This isn’t the sort of thing I imagined myself posing under these circumstances, but It hit me how relevant this is just a few minutes ago. And unlike most things here, this is targeted primarily for Protestant readers, although not exclusively. But bear with me as I meander (I am no theologian). Actually here at the end of the day, the fog is thickening, so I will probably not finish and publish this until tomorrow sometime.
There are certain words that, usually for wildly inaccurate reasons, send Protestants screaming as they run away from you down the hall. “Saint” is one of them. Yet, there is nothing “non-Protestant” about the belief it captures — indeed, perhaps Protestants place at least as much, if not more, emphasis on the communio sacris.
The LDS uses the closest to identical definition of “saint” as the Catholic or Orthodox. As a community of believers in Christ, we are all saints (while it is true that technically, this is the Catholic and Orthodox definition, Protestants tend to focus on a secondary, more specific, definition, but I’ll get there). Every time we pray for our brothers and sisters, we invoke the communion of the saints. When Matt and Jill sent me the holy oils to be anointed with for my healing, they invoked the community of saints. Meaghan and Sam today brought me a vial of holy oil from the Wonderworker and Healer St Nektarios, and this prayer for my health by brother and sister Christians is the communion of saints.
Protestants get the creepy-crawlies when we — Catholic and Orthodox — use the secondary definition of saint, which is just a subdefinition of the first. Uncontrovertibly, some men and women exemplify Christ to degrees most do not or cannot. They are saints, just as we are, even though we identify the blessedness with which they lived their lives. Asking them to pray for us is no different from asking our clergy or other brothers and sisters to pray for us. So it really is a distinction without a difference. By assigning patron saints to particular causes, Catholicism merely identified the areas of those saints’ lives in which they came closest to God.
Christianity is a community of believers, bound by their love for Christ. The communion of the saints is the supreme expression of our faith, perhaps more than any one other. When we embrace our Christian brothers and sisters, we embrace Christ, who trampled down death by death. This has never been so obvious as recently, with all of the outpouring of selfless Christian compassion from the brothers and sisters in my parish, so touching and moving in the breadth of Christian love and compassion that I cannot bring myself to think of them without wiping tears from my eyes.