On the Communion of Saints

Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s continuing catechesis on the Creed in the Year of Faith, which was given today during his weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today I would like to speak about a very beautiful reality of our faith, namely, the “communion of Saints.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that with this expression two realities are understood: communion in holy things and communion among holy persons (No. 948). I shall pause on the second meaning: it is among the most consoling truths of our faith, because it reminds us that we are not alone  but that there is a communion of life among all those who belong to Christ. A communion that is born of faith; in fact, the term “Saints” refers to those who believe in the Lord Jesus and are incorporated with him in the Church through Baptism. Because of this, the first Christians were also called “the Saints” (cf. Acts 9:13.32.41; Romans 8:27; 1 Corinthians 6:1).

John’s Gospel attests that , before his Passion, Jesus prayed to the Father for communion among the  disciples, with these words: “that they may all be one ; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in three, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (17:21). In her most profound truth the Church is communion with God, familiarity with God, communion of love with Christ and with the Father in the Holy Spirit, which is prolonged in a fraternal communion. This relationship between Jesus and the Father is the “foundation” of the bond among us Christians: if we are intimately inserted in this “foundation,” in this burning furnace of love that is the Trinity, then we can truly become one heart and one spirit among us, because the love of God purges our egoisms, our prejudices, our internal and external divisions. The love of God purges our sins as well.

If there is this rootedness in the source of Love, which is God, then the reciprocal movement is also verified: from brothers to God; the experience of fraternal communion leads me to communion with God. To be united among ourselves brings us to be united with God, it brings us to this bond with God who is our Father. This is the second aspect of the communion of Saints that I would like to underline: our faith is in need of the support of others, especially in difficult moments. If we are united, faith becomes strong. How beautiful it is to support one another in the wonderful adventure of faith! I say this because the tendency to shut oneself in on oneself has also influenced the religious realm, so that many times it is an effort to ask for spiritual help from those who share the Christian experience with us. Which one of us — everyone, everyone — has not felt insecurities, losses and even doubts in the journey of faith? All of us have experienced this, even myself: it is a part of the path of faith, it is a part of our life. All this must not surprise us, because we are human beings, marked by fragility and limitations; we are all fragile, we all have limitations. However, in these difficult moments it is necessary to trust in God’s help through filial prayer and, at the same time, it is important to find the courage and the humility to open oneself to others, to ask for help, to ask for a hand. How many times have we have done this and then we were able to come out of a problem and find God again. In this communion – communion means ‘common-union’ – we are a great family, all of us, where all the components help and support each other.

And we come to another aspect: the communion of Saints goes beyond earthly life, it goes beyond death and lasts forever. This union among us, goes beyond and continues in the afterlife; it is a spiritual union that stems from Baptism is not severed by death but, thanks to the Resurrection of Christ, is destined to find its fullness in eternal life. There is a profound and indissoluble bond among all those who are still pilgrims in this world – among us – and those who have crossed the threshold of death to enter into eternity. All the baptized down here on earth, the souls in Purgatory and all the Blessed who are already in Paradise make up one great family. This communion between earth and Heaven is brought about especially through the intercessory prayer.

Dear friends, we have this beauty! It is our reality, of all, that makes us brothers, that accompanies us on the path of life and makes us find another time up in heaven. Let us go through this path with faithfulness, with joy. A Christian should be joyful, with the joy of having so many brothers baptized that walk with him; sustained by the help of the brothers and sisters that are on the same path to go to heaven; and also with the help of the brothers and sisters that are in heaven and pray to God for us. Let us go forward on this path with joy!

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Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis on the Creed, we now reflect on “the communion of saints”.  As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, this is a communion “in holy things” and “among holy persons” (No. 948).  The communion of saints is the deepest reality of the Church, because in Christ, through Baptism, we are made sharers in the communion of life and love which is the Blessed Trinity.  As such, we are united to one another in the Body of Christ.  Through this fraternal communion we draw nearer to God and we are called to support one another spiritually.  The communion of saints does not only embrace the Church on earth; it also embraces all who have died in Christ, the souls in purgatory and the saints in heaven.  We experience this solidarity between heaven and earth in our intercessory prayer and in the feasts of All Saints and All Souls which we shall soon celebrate.  As we rejoice in this great mystery, let us ask the Lord to draw us ever closer to him and to all our brothers and sisters in the Church.

Pope Francis (in Italian):

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Wales, Ireland, Denmark, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Vietnam and the United States.  Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!  

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I give a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. In particular, I greet the faithful of Porto Santo Stefano, accompanied by their Bishop, Monsignor Borghetti, and those of Ardara, who have come to the See of Peter on the occasion of the Year of Faith. I greet the Associations and groups present, especially theof Rimini; the Italian Association of War Blind; the Directors and Partners of the Sangro Teatina Bank of Cooperative Credit, the work of a group of Catholics headed by four priests animated by the Franciscan ideal. May the visit to the tombs of the Apostles confirm in all adherence to Christ and the sense of belonging to the Church!

Finally, I greet the sick, the newlyweds and young people, with a special thought for the students of the University Colleges from all over Italy. Next Friday we will celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints. May their testimony of faith reinforce in each one of you, dear young people, the certainty that God accompanies you on the path of life; may it support you, dear sick, alleviating your daily suffering; and may it be of help to you, dear newlyweds, in building your family on faith in God.


At the end of the Audience I will greet a delegation of Iraqi superintendents, with representatives of different religious groups that constitute the country’s richness, accompanied by Cardinal Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue. I invite you to pray for the beloved Iraqi nation, unfortunately affected daily by tragic episodes of violence, that it may find the path of reconciliation, of peace, of unity and of stability.

[Translation by ZENIT]
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