That's the only alternative.
If that was the case for you, then you are in an admirable position of being able to intercede for the rest of us by your prayers.
But that's not the way it is for me (of course, I am not in a position to speak for others and would not consider being so arrogant as to do so)
I find myself in a position to need the counsel of St. Paul as to how to deal with the flesh. Frankly, I need that counsel on a continual basis. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. (Galatians (RSV) 5) For, as with St Paul, 15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. (Romans (RSV) 7).
I am not at the point described by the prophet Isaiah, 8 And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not pass over it, and fools shall not err therein. (Isaiah (RSV) 35) I am hardly any kind of a Pharisee that has no need of grace because of my own righteousness.
Rather, like St. Paul, 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. (Philippians (RSV) 3)
But back onto the topic, though, who is in heaven? The Letter to the Hebrews has the answer: 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews (RSV) 12)
Notice the wording in verse 23: the spirits of just men made perfect (τελειόω - teleioō -- a verb). (BTW, the specific verb was in the perfect tense -- i.e., in the past). Of course, that's talking about all Christians, right? Well, maybe all except St. Paul. He said in Phil 3.12 (above) that he wasn't perfect yet (Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect) but he was pressing on. In other words, he wasn't there yet.
And neither am I.
St. Paul spoke of this in the citation I gave earlier, 10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw -- 13 each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1Corinthians (RSV) 3)
That wood, hay, straw are the unclean acts committed by the Christian after he was saved. As for how long it takes to do so (in an objective sense), who knows? 8 But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (2Peter (RSV) 3) So I don't think it really matters one way or the other. It will happen.
You, frankly, can reject the concept all you want and it doesn't matter to me. It will happen whether you believe it now or not. It might be the horrible picture painted by Dante or it might be something else altogether. Frankly, both Scripture and Sacred Tradition are fairly blank about what they say, even if some Popes have tried to provide some definition in succeeding centuries. I,frankly, consider it to be a tremendous grace. And if you wish to reject that grace, it's OK by me.
I also stated the "no need for a place of purgation" in my earlier posts and it is obvious that the point was missed entirety. If you can take off the "Catholic" hat for just a few minutes, and allow the concept of what we are saying sink in, I think you may be able to understand the point. From Scripture we know that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from ALL sin. We also know that:
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
So that when God looks at me, because of Christ, he sees his righteousness. So yes, these and many other verses, tell me that my redemption, my salvation, my justification, my sanctification, are NEVER based on my own righteousness because mine are nothing but filthy rags in comparison.
There is a HUGE difference in speaking about our lives in the "nasty here and now" and how we are to live in Christ for eternity in the "sweet by and by". Paul said in Philippians 1:21, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." We are to live in our flesh and fight the spiritual battles that result from these two natures that we now have - a flesh and spirit - the natural man and the spiritual man. But this "natural" guy - this "flesh" ain't going with us to heaven - this mortal will put on immortality, this corruptible will cease and will be raised incorruptible. So how can there be a "stopping off point" for further cleansing? Why???
Here's a simple thought to ponder - I try to keep things as simple as I can - What 'body' would a soul indwell in order to suffer for their venial sins in purgatory if they were blown to bits in a nuclear war? Will they get a "loaner" and then their "real" glorified body once they make it into heaven? I am not trying to be cutesy - I don't do cutesy.