Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I believe...in the communion of Saints

Mel just keeps giving me good material for blogging.  She writes:

Hey. Just listened to a great (RC) CD on the Communion of Saints. Have always believed in it in a way (Reformed perspective, Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed), but this was described in a wonderful way. Any blog thoughts on Communion of Saints? 

This is absolutely one of my favorite Catholic topics, because it really hits at a lot of issues - especially a lot of Marian issues that people have such a problem with who are non-Catholic.  We should note that this teaching is extremely important to the Church, and it is professed to in every mass by every Catholic when they say "I believe in the Communion of Saints".  

The scriptural roots of the passage go back to two passages that I can think of off the top of my head.  First, St. Paul talks about this "Cloud of Witnesses" who cheer us on in our day to day life.  He is aiming to draw similarities to our life and the "Great Heroes of the Faith (Saints)" and how they are the spectators in an arena - much like watching a footrace and just another of St. Paul's athletic references.  What do these spectators do?  They push for us to get on towards that goal, to win the race, to get to Heaven!  How can they do this?  Well, seeing as they are in God's presence, who better to intercede on our behalf and ask God to do something for us?  The second scripture is in the Book of Revelation, where we see the Saints gathered around God's throne, offering up our prayers to him - a pretty plain scriptural reference in my opinion.  

The usual objection to this (which is also a common objection to Confession) is "Can't God just hear my prayers himself?"  Well, of course he can, and of course he can answer them, but that doesn't mean that asking for the intercession of others is a waste of time.  Just look at normal life.  We ask others to pray for us all the time - both in the Church and others that we meet in life.  Who better to ask than those who are already in God's presence?

2 comments:

mel said...

Thanks for posting. Like I mentioned, I've said "I believe in the communion of saints" for, um, many years now. But to see it really come alive in one of my favorite books (Hebrews) is just cool. The CD came from the Bible Christian Society and gave an excellent explanation. I may have just checked this topic off The List.

Greg said...

Joseph, I was hoping you'd start a stand-alone thread for this topic. Outstanding job introducing and explaining the subject! I'd like to add a couple things.

First, it is always neat to see how the early Church fathers interpreted certain theological concepts. Check these out related to the Communion of Saints:
http://www.catholic.com/library/Intercession_of_the_Saints.asp

Second is a more personal testimony. My wife converted a couple years ago. This was a doctrine she had difficulty with. During the Easter Vigil when her RCIA group entered the Church, there was a most beautiful "Litany of Saints." It was extremely powerful. My wife told me later that night (well, actually early the next morning) about a very profound experience she had. During the Litany she had a most overwhelming sense of her deceased grandmother's presence. It was not only the "thought" of her being there with us during Mass, it was the "sense" of her being there. My wife could literally smell her grandmother's perfume that she used to wear.