All Saints & All Souls–a Reflection

The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Mart...

The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs, a painting by Fra Angelico, 15th century (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During this year of faith, I have thought about those that influence my faith journey and how I will hand on my faith to my child. So with the upcoming Holy Days of the Feast of All Saints and the All Souls, it caused me to think about the communion of saints as well as those who have influenced my faith journey and in turn that I will pass on.  It began with those who taught me how to pray, in particular, the role of personal and ritual prayer in my life.

“Prayer is the essential feature of discernment because it allows us to get in touch with the deepest level of ourselves, the place where God dwells. The prayer of discernment is not simply reciting formula prayers but, more profoundly, opening ourselves to God’s presence so that we can get a sense of what is going on inside and outside of ourselves.”—Fr. Richard Gula, S.S. (Moral Discernment. 1997, 98-99)

On November 1st and 2nd the Catholic Christian community along with Christians celebrate the Feasts of All Saints (Nov 1) and the Feast of All Souls (Nov. 2nd). In these celebrations we recall those who have gone before us, our family, friends and countless Christian witnesses. The significance of these Holy Days is to call to mind the importance of relationships. All relationships continue to change our lives.

In my personal life, the value I place on the role of prayer in discernment and decision-making must be at forefront of all that I do, because in prayer it gives God the time to change me and my response.  The significance that my family and close friends played on me being open to personal prayer was huge during my teenage years.  I can recall my grandmother and aunt leading us in prayer at all family gatherings and today my mother leading the family in prayer at family celebrations.  It is also through the role of prayer that God has changed the lives of all the saints that came before us. However, for prayer and discernment to happen we must set up environments and create spaces in our calendars where we can get in touch with that place where God dwells. It gives a chance to check “who we are” and “who we are becoming.”

In my experience of ritual prayer, I have the Benedictine community of St. Meinrad Archabbey to thank for this source of inspiration that feeds both my personal and public worship.  The rythmn of life of morning and evening prayer and lectio divina, continues to feed my own personal spiritual life.  I am grateful for the countless monastics who remain faithful to the balance of  Ora et Labora (Prayer and Work).

Prayer and discernment are essential elements in the lives of all the holy ones, so too, if we are members of the Body of Christ, prayer keeps us connected with our source and summit.

–How can we create spaces for prayer and discernment in our lives and our homes?

–How does this prayer help us understand “who we are” and “who we are becoming?” Is this consistent with “who we ought” to be as people/communities?


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