Communion of Saints
A Sense of Community
What initially drew me to the Catholic Church was the sense of community I felt, and ultimately it's one of the main reason's I have stayed active. For the first time in my life I felt as though I belonged someplace and found people that accepted me for who I was. It is this very community that is a core tenet of Catholicism, for when we state we are One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic, we are stating that we are a united, holy, community, derived from common teaching, heading towards a common goal, and which spans time, space, and being (heaven, purgatory, and earth). In my opinion, one of the most beautiful manifestations of this community is in the Communion of Saints. This idea can be very powerful in empowering youth to live authentic lives of the Gospel.
Millions of Friends
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of a Communion of Saints is the shear vastness of the friendship that accompanies such an idea. As humans, we all have a need to belong in some form of community, and the Catholic Church in particular does an excellent job at fostering that community. No one knows exactly how many saints there are, for the population of Heaven is not something that the human mind could count or fathom, but most sources agree that the number of Canonized Saints and Beati is at least 10,000. Think what it would be like if we all had 10,000 true friends on earth... we wouldn't be able to pull it off. That's the glorious thing about Heaven, we have literally millions of friends who love us, whom we can talk to, and who have been through the same things we have. Some of our grandparents, parents, siblings, mentors, teachers, children, and maybe even enemies are saints if they are in heaven. Trying to conceive of the love and support we have coming from them is difficult, but someone who is alone, feels misunderstand, or overlooked can be reassured that there is someone in Heaven who loves them, is praying for them, and who went through the much of the same experience as they did. That is why there is a patron Saint for nearly every human experience. This realization can be very powerful for a high school student trying to find out where he belongs.
The Power of Prayer
Prayer is perhaps the most powerful force in the universe, and there have been many studies that have shown the positive effects of prayer. Regardless of the psychological effects of prayer, most believers would assent to the idea that God hears prayers and answers them. This is another amazing facet of the Communion of Saints--through their patronage, union with God, and intercession, they are able to more adequately pray for us then we ourselves are. To any youth who believes in the power of prayer, whether spiritually, religiously, or psychologically, this idea can be very appealing. Not only are our prayers brought to God through these Saints, but they are purified and amplified by those who have already shown themselves to be in union with our Savior. As Catholics, the most powerful intercessor we have is Mary herself. For Mary, being God's mother, is in the perfect position to pray for our well-being, salvation, and holiness. Jesus, being the perfect son, always listens to his mother. This is why children should be encouraged to take up the motto of Pope John Paul II, "Totus Tuus Maria"--We are totally yours Mary, and through love of you and your intercession you bring us to Jesus' side. The wonderful love and prayers that are present to us in the Communion of Saints should be communicated to youth so that they know that they themselves have people already with God, who are praying for their sanctification.
True Super Heroes
Chances are, if you're under 30 you're probably into some kind of superhero. Batman, X-men, Superman, the Green Lantern, the list goes on and on... Movies, comic books, action figures, TV shows--Kids, and even some adults are obsessed with being superhuman. Why is this? Every person wants to either 1) be greater than themselves, be something more than human, or 2) believe in a superhero force than can overcome all the evils in the world. There is good news for them--Jesus and the Communion of Saints are Superheros! They call us to holiness, to be something more than human, and they show us that there really is a way to overcome evil in the world, and that we can be brave, wise, and just. The Martyrs show us that we can withstand pain and persecution for the cause of Christ, and the bilocators and inediasts show us that, in Christ, we do not have be bound by human conditions--we are spiritual beings. This is also a beauty of Patronage--each Saint is dedicated to a specific cause or population. Have cancer? Pray to St. Giles. Lost something valuable? Pray to St. Anthony. Struggle in school? Pray to St. Thomas Aquinas! All of these Saints are superheros in some way, because they lived lives rooted in the supernatural power of God. These heroes can act as models and protectors to our youth, and empower them to live authentic lives of the Gospel.
Let us use this wonderful gift of the Communion of Saints to teach our youth about community, prayer, and living heroic lives, so that they can be inspired to live according to the loving word of Christ.
© 2009 rdlang05