TODAY and every November 1 in the Roman Catholic Church it is All Saints Day (formally in the liturgy the “Solemnity of All Saints.”). Tomorrow is All Souls Day or, formally, the “Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed.”
The two observances are joyful occasions that remind us of the Communion of Saints.
No. 946 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The communion of saints is the Church.”
The many entries on the subject of the communion of saints is summarized by the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as follows:
“This expression indicates first of all the common sharing of all the members of the Church in holy things (sancta): the faith, the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, the charisms, and the other spiritual gifts. This expression also refers to the communion between holy persons (sancti); that is, between those who by grace are united to the dead and risen Christ. Some are pilgrims on the earth; others, having passed from this life, are undergoing purification and are helped also by our prayers. Others already enjoy the glory of God and intercede for us. All of these together form in Christ one family, the Church, to the praise and glory of the Trinity. (Compendium of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church, 194 and 195).
We Christians who are still living, and are united by grace to our Lord Jesus Christ, are “pilgrims on the earth” on a journey to heaven. We are helped on this journey by the prayers and intercession of the canonized saints–Our Mother Mary, St. Joseph, St. Josemaria, St. Francis, St. Ignatius, and other known saints and publicly proclaimed blessed. But we are also being helped by the prayers of those holy men, women and children who are not canonized saints but are saints just the same and are already enjoying eternal bliss in heaven. These may in fact be our own departed loved ones who have become saints after purification in Purgatory or, unbeknown to us, went straight to heaven from their deathbeds because of their and our prayers and because they had silently, cheerfully, become other Christs while they were still among us.
We are also in communion with all the souls who are still in Purgatory. Our prayers for them help shorten the length of their period of suffering while being purified to become saints.
Blood transfusion for the soul
In No. 544 of The Way, St. Josemaria Escriva tells us of the Communion of Saints. “How shall I explain it? You know what blood-transfusions do for the body? Well that is more or less what the Communion of Saints does for the soul.”
And in No. 545 of The Way he tells: “Live a special Communion of Saints: and, in the moments of interior struggle just as in the hours of professional work, each of you will feel the joy and the strength of not being alone.”
The founder of Opus Dei teaches us in The Forge No. 846: “Constantly call to mind that at every moment you are cooperating in the human and spiritual formation of those around you, and of all souls — for the blessed Communion of Saints reaches as far as that. At every moment: when you work and when you rest; when people see you happy or when they see you worried; when at your job, or out in the street, you pray as does a child of God and the peace of your soul shows through; when people see that you have suffered, that you have wept, and you smile.”