The Communion of Saints

Author: Fr. J. Michael Byron
October 26, 2020

Next to my bed on the nightstand I keep a pile of prayer cards for people I have known who have died.  The stack is a couple of inches high.  The most recent card is exactly three months old.  The oldest of them is from decades ago.  Those cards remind me of how blessed I have been to have accompanied so many wonderful people on our journey to the Kingdom together.  I occasionally peruse them and pray with them so that I won't ever forget their names and faces and stories.

This coming weekend we celebrate the Feast Day of All Saints.  The date falls on a Sunday this year, so we are doubly blessed to be able to recall our late loved ones at a festive Eucharist.  Among the treasures of our Catholic faith is our firm conviction that, as the funeral prayer says, for the dead "life is changed, not ended."  We profess that our departed family and friends are not only still alive in a transformed way, but they are also present to us, and never more so than when we gather for Eucharist.  Each time we sing the hymn of "Holy, Holy, Holy" at Mass, we introduce it by recalling that we do so with all the angels and saints.  That's not just a pious hope; it's what we believe to be the fact.  They are all with us at every mass.  On our best days we can actually feel it.

We don't pray TO our deceased ancestors, as if they were Gods.  We pray right alongside them to the one who IS truly God, and who watches over them now as carefully now as he ever did. But they really aren't the ones who need watching any more, for they are seeing God face to face.  Imagine that!  It is we who are in continued need of watching, and the faith to persevere.  

 The prayer of commendation at Catholic funeral masses announces that "one day we shall see them again, when the love of Christ which conquers all things destroys even death itself."  No more death, no more suffering, no more sickness or memory loss, no more regret.  Just endless joy.

So when I sift through those prayer cards I ask my dead friends to pray for me when I am weak or despairing or doubtful.  I ask my old spiritual director Howard, my high school classmate Patrick, my former colleagues in teaching Christine and Paul Therese, my uncles Gerald and Joe and Leo, my seminary classmate and roommate Steve, my former bishops John and Harry, my parents and grandparents, and a hundred parishioners whom I've loved along the way.

Especially in a season of COVID19 it is a comfort to know that we are never, never alone.

Pax Christi Catholic Community

12100 Pioneer Trail
Eden Prairie, MN 55347


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