on bottom: ‘be nice to those you meet on your way up, because you will encounter them again on your way down.” Any soul now in purgatory for whom you pray will be your champion when you need a champion in heaven. Guy McClung, San Antonio

Tantumblogo - November 20, 2014

Awesome deal! I really like it.

Thanks so much.

Pat Scott - November 20, 2014

Excellent point. Its bad enough when you see all the protestant obits doing the same (“JOE IS WITH THE LORD NOW”. OR “SHE IS IN A BETTER PLACE, or SHE IS LOOKING DOWN FROM HEAVEN”}—but for Catholics to follow along with this error is shameful. I continue to pray daily for the poor souls in my family and some died 20 to 50 years ago. I don’t know who has been released–and I have told my family to do the same for me. I’ll need all the help I can get!

7. Observer - November 20, 2014

The Orthodox Churches, Greek, Russian etc., don’t recognize the concept of ‘Purgatory’, they regard it as an innovation, or at best an aid to appreciating something we don’t understand. I have some sympathy with that line of thinking. We are creatures of time and space so any talk of ‘time spent’ in a non-spatial and timeless domain such as purgatory is misleading and can lead to all sorts of neurotic problems.

Tantumblogo - November 20, 2014

Ummm…..not necessarily. It is a conceit to believe that simply because God exists outside of time, any place other than Creation must do so, also. The dominant opinion in the Church for a very long time was that there were variable times in Purgatory, and that those times could be expressed in temporal terms, terms drawn from our understanding in the created universe. It is only very recently that the belief has become widespread that because God exists out of time, Purgatory/Heaven/hell must similarly exist. But that is to place a limit on God that may not be appropriate, it is no contradiction for Purgatory and/or hell to still have a temporal element.

Something to consider, anyway.

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