The subject of ecclesial rights can be better understood if we first say a few words about a more familiar concept: human rights.
"Human rights" mean the various rights that pertain to each human being which, when freely exercised, enable him or her to live in a way that befits the dignity of human nature. They comprise the rights to think, choose and act - to live - in ways that help each one fulfill him or herself as man or woman: to grow in humanity.
The first centuries of Christianity were marked by an awareness that to be a follower of Christ was in itself a call to holiness. Each Christian, baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, felt summoned to dedicate - consecrate - his or her life totally to loving God "with all one's heart and soul and mind" (cf Mt 22:37). The early Christians felt no call to abandon the world, but rather saw it as the place of their vocation and sanctification.
"Communio" is the central ecclesiological idea of Vatican II. The very opening paragraph of the Dogmatic Constitution, Lumen Gentium, describes the Church as "a sign and instrument of communion with God and of unity among all men" (LG 1). The Church is a living communion, drawing people into the life of Christ. She lives by that life and communicates it. "In the Church this communion of men with God... is the purpose which governs everything in her that is a sacramental means" (CCC 773).
The life of each one of us is worthless and worse than worthless, if it does not end in heaven. Although Jesus our Savior has opened the gates of heaven for us, we cannot on our own discover the way there, or less still follow it. It has to be signposted for us, and we need to be helped along it. Just as we have the help above all in the teaching and sacraments of the Church which Jesus founded, we have the signposts in the commandments: "My son, keep my commandments, and you will live" (Prov 7:1-2); "the steadfast love of the Lord is upon those who remember to do his commandments" (Ps 103:17-18); "If you would enter life, keep the commandments" (Mt 19:17).