Consider the saints not just intercessors but friends as “they give us a pinch, a push, and a kick in the pants to help us on the straight and narrow way,” Br Paschal Jordan OSB told participants at the 2017 Liturgy School.
He delivered an interactive presentation on August 3, ‘I believe in the Communion of Saints’ telling of the importance of those who are part of God’s Kingdom, marked in the faith of the Church.
Br Paschal said the origin of the word ‘saint’ is linked to ‘holy’ as the name is used for God and for God’s people. He noted in the Book of Isaiah, God is referred to as the “Holy one of Israel” and this holiness of God relates to seasons, places, the arc of the covenant and everything of God (Ex 19:6).
With this in mind, Br Paschal said that people also fall into this category and God’s divine holiness requires that human beings themselves be holy or sanctified “because I God am holy” (1 Pt 1:16). He continued, “Divine sanctity also requires that we be purified from sin and that we share in the divine justice of God”.
Quoting instances in scripture where the word saints appeared, Br Paschal referenced Daniel 7:18; “Those who are granted sovereignty are the saints of the Most High” and Acts 9:13 wherein the disciple Ananias refers to people of God as ‘saints’. “From the Old and New Testaments, we are get the impression saints are the people who follow God’s integrity, who follow the lamb wherever He goes, and those who follow the lamb are conscious of being called by God,” Br Paschal commented. He added, the saints were originally referred to the people of Israel because they were the ones chosen by God, while in the New Testament Christians are considered the saints.
He further explained what is meant by ‘communion’ in the phrase ‘communion of saints’. Br Paschal said: “When we say we believe in the communion of saints we are thinking Holy people, made Holy by God and they are our companions on the journey.” To the participants he said, “You saints at liturgy school, by your life, are preaching the Gospel so you must be mindful to always be in sync with the teaching of Jesus”.
He also reminded them saints are people like them, who are struggling but there are also the saints in Heaven who have struggled and “gone over to God” to receive His rewards. Linking the teaching of saints to Church doctrine, Br Paschal urged those gathered to pay attention to the “prefaces” at Mass, as “the Church gives us very succinctly the teaching of the saints”.
He noted Holy Mass points to intercession of saints in the Eucharistic prayers I-IV. One example was given in Eucharistic Prayer III: “May He make us an everlasting gift to you so we may maintain an inheritance with your elect especially with the Most Blessed Mary, the virgin Mother of God; with your blessed apostles, and glorious martyrs, (Saint N. – the saint of the day or the patron saint) and all the saints, on whose constant intercession, in your presence we rely for unfailing help.”
“When you think of ‘communion of saints’, know these saints are not far away from us or inaccessible; we can relate with them and talk to them to help us to be faithful as they have been faithful,” remarked Br Paschal.
At the end of the talk participants were invited to share their favourite saints, someone they knew who they would consider a saint, and a quality they would like to be remembered for when they died.
During the question and answer segment, one participant asked whether a non-Catholic or non-Christian could be considered a saint. Br Paschal said it was possible but that a saint is usually considered “God’s triumph in a person”.
Another asked whether Catholics can advise non-Catholics to go to a saint for help, to which Br Paschal told them, “The saints are our friends who bring us to Jesus – it is not a competition. We don’t pray to the saints or honour them within themselves but only because they bring us to Jesus. Their stories are our stories too.” – compiled by Renée Smith from lecture recording.
Monday July 31
Development of Liturgical Forms and Expressions – Msgr Michael de Verteuil
Tuesday August 1
Liturgy and Popular Devotions in the Bible – Dr Everard Johnston;
Liturgy, Devotion and Faith – Fr Garfield Rochard and Stephan Alexander
Devotion to the Blessed Virgin – Fr David Khan;
Devotion to the Holy Spirit and Charismatic Prayer – Msgr de Verteuil
I believe in the Communion of Saints – Br Paschal Jordan OSB
Movement from Popular Devotion to Liturgy – Msgr de Verteuil
Pilgrimage as Devotion – Bernadette Salandy and Felix Edinborough