Once again from Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange. I suppose that by the time I finish reading this book, those of you who are patient with me will almost have it read it yourselves.
from Christian Perfection and Contemplation
Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange O.P.
Very genergous souls ought normally to suffer their purgatory on earth while meriting, rather than after death without meriting. If we go to purgatory after death, it will be our own fault, it will be because we have neglected graces that were granted us or offered us during life. Purgatory after death, frequent though it may be, is not according to the order arranged by God for the full development of the supernatural life, since immediately after death it is radical to the order established by Him that the soul should possess God by the beatific vision. Hence the precise reason why the soul suffers so great in purgatory is because it does not see God.
Purgatory is not God's intended or normative way. It is there through His great mercy to give those who are uninterested or not sufficiently interested in pursuing Him in this life the opportunity to eventually experience Him in the next. If we make it to purgatory, we shall, in His good time, experience the beatific vision. But the reality is that no one needs to experience purgatory. It exists because of the hardness of the human heart and head. It is not there because God thinks it's a particularly good idea. It is there because it is a training ground for detaching from ourselves so that we can live the charitable life of heaven. How could I possibly live a charitable life or lead a charitable existence in the afterlife if all I can think about is myself and my concerns? People who imagine heaven as endless conversations with the great minds of the past or as a vast library of great works of literature are sorely mistaken. Outside of the vision of God, there is no heaven. That is the reality that either this life or purgatory prepares me for. So, I thank Father Reginald for confirming a deep intuition I had regarding the various "dark nights" but which I had not seen spelled out elsewhere. What I learn to give up in this life, I need not learn to part from in the next. If I cannot do away with my own purgatory, I can certainly make great inroads and decrease its duration both by act of will (strengthened by baptismal grace) and by properly disposing myself to the actual works of grace.