Monday, November 04, 2013

The Communion of Saints

Master of Egerton 1070
Miniature of All Saints and an historiated initial 'D' with a censing angel, with partial foliate border carried by an angel.
From The Hours of René d'Anjou
c. 1410
220 x 165 mm
The British Library, London

This Book has a strange provenance

It was owned by a member of the Anjou family, descendants or relatives of René d'Anjou (1409 - 1480), King of Naples, a fascinating figure in  medieval history

Then by George Strangways, Archdeacon of Coventry

It was gifted by the Archdeacon to King Henry VII ( 1457 - 1509), King of England

Then it somehow found its way to the library of the Jesuit College, Cracow, by 1630. And somehow found its way back to England again

The day is the universal Christian Feast that honours and remembers all Christian saints, known and unknown.

Although a day commemorated by all Christians, it is celebrated in different ways according  to how they envisage what is meant by sainthood and its function

At the centre of the Roman Catholic liturgy is the idea of "the communion of saints"

On 30th October 2013, Pope Francis delivered a catechesis on the Communion of Saints. He said that through the communion of saints we experience a solidarity between heaven and earth in our intercessory prayer

Pope Benedict XVI on 1st November 2012 likewise delivered a similar catechesis which perhaps throws more light on the image above
"Today we have the joy of meeting on the Solemnity of All Saints. This feast day helps us to reflect on the double horizon of humanity, which we symbolically express with the words “earth” and “heaven”: the earth represents the journey of history, heaven eternity, the fullness of life in God.  
And so this feast day helps us to think about the Church in its dual dimension: the Church journeying in time and the Church that celebrates the never-ending feast, the heavenly Jerusalem. These two dimensions are united by the reality of the “Communion of Saints”: a reality that begins here on earth and that reaches its fulfillment in heaven. 
On earth, the Church is the beginning of this mystery of communion that unites humanity, a mystery totally centred on Jesus Christ: it is he who introduced this new dynamic to mankind, a movement that leads towards God and at the same time towards unity, towards peace in its deepest sense. 
Jesus Christ — says the Gospel of John (11:52) — died “to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad”, and his work continues in the Church which is inseparably “one”, “holy” and “catholic”.  
Being a Christian, being part of the Church means being open to this communion, like a seed that dies in the ground, germinates and sprouts upwards, toward heaven. 
The Saints — those proclaimed by the Church and whom we celebrate today and also those known only to God — have lived this dynamic intensely. In each of them, in a very personal way, Christ made himself present, thanks to his Spirit which acts through Scripture and the Sacraments.  
In fact, being united to Christ, in the Church, does not negate one's personality, but opens it, transforms it with the power of love, and confers on it, already here on earth, an eternal dimension. 
In essence, it means being conformed to the image of the Son of God (cf. Rom 8:29), fulfilling the plan of God who created man in his own image and likeness. But this insertion in Christ also opens us — as I said — to communion with all the other members of his Mystical Body which is the Church, a communion that is perfect in “Heaven”, where there is no isolation, no competition or separation.  
In today’s feast, we have a foretaste of the beauty of this life fully open to the gaze of love of God and neighbour, in which we are sure to reach God in each other and each other in God.  
With this faith-filled hope we honour all the Saints, and we prepare to commemorate the faithful departed tomorrow.  
In the Saints we see the victory of love over selfishness and death: we see that following Christ leads to life, eternal life, and gives meaning to the present, every moment that passes, because it is filled with love and hope.  
Only faith in eternal life makes us truly love history and the present, but without attachment, with the freedom of the pilgrim, who loves the earth because his heart is set on Heaven."

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