The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "Since all the faithful form one body, the good of each is communicated to the others... We must therefore believe that there exists a communion of goods in the Church. But the most important member is Christ, since he is the head... Therefore, the riches of Christ are communicated to all the members, through the sacraments." "As this Church is governed by one and the same Spirit, all the goods she has received necessarily become a common fund." (CCC 947).
The three states of the Church
"The Church" refers not only to its living members but also includes those who have already gone before us. Whether in heaven (Church Triumphant), purgatory (Church Suffering/Penitent), or still on earth (Church Militant/Pilgrim), we are one family of God under Jesus Christ as our head.
Thus, we believe that:
- Those in heaven (Church Triumphant) pray for us and for those in purgatory;
- Those in purgatory (Church Suffering) can pray for us but cannot pray for themselves because their time for grace is over; and
- We, the living (Church Militant / Pilgrim), can pray for those undergoing cleansing in purgatory and can seek the intercession of those already in God's company in heaven.
Among those shared by us are: faith, sacraments, charism, prayer, worship, and the bountiful merits of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This is why, through the Masses we offer in suffrage for the dead, our departed loved ones continue to share in the merits of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. One day, we too shall be in their state, and they shall also intercede for us.
To seek the intercession of the saints is no different from asking a friend to pray for you!
Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 946 to 962.