Beauty surrounds us, but we usually need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi
Although Friday marked the Feast Day of All Saints we remember them each time we say the words: I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.
So what do we mean by communion of saints? Well, I understand that the word communion derives from a Greek word koinonia which implies connection, relationship, working together. But what does the word saints conjure up in your mind? Perhaps a load of very holy, otherworldly, beardy old men dressed in white sheets sitting on clouds in the sky somewhere, playing harps all day? Certainly you don't have to go far to find a church named after a long dead saint, or a stained glass window that does not depict the image of one (often with a long white beard).
On 13 October 2019 Cardinal John Henry Newman was canonized by the Pope so joining the ranks of the saints. St John Henry Newman was a remarkable man who in his college days at Oxford was an evangelical member of the Anglican church. In due time he moved from that position so that his work with other like-minded priests in arguing against the increased secularization of the Church of England in the mid to late nineteenth century and seeking to recall it to its heritage of apostolic order and to the catholic doctrines of the early church fathers had, and still has a profound effect on the future of the Church of England. On his later conversion to the Roman Catholic tradition he rose to the rank of Cardinal. He was certainly musical, but whether he played the harp or not, I do not know. In any case I have never seen a picture of him with a beard.
St Paul saw the phrase communion of saints rather differently to the above perception. In writing to the young churches at Corinth, Phillipi or Ephesus he often addresses them as saints, yet they were just like us, very ordinary people, not particularly holy at all, despite his best efforts! To him all who embraced Christ as their Saviour were saints. Now since at the Sacrament of our Baptism we were welcomed into the fellowship of the Church that must include each of us. We are all saints and thus all members of the communion of saints.
As part of that communion we are called to pray and to care for our neighbour in whatever way we can. To pray for those less fortunate than ourselves, those who are homeless, or in prison perhaps suffering persecution for their faith. To care for those in need, the sick and suffering amongst us, those who mourn the passing of a loved one and those who are lonely. And of course we are called to take a greater care of the planet on which we live than we have before.
So, my question is: For whom can I be a saint today? For whom will you be a saint?
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time employment for a number of years