997. Sometimes, we find spirits notoriously imperfect who are very open to the good sentiments and the prayers said on their behalf. How is it that others, whom we believe to be more knowledgeable, demonstrate a severity and pessimism that no prayers can overcome?
“Prayer is only effective for spirits who repent. Prayers do not help people motivated by pride that compels them to rebel against God and persists in wrongdoing, perhaps going even further astray. Such individuals can only derive any sort of benefit from prayers when a glimmering of repentance appears in them.” (See no. 664)
We must not lose sight of the fact that a soul does not change suddenly after the death of the body. If its life has been disgraceful, it is because it is imperfect. Nevertheless, death does not make it perfect right away. It may continue its wrongdoing, holding false ideas and preconceived notions until it has become enlightened through study, refection and pain.