Editor’s Note: Post originally published on May 3, 2023.
The Catholic Church has a teaching called the “Communion of Saints,” which is basically a fancy way of saying that all believers are part of one big spiritual family. To put in modern-social-media terms, it’s like a massive WhatsApp group chat, except without any annoying notifications (all the notifications are prayers of intercession!).
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 962, “the communion of saints is “all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church…in this communion, the merciful love of God and his saints is always [attentive] to our prayers.” The Communion of Saints is a vital part of Catholic theology because it offers support, guidance, and intercession for all the members of the Church, whether they’re alive or deceased.
Holiness Comes in Many Shapes and Spines
And speaking of devotion and admiration, I’m reminded of my oldest daughter’s (Amelia) obsession with hedgehogs. The girl is absolutely smitten with these spiky little critters. She’s got a hedgehog-themed tape dispenser, hedgehog toys, and even draws pictures of her imaginary pet hedgehog. It’s like she’s a walking, talking hedgehog-encyclopedia.
But here’s the thing: Amelia’s love for hedgehogs is a lot like the way Catholics feel about saints. Just like Amelia has a special devotion for hedgehogs, Catholics have a similar devotion to the saints, who are believed to have lived holy lives and to be in the presence of God.
Sacred Objects Prick Your Heart Open to God
Amelia’s hedgehog-themed tape dispenser reminds me of the physical objects Catholics use to help us in our devotion, such as rosaries or holy medals. It’s like a cute and fuzzy version of a saint medal. And just like Amelia’s pretend game of climbing a mountain with her hedgehog toy, Catholics believe that the saints can help us in our spiritual journey towards God.
Running the Race
The Communion of Saints is like having a group of friends who are always there to support you, like Sonic the Hedgehog and his friends Tails and Knuckles. My kids love the Sonic movie, and we even have a Sonic-themed board game that we can’t wait to play. In Saint Paul’s letter to Timothy, he talks about running the race and finishing strong. He wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 TImothy 4:7). Similarly, the Communion of Saints can give us the encouragement and guidance we need to finish our spiritual race with perseverance, just like Sonic and his friends run through obstacles to reach the finish line. And just as Amelia finds comfort in her love for hedgehogs, the belief in the Communion of Saints can bring comfort and hope to all Catholics.
In conclusion, the Communion of Saints is a significant aspect of Catholic theology that unites all members of the Church, alive or deceased. And while my daughter Amelia’s love for hedgehogs may seem like just a childhood fascination, it’s a reminder of the power of devotion and admiration. So, whether it’s a hedgehog or a saint, let’s all find something that brings us joy and comfort in our spiritual journey.