For many years, the Communion of saints is a Catholic concept that is probably one of the hardest things to understand for me, a convert. To me, from observing many cradle-Catholic friends of mine, the communion of saints means, roughly, praying to St Anthony for a certain kind of intention, St Jude to another kind of intention, going to novenas, visiting the shrines of our Lady for all sorts of special intentions, etc. What often came to my mind is a picture of old ladies clutching prayer cards and rosaries, and occasionally, physical penance carried out to 'bargain' with the saints for their intercession. Their piety amaze and move me, but really, is it necessary?
I suppose I did not much understand this because my life frankly, has not been one where much bargaining for divine intercession is needed. There were many ups and downs, but I trust that God knows better what's good for us than we do ourselves.
Fast forward to the present day, I share an apartment with a cradle Catholic from the Philippines, and made friends with many other cradle Catholics from traditionally Catholic countries. They expose me to these heretofore alien pious practices. And many intercessions, invocations, devotions, and Marian pilgrimages later, I realize that it has helped me form a habit to pray for other people's intentions and needs. I also realize that means I can ask many more people to pray for my intentions. It is strange for me today if there are nobody's intentions to pray for... and if friends ask me, a lowly member of the Church militant and a sinner, to pray for their intentions, why can't we turn to the saints and holy souls to intercede for us? For the petitions of the just surely carry more merit in heaven...
Through other means I have also 'discovered' the communion of saints. Since I started reading Catholic blogs, there have been so many new acquaintances made, and so many people and intentions to pray for. Two years ago, I found out that one of the twins (of Angry Twins) was about to enter the monastery and began praying for him. And the blogger formerly known as Moneybags, have also entered the seminary this fall. And the blogger who's praying for the safety of a baby in threat of being aborted. And the blogger who's praying that the San Diego fire may not harm a monastery nearby. There are many other examples through which I realize that the communion of saints is so REAL.
Today, for instance, I read a lovely story about Kate's grandfather who recently passed away and whom she remembered especially for his famous butter cinnamon toast. I don't know who Kate is, I don't know who her grandpa is, and I've never eaten cinnamon toast before... but from now on, I'll remember them in prayer whenever I eat cinnamon toast. Isn't the communion of saints beautiful?