Nov 2, 2016
On November 2, the Church throughout the world celebrates the Commemoration of All Souls, a day which, though popular in days gone by, has been neglected in recent decades. This neglect may be a reaction to an overly negative view of purgatory and a severe notion of divine judgment.
The concept of purgatory is, however, essential to Catholic theology and practice. Granted, the concept of purgatory was often badly preached. Many people thought of purgatory, as Hungarian theologian Ladislaus Boros pointed out, as "a gigantic city of torment, a cosmic concentration camp, in which wailing, groaning, and moaning creatures are punished by God."
Perhaps the most profound truth embodied in the doctrine of purgatory is that we are not frozen, so to speak, in the moral and human condition that obtains at the moment of death. If we arrive at death's door as imperfect and incomplete Christians, far from the holiness of the saints, we are not condemned forever to that state.
God still reaches out to us and calls us to himself, to a completion of our life-long journey into Christ. Purgatory should be seen as a process of dynamic transformation and sanctification, a completion of what began in us at baptism.