Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 21, 2005
Saints - our guides to heaven
The saint march as an entourage to Christ
By JOSEPH HOGAN
Special to the WCR
The Second Vatican Council dedicated a section to the Communion of Saints. We may never forget that the saints are our guides to heaven.
Hear these magnificent teachings from the Second Vatican Council's document on The Church. Why do I wish to alert men and women to the wisdom of the Second Vatican Council? Because the council is the guide for the people of God in the new century.
The council fathers indicated: "The Church, to which all are called in Christ Jesus, and which by the grace of God, we acquire holiness, will receive its perfection only in the glory of heaven when will come the time of the renewal of all things.
"At the present time, some of his disciples are pilgrims on earth. Others have died and are being purified, while still others are in glory contemplating in full light, God himself, Triune and One, exactly as he is" (nos. 48, 49).
"Exactly as Christian communion between men on their earthly pilgrimage brings us closer to Christ, so our community with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as a fountain and head issues all grace and the life of the people of God itself" (no. 49).
Believers share in the exchange of goods with the saints of heaven. The sacred liturgy is the place where union with the saints is best realized. The altar is heaven or at least the doorway to heaven and the heavenly liturgy.
Praise the Holy Trinity
The council teaches: "If we continue to love one another and to join in praising the Holy Trinity, all of us who are sons of God and form one family in Christ. . . . We will be faithful to the deepest vocation of the Church and will share in the foretaste of the liturgy of perfect glory" (no. 51).
The Catholic Church, following Christ, Sequela Christi, is incarnational, Christ became man and the Catholic Church honours its holy men and women by naming certain ones saints.
The saints march in human history as the entourage of Christ. Prayer to the saints is efficacious because of their union with the Holy Trinity. They are our own heroes. Poets and kings, soldiers and monks and moniales have joined in a great communion or communio as it is now called.
Christ created saints
We live in the edifice that they built by prayer and sacrifice. They were able to pass on the wisdom of Christ to generations yet born. The legacy and fecundity of the saints lasts into eternity because Christ made them who they are.
Theologian Romano Guardini testifies: "The Church is the institution planted by Christ in history, amidst mankind. It embraces not 'several individuals' or even all individuals . . . these are mere numerical aggregates, . . . but the whole human race as such, humanity in its entirety.
"The latter have been called to a holy life and to a new birth on the Day of Pentecost. This Christian totality is something concrete and real" (The Life Of Faith, p. 112).
In 1992, a Vatican document from the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was released, Some Aspects of the Church Understood As Communion.
The theme is that the concept of communion lies at the heart of the Catholic Church's self-understanding and is the mystery of the believers' communion with one another and with the Holy Trinity and all mankind by faith.
This reality while on earth is directed toward its fulfillment in heaven. The reality of this communion is not closed in on itself, but is a particular unity with the Mystical Body of Christ.
Communio is a reality initiated by the hand of God and communicated through the sacraments and more importantly is a union and communion of each human being with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Communio is a gift of God through the munificence and grandeur of the Father of us all.
The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith teaches that the Catholic Church is indeed "an inseparable sacrament of unity.
"Ecclesial communion, into which each individual is introduced by faith and by Baptism, has its root and centre in the Holy Eucharist.
"Indeed, Baptism is an incorporation into a body that the risen Lord builds up and keeps alive through the Eucharist, so that this body can truly be called the Body of Christ.
"The Eucharist is the creative force and source of communion among the members of the Church, precisely because it unites each one with Christ himself. Hence, the Pauline expression, the Church is the Body of Christ means that the Eucharist, in which the Lord gives us his body and transforms us into one body, is where the Church expresses herself permanently in most essential form. While present everywhere, she is yet only one, just as Christ is one."
(Joe Hogan is a member of Madonna House and is assigned to the Marian Centre.)
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