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A Gathering of Spirits by Jan Richardson. ©Jan Richardson. www.janrichardson.com. Used with permission.

The celebrations of All Saints and All Souls launch us into a month of remembering the many dear ones who have gone before us in faith—and who continue to abide with us—a “gathering of spirits” in the one Spirit. Jan Richardson’s collage (www.janrichardson.com) on this month’s cover, A Gathering of Spirits, is a reminder of what we profess in the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints . . .” The communion of saints includes those believers alive now on earth, those undergoing purification in purgatory, and those already in the presence of God in heaven. We are, by virtue of our baptism, already members of this communion. 

Ms. Richardson notes that her “own observance of these days usually includes setting aside some time for quiet, for remembering, for prayer, for doing some writing that’s just for me.” Many of us will visit cemeteries, reminisce with family and friends about loved ones lost, perhaps during this past year, or maybe longer ago. We will remember them as we eat favorite foods, sing favorite songs, tell favorite stories, and pray favorite prayers. There are so many layers in all our remembering. Fitting to consider, then, the layers of Richardson’s collage, about which she says, “the painting, then the cutting, then the layering of papers . . . With every piece, another prayer; with every layer, another memory of those who have passed . . . ” 

May this time of remembrance bring us a deeper awareness of our participation in the communion of saints as we journey and make ready for that long-awaited perfect gathering. 

© Liturgical Press.

Aelred Senna, OSB

Ælred Senna, OSB, is a monk of Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, and publisher of Give Us This Day.

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