Prayer and sacrifices unite the living and the dead.

“Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

1 & 2 Nov 2021. All Saints Day & All Souls Day. Cycle B-2021. Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14 + 1John 3:1-3 + Matthew 5:1-12a

The Communion of Saints is the union and interaction of Catholics on earth, of the souls in purgatory, and of the saints in heaven.

The Church is divided into three groups: Church Militant, Church Suffering, and Church Triumphant, according to their progress in the trip to heaven. They are united by the common bond of Baptism.

Church Militant—the Church group still on earth. They struggle ceaselessly against the world, the flesh, and devil.

Church Suffering—the poor souls in purgatory. They have left the earth, but fell short of heaven, and are temporarily in a way station still expiating their sins in the cleansing fire. After completing expiation, they will get to heaven.

Church Triumphant—the saints who made it to heaven straight from this earth, or after clearing from purgatory. They are saints, because they have already secured their victory.

The Catholic Communion of Saints are united with Christ as their Head, just as body members are united with the head (cf. Rom 12:4-5). Christ is the Vine nourishing the members like branches (cf. John 15:5-6).

The following figure illustrates how the three divisions of the Church help each other with their prayers, Mass offering, and sacrifices.

The Church Militant help each other by prayer, by offering Holy Mass, by praise, by sacrifice, and by good work, just like every member of the body help each other. They help the Church Suffering too by the same acts of charity.

Excommunication removes a living member on earth from the Communion of Saints.

When the Church Suffering finally reaches heaven, they join the Church Triumphant in praying for the Church Militant still on earth.

Only the Church Triumphant, who are already in heaven, have no need of help. In their state of perfection, however, their prayer is a powerful help for the Church Militant and for the Church Suffering (cf. James 5:16).

Souls who fell short even of Purgatory fall straight to hell. Expelled from the Communion of Saints, no amount of prayer and good work will alter their status.

On November 1, All Saints Day, the Church Militant invokes the intercession of the Church Triumphant.

Do you think your beloved dead is one of the saints in heaven? Invoke his/her prayer, and if your petition is granted, the miracle confirms his/her sainthood. If you receive no response, either your petition cannot be granted or your beloved dead is somewhere else. Continue praying for his/her repose.

On November 2, All Souls Day, the Church Militant intercedes for the Church Suffering.

Nobody among the Church Militant can be certain that the soul he prays for has any chance of salvation, but prayers are not futile. The Head directs the graces earned to whomever needs these. VSS

Reference: Spirago’s The Catechism Explained, 1899

Picture credit: Top, the Communion of Saints from Bottom, the interaction of the Communion, from