Right now in heaven, there is a banquet filled with souls who have reached the beatific vision. These saints are those members of the Body of Christ who have been made perfect and now enjoy complete communion with God. We call this part of the Communion of Saints the Church Triumphant, since they have joined Christ in His triumph over sin and death.
Those of us living, who have not yet conquered death and still suffer temptation and decay, are not in complete communion with God and the saints. However, God in His goodness still invites us into the Body of Christ on earth through the Holy Catholic Church. As members of His earthly Church, we must still suffer death and decay, undergo temptation, and fight the spiritual battle for our souls. This is why the Holy Catholic Church on earth is called the Church Militant.
There are other souls, those who have left earth but are not yet in a state of total communion with God. These souls are members of the Church Suffering in purgatory. As the Catechism states:
All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.
—Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1030
The Church gives the name purgatory to this final purification of the elect. Because these holy souls in purgatory are separated from God, they feel a deep pain of longing for Him. However, this pain is bearable because it is through it that holy souls will enter into the banquet of heaven. As purgatory is the necessary reality for certain souls to enter heaven, it is still a holy place and is referred to as being adjacent to heaven. Since the souls in purgatory will one day be united to God and the Church Triumphant, they are still members of the Holy Church. Hence, these holy souls are referred to as the Church Suffering.
During November, we honor the Church Suffering and dedicate the month to their honor. It’s a particularly fruitful and appropriate time to offer all we can as remedies for these precious souls. As we understand the very real possibility of one day experiencing purgatory ourselves, let us be greatly attentive to the needs of the holy souls in purgatory and cultivate a devotion to them.
Remind yourself of your union with the Church Suffering and your responsibility to pray for them with this striking Holy Souls Rosary Bracelet. Elegant and powerful, this rosary bracelet is not merely a beautiful piece of religious jewelry, but also a powerful spiritual tool to help those suffering in purgatory. Available today at The Catholic Company!