Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It's Not What You Know...

If I were in charge of branding for the Communion of Saints, I might come up with a tagline that went something like this:

The Communion of Saints: Getting It Done (By God's Grace) Since AD 33.

To belong to this Communion is, basically, to be Epic. It is a large group of people extending over a long period of time and accomplishing ineffably awesome things thanks to their common mission and mutual solicitude for the redemptio et salus et incolumitas of their fellow Saints. What adjective can better describe it than Epic, I ask you?

(Digression 1: I almost said "well-being and redemption," but since that is the Old Translation, I shied away from it; I think the New Translation is "redemption, health, and well-being" or something.)

(Digression 2: There is a non-denominational Christian church in Milwaukee called Epikos. I think they have a point, despite the presumable variance in doctrine.)

I don't mind admitting that I just codified my digressions.

Probably my favorite part about the Communion of Saints is the specificity of it. The names we receive in connection with the Sacraments link us with particular saints and their work. Moreover, the Church has named patron saints for all kinds of things, from various illnesses to divers occupations. (Maybe even the occupation of Divers.) Also, individual institutions (such as colleges, universities, hospitals, cities, republics, and kingdoms) are wont to dedicate themselves to a particular saint both as a sign of honor to that saint and as a very practical way of getting it done. (Pace the Circumlocution Office [see Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens], the point of govenment is in fact to Get it done, and a patron can be helpful in this regard.)

I emphasize the fact that it is practical not because it is counter-intuitive; quite the contrary: it makes a lot of intuitive sense. People are always going around saying the following thing (particularly in the context of Success): "It's not what you know; it's who you know."

(Digression 3: No one says "It's whom you know," even if -- which I don't guarantee -- the accusative form would be correct.)

The same holds awe-inspiringly true in the Communion of Saints. Patrons excel at getting things done in their particular provinces (geographical or otherwise). St. Anthony rivals Sherlock Holmes when it comes to finding stuff. St. Cecilia has helped thousands of musicians over the centuries create some of the most beautiful pieces known to man for the praise and glory of God's name. Just think how many more sore throats one might have to endure if St. Blase wasn't watching our larynges. (I think that's the plural; Blogger recognizes it anyway.) I am firmly convinced that St. Benedict is very interested in all places where his monks have established communities, and takes an active role in them to this day. The same goes for any patron, and for all the saints in a more general fashion.

By our membership in the Body of Christ, by our enlisting in the Church Militant at Baptism, and thus by our Communion with the Saints, we receive the enormous privilege of knowing all these people, and what is even better, and not always true or emphasized in the world of Success, sharing with them the love of Christ. The Lord says, No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends (John 15:10). The Saints are those who have committed themselves to this love, and through Baptism, all are friends of each other and of Christ. The Saints, though they have gone ahead of us to the triumph of Heaven, nevertheless continue to lay down their eternal life for us, by interceding for us before the throne of God. Our part, which is also part of God all-knowing and all-loving plan, is partly the same as theirs: to intercede for our militant friends on earth. But we have a further privilege and task as pilgrims here on earth: to ask our friends in high places for help they have the right, the duty, and the opportunity to obtain for us. My help comes from the LORD, says the Psalmist (Ps 121), the maker of heaven and earth. The same God and Father who devised all of creation for the good of his children, has also instituted the Communion of Saints for the sharing of spiritual goods.

And, thanks be to God, it really works.

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