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THE LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST: Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon) (3)
“In communion with those whose memory we venerate…”
As believers we form part of a living communion with those who have preceded us in the faith. The Communicantes (Latin for “in communion with”) section of the Roman Canon is a moment where we express our communion with the saints and ask for their intercession.
The saints are still alive and always will be, so the Roman Canon acknowledges them, venerates them, and asks for their intercession on behalf of the Church on earth. After remembering and honoring the Blessed Mother, Our Lord himself, and Saint Joseph (together forming the Holy Family), we invoke Apostles and Martyrs, twelve of each, before invoking all the saints.
Apostles and Martyrs have a special place in the Communion of Saints because they were witnesses to Our Lord to the point of shedding blood. Of all the Apostles only John was not martyred, but his sufferings for Our Lord are a model for what we call white martyrdom—prolonged suffering for Our Lord that doesn’t result in death.
We are also called to be witnesses, whether as apostles, sharing the faith with everyone, or martyrs, showing that the faith is more important than life itself, since it wins us eternal life.
“Celebrating the most sacred night (day)…”
On the most solemn of feasts the Communicantes also recalls the most important events in salvation history to express not only communion with the persons who helped shape them, but with the events themselves:
We are shaped by the Incarnation and Birth of Our Lord when he assumes human nature in order to redeem all of humanity and restore it to the image and likeness of God. He teaches us how to truly be human.
We are shaped by the Epiphany when we see the Christ child as destined for something great in history, something that would impact all of humanity, whether they believed in him or not. He shows us he’ll be our King.
We are shaped by the Resurrection of Our Lord, who died for us and rose for us so that one day we may die and rise in eternal life. He fills us with hope.
We are shaped by the Ascension of Our Lord who has now returned to Heaven and intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father. He promises to send his Spirit.
We are inspired by the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday to continue Our Lord’s mission.
Each of these prayers represents the culmination of a liturgical season. We can pray them as a crowning moment of the mysteries in the life of Christ for our redemption.
“…we ask that through their merits and prayers, in all things we may be defended by your protecting help.”
Returning to the saints, we remember how important devotion to the saints is in the life of a believer. They provide models of virtue for every walk of Christian life, but they also watch over us, pray for us, and intercede for us. We can have a conversation with them in our prayer. In the moment of the Communicantes where we remember “all … Saints” we can also ask the saints for whom we have a strong devotion to watch over us and protect us as well.
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