In light of the saving work of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we believe that when a person dies, he faces his particular judgment and must render an account of his life. If that person has died fundamentally believing in God and in a state of grace, but with venial sins and the hurt caused by sin, then God in His divine love and mercy will first purify the soul. After this purification has been completed, the soul will have the holiness and purity needed to share in the beatific vision in heaven.

The faithful here on earth can help those souls undergoing purification. The Vatican Council II affirmed: “This sacred council accepts loyally the venerable faith of our ancestors in the living communion which exists between us and our brothers who are in the glory of heaven or who are yet being purified after their death.” (“Dogmatic Constitution on the Church,” No. 51). Therefore, just as we pray for each other and share each other’s burdens now, the faithful on earth can offer prayers and sacrifices to help the departed souls undergoing purification, and no better prayer could be offered than that of the holy sacrifice of the Mass.