A Community of All that is Loved by God

 

On November 19th , OLMs, friends, and family gathered at our Leander house to express gratitude for the special way those who have died in the past year have blessed our lives. At the mass, Sr. Frances Brady, OLM shared her thoughts with us:

Each person we have known and loved, and who has loved us continues to be a gift for us. We know that this relationship does not end in death.

In a manner that we cannot fully understand we are still connected in God. We can say that we are all members of the Communion of Saints.

Elizabeth Johnson, in her book “Friends of God and Prophets describes the Communion of Saints as ‘All persons of truth and love'”.

She points out that while the term Communion of Saints comes from within the Church it is not limited to church members.

On the contrary, God calls people of every nation and tongue, culture and religion and of no religion. Indeed the Communion of Saints embraces all women and men who hear the Spirit’s call and follow the path of righteousness, all people of good will whom Paul refers to in the second reading as “people of light”.

This includes those who have died because we are connected with them, together in communion with God who created all of us.

This connection of course is affirmed by our own experience. We know in our hearts that those we love are still a part of us, in our memory and love and in ways they have influenced our lives.

Elizabeth goes on to say that the natural world is also part of the Communion of Saints. It has been created by God, the community from which everything that exists has been given life…the communion of holy people, she says, is connected to the communion of holy creation. As we have come to understand more clearly in recent years, everything is connected to everything else and all flourishes or withers together.

Today, has been designated by the Church as the World day for the Poor. The first reading and the Gospel focus on how we use our gifts for others. It is up to us to decide for ourselves how we can best fulfill our responsibility within this one community of which we are a part, a community of all that is loved by God.

If we think of our world today, certainly many images of need easily come to mind: The many victims of violence, oppression, poverty and injustice around the world; The natural world that is suffering from injustice and abuse.

Because we are all part of one community in God, we feel that we are a part of all the pain and suffering. It is not them, it is us.

A couple of weeks ago when we read the Gospel about loving our neighbour, I remembered reading an insight expressed about this passage. I now know it came from Cynthia Bergault, an Episcopalian priest, author and speaker on topics related to spirituality.

Bergault suggests that Jesus’ Great Commandment of “love your neighbour as yourself” does not mean “as much as yourself” as we usually tend to interpret it, but rather as one and the same interchangeably with yourself in the one Communion of Saints.

We are all one, those still living, those who have died and the natural world, held together in the love of God who creates and gives life.

Keeping in mind this community in God that we share together how do we honour the memory of those who have died?

When we think of our Sister Susan Moran that question is easy to answer. Susan dedicated herself to being a voice for the homeless. I’m sure that when we think of Susan we think of the homeless. When we do something for someone who is homeless we remember Susan and in this way honour her memory.

As we think of those we remember today, who were the “poor” for whom they had a particular concern? Who or what need was dear to their hearts? What can we do in their memory for some person or group or part of the created world that was especially important to them?

Whatever we choose to do in memory of our relatives and friends who have died, to pray for someone in need, help them or speak out on their behalf we fulfill our role as members of the Communion of Saints… and we honour the memory of those we love and with whom we are united in God’s love.

 

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