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The Communion of Saints

Catechesis by Papa Francisco      
General Audience, Wednesday 30 October 2013, St Peter's Square - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Today I would like to speak about a very beautiful reality of our faith, that of the “communion of saints”. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that this expression refers to two realities: the communion in holy things and the communion between holy persons (n 948). I shall focus on the second meaning: this is one of the most consoling truths of our faith, because it reminds us that we are not alone but that there is a communion of life among all those who belong to Christ. A communion that is born of faith; in fact, the term “saints” refers to those who believe in the Lord Jesus and are incorporated in Him in the Church through Baptism. This is why the first Christians were also called “saints” (cf Acts 9:13,32,41; Rm 8:27; 1 Cor 6:1).

1. The Gospel of John attests that, before his Passion, Jesus prayed to the Father for the communion between the disciples, with these words: “May they all be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (17:21). The Church, in her deepest truth, is communion with God, intimacy with God,  communion of love with Christ and with the Father in the Holy Spirit, which extends into a fraternal communion. This relationship between Jesus and the Father is the “matrix” of the bond between us Christians: if we are intimately placed into this “matrix”, into this burning furnace of love, then we can become truly one heart and one soul among us, because God's love burns away our selfishness, our prejudices, our interior and exterior divisions. God's love also burns away our sins.

2. If there is this rootedness in the source of Love, which is God, then a reciprocal movement also occurs: from brothers to God; the experience of fraternal communion leads me to communion with God. To be united among ourselves leads us to be united with God, leads us to this bond with God who is our Father. This is the second aspect of the communion of saints that I would like to underline: our faith needs the support of others, especially in difficult moments. If we are united faith becomes strong. How beautiful it is to support one another in the wonderful adventure of faith! I say this because the tendency to close in on oneself in private has also influenced the religious sphere, so that it is often hard to ask for spiritual help from those who share the Christian experience with us. Who among us all has not experienced insecurities, losses and even doubts on the pathway of faith? We have all experienced this, me/myself as well: it is part of the pathway of faith, it is part of our lives. All this must not surprise us, because we are humans beings, marked by fragility and limitations; we are are all fragile, we all have limitations. However, in these difficult moments it is necessary to trust in God's help, through filial prayer, and, at the same time, it is important to find the courage and humility to be open with others, to ask for help, to ask to be given a hand. How many times have we done this and then been able to get out of the problem and find God again! In this communion — communion means common-union — we are a big family, in which all the members help and support each other.

3. And we come to another aspect: the communion of saints goes beyond earthly life, goes beyond death and lasts for ever. This union among us goes beyond the here and now and continues in the next life; it is a spiritual union that is born of Baptism and is not broken by death, but, thanks to the Risen Christ, is destined to find its fullness in eternal life. There is a deep and indissoluble bond between all those who are still pilgrims in this world — between us — and those who have crossed the threshold of death to enter into eternity. All the baptised here on earth, the souls in Purgatory and all the blessed who are already in Paradise form one big Family. This communion between earth and heaven is realised especially in the prayer of intercession.

Dear friends, we have this beauty! This is a reality of ours, of everyone's, that makes us brothers, that accompanies us on the pathway of life and is found by us once again in heaven. Let us go forward on this pathway with trust, with joy. A Christian must be joyful, with the joy of having so many baptised brothers and sisters who walk with him; supported by the help of brothers and sisters who are on the same road towards heaven; and also with the help of brothers and sisters who are in heaven and pray to Jesus for us. Let us go forward on this road with joy!"

(Pope Francis begins his catechesis at 14.30 mins)


"Je salue cordialement les francophones présents, en particulier les servants de Messe de l’archidiocèse de Paris – quels bons garçons!‑, accompagnés par Mgr Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, les pèlerins de l’archidiocèse de Rennes, accompagnés par Mgr Pierre d’Ornellas, les jeunes du diocèse de Bayeux-Lisieux, ainsi que les pèlerins venus de Suisse et de Belgique. Laissez-vous embraser par l’amour de Dieu, afin de changer le visage de vos familles, de vos paroisses et du monde. Bonne fête de Tous les Saints, et confiez toujours vos défunts à la miséricorde de Dieu !

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Wales, Ireland, Denmark, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Vietnam and the United States.  Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!     

Ein herzliches Willkommen allen Pilgern deutscher Sprache. Besonders grüße ich die jungen Sänger des Kölner Domchors mit ihren Eltern sowie das Landeskomitee der Katholiken in Bayern. Liebe Freunde, entdecken wir immer mehr die Schönheit des Glaubens durch die Gemeinschaft der Heiligen! Gott segne euch alle.

Saludo a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los grupos provenientes de España, Argentina, El Salvador, México y los demás países latinoamericanos. Invito a todos a redescubrir la belleza de la fe en esta unión común de todos los santos. Una realidad que nos concierne mientras somos peregrinos en el tiempo, y en la cual, con la gracia de Dios, vamos a vivir para siempre en el cielo. Muchas gracias.

Queridos peregrinos de Portugal, de Timor Leste e do Brasil: sede bem-vindos! Daqui alguns dias, celebraremos a solenidade de Todos-os-Santos e a comemoração dos Fiéis Defuntos. Possa a fé na comunhão dos santos vos animar a encomendar a Deus, sobretudo na Eucaristia, os vossos familiares, amigos e conhecidos falecidos, sentindo a proximidade deles na grande companhia espiritual da Igreja. Que Deus vos abençoe!

أتوجَّه ُ بتحيةٍ حارة إلى الحجّاج الناطقينَ باللغةِ العربية، لا سيما القادمين من العراق. عندما تشعرون بعدم الأمان والضياع وحتى بالشكّ في مسيرة الإيمان حاولوا أن تتكلوا على معونة الله، من خلال الصلاة البَنَويَّة، وفي الوقت عينه، تحلّوا بالشجاعة والتواضع لكي تتمكّنوا من الإنفتاح على الآخرين. ماأجمل أن نعضد بعضنا بعضاً في مغامرة الإيمان الرائعة. ليبارككم الرب جميعاً!

Pozdrawiam wszystkich Polaków. Moi drodzy, wszyscy ochrzczeni żyjący tu na ziemi oraz wszystkie dusze w Czyśćcu i święci w Niebie tworzą jedną wielką rodzinę. Ta komunia między ziemią a niebem realizuje się szczególnie w modlitwie wstawienniczej, która jest najbardziej wzniosłą formą solidarności, i która także stanowi podstawę uroczystości liturgicznej Wszystkich Świętych oraz Wspomnienia wiernych zmarłych, które będziemy przeżywali w najbliższych dniach. Dziękujmy Bogu za dar i pragnienie świętości, które nas jednoczy. Niech Bóg wam błogosław!


Al termine dell’Udienza saluterò una delegazione di sovraintendenze irachene, con rappresentanti dei diversi gruppi religiosi, che costituiscono la ricchezza del Paese, accompagnata dal Card. Tauran, Presidente del Pontificio Consiglio per il Dialogo Interreligioso. Vi invito a pregare per la cara nazione irachena purtroppo colpita quotidianamente da tragici episodi di violenza, perché trovi la strada della riconciliazione, della pace, dell’unità e della stabilità.

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Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. In particolare saluto i fedeli di Porto Santo Stefano, accompagnati dal loro Vescovo, Mons. Borghetti, e quelli di Árdara, venuti alla Sede di Pietro in occasione dell’Anno della fede. Saluto le associazioni e i gruppi presenti, specialmente i Maestri del Lavoro di Rimini; il Movimento Apostolico Ciechi di Treviso e l’Associazione italiana Ciechi di guerra; i Dirigenti e Soci della Banca di Credito Cooperativo Sangro Teatina, sorta ad opera di un gruppo di cattolici, capeggiati da quattro sacerdoti animati dall’ideale francescano. La visita alle tombe degli Apostoli confermi in tutti l’adesione a Cristo e il senso di appartenenza alla Chiesa!

Saluto infine i malati, gli sposi novelli e i giovani, con un pensiero speciale agli studenti dei Collegi Universitari provenienti da tutta Italia. Venerdì prossimo celebreremo la Solennità di Tutti i Santi. La loro testimonianza di fede rafforzi in ciascuno di voi, cari giovani, la certezza che Dio vi accompagna nel cammino della vita; sostenga voi, cari ammalati, alleviando la vostra quotidiana sofferenza; e sia di aiuto a voi, cari sposi novelli, nel costruire la vostra famiglia sulla fede in Dio."