THE ABC’s OF CATHOLIC DOCTRINE
by Lianne Tiu
In a basketball game, when a player makes a basket, the whole team rejoices; when he gets injured, the team suffers. This was what St. Paul meant when he talked about the Church: “If one member suffers, all suffer together. If one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (1 Cor 12:26) The Church, with Jesus as the head, is composed of baptized individuals who accept the Gospel and are governed by their bishops under the Pope. It is composed of 3 phases: 1) The pilgrims on earth (Church Militant); 2) The souls in purgatory (Church Penitent, or Suffering); 3) The blessed in heaven (Church Triumphant). A union exists among them even though they may be physically separated by death, even though they may not know each other. The three groups also share a common ‘treasury of merits’ through their prayers, good deeds and especially the sacraments (particularly the Eucharist). Thus, they form the “Communion of Saints” – a reality that we profess when we recite the Apostle’s Creed.
A man was told that a prayer was offered for him by his relative on his birthday. He replied, “But I am not yet dead!” The faithful on earth do not pray only for the souls in purgatory; they also pray for each other. The blessed in heaven intercede for the souls in purgatory and for us on earth; and the souls in purgatory also intercede for us.
St. Josemaria Escriva, who regarded the souls in purgatory as “my good friends”, imagined them arriving in heaven in a line. The ones closer to the exit are those who have less reparation to make. When a suffrage arrives, it is applied equally to all. Thus they all take a step together toward the exit.
The communion of saints gives us a great sense of unity in the Church. Let us not divide it with our sins; rather, we unite more by loving God and one another. We help each other so that all of us will ultimately be united with God in Paradise.
(References : Catechism of the Catholic Church #946-962; Pope Francis’ General Audience in 2013 on “Communion in Spiritual Goods”; “Question Time” by Fr. John Flader; “The Faith Explained Today” by Fr. Joe Babendreier)
As published in the November 13 issue of the Parish Bulletin.