The passerby | Honing the sense of communion

A FRIEND of mine once told me that he was a bit sad
because his 4 children and the grandchildren are slowly moving out of
his house to settle down in other places. Of course, he knew that he
had to expect this to happen, but he could not avoid feeling sad at
seeing his house becoming an empty nest. “We are now just my wife and
I,” he told me.

That was when I had to explain to him, as nicely and
calmly as I could, the beautiful doctrine of our faith about the
communion of saints that takes place in our lives.

I told him that we can never be separated as long as we
live with God who in his wisdom and power unites us always whatever
our conditions and circumstances may be. No, not distance, not even
death can separate us from the others as long as we are with God. We
are meant to be together. God created and designed us to be that way.

We actually are one family of God. We form one body with
Christ as the head and all of us as members. As the Catechism teaches
us, “Since all the faithful form one body, the good of each is
communicated to the others.” (CCC 947) And since Christ is the head of
that body, everything in him is communicated to us, especially through
the sacraments.

This truth of our faith is very useful because it can
strongly motivate us to do good always, because whatever good we do,
no matter how little, will always redound to the good of others. It
will also serve to deter us from doing evil, for the same reason: that
whatever evil we do, no matter how little, will also badly affect the

All our deeds, no matter how hidden, will always have
effects on everybody else, precisely because we are one body,
organically united to one another, so to speak. On this point, St.
Paul said: “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member
is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body Christ and
individually members of it.” (1 Cor 12,26-27)

Even the Hindus and the Buddhists have something similar
to this truth of our Christian faith. It is called “karma,” which in
their beliefs “is the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous
states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future

This is so because we have been created in God’s image and
likeness, and as such are endowed with the intelligence and will that
would enable us to enter into an abiding relationship with everybody
else. Our intelligence and will are spiritual faculties that can
transcend the limitations of space and time. They enable us to connect
with others no matter how distant they are or even if the others are
already in the afterlife.

Of course, that is the ideal, though in practice we often
fall short of it due to our limitations, let alone, our sins that tend
to cut us off from God and from the others. But we can always try and
try again to pursue that ideal, enlivening our faith and purifying
ourselves after our every fall. Where we are limited by our own
powers, God always gives us the grace that enables us to do what is
impossible for us to do.

Let’s remember that we are living stones built into a
spiritual house with Christ as the cornerstone. As such, who Christ is
and how he is, is also who we are supposed to be and how we are
supposed to be. We share the very life of Christ. We are supposed to
be ‘alter Christus,’ ‘ipse Christus.’

Let’s help one another in the effort to develop this sense
of communion among ourselves, especially during these times.