March 10, 2019 - Pastors Message07/17/2019
THE YEAR OF PRAYER PART 8: THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS “Jesus came and ‘announced the good news of peace to you who were far off and and to those who were near’; through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. This means that you are strangers and aliens no longer. No, you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. You form a building which rises on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone” (Ephesians 2:1720).
Continuing our reflections for our Year of Prayer here at St. Boniface, this month’s theme is the communion of saints. We chose this theme for March because we celebrate this month the feast days of two especially important saints for us: St. Patrick, the patron of our diocese; and St. Joseph, the patron of the universal Church. Before we reflect on these two saints in the coming weeks, we need to understand what we mean by the communion of saints and what part the saints play in our spiritual life.
The image from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians of the Church as a building, the “household of God” that the Spirit is constantly constructing from people of all nations and walks of life yet that remains forever one with Christ as the capstone, serves as a useful metaphor to understand our belief in the communion of saints. Paul refers to the “apostles and prophets” as the foundation of the Church. The foundation of a building is buried in the ground. We don’t see it, but without it, the building could not stand. The unseen foundation supports and sustains the entire structure, every part of which benefits from the foundation’s strength, and the closer a part of the building is to the foundation, the sturdier it will be.
We no longer see the apostles, prophets, and saints, those who have gone before us in faith and share in the glory of God, yet, like the foundation of a building, they support and sustain us, the newest additions to the household of God. The Church remains forever one, and the saints bless the entire Church through their fellowship, their example, and their intercession. Through their fellowship, we share in the graces that God bestows on them, and the closer we remain to the saints, the greater our share in their blessings. Through their example, we learn the path that leads to God and draw encouragement from the knowledge that saintly virtue is possible, even in the most challenging times. Through their intercession, we receive the strength we need to overcome any obstacle and to become saints ourselves: “The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful” (James 5:16).
When we pray to the saints, it is their fellowship, example, and intercession that we seek. We do not worship or adore the saints. Worship and adoration belong exclusively to God, but, by our devotion to the saints, we draw closer to God, who has made them the firm foundation of the communion he desires to have with all people we call the Church. The saints sustain and support us still, and, with their help, we will continue our mission of building up the Church, in one Spirit, toward the capstone, Christ Jesus.
Fr. Marc Stockton