EWTN.com - Prayers for souls in purgatory: "Prayers for souls in purgatory
I recently asked a priest how long we should pray for a specific soul that has passed and may be in purgatory and his answer was 'until you meet that person in heaven'. That sounded good but what happens to the prayers and sacrifices that we offer for a soul if that soul has indeed already gone to hell. Since we cannot 'ransom' that person from hell what affect has our prayer had and has all that was offered up for that lost soul all for naught? Thank you.
Answer by Fr. Jay Toborowsky on 10/27/2008:
If a person is in Purgatory, they are not going to hell. Those who are judged by Christ to deserve hell go there right after judgment. Purgatory is a time of purification for those who will eventually get to heaven. Prayers for souls in purgatory can help them get to heaven sooner. A soul in Hell cannot be 'released' to Heaven."