Communio Sanctorum

When in the Apostles' Creed we profess the communio sanctorum, what do we mean? Normally when we say the communion of saints, one thing comes to mind: that we are united with the Saints in heaven and that they can pray for and help us. This is certainly true. However, to understand the communion of the Saints in this way alone is surely missing much of the richness of the Church's teaching. Let's see first what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says and move from there. "The term 'communion of saints' therefore has two closely linked meanings: communion in holy things (sancta) and among holy persons (sancti). Sancta sanctis! ("God's holy gifts for God's holy people") is proclaimed by the celebrant in most Eastern liturgies during the elevation of the holy Gifts before the distribution of communion. The faithful (sancti) are fed by Christ's holy body and blood (sancta) to grow in the communion of the Holy Spirit (koinonia) and to communicate it to the world." (CCC, 948) This means that when we proclaim the communion of the saints we are first of all proclaiming a communion in holy things (sancta). What are these holy things though? The Catechism lists five in the following order:

1.Communio in fide (Communion in faith)
As the early Church in Jerusalem "... devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching..." (Acts 2:42) so too does the Church today posses the same faith which every member shares in commune with the other. It is this treasure of faith that enlightens our life and gives us a common direction and end, namely God.

2. Sacramentorum communio (Communion of the Sacraments)
"All the sacraments are sacred links uniting the faithful with one another and binding them to Jesus Christ, and above all Baptism, the gate by which we enter into the Church. " (CCC, 950) It is through the Sacraments that we share a common life and Spirit, the Holy Spirit who gives us instant communication with all the Saints, known and unknown; past, present and future. I don't care what kind of cell phone you have, none of them are this reliable, transcend time or are so useful in a bind!

3. Charistmatum communio (Communion of charisms)
"Within the communion of the Church, the Holy Spirit "distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank for the building up of the Church. Now, "to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." (951) Only in the Church do we find an institution that rejoices in the gifts of others. There is absolutely no room for jealousy or bitterness at the good of another because in the Church, someone elses good is your good. We are all on the same team and make up the one body of Christ. Is their a gift you haven't been given but need for the fulfillment of a task? Ask a Saint or pray for it to God. They are available 24/7...

4. Erant illis omnia communia (They had all things in common)
"Everything the true Christian has is to be regarded as a good possessed in common with everyone else. All Christians should be ready and eager to come to the help of the needy . . . and of their neighbors in want." A Christian is a steward of the Lord's goods." (CCC, 952) Simply put, if we are a faithful Catholic, then our life is no longer our own but it is hidden with Christ in God. If we belong to Christ's body, the Church, that means we only belong to it in relation to everyone else in it. So if there is someone in the Church that is in need then we must give them any and all assistance that we can. We don't have the right to extras when members of our family, the Church, have not even what they need. "What you did to the least of these, you did unto me." (Mt 25:40)

5. Communio caritatis (Communion of Charity)
"'None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.' 'If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.' 'Charity does not insist on its own way.' In this solidarity with all men, living or dead, which is founded on the communion of saints, the least of our acts done in charity redounds to the profit of all. Every sin harms this communion." (CCC, 953)

If we understand the above five elements of the communio santorum, then we will realize that the relationships we have with the Saints is much deeper then only asking for help when we need it. Rather, the Saints become our friends. We can speak with them and ask for their prayers and be assured of their love for us. Truly the Church is the family of God with Christ being the head. We only share in these holy things with holy persons (Saints) because Christ is the source of all holiness and goodness. Thank God we have this inexhaustible treasure of gifts that will never fail us.

Credo in sanctorum communio!