Over the Christmas season and the time leading up to it, the generous people of All Saints gave us priests a lot of gifts – especially in cookie form! So many people would send each of us cookies, and so we would take what we had received and sort of combine it on the kitchen counter in a hulking mound of cookie tins and plates. And each of us would draw on that mound throughout the Christmas season, until now, when we are all working on our New Year’s fitness resolutions. For the record, I for one am always looking for excuses to eat cookies, so feel free to keep them coming (Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, the Conversion of St. Paul, the feast day of St. Paul Miki and his Companions…I could go on…)!
Odd as it may seem, the same is true between us and the saints – not that they give us cookies, but that they generously store up God’s graces for us! In the Catechism, we read that, “a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things. In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others.” (CCC 1475)
Basically, the good deeds that the saints did and all the graces they received are also passed down to us. As you’ll become aware, Eucharistic Prayer I loves to mention lists of saints, but considering it’s ancient origins, the saints mentioned in the Canon very well might have been people that these congregations knew. Even today, we pray that they might pass their merits on to us.
This is called the “Treasury of the Church.” No, it’s not a huge chest in the lower levels of the Vatican where Dan Brown claims the pope hoards all our weekly contributions. It’s a mystical treasury of infinite value, filled by the merits of Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension. That’s worth more than anything we could possibly accomplish! Really, it’s even through God’s grace that we are led to do things that we might consider to have merit. Our merits are really God’s merits!
The merits of the saints are then passed down to us when we call upon them. The Canon prays that “through their merits and prayers, in all things we may be defended by your protecting help.” The saints are there to help us – to defend us and protect us.
I think it’s an important question whether we are calling upon this treasury. Eucharistic Prayer I certainly encourages us to do so. Many times, we might ask our friends or relatives to pray for us or to keep us in their thoughts, but do we ask the saints for the same favor? This week, as you’re muddling through your ordinary business, don’t be afraid to unlock that treasury of grace that the saints, through the grace of God, have built up for us!