By Miriam Hogan, O.C.D.
The fall of the year seems to be an especially easy time to remember those who prayed with us in the past. It is the time to publicly celebrate the “Communion of Saints” and the “Feast of All Souls.”
The People Who Taught Us To Pray...
We often experience a special energy and joy when we remember the goodness of those that have shared our lives in the past. Who can forget the influence of a mother or father or significant adult that nourished them as a child? We also know that the people who taught us to pray are forever a part of our lives.
It is with a certain reserve then that I listen to the beat of some postmodern rhetoric, and I wonder how comfortable some of my relatives would have been in our churches today. My favorite aunt, for example, came over to the U.S. at fourteen and lived her faith as an Irish servant girl working for affluent families of a different religion. What almost came natural to her was a sense of God’s presence in the everyday experiences of life. Leaving family and friends behind she, like many others, held fast to her religion. Yet, when I think of the tremendous cultural changes that she successfully underwent, I can almost be certain that in today’s world she would still be counted among the faithful.
In my family, when we had grown up and left home and would come back for a visit, my father would ask us to go to communion with him on Sunday. At the time, I was just honoring his particular devotion. Now that it has been ten years since his death, I find a special comfort in being assured of his spiritual presence when I receive communion. The mystery of Christ’s body1 invites us to share in the totality of life as lived here on earth or glorified in heaven.
In Remembering We Gain Strength
Although these things are perhaps a little difficult to write about, they are a part of our faith experience. Others have made the journey before us. In remembering them with gratitude and love; we gain strength for our own journey. 2
Finally, in becoming part of a particular spirituality we also share in the power of its story and its people. Hence, while we continually have new challenges and circumstances before us, we also have the powerful and prayerful example of our Saints and companions; those who have gone before us and those who are just embracing the Charism of Carmel today.3
1 Cf. Eucharistic Prayer IV which states: “...by your Holy Spirit, gather all who share this one bread and one cup into the one body of Christ…”
2 After My Father’s death, I came across his old love letters to my mother. He wrote most of them in 1944 while he was assigned to an Army Air Base in England during WW II. One of them contains the following passage which I included in the booklet for my Final Profession: “I went to Mass this morning and prayed for my precious wife and baby. Nearly every night I drop by the chapel and pray before the Blessed Sacrament for you and Patsy. Honey, I love you more each day, hour, minute and seconds. My love forever, Ben.” As I muse upon these words today, I am struck by the fact that it is only in God that we can promise love forever.
3 “The present grows out of the past and forms a unified whole together with that which is still to be.” cf. Edith Stein Selected Writings by Susanne M. Batzdorff Preface by Sr. Maria Amata Neyer, O.C.D. In reflecting upon our own situation (our own place in history) we cannot help but be encouraged by Edith’s very successful attempt in her own life to tie “a future shrouded in darkness” to the already accomplished and to trust past, present, and future to the eternal God she knew in prayer.
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