Purgatory is one of those not-very-nice, unscientific, anti-modernist ideas. IF the subject ever comes around liberal Christians (it hardly ever does), it seems like the response is something like, “No one really believes that any more.”
I used to not, either. But now I do.
I wish I could say that I came to my belief because of deep reflection and study, or that I was won over by some theological discourse, or that the truth came to me in prayer, or that I assented in faith to the doctrines of the Church. But none of that is the case.
What did it for me was “Dream of Gerontius” by John Henry Newman.
SOFTLY and gently, dearly-ransomed soul,
In my most loving arms I now enfold thee,
And, o’er the penal waters, as they roll,
I poise thee, and I lower thee, and hold thee.
And carefully I dip thee in the lake,
And thou, without a sob or a resistance,
Dost through the flood thy rapid passage take,
Sinking deep, deeper, into the dim distance.
Angels, to whom the willing task is given,
Shall tend, and nurse, and lull thee, as thou liest;
And Masses on the earth and prayers in heaven,
Shall aid thee at the Throne of the most Highest.
Farewell, but not forever! Brother dear,
Be brave and patient on thy bed of sorrow;
Swiftly shall pass thy night of trial here,
And I will come and wake thee on the morrow.