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Communion of Saints

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Saint John on Patmos

Revelation 5:8 presents the saints in heaven as linked by prayer with their fellow Christians on earth.

The Communion of Saints (in Latin, communio sanctorum) is the spiritual union of all Christians living and the dead, those on earth, in heaven and, in Catholic belief, in purgatory. They share a single "mystical body", with Christ as the head, in which each member contributes to the good of all and shares in the welfare of all.

The earliest known use of this term to refer to the belief in a mystical bond uniting both the living and the dead in a confirmed hope and love is by Saint Nicetas of Remesiana (ca. 335414); the term has since then played a central role in formulations of the Christian creed.[1]

The term is included in the Apostles' Creed, a major profession of the Christian faith whose current form was settled in the eighth century, but which originated from not long after the year 100, the basic statement of the Church's faith (William Barclay, The Plain Man Looks at the Apostles Creed, pages 10-12).

The doctrine of the Communion of Saints is based on 1 Corinthians 12, where Paul compares Christians to a single body.

The words translated into English as "saints" can refer to Christians, who, whatever their personal sanctity as individuals, are called holy because they are consecrated to God and Christ. This usage of the word "saints" is found some fifty times in the New Testament.

The Heidelberg Catechism defends this view, citing Romans 8:32, 1 Corinthians 6:17, and 1 John 1:3 to claim that all members of Christ have communion with Him, and are recipients of all His gifts.

The persons who are linked in this communion include those who have died and whom Hebrews 12:1 pictures as a cloud of witnesses encompassing Christians on earth. In the same chapter, Hebrews 12:22-23 says Christians on earth "have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect."

In Catholic terminology, the Communion of Saints is thus said to comprise the Church Militant (those alive on earth), the Church Penitent (those undergoing purification in Purgatory in preparation for heaven), and the Church Triumphant (those already in heaven). The damned are not among the Communion of Saints. The Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Church, Anglican Communion, and the Assyrian Church of the East point to this doctrine in support of their practice of asking the intercession of the saints in heaven, whose prayers (cf. Revelation 5:8) are seen as helping their fellow Christians on earth. These same churches refer to this doctrine in support of the practice of praying for the dead (as seen in 2 Timothy 1:16-18).

The word "sanctorum" in the phrase "communio sanctorum" can also be translated as referring not to holy persons, but also to holy things, namely the blessings that the holy persons share with each other, including their faith, the sacraments and the other spirituals graces and gifts they have as Christians.[2][3]

See also

References

  1. Encyclopaedia Britannica
  2. William Barclay, The Plain Man Looks at the Apostles Creed, pages 10-12
  3. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 948

External links

sv:De heligas gemenskap

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