Remembering the communion of saints Print
Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015 -- 12:00 AM

When we used to say the Apostles Creed at Mass (the Nicene Creed is now the norm), we said we believed in the “communion of saints.” For many of us, this was a phrase we recited so often that we didn’t really think about what it means.

As we prepare to celebrate All Saints’ Day on November 1 and All Souls’ Day on November 2, it is an opportunity to consider how we are united with the living and the dead.

One family in Christ

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that there are “three states of the Church”: those of us living on earth, those who have died, and those joined together with God at the end of the world. In fact, the Catechism says that we all form “one family in Christ.”

We who are still “pilgrims on earth” can be involved with those who have gone before us. I often “communicate” with family members and others who have died, especially in prayer. I imagine I’ve heard their voices as I remember them.

The Catechism assures us that the saints in heaven continue to intercede for us, “So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped.” Praying to the saints, therefore, can help us in our own journey to holiness.

Praying for the dead

While we’re still on earth, we can also help those who have died. We can pray for the dead “that they be loosed from their sins.” As the Catechism says, “Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective.”

So it seems that we should pray often to the saints to help us strengthen our own lives. But we should also pray for those who have died that they may attain their heavenly reward.

Is it selfish to hope that those for whom we pray will remember us when we die? I don’t think so. Since we are all part of the communion of saints, we should have hope that our prayers for others will be reciprocated.