Growing Apologist

Becoming a Defender of Truth

The Communion of Saints

on November 7, 2011

Catechism 962 “We believe in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church; and we believe that in this communion, the merciful love of God and his saints is always [attentive] to our prayers” (Paul VI, CPG § 30).  [1]

Revelation 5:8 presents the saints in heaven a...

The Apostles Creed, a statement that covers the pillars of the Catholic faith, includes the belief in the Communion of Saints.  But what is the Communion of Saints?  In order to understand this topic better, let us break it down into two words: “Communion” and “Saints”.

Communion is defined by Dictionary.com as “association; fellowship; interchange or sharing of thoughts or emotions; intimate communication; the act of sharing or holding in common; participation”. [2] It is also defined by Catholicism to be “In Christian parlance [or manner of speaking] the most sacred expression for any one of different forms of togetherness.” [3]

emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys

The Saints are of course the holy people on Earth who live by the word of God.  Usually when we think of saints, we think of unique people who have set themselves apart for the will of God such Saint Theresa.  The Church defines the Saints (with a capital S) to be:

A name given in the New Testament to Christians generally (Colossians 1:2), but early restricted to persons who were eminent for holiness. In the strict sense, saints are those who distinguish themselves by heroic virtue during life and whom the Church honors as saints either by her ordinary universal teaching authority or by a solemn definition called canonization. The Church’s official recognition of sanctity implies that the persons are now in heavenly glory, that they may be publicly invoked everywhere, and that their virtues during life or martyr’s death are a witness and example to the Christian faithful. [4]

Based on this, the Communion of Saints can be defined as the togetherness of the persons who were eminent for holiness during their life on earth.  The Church goes even further to say that all people are called to holiness. [5]  The Church itself can be defined by the term ‘Mystical Body of Christ’ which is the belief that the Church consists of the people present on earth (Church Militant), the souls in purgatory (Church Suffering), and the souls already in heaven with God (Church Triumphant).  [6, 7]  The Communion of Saints is considered to be the togetherness of the all persons in the Church; those on earth, in purgatory and in heaven [Please visit reference 7 for scriptural basis of this belief]. [7]

Praising-hands

Just as people on earth ask one another to pray for each other, it is the Catholic belief that we can ask anyone in the Church to pray for us, including the souls in purgatory and the souls already in heaven.  When we pray to the Saints, it is not out of worship, but it is embedded in this belief of the Communion of Saints, that when we pray to the Saints, they then pray with us and for us just like our fellow Christians on earth and lay our requests at the feet of Christ. [7]

References

[1] Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Holy See, Website Link

[2] Communion, Dictionary.com, Website Link

[3] Communion, Catholic Culture, Website Link

[4] Saints, Catholic Culture, Website Link

[5] Pope speaks on the communion of saints, News Feature, Catholic Culture, Website Link

[6] Mystical Body of the Church, Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent, Website Link

[7] Communion of Saints, Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent, Website Link

Related Articles

Homily for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A by Whosoever Desires

St Augustine of Hippo on Prayer for the Dead by Dominus mihi adjutor

The Holiness of God in the Lives of His Saints by Transformed in Christ

For the Communion of the Saints by Blessings on the Journey

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One response to “The Communion of Saints

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