A vision of Purgatory
Out of heaven he let you hear his voice, that he might discipline you; and on earth he let you see his great fire
Some twenty years ago I had an experience, where it came from, what it was I’m not exactly sure, but at the time I was studying to become a priest. I was sitting on my back porch, saying the rosary, a practice I had adopted awhile back, you see I had bargained with God to let me pray for a thousand souls, these souls living or dead, I did not know, but for one hour each day I would say a 15 decade rosary, contemplating on the mysteries of Christ. The theological exercise here was that I did not know for whom I prayed for, but I was intimately responsible for their salvation, I cared for them, I loved them, I dedicated this time for them with out any expectation for myself. Not knowing the individuals, I could be praying for anyone, and in that, how could I hate anyone. Even the worst person in the history of the world could be one of my precious thousand.
And so, I was sitting on my back porch, now as often happens, when one prays for a long time, the mind wonders, and in this instant I had a thought of my father, whom had passed away some three years back, and for a fleeting moment I wondered if he was in heaven or not.
All of a sudden I had a vision, (more than a thought, an idea, wrapped within an image, wrapped within an understanding, wrapped within a joy I had never experienced before or since. This joy was the mirror opposite of grief, waves of exaltation so intense, my physical body could not contain them. For me this is what heaven will be like, a joy so immense and constant, that we have to shed our physical bodies just to fully experience it.)
But that was not the vision.
What I saw, what I experienced, was an image of a pot of gold. This pot of gold was being heated to such a degree that all impurities would rise to the surface and burn away. The image of gold being refined to it’s purest element.
I did not have to guess or wonder what this was about, I knew, as sure as I knew the sun would rise or darkness cover the evening sky, I knew, that this was what Purgatory was about.
Envision a heaven without a process of refinement, if we retain who we are, retain the individuals we have become, can any of us truly say we are ready for heaven. Are we completely unselfish, completely caring, do we love unconditionally, constantly. And if we entered heaven impure, soiled, incomplete, would heaven accurately be the place we dream about. This has nothing to do with sin, for our sins have been washed away by the Lamb of God, but attitude.
We must change who we are, grow in love, kindness, and mercy. And in that moment that we pass beyond the portals of this existence, accept that our journey toward the divine, does not end with our last breath, but continues toward everlasting joy.