Communion of the Holy Ones

Monthly letters to help put the work of the catechist of the Good Shepherd into the context of the larger world · from the archives

October 2016

by Catherine Maresca

This month we travel from the feast of St Francis, through the final gathering of our harvests and glorious turning of the leaves, to the feasts of All Souls and All Saints.

Communio Sanctorum translates literally as communion of the holy ones. Whether these are persons or other creatures or things is not clear, however, because sanctorum is the plural genitive form of two nouns, the grammatically masculine noun sancti (holy persons) and the grammatically neuter noun sancta (holy things)” (Elizabeth Johnson, Abounding in Kindness).

Thus Dr. Johnson opens up a whole new view of our celebration of the Communion of Saints at the end of this month. We can enjoy one another, those who have passed, those who will come after us, and all that God has created as well. We live in communion not only with each other but with the stars and the earth and all it holds, with the oceans, the mountains and plains, and every kind of life they support.

All is holy. Why? Each is created and held by God. Each is a particular revelation of God. Each teaches us a little more about how to live in communion (an ecosystem), working for one’s good life and the greater good as well, and how to use energy and matter well. Each teaches us a bit about the creativity of God and encourages our own creative life. Taken together we glimpse God’s amazing imagination. The world cannot hold all that God creates. There is a vast universe of beauty both beyond this world and within it.

How can this abundance be enjoyed in our atriums?

  • Smother your prayer table with the season’s beauty.
  • Invite the children to take one holy object and consider its lessons for us.
  • Reflect on the Lakota prayer:

Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes
ever behold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have made
and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand
the things you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have hidden
in every leaf and rock.

  • Lay out an attractive array of books about the Saints, or photos of the elders of the parish community or invite the children to each bring in a photo of a family member from the past.
  • Include a litany in the prayer service, naming the Holy Ones (human, animal, vegetable, or mineral) responding to each with,

“We thank you, Gracious God.”

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