Our true home is Heaven. Our life on Earth is an exile, the time we spend here prepares us for our arrival home. If we misuse this time to an extreme (consistently rejecting the will of God and working against Him) we will banish ourselves and be eternally damned. Damnation is the natural consequence of our poor moral choices on Earth.
However, even if we exercise right judgement, we may still be denied entry into the fullness of Heaven and perfect union with God for a time. This time is referred to as Purgatory. Those who die in a state of grace but yet still retain the stain of sin on their souls need to be purified. The unclean cannot enter into the vision of God in this state. See: Catechism of the Catholic Church – Purgatory
We can begin our purgatory here on Earth. A longing for our true home and the pain of separation from it is a purifying experience. This longing is a prayer.
The blog The New Theological Movement has a great post entitled “Prayer, purgatory on earth”. It explores the idea that through a prayerful longing for Heaven, we can offer up this suffering for the expiation of our sins and for the Church Suffering.
This prayerful longing for Heaven is a detachment from our exile, and therefore a little death. Gradually we are better prepared for our own death and no longer fear it.
Personally, I feel this longing. Daily I pray for this “going home,” and not in any worrying suicidal way, but just like anyone who wishes to be home, I would rather be there than here.Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)"The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"