by Dennis Montecillo
In today’s regular article titled “The ABCs of Catholic Doctrine” we are treated to a refresher course on the three phases, or groups of the Church, namely the Church Militant (all pilgrims on earth); the Church Suffering or Penitent (souls in purgatory); and the Church Triumphant (the blessed in heaven).
The key takeaway word from the article is UNITY. This word is the key that binds the three phases together, quite literally, in more ways than one.
The first and more apparent perspective is the notion of UNITY to each other as members of the Church, bound together by intercessory prayer for each: the faithful on earth pray for the souls in purgatory and for each other; the souls in purgatory intercede for us; and the blessed in heaven intercede for the souls in purgatory and for us in heaven (Revelations 8:3-4).
The second, and less obvious perspective of UNITY is the application of the phases (note here the use of the word “phases”) of the Church to each one of us – individually. In a very real sense, almost all of us will undergo these phases – first, as a Militant on earth; then, for most of us, as Penitents being purged in purgatory; and finally – thank God – as part of the blessed Triumphant in heaven.
I’ve found it useful to maintain these two perspectives by tying them to images – first, as a member of the Church community celebrating Mass together on Sundays (it’s so much more fun to visualize the saints in heaven and the penitents in purgatory singing with us); and then as a pilgrim on a journey, walking in unison with others, but in the end, as singular pilgrims on a path to sainthood.
As published in the November 13 issue of the Parish Bulletin.