Although affirmed in a phrase in the Apostles' Creed, celebrated in a November festival, and honored in the Eucharist, the communion of saints has lost its imaginative hold on most Christians. Even Catholic theologians note that the saints no longer play a vital role in popular piety. Can we bring this doctrine to a new and liberating expression in our times?
Yes, answers Elizabeth Johnson, Distinguished Professor of Theology at Fordham University and author of She Who Is. With equal doses of enthusiasm, intellectual daring, and spiritual wisdom, she reinvests the communion of saints with fresh meaning using the rubrics of memory and hope. She recalls the great chorus of female friends of God and prophets and notes: "Their lives bespeak an unfinished agenda that is now in our hands; their memory is a challenge to action; their companionship points the way."
Johnson expands and deepens the traditional concept of the communion of saints as Christians in relationship with God to include not only martyrs but also unnamed souls and the whole sweep of the natural world. She admonishes believers to take on the intergenerational challenge of bringing justice and compassion to fruition in our world. Spirit-Sophia would have us do no less.