Catechism 15: Communion of The Saints
Communion of Saints
The communion of saints is the spiritual solidarity which binds together the faithful on earth, the souls in purgatory, and the saints in heaven in the organic unity of the same mystical body under Christ its head. 1
The doctrine of the "Communion of Saints" helps to explain the Church. The baptized all form one body and the good of each is shared by all. "Because Christ (the Church's most important member) is the head, his riches are given to all the members through the sacraments" (St. Thomas Aquinas). 2
The disciples "were persevering in the doctrine of the apostles, and in the communication of the breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:42).
There are five Communions:
Communion in the faith
This faith of the Church was received from the apostles.
Communion of the sacraments
Sacraments, especially Baptism, link all the faithful to each other and to Christ. The word "communion" "is especially suited for the Eucharist which brings about this communion.
They therefore that received his word, were baptized; and there were added in that day about three thousand souls. (Acts 2: 41)
And continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, (Acts 2:46)
Communion of charisms
These are "And the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man unto profit.", (1 Corinthians 12:7). That is for profit for the whole Church.
We see an example of this in (Acts 2:43) And fear came upon every soul: many wonders also and signs were done by the apostles in Jerusalem, and there was great fear in all.
Communion of common goods
Whatever a Christian has is really possessed in common with everyone else.
And all they that believed, were together, and had all things common. Their possessions and goods they sold, and divided them to all, according as every one had need. (Acts 2:44-45)
Communion in charity
"If one members suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together" (1 Cor 12:26).
Because of the Communion of the saints, that is "Being in one accord" (vs 46) in these areas, and because they were "Praising God", "and having favour with all the people",in other words having a good testimony before the people, Scripture says that, "The Lord increased daily together such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47)
There are Three States of the Church.
There is the Militant Church, The Suffering Church, and the Triumphant Church. Lets begin by studying the Militant Church.
The Militant Church is the church members on earth who struggling against the world, the flesh and the devil.
Labour as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No man, being a soldier to God, entangleth himself with secular businesses; that he may please him to whom he hath engaged himself. (II Timothy 2:3-4)
For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. (Ephesians 6:12)
What do we mean by Principalities and Powers, the rulers of this darkness, spirits of wickedness in the high places?
The concept of principalities is understood by the Greek word "arch" meaning chief or ruler. These principalities are ruling devil spirits possessing executive authority or governmental rule in the world. As we will see, this ruling power usually involves a particular nation, people or race. There are evil angels ruling the kingdoms of the world that oppose the truth of God, and of which Satan is the chief prince or ruler, of both the world system and its organization of demons, as noted in the gospel of Matthew 12:24.
"But the Pharisees hearing it, said: This man casteth not out the devils but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils."
In Matthew 12:24, the devil is called "Beelzebub" meaning lord of the dwelling, in which these wicked spirits are subject to and operate under Satan's dominion. They, like their chief prince, direct, control, rule and carry out the present darkness of this world.
The Noah Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language 1828 defines principalities as:
1. The territory of a prince; or the country which gives title to a prince.
2. A prince; one invested with sovereignty.
The idea of prince devil spirits ruling or controlling a region is supported in the Old Testament book of Daniel, chapter 10. Daniel is visited by an angel in response to his prayer to God. This angel, who was sent by God to answer Daniel's prayer, was delayed for 21 days because of a battle that took place between God's angel and "a prince of the kingdom of Persia." Daniel reveals the angel's message in the following verses:
"And he said to me: Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thy heart to understand, to afflict thyself in the sight of thy God, thy words have been heard: and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of the Persians resisted me one and twenty days: and behold Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, and I remained there by the king of the Persians.."
"There is no doubt whatsoever that the prince of the kingdom of the Persians was the adversary power that befriended the Persian nation, which was hostile to the people of God. And he stood in the way of the benefit that he saw the archangel was going to procure in response to the request that the prophet had made of the Lord, being envious lest the angel's salutary consolation come to Daniel too quickly and lest he comfort the people of God over which the archangel Michael had been sent."-St. John Cassian
The spiritual battle, for this angel, was of such magnitude that Michael, the archangel of God and designated prince of Israel, assisted the angel in battle. Another enemy of God, the prince of Greece, is also mentioned in the verses below.
"And he said: Dost thou know wherefore I am come to thee? and now I will return, to fight against the prince of the Persians. When I went forth, there appeared the prince of the Greeks coming. But I will tell thee what is set down in the scripture of truth: and none is my helper in all these things, but Michael your prince."
The book of Daniel gives us an excellent example of how these unseen spiritual entities fight to increase and maintain their realms of influence and control in order to hinder God's purposes. In addition, as previously stated, these princes are named after the nations or rather their principalities in which they rule.
It is Satan's purpose to deceive these nations and to keep them from obtaining a knowledge of God's truth and salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. In the book of Apocalypse / Revelation, chapter 20, Satan is depicted as a deceiver of nations. The Greek word for deceive is planaho, and according to one Greek Dictionary, this word means to "cause to roam from safety, truth or virtue, go astray, seduce, wander, and to be out of the way."
Satan's major success, in deceiving a nation, is due to a lack of discernment on the part of the people. The people are blind to the invisible forces of supernatural evil that are operating and influencing their visible human agents of political, social, religious and philosophical programs. Satan's greatest victory would be to convince the world that he just doesn't exist. However, God warns us to be alert and vigilant "because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour." (1 Peter 5:8).
The devil controls the kingdoms of the world and we are not to underestimate his influence and power, nor believe that this is the will of God. God is telling us to "stand" against these evil forces by equipping ourselves with the power of God.
The Greek word for "powers" is exousia which means derived or conferred authority, the warrant or right to do something, or delegated influences of control. Although the word "powers" is left unclear as to Paul's precise meaning in the verse, this expression is used elsewhere in scripture to infer the powers that be in authority. In keeping with the context of this verse, this would include all high-ranking, evil supernatural powers and the power of sin and evil in operation in the world. The fruits of this type of evil can probably be seen in drug cartels, gross poverty, plagues, terrorism, and other heinous crimes against humanity, even toward the animal kingdom.
Rulers of Darkness:
Some Christian authors also associate "world rulers" with magic and demonic pagan gods such as the Ephesians' Artemis and seems to be in line with the pagan culture of ancient times, in which temples were dedicated to these demonic pagan deities. And let us not forget "Molech," the national god of the Ammonites' in Old Testament history. The priests would place the sacrificial children into the brass hands of the image, in which these helpless victims would slip into the fire below. This is described in Scripture as "according to the idols of the Nations" (4 Kings DRB/2 Kings 16:3 ).
Spirits of Wickedness:
The Greek word for wickedness is ponēria and means depravity and particularly in the sense of malice and mischief, plots, sins, and iniquity (Greek Dictionary).
Malice is defined as:
1. A desire to harm others or to see others suffer; extreme ill will or spite.
2. Law -- The intent, without just cause or reason, to commit a wrongful act that will result in harm to another.
Satan is also depicted as the prince of the power of the air
Since Satan is the prince of the power of the air, these wicked spirits, in high places, are often understood to be the collective organization of all of Satan's devil spirits. These malevolent spirits work evil and mischief and operate in our atmosphere. They operate as close to the very air we breathe, and reach to realms beyond. All kinds of spiritual filth are propagated , in these realms, for the purpose of humanity's deception and subsequent destruction. Prior to becoming a Christian we too walked according to the prince of the power of the air.
Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of this air, of the spirit that now worketh on the children of unbelief: In which also we all conversed in time past, in the desires of our flesh, fulfilling the will of the flesh and of our thoughts, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest:
As Catholics we are delivered from the power of the prince of the air, and from the sinful nature that once ruled our path in life.
When we received God's Holy Spirit, at the moment of our baptism and our conversion to Christ, we were translated from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God's light, in which we now have God in Christ in us. We are continually delivered and empowered by God as we walk according to His Word and Spirit that He has given us, and as we partake in the Sacraments he has given us through His Holy Church.
As we do this, we take our seat in the heavenlies with Christ, for scripture reads,
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together in Christ, (by whose grace you are saved,) And hath raised us up together, and hath made us sit together in the heavenly places, through Christ Jesus. That he might shew in the ages to come the abundant riches of his grace, in his bounty towards us in Christ Jesus.
I say then, walk in the spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the spirit: and the spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary one to another: so that you do not the things that you would.
I John 4:4-5
You are of God, little children, and have overcome him. Because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.They are of the world: therefore of the world they speak, and the world heareth them.
[Next session we will study the armour of God that each of us must wear as the Militant Church.]