Keeping house amid a cloud of witnesses

Daily Reading for November 1 • The Feast of All Saints

How glad I am to find this short chapter from the Rule on the celebration of Vigils or Matins on the anniversaries of saints. It adds another dimension to the sense of time and order that Benedict is giving us. Once again I find it brings me something that I find so strongly in the Celtic tradition: the sense of an almost physical presence of the saints around me so that it is quite natural to feel oneself “keeping house amid a cloud of witnesses.” I am reminded of how I am linked to the communion of saints. If at intervals during the year I am recalled to their life on earth and their presence in eternity, this helps me to become aware of my part as a member of the body of Christ. Here is one more element in that corporate sense that Benedict is building up. I am inserted into the community here on earth; I am also part of a community in the wider context of the Church beyond time and space. It makes me think in gratitude of what I owe to the saints, living and dead, known and unknown.

From A Life-Giving Way: A Commentary on the Rule of St. Benedict by Esther de Waal (Liturgical Press, 1995).

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