The Communion of Saints

The Communion of Saints

Madonna-and-Child-Enthroned-with-Angels-and-Saints-Duccio-di-BuoninsegnaIf you are new to historic Christianity and our ancient liturgical worship, then you may have noticed something very unique about what we say, do, and believe concerning those Saints who have gone before us.

For example, in our creed, which is the summary of what we believe to be true, we speak of our faith in the Communion of Saints. By this we do not mean only that we are in communion with Christians who are gathered together in this place. Nor are we saying merely that we are one with all Christians living everywhere today. Rather, we mean that we are in communion (perfect union) with all Christians, everywhere, and throughout time. Most especially, we mean that we are in communion, sharing the same Lord and giving the same offerings of worship as the Saints throughout the world and in Heaven itself.st.john's1-6-15-46-Edit

That is why when we pray for the Whole State of Christ’s Church or the Prayers of the People, we do not limit our prayers to intercessions for those in the world today. We also pray for “all those who have departed this life in thy faith and fear, beseeching thee [O Lord] to grant them growth in thy love and service.” We are praying for those who are in heaven with Christ awaiting the Day of Resurrection.

We also see this concept of the Communion of Saints in the Sursum Corda. When we lift up our hearts, we are lifting them into the heavenly realms and joining ourselves with the saints (holy ones) everywhere, “Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company (including saints) of heaven, we laud and magnify thy holy Name.”

Yet another way that we mark our belief in the Communion of Saints is in the fact that we celebrate saints in our worship. In the Liturgical Calendar, extraordinary saints such as Apostles and Martyrs are recognized on the date of their deaths. We honor these people because we believe that they are shining examples of God’s grace and love for humanity, and because we know that they are even now living in the presence of Christ and interceding on behalf of the world (Rev 7); therefore, we celebrate and honor these saints.

We do this not as ones who are dead; and therefore, cut off from the land of the living. But we celebrate them as those who are alive and well in heaven, and who know our affection for them, and who are active participants in our worship of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

So the Communion of Saints is a great comfort to us Christians. For although for now we cannot fully discern the realities of heaven, since heaven is not yet open for free access as it will be after the return of our Lord Jesus Christ; nevertheless, we are truly one with the saints of all times. They are alive to us, and we are a part of their family. And so it is not wrong or even fanciful for us to imagine our beloved friends who have died in faith living the joyful life of Heaven. We can well and rightly think of St. James, St. Mary, St. John, St. Patrick, St. Terese of Avila, and even our devout grandmothers and our holy grandfathers and dear Christian friends who have gone before as they gather before the heavenly throne and join us in this celebration of the Mass of Christ.

So say hello to the individual saints on their special days. And say hello to all those who are gathered with us. You have this privilege because of the Communion of the Saints.

And one last note on this topic. You may think it’s grand to have a special day for extraordinary people like Apostles and Martyrs, and yet still wonder why there isn’t a day to celebrate the lives of people you knew in this life – grandmothers or father or uncle or friend. Well there is such a day. All Saints Day (Nov 1st) is the day we celebrate the lives as all the “great” Saints who live with God in heaven. The following day, All Souls, (Nov 2nd) is the day we celebrate and honor the soul of every person who has ever died in faith and fear. On this day we will read the names of those who have gone to be with the Lord. We do this because we believe in the Communion of Saints.

 

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