By Fr Billy Swan
Each time we profess the creed at Mass we say that we believe in 'The Communion of Saints'. The communion of saints is a communion of love, friendship and companionship that we enjoy by virtue of our common faith in the Lord Jesus. This great communion includes the living and the dead, those in heaven, in purgatory and here on earth. This family of friendship in God is the place where we feel ourselves, feel respected, cared for and where we belong. It is here that we feel truly ourselves and that what we hold to be sacred is protected and kept safe. Among fellow Christians our need for moral companionship is nurtured and we feel supported in living the life of the Gospel.
All of this offers hope and good news to so many. Individualism can leave us feeling isolated in our deepest beliefs and disconnected from those around us. We can have everything we want and be in need of nothing except what we desire most, namely this feeling of being supported by true friends. It is rightly said that as children we were dependent on others to survive, that as adolescents we fought to be independent but as adults we learn to be interdependent of each other. The Church is called to be a family that helps us to make these changes as we grow in life together. Church communities are called to foster lasting friendships that see another person as made in the image and likeness of God. We all need friendships. We can have hundreds of acquaintances and few friends. Despite the rapid advance in the means of communication, many today are very much alone, lonely, sometimes forced to look outside their own families and circles for the companionship and support for which they crave. With our belief in the communion of saints, the one who believes is never alone. Even in death, we are supported and strengthened by the Church on earth. In heaven, the saints are waiting to welcome us home. For all of us the communion of saints is a sign of hope and an invitation of faith to come and discover the wonderful life that God intends for us.
‘Father All Powerful and ever living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks.
Around your throne the saints, our brothers and sisters,
Sing your praise forever.
Their glory fills us with joy, and their communion with us in your Church gives us inspiration and strength
As we hasten on our pilgrimage of faith, eager to meet them.
With their great company and all the angels we praise your glory as we cry out with one voice’.
From Preface of Mass of All Saints, 1st November