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Praying for the Living and the Dead and the Call to Community

Photo of man with outstretched arms in front of a sunset. Text: All Saints Day: we build community in time and space by praying for the living and the dead.

On the eve of All Saints Day I have not been thinking about Halloween, tricks, treats or tacky costumes. I’ve been thinking about building community. Pope Francis is constantly calling us to a larger sense of community, and so does the communion of saints.

A Broad & Deep Sense of Community

During the Year of Mercy Pope Francis drew our attention to the works of mercy. The spiritual works of mercy include comforting the afflicted, forgiving offenses readily, and bearing wrongs patiently. We can easily see how they build community, binding us together with one heart in the Heart of Jesus. For Christians, community can never just be about those who are nearest to or most like us. It is always outward reaching, inclusive and missionary. Our faith challenges us to a sense of community that is broad and deep in time and space.

Global Solidarity

The principle of solidarity reminds us that we are all actually responsible for one another. In our globalised world, both those who sleep on the streets of our cities, and those who flee violence on the other side of the world, are equally our neighbours. All are part of the human community.

Solidarity with All of Creation

Pope Francis enlarged the scope of our commitment to community when he added care for our common home to the works of mercy in 2016. He saw it as both a corporal and a spiritual work of mercy. Care for our common home reminds us that it is not enough for us to foster the human community. We are also responsible for respecting and building up the communion of all creation. It is not enough today to have an international consciousness – we are called to a cosmic consciousness.

The Dimension of Time

During November especially we remember that we also build community by praying for the living and the dead. This spiritual work of mercy extends our sense of community by adding the axis of time. We are a community that reaches back to the Jesus Movement and beyond that to our forebears in faith Sarah and Abraham. Isn’t it inspiring to realise that we are connected to the communion of saints and to all the saints to come? We have experience and tradition to draw wisdom from as we seek to respond to the needs of our world, and we have a part to play in the tradition’s ongoing development.

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