Non Catholics have a really tough time with the doctrine of Purgatory.To understand why there is such difficulty we will begin by taking a look at the 5 points of Calvinism.I think it will help.Catholics & Calvinists are miles apart here.
The 5 points of Calvinism,aka TULIP are:
399 Scripture portrays the tragic consequences of this first disobedience. Adam and Eve immediately lose the grace of original holiness.280 They become afraid of the God of whom they have conceived a distorted image - that of a God jealous of his prerogatives.281 400 The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul's spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination.282 Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man.283 Because of man, creation is now subject "to its bondage to decay".284 Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will "return to the ground",285 for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.286 It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called "concupiscence". Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ's grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.
For an in depth look at the fallen nature of man,sin and the original disobedience of Adam and Eve and the angels read HERE
I think this is where the Calvinist idea of unconditional election comes in. Some people would be picked out by God to BE redeemed and some would not. How would we know which we would be since sometimes we fall and sometimes we do not. How would we ever be able to answer God's call to be holy if it were set in stone that some of us were NOT able to be holy.
It would make no sense for Jesus to call us to be holy,if it's impossible.Period.
What Catholicism teaches is what scripture points out. There is a predestined elect.What it does not say is that we WILL be one of them.It works the other way too.
We could PRESUME we were the elect meaning we would go to heaven no matter what and some would go to hell no matter what.I can't see where either God's justice or mercy figures into this idea.We would succumb to either presumption or despair.Two things the Catholic Church warns us about.Presuming we will go to heaven no matter what or despairing because it does no good to accept God's forgiveness and mercy. Another words,God is limited.Unable to forgive us;that is to act out of mercy because we are repentant.It's similar to the idea that once saved,always saved.It doesn't fit in with Scripture either. We are warned over and over in different ways that if we don't persevere,if we don't continue on,if we persist in sin(CONDITIONAL)that we can lose our salvation.Scripture even uses the words,we too will be 'cut off.'St Paul says he is working out his salvation in 'fear and trembling' and must run the race to the end. We won't know where will be at the end,until THE END.To put it simply.We're not robots.Free will is what gives man the capability of saying yes or no to God and acting out of love. It's why we see both good and evil in the world.If Adam and Eve had not been given a choice(free will)then they could not have sinned.A fallen nature & death is the consequence of sin,not total depravity.
When God created man,Genesis tell us, it was VERY good. God didn't do a flip and undo what He created.
The Council of Trent stated:
"The Council of Trent stated, "If anyone says that it is not in the power of man to make his ways evil, but that God produces the evil as well as the good works, not only by permission, but also properly and of himself, so that the betrayal of Judas is no less his own proper work than the vocation of Paul, let him be anathema.... If anyone shall say that the grace of justification is attained by those only who are predestined unto life, but that all others, who are called, are called indeed, but do not receive grace, as if they are by divine power predestined to evil, let him be anathema."
The doctrine of election is a little mindboggling. We can agree with the Calvinist doctrine but i think in Catholic doctrine we are inclined to understand that God forsees what we will do.A Catholic would say that nothing separates us from the love of God but that we can, by choice, separate ourselves. I might take this doctrine up later and see if we can't get a better way to tackle it.It's pretty heady stuff.