Today’s Catechism sections discuss the communion of saints. Supporting material comes from the Catechism of the Council of Trent.

Paragraph 5. THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS

946 After confessing "the holy catholic Church," the Apostles' Creed adds "the communion of saints." In a certain sense this article is a further explanation of the preceding: "What is the Church if not the assembly of all the saints?"477 The communion of saints is the Church.

947 "Since all the faithful form one body, the good of each is communicated to the others.... We must therefore believe that there exists a communion of goods in the Church. But the most important member is Christ, since he is the head.... Therefore, the riches of Christ are communicated to all the members, through the sacraments."478 "As this Church is governed by one and the same Spirit, all the goods she has received necessarily become a common fund."479

948 The term "communion of saints" therefore has two closely linked meanings: communion in holy things (sancta)" and "among holy persons (sancti).

"Sancta sancti's! ("God's holy gifts for God's holy people") is proclaimed by the celebrant in most Eastern liturgies during the elevation of the holy Gifts before the distribution of communion. The faithful (sancta) are fed by Christ's holy body and blood (sancta) to grow in the communion of the Holy Spirit (koinonia) and to communicate it to the world.

I. COMMUNION IN SPIRITUAL GOODS

949 In the primitive community of Jerusalem, the disciples "devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers."480
Communion in the faith. The faith of the faithful is the faith of the Church, received from the apostles. Faith is a treasure of life which is enriched by being shared.

950 Communion of the sacraments. "The fruit of all the sacraments belongs to all the faithful. All the sacraments are sacred links uniting the faithful with one another and binding them to Jesus Christ, and above all Baptism, the gate by which we enter into the Church. the communion of saints must be understood as the communion of the sacraments.... the name 'communion' can be applied to all of them, for they unite us to God.... But this name is better suited to the Eucharist than to any other, because it is primarily the Eucharist that brings this communion about."481

951 Communion of charisms. Within the communion of the Church, the Holy Spirit "distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank" for the building up of the Church.482 Now, "to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good."483

952 "They had everything in common."484 "Everything the true Christian has is to be regarded as a good possessed in common with everyone else. All Christians should be ready and eager to come to the help of the needy . . . and of their neighbors in want."485 A Christian is a steward of the Lord's goods.486

953 Communion in charity. In the sanctorum communio, "None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself."487 "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it."488 "Charity does not insist on its own way."489 In this solidarity with all men, living or dead, which is founded on the communion of saints, the least of our acts done in charity redounds to the profit of all. Every sin harms this communion.

IN BRIEF

960 The Church is a "communion of saints": this expression refers first to the "holy things" (sancta), above all the Eucharist, by which "the unity of believers, who form one body in Christ, is both represented and brought about" (LG 3).

961 The term "communion of saints" refers also to the communion of "holy persons" (sancti) in Christ who "died for all," so that what each one does or suffers in and for Christ bears fruit for all.

The Catechism of the Council of Trent explains the communion of saints and the communion of sacraments.

Meaning of "The Communion of Saints"

The faithful, therefore, in the first place are to be informed that this part of the Article, is, as it were, a sort of explanation of the preceding part which regards the unity, sanctity and catholicity of the Church. For the unity of the Spirit, by which she is governed, brings it about that whatsoever has been given to the Church is held as a common possession by all her members.

Communion of Sacraments

The fruit of all the Sacraments is common to all the faithful, and these Sacraments, particularly Baptism, the door, as it were, by which we are admitted into the Church, are so many sacred bonds which bind and unite them to Christ. That this communion of Saints implies a communion of Sacraments, the Fathers declare in these words of the Creed: I confess one Baptism. After Baptism, the Eucharist holds the first place in reference to this communion, and after that the other Sacraments; for although this name (communion) is applicable to all the Sacraments, inasmuch as they unite us to God, and render us partakers of Him whose grace we receive, yet it belongs in a peculiar manner to the Eucharist which actually produces this communion.

Footnotes

477 Nicetas, Expl. Symb., 10: PL 52:871B.
478 St. Thomas Aquinas, Symb., 10.
479 Roman Catechism I, 10, 24.
480 ⇒ Acts 2:42.
481 Roman Catechism 1, 10, 24.
482 LG 12 # 2.
483 ⇒ 1 Cor 12:7.
484 ⇒ Acts 4:32.
485 Roman Catechism 1, 10, 27.
486 Cf. ⇒ Lk 16:1, 3.
487 ⇒ Rom 14:7.
488 ⇒ 1 Cor 12:26-27.
489 ⇒ 1 Cor 13:5; cf. ⇒ 10:24.