You find yourself at Mass, and when it’s time to say the Apostles’ Creed, you recite with the rest of the congregation: “I believe in…the communion of saints….”
But have you ever wondered what “the communion of saints” actually means?
Connection. Unity. Family. All these words have something to do with the communion of saints. It is the relationship among members of the Church who share a supernatural bond, with Christ Himself as the Head.
Blessed Pope Paul VI explains it in his “Credo of the People of God,” which is also quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (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.”
There are three states of the Church: 1) The Church Triumphant; 2) The Church Militant; and 3) The Church Suffering.
- The Church Triumphant. This refers to the saints and angels in heaven who have gained the crown of victory and are experiencing the full light of God’s glory.
- The Church Militant. This is us, the faithful on earth. We are “militant” because we pilgrims on earth continue to struggle against sin and temptation.
- The Church Suffering. This refers to the souls in purgatory, who are being purified from their sins and will one day share the eternal joy of heaven.
All these members of the Church are connected to one another and help one another.
- The blessed ones in heaven pray for the living and the souls in purgatory.
- The faithful on earth pray to the blessed in heaven and pray for the souls in purgatory.
- The souls in purgatory pray to the angels and saints, and also pray for the faithful on earth.
Thus, a cycle of spiritual merits and graces flows through the Church, the Body of Christ, a family of love. Now isn’t it great to know that we are part of this family?
- Catechism of the Catholic Church (946-962)