Those Who Hear Will Live: A Theological Explication of the Communion of Saints

Doctoral Dissertation


This study examines the communion of saints as the symbol of Christian belief in the communication between persons across the divide of death. A fundamental claim of this work is that what makes the saints holy also binds them together in communion and that, conversely, communion is the condition and fruit of sanctity. As a constructive effort, this dissertation first critically evaluates the modern approaches to death from socio-historical, literary, and philosophical perspectives in order to clear a space in which Christian revelation establishes the true meaning of death as the creature’s contradictory opposition to the communication of God’s Word as the basis of all life. Furthermore, this dissertation shows how the denial of the seriousness of death correlatively diminishes the apprehension of God’s absolute gift of creatio ex nihilo and the separate though corresponding gift of new life in the resurrection of the dead. Christian hope is provided by and takes on the dimensions of Jesus Christ, who stretches the communication of the Word of Life to the limits of creaturely existence and indeed to the extreme distance of creaturely non-existence in sin. This work aims to present the communio sanctorum as an article of faith that is properly christological in that it concerns the complete action of the Incarnation, pneumatological in that it pertains to the Spirit’s work of forming community in the bonds of charity, and ultimately trinitarian in that it fundamentally entails the graced participation in the divine life of persons-in-communion. As appropriate to a theological inquiry, this treatment of the communio sanctorum begins with its incorporation as an article of faith in the Apostles’ Creed, proceeds to elucidate the meaning of what this article expresses with eschatological studies in theological anthropology and ecclesiology, and at last arrives at a more substantive understanding of the sacramental and liturgical practice of the Catholic faith.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-06292014-232357

Author Leonard James DeLorenzo
Advisor Cyril ORegan
Contributor Cyril ORegan, Committee Chair
Contributor Lawrence Cunningham, Committee Member
Contributor John Betz, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Theology
Degree Name Doctor of Philosophy
Defense Date
  • 2014-06-27

Submission Date 2014-06-29
  • United States of America

  • church

  • de lubac

  • desire

  • purgatory

  • ratzinger

  • easter

  • dante

  • baptism

  • intercession

  • rahner

  • hell

  • balthasar

  • eucharist

  • rilke

  • sanctification

  • charity

  • risen christ

  • holiness

  • sanctity

  • caritas

  • memory

  • prayer

  • heaven

  • communio

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

  • The author has published a book based on this dissertation: Work of Love: A Theological Reconstruction of the Communion of Saints (UND Press, 2017), ISBN 9780268100957

Departments and Units


Please Note: You may encounter a delay before a download begins. Large or infrequently accessed files can take several minutes to retrieve from our archival storage system.