Spiritual journey through "Purgatory" prepares viewers for life after death

by Jerry Circelli

North Texas Catholic


theatrical release poster for the purgatory movie by fathom eventstheatrical release poster for the purgatory movie by fathom events
The theatrical release poster for Purgatory by Fathom Events.

In our minds, movies can take us to places where we have never been before. In the case of a new docudrama from Fathom Events, we can embark on a spiritual journey to purgatory.

In theaters for two nights only, October 25 and 28, just ahead of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, Purgatory provides insight into the state of the soul after it leaves the body upon death. These visions are provided to us in the film through the experiences of mystics, including St. Faustina Kowalska, Padre Pio, and Fulla Horak, who were all visited by souls from purgatory. In addition, scientists and some of the Catholic Church’s most outstanding theologians present their own studies on the topic.

In total, the experiences and teachings present viewers with a glimpse of purgatory that will likely provoke them to seriously contemplate what awaits them after death of the body.

Purgatory is described in the film by the same name as a preparatory stage, or a vestibule of heaven. We are also reminded that we are all called to live in heaven. Theologians in the film stress that heaven is our calling, and purgatory provides us with our chance to get there. We also learn from them that mystics have told us that the least suffering in purgatory is equivalent to the greatest, unimaginable suffering on earth.

Father Chris Alar, MIC (Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception) has been deeply involved in promoting the film with producer Michal Kondrat. Fr. Alar also has worked with the producer on previously successful movies: Love and Mercy: Faustina about the experiences of St. Faustina Kowalska, and Two Crowns about the life of Maximilian Kolbe.

Fr. Alar provided added perspective to the movie and the state of purgatory.

“Purgatory makes sense,” the priest told the North Texas Catholic. “It makes perfect sense in reality because few of us are so rotten that we deserve hell.” He continued that, on a similar note, few of us are so absolutely perfect that we should expect our souls to enter directly into heaven.

That’s where purgatory comes in, Fr. Alar explained, “It’s a place of preparation and purification.”

The priest, who also serves as a regular host for programming on EWTN, likened a soul entering purgatory to a bride preparing to meet her groom. “She’s not being punished; she’s being prepared,” Fr. Alar said.

Also, the priest said, the Bible tells us in 2 Maccabees 12:46 that “It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.” 

“And why would that be?” the priest asked.

“In heaven you don’t need prayers, and if you’re in hell, prayers are not going to help. So why would it be wholesome to pray for the dead if there were no purgatory?

“It gives light to the existence of a third state. Second Maccabees is important because we have proof that the Jews, from which we come, thought it proper and wholesome to pray for the dead. This doctrine of purgatory is scriptural.”

The priest also focused on a point illustrated in the movie. Mourners are shown weeping over the body of a family member at his funeral. Theologians in the film explain that it is important that prayers should be offered up to God for the deceased. Those prayers will help the soul enter heaven.

“As much as we love the person whose funeral we are attending, we in no way, shape, or form want to canonize somebody who may be in real need of prayer,” Fr. Alar said. “We could have somebody in dire need of prayer, and nobody is praying for him because they say, ‘Oh well, he’s in heaven.’ or ‘He’s in a better place now.’ Everyone needs our prayers.” 

Fr. Alar continued, “This is a very important concept that we have to understand. We need prayers for our loved ones, especially when they pass away and we’re at the funeral.”

These are only some of the points that the movie Purgatory compels us to ponder.

The challenges brought about by the COVID-19 crisis, which in many ways has wreaked havoc on the world, has helped creative Catholics evangelize in new ways. The movie Purgatory is one example.

“Since COVID began,” Fr. Alar said, “we have been reaching millions more people through livestreaming, through video, through digital platforms, that we never reached before. We’re using Facebook and YouTube. We’re livestreaming our Masses, our homilies … All this has become quite expanded since COVID began, so I guess you could say it’s God’s greater good at work during even the worst evils.”

Fr. Alar’s evangelization work on movies like Purgatory and other media projects is keeping him quite busy.

“I’m working seven days a week, 6 a.m. to midnight. That’s not an exaggeration. The only way I can do it is that I love what I do.

“We’re blessed to be able to tap into the media market,” Fr. Alar said, “and to be able to reach so many people right now.”


More information

Visit purgatorymovie.com for more information on Purgatory, to be shown in theaters October 25 and 28. A list of theaters is accessible on the site, as well as the movie trailer.

In our minds, movies can take us to places where we have never been before. In the case of a new docudrama from Fathom Events, we can embark on a spiritual journey to purgatory.