Connecting with the Communion of Saints

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints, also known as All Saints Day, in which we celebrate and honor the communion of saints in heaven and ask for their intercession. In the Creed we proclaim our belief in the communion of saints, and it is truly a treasure of the Church.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis stopped by Morning Air® this week to discuss the communion of saints and how we can connect with the saints in our everyday life.

“It’s a beautiful thing that that’s why Jesus came to live and die for us, so that we might be able to spend all of eternity with him in heaven,” Archbishop Hebda said. “That’s the hope that we have, that we may all live as saints not only in this world but in the next one especially.”

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The saints come from all different ages, places, and walks of life. The diversity of the saints is beautiful because it shows that holiness is possible for everyone. But Archbishop Hebda also pointed out that while many saints may be different from us, it is good to look at the common aspect of the communion of saints.

“It’s certainly a communion in holy things – the Eucharist and the sacraments – but that term communion of saints is also what we’re called to be, what our destiny is, and how it is that we’re united with those who have gone before us,” he said. “I think that’s always important for us to consider.”

Morning Air co-host Glen Lewerenz pointed out that we often think of the saints as the Catholic All-Stars, but many of the saints would have been considered fairly ordinary by many in their own time.

Archbishop Hebda shared, “I always love reading about the newly beatified and newly canonized. You see how real they are, especially if they are from the modern age. Just a few weeks back there was the beatification of Carlo Acutis, the Italian teenager who was a computer whiz. He lived a very ordinary life, but yet there was something so deep in him about his faith, his love for the Eucharist, his love for Christ, his own sense of communion with the saints. He’s extraordinary in that way, but we saw photos of him the weekend of his beatification and there he is in his jeans and his sports jacket. It’s so, so normal, and gives us that hope that we too can live like the saints, and that can be our destiny.”

When we think of saints we typically think of those who have been canonized by the Church, but a saint is anyone who is united with the Lord in heaven. That communion could include your own loved ones, and is a reminder to us to pray for and to the faithful departed who have gone before us. Archbishop Hebda shared his experience of this when he was recently at the bedside of two individuals – one a layman and one a religious sister – who were dying.

He said, “As the family came together you realized how important were those prayers for those two individuals, but how natural it was for us to call on the saints to help them. Not only the canonized saints, but even in the case of the family they spoke of their own mom who had passed some years ago. They were so sure that she was going to be helping their dad in that transition from this world to the next.”

“It’s a natural way that we feel those deep ties that prompt us to pray for those who have died, but at the same time that we seek the prayers,” Archbishop Hebda pointed out. “The communion is not something that ends with that last breath.”

This year in particular is a wonderful opportunity to connect with the communion of saints. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many to feel isolated and alone. But as Catholics we know we can call on the communion of saints for their prayers, their friendship, and their aid during these difficult times.

Archbishop Hebda thought of this recently when he was addressing a group of young people. He said, “You don’t really think of young people being isolated in the course of COVID, but it’s a reality for all of us. I think in the midst of that kind of isolation, to be reminding people of the communion of saints is something that’s really important.”

“I was so grateful to Relevant Radio® at the beginning of the pandemic, we were praying that litany of the saints every day, and remembering how many of our saintly brothers and sisters who were involved in plagues or pandemics. Turning to them in this time of need is something that is so natural.”

Listen to the full conversation below:

Morning Air can be heard weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. Central on Relevant Radio and the Relevant Radio App.

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Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at relevantradio.com and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.