Does a soul forget those of his or her life's past during the purification trials of Purgatory?
Purgatory, as defined by Webster's is a place or state (in Roman Catholic doctrine) of suffering inhabited by the souls of sinners who are expiating (atone for, redeem) their sins before going to Heaven.
Purgatory is an opportunity to not only be forgiven, but to also be cleansed and purified... for Eternity. At first thought, this makes perfect sense. Why allow inside God's House one's dirty shoes and bad thoughts, or sulk all over Paradise with regrets, or stare down on Earth crossed-arm with envy, or find a pillow to drown in melancholy, or pace about some great cliff aching over someone --or some thing-- that lingers on or perhaps, craves on.
Ceara Kerr, Robert's new wife, thought a good memory cleansing was, indeed, necessary. She had argued the point that the soul must do whatever it must to not only please God, but to kill the lingering of a past life... and even if that pleasing and killing off came at a cost of forgetting one's loves.
Though Robert is new to the Catholic faith (and, frankly, a novice to religion by any practical sense), he is having difficulty in accepting this fact of Purging. Honestly, this might disturb just about any soul who had on Earth fallen in love with a slight ruffian who steals bread and shoes or loves a daughter whose trade eventually catches Jack the Ripper's eye. And, what if your mom has an Irish whiskey addiction, or a brother who had killed a hundred enemies under orders of his King? What if your dear husband was non-Catholic, or worse: an atheist? And, what if you, as master of the house and Lord of Ken Kerr, had fallen in love with your wife's brother?
Tsk-tsk,one would expect 19th Century Catholic Doctrine Purgatorialists to dictate and 19th Century Purgatory judgement to conclude as the chained and bent-kneed spirit of Robert Taylor bows his burdened head before the Body:
"If you wish to go to Heaven and spend all Eternity with your lovely wife Ceara in future, then you must forget that her equally lovely brother, Hugh, ever caught your heart or kissed your lips or shared his bed or unloaded his most honest thoughts and; well, you must agree to have your memory cleansed of that man, Hugh Kerr -- and removed from your heart for all Eternity."
And the same command is exacted on Hugh, in memory of Robert?
Ah, poor Robert! I have written about this interesting man several times before (see links below). Life for an Englishman in early 19th Century Antrim, Northern Ireland could only get stranger if Purgatory requires him to move along... and forget whatever happened there. Nothing to see here! If only he didn't love his bride and his bride's brother... at the same instant and depth. I mean, if one came before the other... and one was purely secreted away, or excused away as just something guys do when they're bored, you know.... Oh well.
I'm trying to help him. I've picked up his story again and have been writing (really, cleaning up) on a break from writing my other Englishman in love with an exquisite Irish girl story (that Western one!). I am still trying to de-Edgar Allan Poe this thing, but here is a raw excerpt that might help to not only dramatize that Purgatory issue a bit but also give you some flavor for the story. Oh! And it helps to know that Robert is thinking back on this while his lover, Hugh, is a chained corpse beside him and they are inside a sea cave in an escarpment that reaches out to the roaring North Atlantic. (!)
Excerpt: Not so of men or women! They owed their entire existence to memory of who and what came before them -- and the duty to carry such memories forward, even if those memories governed the heart or robbed the soul or would break fragile bones. Men and women had the duty to carry forth hope and burdens alike -- and to remember it and all sacrifices made to claim such memories, for better or for worse. Robert’s own assessment of Purgatory had become this: not only would the soul recall its past, but the soul must so do, or else...else….
“The soul is the amalgam of all that it has touched!” Robert addressed himself, shivering in the deepening chill -- and even nodded an agreement towards Hugh's corpse.