(Vatican News) At the weekly General Audience, Pope Francis reflects on the communion of saints, and says every member of the Church is closely connected to each other in Christ.
The Pope turned his attention at the Wednesday General Audience to the communion of saints, calling it an expression of God’s love.
Pope Francis noted that some forms of devotion to the saints seem to stem more from a “pagan” mindset than a Christian one.
He said the difference is that Christians place our trust in God alone, rather than in a person or image.
“Even when we rely fully on the intercession of a saint, or even more so that of the Virgin Mary, our trust only has value in relation to Christ.”
The Pope pointed out that saints do not “work miracles”, but are merely the vessels through which the grace of God works.
Saints, he added, are intercessors “who pray for us, and the Lord gives us grace through that Saint.”
Church is ‘community of saved sinners’
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the “communion of saints is the Church.”
Pope Francis said this means the Church is the “community of saved sinners”.
“Our holiness is the fruit of God’s love manifested in Christ, who sanctifies us by loving us in our misery and saving us from it.”
As St. Paul notes, each member of the body of Christ is united to one another in Christ, and we all share each other’s joys and sorrows.
The Pope said the communion of saints means that all Christians are so connected that not even death can separate us, linking us closely to our loved ones who have died.
“The communion of saints holds together the community of believers on earth and in heaven,” he said.
Pope Francis then reflected on the theme of devotion to saints, saying we can establish friendships with our forebearers in the faith who can help us throughout our lives.
“What we call devotion is actually a way of expressing love from this very bond that unites us... And we all know that we can always turn to a friend, especially when we are in difficulty and need help.”
The Church, added the Pope, has always looked to the saints to guide the community, especially the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, to whom God entrusted His only Son.
“It is always thanks to the communion of saints that we feel that the men and women saints who are our patrons – because of the name we bear, because of the Church to which we belong, because of the place where we live, and so on – are close to us,” he said. “And this is the trust that must always animate us in turning to them at decisive moments in our lives.”
Devotion to saints, said the Holy Father, is not magic or superstition, but rather “simply speaking to a brother or sister who is with God having lived a just and holy life”.
Trust in difficult times
In conclusion, Pope Francis shared with those present at the General Audience a prayer to St. Joseph which he has recited every day for over 40 years.
Glorious Patriarch Saint Joseph,
whose power makes the impossible possible,
come to my aid in these times of anguish and difficulty.
Take under your protection the serious and troubling situations
that I commend to you, that they may have a happy outcome.
My beloved father, all my trust is in you.
Let it not be said that I invoked you in vain,
and since you can do everything with Jesus and Mary,
show me that your goodness is as great as your power. Amen.