The Communion of Saints

This article appears in the The Easter Triduum with Dan Schutte feature series. View the full series.

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(NCR screengrab/YouTube)
(NCR screengrab/YouTube)

If we truly embrace the mystery of incarnation, that God is not off in some distant heaven but waiting to be discovered and encountered in the very heart of creation, it changes our view of the world. There is no longer a chasm between what is "secular" and "sacred" because everything is immersed in God, everything and everyone is holy. Divisions no longer exist because everything is united in God. Our separations according to race, color, gender, sexuality, social status, age, education, success or religious affiliation, no longer matter. Everyone and everything is already one in Christ who is the beginning and the end. As St. Paul in the letter to the Romans writes, "All creation as we know it groans in one great act of giving birth." All that we know and love will be caught up in the fulness of God the Christ. That's what "resurrection" means.

Saints and Beloved of God

I remember learning from the nuns in elementary school about the Communion of Saints, all those holy men and women who've gone before us — St. Francis, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Peter, St. Ignatius, St. Theresa. But it was a somewhat abstract notion to me. As I've grown older, however, the Communion of Saints has become much more a real part of my faith. This communion is no longer just the union of people I've heard about, but now includes my own loved ones — my own family members, my mother and father, my brother, relatives and dear friends. The Communion of Saints is very real to me as I understand that all my loved ones, along with all the beloved of God, are united in the eternal heart of God. And they're there to be my companions though life, to guide me and encourage me, to comfort me and accompany me. I talk to my mom and dad all the time, often every night as I fall asleep.

We don't make our journey of faith alone. We make it in communion with all the saints, those who've gone before us, both those canonized by the Christian community and those who have not, those who travel with us in the present, who stand beside us, who inspire us to be more Christ-like, and those who come after us, because in the eternity of Christ's love there is only the present.

So as we make the journey of these days, we reach out to the saints, our sisters and brothers, to accompany us and encourage us. With them, we are all the beloved of the God whose love knows no boundaries.

Dan Schutte

Dan Schutte, an NCR board member, is the composer-in-residence at the University of San Francisco.

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