Catechesis on prayer – 28. Praying in communion with the Saints

Pope Francis continues his catechesis on prayer by reflecting on the communion of saints, emphasizing that when we pray, we are part of a larger community of believers, both living and deceased, who join us in prayer.

The saints form part of our story, they intertwine our history, their voices from generation to generation are an inheritance we carry with us, and their prayers and actions reecho in our lives.  Thus Pope Francis says, “Each time we join our hands and open our hearts to God, we find ourselves in the company of anonymous saints and recognized saints who pray with us and who intercede for us as older brothers and sisters who have preceded us on this same human adventure.”

Just as the faith is passed on, transmitted, and then received, so too, the way of praying and prayer has been transmitted to us by he saints.  We honor the saints by imitating their prayer and the example of their lives.  They help lead us to Jesus Christ when we remember how the Saints journeyed along the same Christian path of life which we travel.  “Saints remind us that holiness can blossom even in our lives, however weak and marked by sin.”

The Catechism explains in paragraph 2683:

The witnesses who have preceded us into the kingdom, especially those whom the Church recognizes as saints, share in the living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives, the transmission of their writings, and their prayer today. They contemplate God, praise him and constantly care for those whom they have left on earth… Their intercession is their most exalted service to God’s plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world.

There is a bond of prayer between ourselves and the saints.  And this reminds and leads us to also pray for others, to intercede in speaking to God about them.  Indeed, praying for someone whom I am in conflict with, can also change my heart, my attitude.  “To pray for others is the first way to love them and it moves us toward concretely drawing near.”

The prayers of the saints will help us to persevere during the trials of life.  We trust them to give us a hand to obtain the grace we need from God.  And not only canonized saints, but countless men and women who live in holiness, as Pope Francis puts its: “there are saints, everyday saints, hidden saints, or as I like to say, the ‘saints next door’, those who share their lives with us, who work with us and live a life of holiness.”

You are invited to pray with:

  • Hebrews 12:1: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” – the “cloud of witnesses” are the saints and faithful who have gone before us and are in communion with us.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV) “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – pray about integrating prayer into every dimension of your daily life.

Whenever we pray, we find ourselves immersed in a great stream of past, present and future intercession – praying together with all the saints in the communion of the Body of Christ which is the Church. The saints – this great “cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1) both known and unknown – ceaselessly pray with us and for us in giving glory to God. Our veneration of the saints draws us closer to Jesus, and in Christ we sense a mysterious solidarity with our loved ones who have died, for whom we continue to pray. We experience this prayerful solidarity also here below, as we pray for one another and for the poor, suffering and most in need. We thank the Lord for the great gift of the saints and confidently entrust ourselves to their intercession.

Read Catechesis on prayer – 28. Praying in communion with the Saints