What is the Communion of Saints?

By Paul Dion, STL

You will find the Apostles Creed just below this short introduction. This is a very old formulation of the essential Doctrines of the Catholic religion.

This creed was developed as a guide to doctrine catechumens preparing for baptism. It developed into one of the most recited prayers in the Catholic Church. It is even accepted by other churches, some quite fundamentalistic in their outlook. It is also so basic and so essential that it does not raise hackles About the Trinity and other technical doctrinal issues. The question unsder consideration this week is one that was posed to me two Sundays ago. I have highlighted the number nine line for your guidance.

The question is: What is the communion of saints?


1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:
5. The third day he rose again from the dead:
6. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
8. I believe in the Holy Ghost:
9. I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:
10. The forgiveness of sins:
11. The resurrection of the body:
12. And the life everlasting. Amen.

Tell us what you think and post a comment today. We would love to hear your thoughts. And as usual, we will post our ParishWorld Recap of all your comments and question.

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  1. Anonymous9:34 PM

    I always thought that the communion of saints was referring to all the saints in heaven. United with us, as a body. We are united with them in spirit and they pray for us and we ask them to pray for us. I didn't realize that that included the angels too. I looked it up and they are. Aren't we on earth, struggling to live a Christ like life, considered the church militant? Soldiers of Christ, defending and spreading the faith through our deeds and prayers? I just never thought much about that article of faith, just took it for granted. We the faithful, united with the saints and angels form the communion of saints. Please. This is a learning moment. Help? Don't publish this one, I feel really dumb. Can't get a grip on it. If this a theological moment, I got passed by. Sorry.

  2. Anonymous9:38 PM

    I want to confess I required some assistance to correctly respond to our burning question
    "What is the Communion of Saints?" I discovered the following Vatican web site: . I wish to present, portions of this site entitled: Catechism of the Catholic Church, to offer my response to our burning question.

    The ...Communion of Saints...has two closely linked meanings: communion in holy things (sancta) and among holy persons (sancti)
    Sancta sanctis! ("God's holy gifts for God's holy people") is proclaimed by the Celebrant in most Eastern liturgies during the elevation of the holy Gifts before the distribution of communion. The faithful (sancti) are fed by Christ's holy body and blood (sancta) to grow in the Communion of the Holy Spirit (koinonia) and to communicate it to the world.

    This burning question has taught me a little more Catechism of the Catholic Church, but it also reminds me, I have a way to go yet!

    I am anxious to receive Communion as a Catholic.

  3. Anonymous9:42 PM

    By Paul Dion, STL

    Wow! It's amazing what the Internet can do to humble the one who thinks he knows everything! I, like the first participant, thought of the communion of saints as a purely personal (including angels) community. Then all of a sudden responder number 2 slides the concept of "sacred things" into the picture. Whoa, where did that come from? Where is Sister Imelda of Jesus when I need her? (4th grade) Sacred things, the Communion of Saints?

    No kidding. You can look it up. It's right there in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (# 946 through 948) The logic is great, take a look:
    "...Therefore, the riches of Christ are communicated to all members, through the sacraments. As this Church is governed by one and the same spirit, all the goods she has received necessarily become a common fund."

    Now, there is a thought for you! Sixty years ago we didn't think that way. I like it this way better. Think about it, our dishes are a part of our community spirit, our houses tell a lot about us. Our Church, St. Chrisopher says a lot about the personality of the Moreno Valley community. Those of you who have visited other churches in the area can attest to the truth of that. So the communion of saints does include everything in the community.

    I had to smile in reading the response of participant number one. "I didn't realize that included the angels too."

    Hey, remember St. Michael the Archangel? What about Raphael? Who can forget Gabriel? What about the angels who brought the message to Abraham? Were those the same two who spoke to Joseph? What about our guardian angels?

    When some of us were younger, we remember being told that the communion of saints had three divisions: The Church Militant, the Church Triumphant and the Church Suffering.

    The Church Militant is the Church of the people like you and I who fight every day to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. We are the missionaries, the teachers, the preachers and the helpers who are following the commands that Jesus dictated in the Gospels. The Church Suffering is the Church of the Invalids, the Elderly, the Marginalized for whatever reason, the Terminally Ill, the Abused, the Raped, the Enslaved, the Parents of Physically and Mentally deformed babies, the spouses of Cruel and abusive individuals. The Church Triumphant is he church of the people who have died and been accepted into the Eternal Kingdom of God. They are the Saints.

    We are the Pilgrims, the Wayfarers. Here we are walking through the "real world" seeking the direct communion with God. We also encourage others to continue their pilgrimage. We pray for others to remain close to God just as they pray for us and others to do the same. This practice of mutual intercessory prayer is perhaps the strongest reminder that we have of what our Baptism means. The relationship of intercessory prayer that we maintain is an exercise of our Priesthood, gifted to us at Baptism.

    The Dogma of the Communion of Saints is a very challenging one. It is one that is related to the Mystical Body belief that Saint Paul tells us about in his First Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 12, verses 12 to 31. It is more far-reaching and is part of the doctrine of one, universal, apostolic and holy community in the Kingdom of God.

    Let me close by inviting you to keep an eye on the Doctrine of One. It is in unity of God and the Church that we are saved as we travel along the way to heaven.

  4. Anonymous8:20 AM

    I thought I knew what it was until you asked. And now I have to admit you had me stumped on this one. I've been reciting it all my life (65 years) and never even bothered to ask what it truly meant. Thanks for your explanation. Now I can tell my young grandchildren what it is.

  5. I have also heard that the Holy Eucharist is known as `Communion`.
    with this thought I connect the `saints...`which we are because of our Trust and Love for Jesus who has called us out,and purchased us with His Blood.We as a united community have a common union with each other and with King Jesus!!!