A note from a repentant sinner
As I was misguided and routinely on a path to destruction, I presume that most people, including you, are in the same boat I was in. Some 2000 years of handed-down Faith tells us that "good" people can end up in Hell. I cannot imagine anyone suffering Hell especially people that I know and family that I love that are "good". Yet the more that I comprehend the Catholic Faith, the more I realize why this is such a reality. Being "good" is part of the reason. The goodness of the World does not necessarily please God and moral or "natural" goodness is only part of God's expectation and not enough to save one's soul. For example, the World believes more and more that it is good to minimize/eliminate a person's suffering, including euthanizing. Yet we know that this offends God. We need to look to the Catholic Church to understand what is meant to be "good" in the eyes of God.
God expects us to be Saints. Whatever station you have in life, you must be totally devoted to Him in mind, body and spirit. Anything that we put before Him; family, society, friends, career, wealth, pleasures, pride, or whatever, is offensive to Him. We "owe" Him everything for the Gifts that He has given us (His Son's Sacrifice for one) and those He presents to us (the opportunity to dwell in His presence). We must try to at all times to be at His service and do His work. Forgoing selfish worldly pleasures that do nothing for no one but ourselves and interfere with our ability to assist others and do God's work. Sacrificing everything to the Glory of God, and meriting Heaven, to the extent that we can. Anything less is less than we are capable. Taking from God and giving to ourselves. It is offensive to God in various degrees. Of course, with our fallen nature, few of us are Saints on earth. Just because we may never obtain perfection does not mean we should lower the bar. It is God's bar and we must know what to strive for and what is expected. To the degree that we fall short and offend God we will suffer to pay what is "owed" for the offense, either here or in the hereafter. Pray for the larger percentage of suffering here, rather than in Purgatory. The proper suffering on earth is a more effective payment. Extreme offenses (mortal sins) are so bad that they cut us off from God's grace and place us in imminent risk of eternal damnation. As horrible and extreme a punishment as eternal damnation is, our Faith teaches that it is a just punishment for a mortal sin against God and that people who die in this state deserve to be in Hell. We must comprehend, as much we are able, what Eternal Hell means. We must realize the absolute and never-ending horrors and torments that are there. When we commit a mortal sin we should say an Act of Contrition right away, run to Church and attend the soonest Confession.
You can attest how quickly our stay here passes by. He asks
for so little in comparison to what He offers. A lifetime of sacrifices from us
cannot merit, by their own accord, the great gift of Heaven. Therefore we must
strive to do better than we did the day before and never feel that we are
worthy. They say that most of the Saints feared the loss of their Salvation.
Such fear kept them vigilant and on guard, for Satan is unceasingly looking to
bring down those, that are Holy and influencing others to Holiness.
I cannot lament your current circumstance, my Faith won't allow it. Whether you live a day, a month, a year, or 20 years, you must be ready "and willing" to go at any moment. Otherwise you do not believe that Heaven is so great and that Hell is so bad. I truly believe that you have been blessed. You have been given an opportunity that a lot of people do not get. To realize how little time is left. To put those things in place that increase your certainty of a quick Heaven. To take your mental and physical discomforts and offer them to God for the benefit of your soul. To lead others to God by the example you set and the perseverance you show. To be sure, as a Catholic can possibly be, of your own Salvation. How much time do you have left? There is never enough time for your family (who love you and are selfish), but plenty of time for God (who loves you more). Do not squander the opportunity God has given you.
Perspectives - The Peace that comes from a good Catholic Life. It seems hard, but it's not really.
Know your Faith
Strive to save your Soul and get to Heaven quickly
Understand what pleases God. Anything else is a sin.
For absolute clarity and certainty, use only pre-counciliar Catholic sources for guidance.
Avoid Sin, and occasions of sin, to avoid the horrors of Hell
Suffer, and abstain, to gain the Beatific Vision of Heaven quickly
When you commit a mortal sin, say an Act of Contrition right away and get to confession as soon as you can.
Model your life after the lives of the Saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary
Make a lifelong reflection of all your sins. Every detail that you can recall
Sins against God, Man and the Church
10 Commandments of God
Mortal/ Deadly Sins
Never purposely omit a sin, lest you add an additional one. Never despair
Routinely (as needed) take advantage of Confession to restore Sanctifying Grace.
Saintly and Pious
Focus on pleasing God at every moment in the day
Avoid occasions of sin
Destroy all that you own that does not please God
Anything that you do that does not please God, pleases Satan
You must be in a constant state of Sanctifying Grace.
Attend the sacraments
Daily Mass (Uniate or Tridentine only)
Enroll in the Brown Scapular
Say daily rosary
Say morning and evening prayers
Pray for the gifts of the Holy Ghost
Pray to God, Mary, the Angels and Saints for protection, strength and guidance when
trials (God) or temptations (Devil) arise.
Christ knew he was going to die and suffer much beforehand
Offer your temporal suffering to God for that which is due your forgiven sins
Offer your temporal suffering for those in Purgatory who can not pray for themselves
Bear your suffering well knowing that it helps you and others and gives Glory to God
Be thankful that you have been given this blessing and opportunity to please God, to mitigate
much of your suffering in Purgatory, and, by your example, help others to get to Heaven.
How to stay out of Hell
It is possible to go for reasonably long periods of time without sinning. First you need to dissociate yourself from whatever possession, routine, or company that can lead you to sin. To do otherwise is not to seriously avoid occasions to sin. You must corral your tongue and restrict your thoughts, and restrain your wandering eyes. If you commit a sinful act or thought, it does not necessarily mean that you have committed a sin. To be a sin, one must know that something is sinful and consented to it or entertained it. An impure thought is no sin if it is not entertained and it is cast aside right away. A harassing thought is no sin at all if at its inception you refuse to consent to it, and relegate it to a fruitless attempt by the Devil, regardless how long it persists. A sinful sight is not a sin unless you dwell on it or fail to look away. Accidental slips of the tongue are not sinful unless you recognize it and continue to be profane or engage in idle or non-charitable conversation. One mortal sin can send you to Hell for all eternity. It is a Mystery why seemingly minor offenses by our reckoning, could merit such extreme punishment. But that just shows how little we understand God and how much and how often we offend God, by not taking advantage of the wonderful Gifts that He presents to all of us. No one in Hell argues their fate as by God's Divine Justice everyone in Hell deserves to be there.
How to get out of Purgatory
Just because we are not eternally damned in Hell does not mean we are perfectly OK. We still have a lot to worry about. Those in Purgatory suffer the same as those in Hell with the exception that they know that one day they will see God. No one wants to experience the pain of Hell for even a second, for it is vastly greater suffering than anything we can imagine on earth. If we truly understood or believed how bad it was, we would all die Saints and go straight to Heaven. But we are weak and prone to sin, and most of us that are saved will spend some time there. (If we had strong Faith and believed that baptized children before the age of reason got straight to Heaven if they die. We would thank God for sparing those taken early, the risk of Hell and Purgatory). Even though we have our sins forgiven, we owe God for offending Him. We pay for our offenses by suffering. Our souls must be "purged" of the remnants of sin as there is no sin in Heaven. This suffering can occur here or in Purgatory. Because our Faith is truly that, Faith - not Fact, we can choose to believe in God and do His will. The extent that we believe and offer sacrifices to God is meritorious. We can choose not to believe and curse God here for our suffering or we can believe and praise God and bear our suffering. We do not have that choice after we die. There is no longer Faith. We "know" at that point. Therefore believing in God, after we die, gains us nothing. The holy suffering that we do while on earth means more and is a better sacrifice because we choose to believe in, to sacrifice for, and to glorify, God.