When the Reformation rejected the practice of invocation (which established itself in the Church by the end of the 4th century and lasted to the Reformation and persists yet in those jurisdictions in communion with Rome or Constantinople), was the Communion of Saints thereby rejected? This is the contention. For all intents and purposes, without a liturgical expression of the communion of saints (meaning, in other words, the invocation) the doctrine itself disappeared, evaporated from the Church's consciousness. Is this true?
Speaking personally, my understanding of the Communion of Saints was shaped quite markedly by the celebrations of All Saints that occurred in my home parish the week following Reformation. It was shaped by singing "For All the Saints" and "Ye Watchers." It was shaped by praying the collect for All Saints. Then it grew over the years. I also learned to sing "By All Your Saints" and "Sing with All the Saints in Glory." The weekly pounding into my head of "the communion of saints" and "therefore WITH angels and archangels and ALL the company of heaven..." was not without effect. Then there was the realization that the Our Father was the prayer of the whole Church with especially the Church Triumphant joining ceaselessly in petitions 1-3 and the Doxology, and the Church Militant praying as part of her pilgrimage to home petitions 4-7. There was standing week after week before the altar at Compline and confessing: "I confess to almighty God before the whole company of heaven..." There was the sanctoral calendar - and the thanking of God for each saint upon the day assigned.
No, I don't buy it. At least MY experience in the Lutheran Church has not been devoid of the Communion of Saints. It rather taught me that this is wherein I live and travel. And it did this *without* teaching me to pray to the saints. The Symbols taught me that the saints pray with me and for me. The Symbols taught me that I don't need to resort to the uncertainty of asking them to speak to God on my behalf, since I could rejoice that they were already speaking to God for the whole of His pilgrim Church and eagerly waiting for the day of our consummation in bliss with them. Above all, my experience in the Church has taught me to love them as the beloved of the Lord and comforted me that I also with them am one beloved the Lord. Part of the family of God.
So, sorry. I don't buy it at all that the experience of the communion of saints is the right and sole possession of Rome or Constantinople:
The patriarchs' and prophets' noble train,
With all Christ's foll'wers true,
Who washed their robes and cleansed sin's guilty stain,
Sing praises ever new!
I see them shine forever,
Resplendent as the sun,
In light diminished never,
Their glorious freedom won.
Unnumbered choirs before the shining throne
Their joyful anthems raise
Till heaven's arches echo with the tone
Of that great hymn of praise.
And all its host rejoices,
And all its blessed throng
Unite their myriad voice
In one eternal song.