The Church is composed of three sections: The Heavenly Church (the Victory Church), the Church on Earth (the Pilgrim Church), the Church in Purgatory (the Refining Church). All the brothers and sisters in these three sections belong to the one same Church and one body through Christ, with Christ and in Christ. Thus, people in heaven, on earth and in purgatory are linked together in the mystic body of Christ so that they can help one another, intercede for one another and in communion with one another. This is the essence of the “Communion of Saints”.
The saints in heaven, by their love, intercede to God for all those brothers and sisters who are not yet in heaven, praying that God will bless and help all people who need help. We, Catholics in the pilgrim Church, through our prayers, receiving sacraments, penance, can help our own salvation on one hand, and at the same time, will help souls in purgatory to speed up their purification so as to allow them to enter heaven earlier. The souls in purgatory may include our relatives and friends who are performing their
penance, yet there are many more souls who have been abandoned by their families and they are still our brothers and sisters who need more of our remembrance and intercession. To pray for them is a way for us to practice our virtue of love.
The Church has designated the month of November to be the “Month of the Souls in Purgatory” in order to encourage us to help the souls in purgatory through attending mass, offering prayers, fasting, self-denial and good deeds. In the future, the souls, by the communion of saints, will enter heaven and by then, will repay us through interceding for us before God.
Fr. Matthew Wang