Purgatory is defined as a state of being, the continuing
process of purgation or purification of the soul after human
It is a state of perfection--begun in baptism and faith-
consummated after death,
entered into only by those
who are saved
. In other words, our transformation in Christ
(Romans 13:14, "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ"), our perfection
in the holiness of the Father (1 Peter 1:16, "Be holy, because I
(am) holy") is not ended at our physical death.
Purgatory is a sign of God's mercy on those who have honestly
sought to know God and to do His will in this life and yet die
in some degree of bondage to sin or the effects of sin.
The Church has only two official teachings concerning purgatory:
it exists, and
our prayers help the souls in purgatory.