When you are suffering at mile 24 of the marathon, some thoughts become crystal clear. As I ran in the Philly marathon this past Sunday, one obvious truth and one question kept popping up in my head.

How could anyone running a marathon not believe in Purgatory?

Metaphors are inherently flawed. That said, miles twenty to twenty-six of the marathon make an awfully good metaphor for purgatory. (Emphasis on the awfully)

Let’s start at the beginning. Nobody makes you do a marathon. You choose to enter and you choose to train. That finish line is a place that you really want to cross. Something awaits you at the end of the marathon that makes you want to suffer. Make no mistake about it. Choosing to do a marathon, like purgatory, is choosing to suffer.

So you have chosen to cross that finish line, to make it to your heaven. To do so, you must take up your cross, either in this life or the next.

In marathoning, this life is your training. What you choose to do in this life makes …

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