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Reflections: Saints Section (Communion of the Saints)

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Communion of the Saints

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Communion of the Saints

 

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Quotation

Communion of the Saints

Also See: Saints (Topic Page)

"When he took it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb [Christ]. Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones." (Rv. 5:8 )

"Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne. The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel." (Rv. 8:3-4)

"But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If (one) part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy. Now you are Christ's body, and individually parts of it." (1 Cor. 12:24-27) [Note: Although this passage may not refer directly to the Communion of the Saints, it nevertheless shows the concern that members of Christ's Body, the Church, are to have for one another.]

"The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful." (Jms. 5:16)

"I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting." (From the Apostles' Creed)

"One just soul can obtain pardon for a thousand sinners." (St. Margaret Mary Alacoque)

"Invoke the intercession of the angels and saints to obtain grace from the Lord." (Ven. Mary of Agreda)

"It is God's will that the saints should be our protectors and our friends...They are always ready to come to our aid when we call upon them" (St. John Vianney)

"Let us remember one another in concord and unanimity. Let us on both sides (life, after life) always pray for one another." (St. Cyprian)

"[W]e have a powerful aid in their merits and intercession: let us take courage at the thought that these friends of God have a most affectionate compassion for us their brethren, who are surrounded by so many and great dangers." (Dom Gueranger)

"Those whom we have seen bark like dogs, and who were seized with frenzy, and are now come to their senses, prove by their cure how effectual the intercession of martyrs is." (St. Asterius)

"If the friendship of saints living in this world fills us with love for God, how much more then shall we gain by considering the saints in glory, by invoking them, and taking them for our protectors!" (St. John Vianney)

"All ye saints of God, vouchsafe to intercede for us and for all men, that we may be saved." (Antiphon) [Sancti Dei omnes, intercedere dignemini pro nostra omniumque salute.] (English/Latin)

"A person is rendered worthy of a saint's prayers for him by the very fact that in his need he has recourse to him with pure devotion." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"How admirable is the union that exists between the Church triumphant and militant! How sublime the brotherhood that exists between the Saints! What a joy it is for us to know that we may share in it!" (Dom Gueranger)

"[S]aints always have great power with God; but especially when they would obtain for their devout clients the virtues they themselves more particularly cultivated when on earth." (Liturgical Year)

"Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord, to thy faithful people, ever to rejoice in the veneration of all the saints, and to be defended by their perpetual supplication. Through our Lord." (Postcommunion)

"[It is] most useful to us, in order to obtain the divine grace, that we have recourse to the intercession of the saints, who have great power with God, especially for the benefit of those who have a particular devotion to them." (St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church)

"The saints impetrate whatever God wishes to take place through their prayers: and they pray for that which they deem will be granted through their prayers according to God's will." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Can. 1276 It is good and useful suppliantly to invoke the Servants of God reigning together with Christ and to venerate their relics and images; but before the others, all the faithful shall follow the Blessed Virgin Mary with filial devotion." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"O almighty, everlasting God, who hast granted us to venerate in one solemnity the merits of all thy saints; we beseech thee, that as our intercessors are multiplied, thou wouldst bestow upon us the desired abundance of thy mercy. Through our Lord." (Collect)

"Praying for others is a sign of love; and the more love the saints in heaven have, the more they pray for those on earth who can be helped by their prayers. And the closer they are to God, the more effective their prayers are." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Although the saints are not in a state to merit for themselves, when once they are in heaven, they are in a state to merit for others, or rather to assist others by reason of their previous merit: for while living they merited that their prayers should be heard after their death." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[T]he saints are said to present our prayers to God, not as though they notified things unknown to Him, but because they ask God to grant those prayers a gracious hearing, or because they seek the Divine truth about them, namely what ought to be done according to His providence." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The saints in heaven, since they are blessed, have no lack of bliss, save that of the body's glory, and for this they pray. But they pray for us who lack the ultimate perfection of bliss: and their prayers are efficacious in impetrating through their previous merits and through God's acceptance." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"It is because the saints while living merited to pray for us, that we invoke them under the names by which they were known in this life, and by which they are better known to us: and also in order to indicate our belief in the resurrection, according to the saying of Exodus 3:6, 'I am the God of Abraham,' etc." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"For the Communion of Saints, as everyone knows, is nothing but the mutual communication of help, expiation, prayers, blessings, among all the faithful, who, whether they have already attained to the heavenly country, or are detained in the purgatorial fire, or are yet exiles here on earth, all enjoy the common franchise of that city whereof Christ is the head, and the constitution is charity." (Pope Leo XIII, "Mirae Caritatis", 1902 A.D.)

"The souls of the saints have their will fully conformed to the Divine will even as regards the things willed, and consequently, although they retain the love of charity towards their neighbor, they do not succor him otherwise than they see to be in conformity with the disposition of Divine justice. Nevertheless, it is to be believed that they help their neighbor very much by interceding for him to God." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"It is God's will that inferior beings should be helped by all those that are above them, wherefore we ought to pray not only to the higher but also to the lower saints; else we should have to implore the mercy of God alone. Nevertheless it happens sometime that prayers addressed to a saint of lower degree are more efficacious, either because he is implored with greater devotion, or because God wishes to make known his sanctity." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The Roman Pontiffs, and the other Holy Fathers, our predecessors, when they were pressed in upon by temporal or spiritual wars, or troubled by other trials, in order that they might more easily escape from these, and having achieved tranquility, might quietly and fervently be free to devote themselves to God, were wont to implore the divine assistance, through supplications or Litanies to call forth the support of the saints, and with David to lift up their eyes unto the mountains, trusting with firm hope that thence would they receive aid." (Pope St. Pius V, "Consueverunt Romani", 1569 A.D.)

"As appears from the authority of Gregory...the saints and angels will nothing but what they see to be in the Divine will: and so neither do they pray for aught else. Nor is their prayer fruitless, since as Augustine says (De Proed. Sanct.; De Dono Perseverantiae xxii): 'The prayers of the saints profit the predestinate, because it is perhaps pre-ordained that they shall be saved through the prayers of those who intercede for them': and consequently God also wills that what the saints see Him to will shall be fulfilled through their prayers." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"It is not on account of any defect in God's power that He works by means of second causes, but it is for the perfection of the order of the universe, and the more manifold outpouring of His goodness on things, through His bestowing on them not only the goodness which is proper to them, but also the faculty of causing goodness in others. Even so it is not through any defect in His mercy, that we need to bespeak His clemency through the prayers of the saints, but to the end that the aforesaid order in things be observed." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Here it is the whole Church that is to be understood - not that part only which sojourns on earth, praising the name of the Lord from the rising of the sun to its setting and chanting a new song of deliverance from its ancient captivity; but that part also which always was in heaven, which always remained loyal to God, its Creator, and did not experience the woe that springs from a fall. This part, consisting of the holy angels, abides in perpetual bliss and helps, as it should, the other part which is still in exile; for both parts will be one in the fellowship of eternity, and even now are one in the bond of charity, the whole Church having been instituted for the purpose of worshiping God." (St Augustine, Doctor of the Church, 5th century A.D.)

"Although the greater saints are more acceptable to God than the lesser, it is sometimes profitable to pray to the lesser; and this for five reasons. First, because sometimes one has greater devotion for a lesser saint than for a greater, and the effect of prayer depends very much on one's devotion. Secondly, in order to avoid tediousness, for continual attention to one thing makes a person weary; whereas by praying to different saints, the fervor of our devotion is aroused anew as it were. Thirdly, because it is granted to some saints to exercise their patronage in certain special cases, for instance to Saint Anthony against the fire of hell. Fourthly, that due honor be given by us to all. Fifthly, because the prayers of several sometimes obtain that which would not have been obtained by the prayers of one." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"According to Dionysius (De Ecclesiastica Hierarchia v) the order established by God among things is that 'the last should be led to God by those that are midway between.' Wherefore, since the saints who are in heaven are nearest to God, the order of the Divine law requires that we, who while we remain in the body are pilgrims from the Lord, should be brought back to God by the saints who are between us and Him: and this happens when the Divine goodness pours forth its effect into us through them. And since our return to God should correspond to the outflow of His boons upon us, just as the Divine favors reach us by means of the saints' intercession, so should we, by their means, be brought back to God, that we may receive His favors again. Hence it is that we make them our intercessors with God, and our mediators as it were, when we ask them to pray for us." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"It is written (Job 5:1): 'Call ... if there be any that will answer thee, and turn to some of the saints.' Now, as Gregory says (Moralium v,30) on this passage, 'we call upon God when we beseech Him in humble prayer.' Therefore when we wish to pray God, we should turn to the saints, that they may pray God for us. Further, the saints who are in heaven are more acceptable to God than those who are on the way. Now we should make the saints, who are on the way, our intercessors with God, after the example of the Apostle, who said (Romans 15:30): 'I beseech you ... brethren, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the charity of the Holy Ghost, that you help me in your prayers for me to God.' Much more, therefore, should we ask the saints who are in heaven to help us by their prayers to God. Further, an additional argument is provided by the common custom of the Church which asks for the prayers of the saints in the Litany." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The saints are said to pray for us in two ways. First, by express prayer, when by their prayers they seek a hearing of the Divine clemency on our behalf: secondly, by interpretive prayer, namely by their merits which, being known to God, avail not only them unto glory, but also us as suffrages and prayers, even as the shedding of Christ's blood is said to ask pardon for us. In both ways the saints' prayers considered in themselves avail to obtain what they ask, yet on our part they may fail so that we obtain not the fruit of their prayers, in so far as they are said to pray for us by reason of their merits availing on our behalf. But in so far as they pray for us by asking something for us in their prayers, their prayers are always granted, since they will only what God wills, nor do they ask save for what they will to be done; and what God wills is always fulfilled - unless we speak of His 'antecedent' will, whereby 'He wishes all men to be saved'. For this will is not always fulfilled; wherefore no wonder if that also which the saints will according to this kind of will be not fulfilled sometimes." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"As Jerome says (Contra Vigilantium 6), the error of Vigilantius consisted in saying that 'while we live, we can pray one for another; but that after we are dead, none of our prayers for others can be heard, seeing that not even the martyrs' prayers are granted when they pray for their blood to be avenged.' But this is absolutely false, because, since prayers offered for others proceed from charity...the greater the charity of the saints in heaven, the more they pray for wayfarers, since the latter can be helped by prayers: and the more closely they are united to God, the more are their prayers efficacious: for the Divine order is such that lower beings receive an overflow of the excellence of the higher, even as the air receives the brightness of the sun. Wherefore it is said of Christ (Hebrews 7:25): 'He is able to save for ever them that come to God by Him, always living to make intercession for us.' Hence Jerome says (Contra Vigilantium 6): 'If the apostles and martyrs while yet in the body and having to be solicitous for themselves, can pray for others, how much more now that they have the crown of victory and triumph.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Prayer is offered to a person in two ways: first, as to be fulfilled by him, secondly, as to be obtained through him. In the first way we offer prayer to God alone, since all our prayers ought to be directed to the acquisition of grace and glory, which God alone gives, according to Psalm 84:11, 'The Lord will give grace and glory.' But in the second way we pray to the saints, whether angels or men, not that God may through them know our petitions, but that our prayers may be effective through their prayers and merits. Hence it is written (Apocalypse 8:4) that 'the smoke of the incense,' namely 'the prayers of the saints ascended up before God.' This is also clear from the very style employed by the Church in praying: since we beseech the Blessed Trinity 'to have mercy on us,' while we ask any of the saints 'to pray for us.'... To Him alone do we offer religious worship when praying, from Whom we seek to obtain what we pray for, because by so doing we confess that He is the Author of our goods: but not to those whom we call upon as our advocates in God's presence." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Vision of Heavenly Intercession from the Old Testament (2 Macc. 15:6-16) (emphasis added): "In his utter boastfulness and arrogance Nicanor had determined to erect a public monument of victory over Judas and his men. But Maccabeus remained confident, fully convinced that he would receive help from the LORD. He urged his men not to fear the enemy, but mindful of the help they had received from Heaven in the past, to expect that now, too, victory would be given them by the Almighty. By encouraging them with words from the law and the prophets, and by reminding them of the battles they had already won, he filled them with fresh enthusiasm. Having stirred up their courage, he gave his orders and pointed out at the same time the perfidy of the Gentiles and their violation of oaths. When he had armed each of them, not so much with the safety of shield and spear as with the encouragement of noble words, he cheered them all by relating a dream, a kind of vision, worthy of belief. What he saw was this: Onias, the former high priest, a good and virtuous man, modest in appearance, gentle in manners, distinguished in speech, and trained from childhood in every virtuous practice, was praying with outstretched arms for the whole Jewish community. Then in the same way another man appeared, distinguished by his white hair and dignity, and with an air about him of extraordinary, majestic authority. Onias then said of him, 'This is God's prophet Jeremiah, who loves his brethren and fervently prays for his people and their holy city.' Stretching out his right hand, Jeremiah presented a gold sword to Judas. As he gave it to him he said, 'Accept this holy sword as a gift from God; with it you shall crush your adversaries.'" 

"The Divine essence is a sufficient medium for knowing all things, and this is evident from the fact that God, by seeing His essence, sees all things. But it does not follow that whoever sees God's essence knows all things, but only those who comprehend the essence of God: even as the knowledge of a principle does not involve the knowledge of all that follows from that principle unless the whole virtue of the principle be comprehended. Wherefore, since the souls of the saints do not comprehend the Divine essence, it does not follow that they know all that can be known by the Divine essence - for which reason the lower angels are taught concerning certain matters by the higher angels, though they all see the essence of God; but each of the blessed must needs see in the divine essence as many other things as the perfection of his happiness requires. For the perfection of a man's happiness requires him to have whatever he will, and to will nothing amiss: and each one wills with a right will, to know what concerns himself. Hence since no rectitude is lacking to the saints, they wish to know what concerns themselves, and consequently it follows that they know it in the Word. Now it pertains to their glory that they assist the needy for their salvation: for thus they become God's co-operators, 'than which nothing is more Godlike,' as Dionysius declares (De Coelesti Hierarchia iii). Wherefore it is evident that the saints are cognizant of such things as are required for this purpose; and so it is manifest that they know in the Word the vows, devotions, and prayers of those who have recourse to their assistance." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The holy Synod commands all bishops and others who hold the office of teaching and its administration, that in accordance with the usage of the Catholic and apostolic Church, received from primeval times of the Christian religion, and with the consensus of opinion of the holy Fathers and the decrees of sacred Councils, they above all diligently instruct the faithful on the intercession and invocation of the saints, the veneration of relics, and the legitimate use of images, teaching them that the saints, who reign together with Christ, offer up their prayers to God for men; and that it is good and useful to invoke them suppliantly and, in order to obtain favors from God through His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who alone is our Redeemer and Savior, to have recourse to their prayers, assistance, and support; and that they who deny that those saints who enjoy eternal happiness in heaven are to be invoked, think impiously, or who assert that they do not pray for men, or that our invocation of them, to intercede for each of us individually, is idolatry, or that it is opposed to the word of God, and inconsistent with the honor of the 'one mediator of God and men Jesus Christ' [cf. 1 Tim. 2:5], or that it is foolish to pray vocally or mentally to those who reign in heaven. Also, that the holy bodies of holy martyrs, and of others now living with Christ - which bodies were the living members of Christ, and the temple of the Holy Ghost, and which are by Him to be raised unto eternal life, and to be glorified - are to be venerated by the faithful; through which (bodies) many benefits are bestowed by God on men; so that they who affirm that veneration and honor are not due to the relics of saints; or, that these, and other sacred monuments, are uselessly honored by the faithful; and that the places dedicated to the memories of the saints are in vain visited with the view of obtaining their aid; are wholly to be condemned, as the Church has already long since condemned, and now also condemns them." (Council of Trent)

Also See: Honoring & Intercession of the Saints | Saint Facts | In Defense of Praying to the Saints | Relics | Saints (Various) [Pg.] | Angels (Announcements Section Reflections) | Prayers to Saints / Prayers in Honor of the Saints | Prayers & Devotions Section | Patron Saints Index | Saints / Communion of the Saints (Topical Scripture) 

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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