We continue the 52-week plan to grow in Catholic Manhood by becoming a better Catholic Son and Catholic Father.

This week, we complete our reflections upon the third major habit: Major Habit 3 – Live a Rich Liturgical Life.

In recent weeks we reviewed the importance of several sub-habits: Habit 10 – Center your life upon the Liturgy; Habit 11 – Consecrate yourself to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph; Habit 12 – Seek the Intercession of the Angels.

This week, we turn our attention to Habit 13. 

Habit 13 Be drawn into the Communion of Saints

Be drawn ever-deeper into the Communion of Saints by building fraternity with other Catholics on earth (Church Militant), praying for and seeking indulgences for the poor suffering souls in Purgatory (Church Suffering) and by honoring and seeking the intercession of the Saints in Heaven (Church Triumphant). 

Who are the Saints?– A saint is a “holy one” who leads a life in union with God on earth through the grace of Christ and receives the reward of eternal life. While on earth, all Catholics, despite imperfections due to sin are considered to be “saints” and are part of the communion of saints (Catechism of the Catholic Church; paragraph 823 [CCC 823]). Some of those who have died have been recognized (canonized) by the Church as Saints in Heaven given their lives of holiness (CCC 828); all souls in Heaven are Saints.

The Church has recognized many Saints over the ages, first among the saints is the Blessed Virgin Mary, as well as St. Joseph, St. John the Baptist and the Apostles. In addition, there are some 10,000 others who have been officially canonized by the Church.

What is the Communion of Saints? – The Communion of Saints is a foundational dogma of the Church and is included in the Creed; “I believe…in the Communion of Saints” (CCC 946-959). The word “communion” comes from a Latin word which means “with oneness”; building communion is building “oneness” with other Catholics.

The Church is the Communion of Saints (CCC 946) who are united in the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ (CCC 787-795) through the Sacraments (CCC 947). The Communion of Saints are unified as “holy persons” in “holy things” (CCC 948); “holy persons” are baptized Catholics who remain in a state of grace (ie. not in a state of mortal sin);  “holy things” include the faith, the Sacraments, special graces, charity for the needy (CCC 949-953).

The Communion of Saints include the Saints in the three states of the Church (CCC 954): the Church Militant (the souls on earth in the Spiritual Combat), the Church Suffering (those in Purgatory being purified for Heaven) and the Church Triumphant (the Saints in Heaven).

Why is the Communion of Saints important? – As members of the Church Militant (the pilgrim Church on earth), every Catholic men must  be drawn ever closer into the Communion of Saints (CCC 962, 1474-1477):

  • Building communion with other Catholic pilgrims on earth – The Communion of Saints recognizes that every faithful Catholic is not alone and must in charity receive, and offer, help to others in their struggle to grow in purity and holiness (CCC 952, 1474). Every Catholic man needs to build communion (oneness) with a band of Catholic brothers in the Spiritual Combat.

  • Building communion with the suffering souls in Purgatory – Those on earth are called to offer charity to the poor suffering souls being purified in Purgatory through prayer and indulgences (CCC 1479); in summary, an indulgence frees a soul from the just temporal punishment for sins which have been forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance. Every Catholic man should build a disciplined habit of regularly seeking indulgences to help the poor suffering souls in Purgatory (CCC 1471-1479).

  • Building communion with the Saints in Heaven – The Church encourages men to venerate the Saints (CCC 1674, 2132) and to seek the supernatural intercession of the Saints in Heaven who are in perfect union with the Trinity (CCC 956-957, 1475, 2683).  Every Catholic man can receive life-changing help in his life through the intercession of the Saints in Heaven.

What are examples of being drawn into the Communion of Saints? – Here are a few examples:

  • Venerate the Saints in Heaven – Be tuned into the Liturgical Calendar to join with the whole Church in the veneration of the Saints on their Feast Days, the greatest humans who have ever lived, including the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. John the Baptist, the Apostles, the Doctors of the Church, the martyrs who died to build the Church, and every other saint in Heaven.

  • Seek the intercession of Patron Saints – “Patron” come from Latin words which mean “father” and “protector.”  Patron Saints are saints who are recognized for their ability and desire to intercede on behalf of those on earth for particular help: those named in honor of a saint (CCC 2156, 2165), for carrying out a mission (St. Joseph for fathers), for illnesses (St. Lucy for eye problems), for causes (St. Jude for lost causes), for cities (cities named after saints; St. Paul MN), etc. Every Catholic man can be blessed by actively seeking the intercession of Patron Saints for personal help or help for others.   

  • Seek indulgences for poor souls in PurgatoryLearn about and seek indulgences for helping souls in Purgatory be more quickly purified and received into Heaven, particularly the dearly departed family and friends who even now may be suffering in Purgatory.

  • Build fraternity with men in your parish – “Iron sharpens iron as one man sharpens another” (Prov 27:17). Every Catholic man needs the help of other men to be strengthened and grow in the faith; build brotherhood with men in your parish through the Knights of Columbus and other men’s groups in your parish.

This week’s questions – Here are some questions to meditate upon this week’s habit:

How will I be blessed by being drawn closer into the Communion of Saints? 

After some time in prayer, how is God calling me to draw closer to the Saints?

This week’s commitments Making a habit a reality requires commitment to concrete action. Here is this week’s challenges:

1) Look at a Liturgical Calendar and mark your own calendar to remember and seek the intercession of several saints on their Feast Day.

2) Learn about the powerful blessing of seeking Indulgences (CCC 1471-1479; Every Catholic Man Article: Indulgences).

Don’t forget to pray with the ECM Daily Gospel Devotional each day.

Consider listening to the EveryCatholicMan.com Gospel Devotional Podcast to be better prepared for Sunday Mass.

Daily Prayer – During the week, pray this short prayer, or one like it, to be drawn closer into the Communion of Saints:

Holy Spirit, thank You for drawing all the Saints on earth, in Purgatory and in Heaven together in the great Communion of Saints. Help me to love and build fraternity with the Saints and guide and inspire me to make a regular effort to draw closer to the Saints, especially with the men of my parish, my friends and family whom may be suffering in Purgatory and my Patron Saints in Heaven. Amen.