Continuing through the Catechism of the Catholic Church as it relates to prophecy:
954 The three states of the Church. “When the Lord comes in glory, and all his angels with him, death will be no more and all things will be subject to him. But at the present time some of his disciples are pilgrims on earth. Others have died and are being purified, while still others are in glory, contemplating ‘in full light, God himself triune and one, exactly as he is”‘: All of us, however, in varying degrees and in different ways share in the same charity towards God and our neighbours, and we all sing the one hymn of glory to our God. All, indeed, who are of Christ and who have his Spirit form one Church and in Christ cleave together.
957 Communion with the saints. “It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself”:
We worship Christ as God’s Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord’s disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples!
We believe that, in Christ , and in communion through Him we have an eternal relationship with one another. Not just those we personally know, but all those who live, have lived, and will live in the Christian faith. Those who, through their own choices and actions, are condemned have separated themselves not just from God but from all Christians.
The Communion of Saints is actually an important aspect of prophecy. This is true for a few reasons. First of all, there is a distinct allusion to the communion of saints and the martyrs in the book of Revelation as it relates to their pleadings for the justice of God. There is also a distinct tie-in to the timing of God’s final judgment to the number of martyrs and elect. This question will be explored further at a later time.
The communion of Saints is alluded to in ways that make the prophecies more understandable in that the Church is seen not just as a structure and a hierarchy, but as the mystical body of Christ formed by all believers. Further, when Christ says that He is the vine and we are the branches, we do not wither and die and fall off the vine upon our own death. We stays united on the vine and remain part of the mystical body of Christ in His Church. Paul says we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses (there’s that “cloud” again!)
As an aside for a moment, it is a distinctly Catholic doctrine that there is a Purgatory. I will not turn this into an apologetic exercise about Purgatory. But it is unfortunate that we have this disunity. Many – if not most – people who pass away still need our prayers, and there are so many who do not believe that this is true. While it is true that the judgment of salvation or condemnation is determined upon our death, this does not imply immediate entry into heaven. Purgatory is not a way after death to get out of going to hell. It is a purification of all worldly longings and attachments in order to enter heaven. Our prayers aid in this process. Without those prayers, those souls are on their own, which is not emblematic of our communion with them as fellow believers. Purgatory is in no way a repudiation of Christ’s work on the cross, just as the fact that some will be damned is not a repudiation of his sacrifice.