Before there was an iCloud to pull everything together, there was the “great cloud of witnesses” that Hebrews 12:1 says we are surrounded by. The Feast of All Saints reminds us of this cloud and how all Christians, whether in this life or the next, are intimately connected in one Body with Christ as the Head.
One of my favorite things about being Catholic is that we do not view the Church as being just an earthly group of believers. The Church on earth is called “The Church Militant” because we are waging a war against evil and spiritual wickedness. Scripture calls Satan “the god of this world.” As Christians, we are “in the world, but not of the world.” It is a spiritual battle for souls here on earth and we Christians are spiritual warriors.
There exists a state of being between this life and Heaven where Christians may be purged of anything that cannot enter heaven, anything that is not pure and built upon Christ. 1Corinthians 3:11-15 describes this state of purging as a fire that burns away the wood, hay and stubble of our lives, yet leaves us saved with our good works of precious stones, gold and silver. Since eternity is not limited by our time constraints, and God is outside of time, we cannot place any sense of time on this state of being. Yet, few of us are perfect and ready to enter Heaven “right now” in this life. We will be different in Heaven than we are “right now.” This means that a change takes place somewhere in between this life and Heaven. Catholics call this state of being Purgatory, because it is a purging process. Since the purging process is not a pleasant one (it is not easy to relinquish things our souls tend to cling to), the Christians in this state of purging are referred to as “The Church Suffering.”
Christians that are in Heaven are called “The Church Triumphant.” This is the ultimate goal of Christianity, to triumph over Satan, sin, death and the evil in the world and in ourselves. Heaven is where we are finally joined completely with Christ and “see Him as He is, for we shall be like Him.” On the day of resurrection, even our physical bodies will be glorified and present with Christ. No more sin or death. Triumph!
All Christians are united in one body of Christ. The Church Militant, The Church Suffering and The Church Triumphant are all the Body of Christ with Jesus as Head. This is why the “cloud” that surrounds us is so awesome. It is connected to us. We in The Church Militant are not separated from Christians in The Church Triumphant. Far from being dead, they are more alive than we are! That is why we can call upon them to pray for us and intercede to God on our behalf. In the same way that we ask other Christians here on earth to pray for us and with us, we can call upon the Saints in Heaven to do the same, for we are all one Body of Christ! I am so glad to be able to call upon our mother, Mary, the Saints in Heaven, my earthly Christian brothers and sisters, and, most of all, Jesus, the One Mediator who makes it all possible by allowing us to share in His mediation through His One Body. Thank God for “the cloud!”
Have a blessed Feast of All Saints!