Well, if you want to be prepared, never sin and you'll get straight to heaven.
They say souls have to be purified before they go to heaven (I get that, you wouldn't want dirty souls in nice clean heaven) and catholic called this purgatory..which was then embellished into something quite dramatic. As a child I was told if you committed suicide you would go to purgatory forever. I imagined people just floated around doing nothing forever, not happy or sad. That now seems like nonsense.
Sorry, my mistake, Wikipedia-ing shows I did indeed confuse it with limbo.
It's a bit of a weird concept though, isn't it? I mean, if you weren't washed clean by the blood of Christ and all that, while you were alive, what's the point of some sort of afterlife Holloway where you work off your remaining sins?
I think in the olden days, you used to be encouraged to leave money in your will to fund masses and prayers to speed your way through purgatory. Now, I'm not saying that system is open to corruption or anything, but...
well why pray for the dead then, if there is no purgatory?
Why would you bother praying at all? If you believe in God, then who do you think invented "purgatory" and chooses to put people there? What difference are the prayers of a few feeble humans supposed to make?
More to the point, if you genuinely believe in purgatory, why would you worship the immoral monster that came up with such a vile idea?
All of this rubbish was invented by superstitious medieval people who had no understanding of reality. We have a better one now, so there's no justification in believing such nonsense.
At my CofE primary school, 1960s, purgatory was a yawning, empty blah where you had to float around regretting all the bad things you'd done. It wasn't fire & pain but - here's the stinger - there'd be no sense of time (or any other senses) so it would feel like you were there for eternity. Once you'd got sorry enough for your errors, you'd be let into heaven. It was remarkably like a cosmic naughty corner
Assai megghiu addivintirai si a la morti pinsirai. As an atheist who will simply cease to exist at the end of my life, I agree with that! One of the better tools for deciding what to do with one's life is to imagine what you'll think about it on your last day - and what people will say at your funeral. If they're going to say "She kept a very clean house" and you're going to think "I wish I'd been a sculptor", it's a good sign you need to do less housework and more art classes