An Ignatian Reflection by Kathy Coffey-Guenther, PhD, Senior Mission and Ignatian Leadership Specialist
I always love these early November days. Yes, the weather is changing, and the dropping of our beautiful leaves lends a stark landscape beyond my window.
But, as a Catholic Christian, I love November because we start the month in prayer, remembrance and gratitude for the communion of Saints, these holy people of God, who are both known and unknown, through the celebration of All Saints Day.
I love knowing that there is a “communion,” or a community, of saints operative in my life, these holy followers of God, who have come before me and who accompany me today, who intercede on my behalf and who are loving and guiding and calling me each day.
I love being part of a faith tradition that names and acknowledges the thin veil, the liminal space, between this world and the next. I feel comfort in learning and studying the lives of Saints officially canonized by the Church, and in knowing that they struggled in their life journeys, they encountered difficulties and injustices, and they maintained their sense of belonging and identity in God as loved daughters and sons, and as beloved disciples of Christ.
I love knowing that I can pray to and with these Saints and Doctors of the Church, and I can sit with them and learn from their experiences of life and God and Christ. These friends and teachers and holy ones help me to continue on difficult paths in my life, to remain hopeful on difficult days, resting in the knowledge that I, too, belong, that I, too, find my home and being as one of God’s loved daughters and as one of Jesus’ beloved students and companions.
I love knowing that contemporary Saints, like Dorothy Day and Martin Luther King, continue to teach and inspire and challenge us to live the Gospel with radical courage and radical love.
I love that I feel daily the company and power of this community, this communion of saints, these Holy ones, known and unknown to the Church, as they comfort, teach, guide, correct and humble me on my path.
While many of us may have been led to believe that the Saints led lives of “perfection” and were extraordinary in every way, I have found that it is the ordinariness of these holy ones, known and unknown, that inspires me. The fact that these people had their own growing edges, battled their own temptations, had difficult relationships and suffered pain and injustice in personal and institutional ways helps to strengthen my resolve and boldens me, less in a search for my perfection, but more in strengthening my conviction to live as a seeker of God and a student of Jesus, to live following my call grounded in the Good News of love and hope and faith in the beauty and bounty of the gifts of this world.
I invite you this November, to spend some time with the Saints. Spend time studying and learning from, talking with and praying to these holy ones known by the Church, and these holy ones calling to your heart by the power of their lives. Reflect on the ordinariness of their lives, and perhaps the extra-ordinariness of their response to the circumstances of their lives. How did they live? How did they love? How do they inspire you and teach you today? What is one thing you could do or change today to follow more closely in their footsteps in living the Good News of the Gospel today?
Spend time with your holy ones, no judgement or expectations. Spend time with them and see how they may call you to deepen your sense of faith, hope and love in your ordinary life as well.