A few years ago my friend Jaci gave me a St. Paul medal from a Roman Catholic shrine in Massachusetts. It was a simple medal with the saint’s likeness on the front and on the border the words “St. Paul, Pray For Us”. Now, I was a non-catholic then and am an Anglican now, so you can guess that a Roman saint medal was not a normal accessory for me! But I was, at the time, a very lonely minister in a Pentecostal denomination longing to make the journey into a more orthodox communion. I had often felt quite misunderstood and isolated even within the congregation I served. I put the medal around my neck and, as I prayed, immediately felt the presence of the Lord minister something very important to me: I was not alone. I made aware of the great “cloud of witnesses” to which we are joined in the Spirit, who intercede for us in Christ. I was made aware of the inseparable unity of our Faith and the prayerful company of heaven with whom we are “seated in the heavenlies through Christ Jesus”. Yes, Saint Paul pray for us! I wore that medal through a very difficult period of my journey, not in a superstitious effort to gain the specific attentions of St. Paul specifically, but as a reminder that my earthly isolation was illusory – I was not alone. This road was well-travelled by holy men before me.
All Saints’ Day (Saturday) is a wonderful opportunity for us to be mindful of our unity as Christ’s Body. I am connected inviolably with every other Christian both in heaven and earth. We belong to one another. We are not alone! Saturday (and ‘round here on Sunday) we’ll pray:
O Almighty God, who hast knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord; Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys which thou hast prepared for those who unfeignedly love thee, through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
On the morning of my ordination, a wise and holy priest stopped me, looked me dead in the eye, and said to me, “When the bishop laid his hand on your head that was Jesus laying his hand on the head of John, and from John through the Church down to you. Remember that!” I felt deeply the pulse of that prophetic moment. We are not alone. We are the Church of Jesus. We are connected deeply and mystically so that Christ himself may work in and through us. Over the next few days and into next week, feel yourself among the company of heaven.
You are not alone.