Through the communion of saints we experience a solidarity between heaven and earth in our intercessory prayer. This was the central theme of Pope Francis’ continuing catechesis on the Creed in the Year of Faith in this morning’s General Audience. More than 80,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square to listen to the Holy Father’s catechesis.
The Pope began his catechesis by explaining the meaning of the expression of the “communion of saints”, saying that it relates both to the communion with holy things and the communion among holy persons. Choosing to reflect on the second aspect of this expression, the Holy Father stated that no one is alone but, rather, there exists a communion of life between all who belong to Christ.
“A communion that is born of faith; in fact, the term “saint” refers to those who believe in the Lord Jesus and are incorporated to Him in the Church through Baptism,” the Pope said. Speaking on the Gospel of John, which relates Jesus’ prayer that his disciples “may be one, just as your are in me and I am in You”, the Pope said that Christ explains the profound bond that exists between God and the Church.
“The Church, in its most profound truth, is a communion with God,” the Pope explained. “This relation between Jesus and the Father is the “matrix” of the bond between us Christians: if we are intimately inserted in this “matrix”, in this fiery furnace of love that is the Trinity, then we can become truly one heart and one soul, because the love of God purges our selfishness, our prejudices, our internal and external divisions.”
The Holy Father went on to say that this fraternal communion among Christians, rooted in the love of God, leads to the individual communion with God. This second aspect of the communion of saints is fundamental, the Pope stressed, saying that our faith needs the support of others, particularly in life’s most difficult moments.
“How beautiful it is to sustain one another in the wonderful adventure of the faith!” the Pope exclaimed. “I say this because the tendency to close oneself in private has influenced even the religious sphere, thus many times it is hard to seek spiritual help from those who share with us the Christian experience.”
Pope Francis told the crowd that within the communion of saints exists a great family where each one helps and sustains the other.
A final aspect of the communion of saints, he continued, is the spiritual bond that exists between those who continue their pilgrimage on earth and those who have passed the threshold of death into eternity.
“All who are baptized down here on earth, the souls of Purgatory and all the blessed already in Paradise form one big Family,” the Holy Father said. “This communion between heaven and earth is realized especially through the intercessory prayer,” he concluded, calling it the “highest form of solidarity,” as well as the foundation of the liturgical celebrations of All Saints and All Souls, which the Church will celebrate in the coming days.