We recite in the Credo that we believe in the Communion of Saints. What does this mean?
Communion of saints refers to the community of all those who are baptized in Christ and are united in the Holy Spirit as the children of God. This community includes not only those who live on earth, but also those who are purified and enjoy the heavenly vision of God. The saints in heaven manifest their union with those on earth by their continuous intercessions for us and by inspiring us to strive perseveringly towards the heavenly bliss.
Being constituted by the Holy Spirit, this communion of saints on earth is nurtured by the Word of God, the Sacraments and by the special gifts given to each one of the individuals. Christs’ faithful, with their special gifts (charisms) play a specific role in fulfilling the three functions of Christ, namely, kingly, prophetic and priestly functions. As such they participate respectively in the governing, teaching and sanctifying functions of Christ.
They share in the priestly function, by offering the sacrifice of the Eucharist and by offering their works and struggles in daily life. They share in the prophetic function by accepting in faith the teachings of Christ and by imparting them to their children and their dependents bearing testimony by word and deed. They share in the royal/kingly function by managing their earthly activities with moral values and by prevailing over the sinful temptations with the strength received from God through various Sacraments, the Eucharist and the Word of God.
With their specific and different roles to play, the people of God fulfill them in a hierarchical structure. Hence there are some who work as lay faithful, religious men & women, as priests, Bishops & Cardinals and finally as the Pope. They are given divine power to fulfill their functions sincerely and honestly and thus to build the Kingdom of God in love, peace and joy. They are given special responsibilities to shepherd God’s people in the path, that leads to holiness.
May God be glorified,
Fr. Arul Joseph V.