with Paul Ray
Perpetual Patrons, Parl 1
“I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man can number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues,
standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!’ “ (Rev. 7:9-10)
As Catholics, we recognize what’s called the Communion of Saints. This is an article of our faith which we all profess during Sunday Holy Mass when we pray the Nicene Creed (or more accurately the Nicene- Constantinople Creed which dates back to A.D. 381). The Communion of Saints can be understood as the unity and co-operation of the members of the Church on earth with those in heaven, and those in purgatory. We are all united as being the one Mystical Body of Christ. The faithful on earth are in communion with each other by professing the same faith, obeying the same authority, and assisting each other with their prayers and good works. We are in communion with the saints in heaven by honoring them as glorified/triumphant members of the Church, we invoke their prayers and ask for their aid, and we strive to imitate their virtues. We are in communion with the souls in purgatory by helping them with our prayers and good works.
We must recognize that those who have died do not somehow “leave” the Church, or somehow get disconnected from us here on earth. The Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, extends beyond the limits of space and time. Those in heaven and in purgatory are as much our brothers and sisters as those of us in the Church here on earth.
St. James reminds us that, “the prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects” (James 5:16) and there is no one more righteous than those who have already been thoroughly cleansed in the Blood of the Lamb, who have entered into the Beatific Vision, i.e, the Saints. They have been where we are now and have remained faithful to Christ until death. During this Lenten season, takes some time to read the lives of the saints, read what they wrote, pray to them, learn from them just as you would with someone on earth. Our Catholic faith is so rich in its resources to help us to our ultimate end – heaven! – Paul A. Ray