Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a day, a single day, on which we would know the future? A day on which everything about our destiny would be revealed to us with crystal clarity? A day when all the uncertainties, perplexities and fears of life were cast away, as the gloom of darkness vanishes in the light of the bright sun, when all of our doubts and anxieties were answered and recede to the background? Could we be given a day when everything that is confusing and troublesome to us is dispelled and replaced with certitude and joy? For the orthodox Christian, there is precisely such a day, and it is coming very soon.
That Day is 1st November, All Saints’ Day! On that day, as we gather as the Mystical Body of Christ at the Altar of the Lord to experience once more and recapture our family mystery, the Communion of Saints, God unveils for us our past, our present and our future: the barrier of time evaporates and we are joined with angels and archangels and the whole holy company of heaven as we sing ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ and ‘Hosanna in the Highest.’ Our great great-grandparents and our great great-grandchildren kneel with us at the Altar rail, and we receive the Lord of time and eternity in the Sacrament of His love, linked in Him, through Him and for Him to believers of every age, generation, clime and epoch in the indestructible bond of love which is the Church. The Communion of Saints is not mythology, but mystery, not man’s dreams and fantasies, but reality, the true reality, higher and greater than any we have ever known on this mortal coil.
As we celebrate the Feast of All Saints, we commemorate and acknowledge our own future destiny in Jesus Christ – what we are, the Saints in glory once were; what they are, we shall become. In the Saints, we see what it is to be fully human, fully alive to God and to each other, fully united to God and to one another in the communion of the Holy Trinity. There is only one Body of Christ, Head and living members together, totus Christus, the complete Christ, and that Body includes us and them, inseparable, indivisible. The Saints pray for and with us, and we pray for and with them – all under One Head. The Lord Jesus has destroyed death by His own Passion, Resurrection and Glorification, and thus death can never sever our union with those who have gone before us sealed with the sign of faith. All members of Christ are alive in the Son of God and Son of Man, Who is the Resurrection and the Life.
On All Saints’ Day, the veil of time and place is pulled back: we see them, and ourselves, as we are meant to be, made holy by the Holy Spirit, cleansed and purged of sin, purified and made whole, restored and conformed to the Image and Likeness of Christ, perfectly united to God our Father, through His Son, in the Holy Ghost. The love of the Trinity, which is the communion that enfolds the Saints, makes us sharers of God’s very life. God invites us to live within the embrace of His eternal love, and we are made Trinitarian by grace. That is our future… and our present. Heaven, the Communion of Saints, the divine fellowship of the Trinity’s all-encompassing love is ‘realised eschatology’: it not only far off in the future for us – it is now, to be lived and enjoyed at this very moment. ‘Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure’ (I Saint John 3.1-3).
‘The Holy Trinity, pervading all men from first to last, from head to foot, binds them all together. The Saints in each generation, joined to those who have gone before, and filled like them with light, become a golden chain, in which each saint is a separate link, united to the next by faith, works, and love. So in the One God they form a single chain which cannot be broken’ (Saint Symeon the New Theologian, Apophthegmata).
This mystery of divine love expressed to us in and through the Saints impels our mission to other people, especially to those in need and necessity: ‘For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new’ (II Corinthians 5.14-17).
The measure by which we extend the love of Christ to others proves the measure to which we have absorbed and embodied the love of Christ in the communion of His Saints. The communio sanctorum is not static, but dynamic, love in action – Christ reaches out through us to those around us. ‘And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me’ (Saint Matthew 25.40). We are the prolongation of Christ in the world, and our service to Christ in our neighbour is the mark of our profession.
Please join us as we celebrate the Family Feast of the Body of Christ on Tuesday 1st November at Noon and 7pm.