If you are Catholic, you have heard the phrase “communion of saints” a lot, especially if you pray the rosary. Have you ever stopped to think about what it means? I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately. What does it mean to be “in communion”? When we partake of the Eucharist, Christ’s Body and Precious Blood, we “receive Holy Communion”. Okay, so it has something to do with sharing. We are gathering together and sharing a meal as a sign of our unity in Christ. What about the saints?
We know that a saint is a “holy one”, because the Church is “The Holy People of God” (CC. 823) and her members are called “saints.” (Acts 9:13, 1 Cor 6:1; 16:1). The “communion of saints”, then, is the people of God in union with Him in and through Christ. What does this look like?
Pretty cool, right? Think of it as a big family.
No, not them. BIGGER.
This family has one Father, the same big brother, and they share one name. Now imagine that they live all over the world – different continents, different nations (let’s call them “states”), and different languages – but they still share the same dad, same sibling, and same family name. And…they get together every day to share a meal and praise their father. Impossible, right? Not for God.
Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Mathew 19:26
The communion of saints=His family= the Church. And because we are also His Body, and Christ’s Body is unconquered by death, the Church reaches beyond death, connecting those who are being purified, those pilgrims still on earth, and those in glory in heaven. It looks like this:
There are three states of the Church: the Church Suffering, about which I posted here, made up of the souls being purified in purgatory; the Church Militant,(more on that one at a later date), made up of we pilgrims here on earth; and the Church Triumphant, so called, I think, because the saints in heaven are victorious over death (by the grace of God) and now bask in the presence of God.
What are these citizens of heaven doing? What will we do there once the grime has been washed away and we arrive, sparkling, into our true home? There will be no more suffering. Our cup of joy will be full to overflowing. We will be with our heart’s desire: God. He will be all we need. And yet, God is love and, with the Son, and the Holy Spirit, a perfect family. Being one with God, can we be other than loving toward those still suffering and sojourning? I don’t think so. Think about when you have been full of joy in your life. Could you contain it, or were you so excited, bursting with happiness, that you immediately called everyone you knew and even told strangers your news? How much more will we feel like this in heaven, shining in God’s love and glory?
The members of the Church Triumphant care about how and what we are doing; they and the angels rejoice when we repent (Luke 15:7, 10). They rejoice. That tells you what kind of God He is, and how much He loves us. Can you imagine a better cheering section as you run your race than the holy ones who have suffered and persevered and now see God’s face?
I hope Saint Therese is in my cheering section.
She is my big sister in Christ. When I pray to her, asking her to pray for me, I think about her life and her “little way” and it gives me hope that I may one day attain holiness. When and if I do (pray for me, please!), I will delight in helping those not there yet. I may be in your cheering section one day, encouraging you to press on. Look for me. I will be at Mass, singing “Holy, holy, holy” with the angels as together we worship Our Lord in the Eucharist. Don’t be late.