Sometimes people ask about the communion of saints and where the Catholic Church got this notion. This week’s second reading from the letter to the Hebrews gives us a clue—“Since we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses…” This surrounding cloud of witnesses refers to the heroes of the Old Testament and those of the New Testament, and those holy ones living afterward, i.e. the saints. It’s so fitting that this reading from Hebrews always takes place in August. Of all the months, August celebrates the feasts of more saints than any other.
We have an apostle (Bartholomew), 3 popes (Sixtus II, Pius X, Pontian), 3 doctors of the Church (Alponsus Liguori, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Augustine), 1 king (Stephen of Hungary), 3 martyrs (Lawrence, Teresa Benedicta, and Maxmillian Kolbe), a mystic (Rose of Lima), 2 founders of religious communities (Dominic and our own Jane Frances), a long suffering mother and wife (Monica), and one parish priest (John Vianney). As if that were not enough, we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration, the Assumption, the Queenship of Mary, and the Passion of John the Baptist. None of these people had an easy time of it, but they all followed the advice of St. Paul as he likened the road to holiness to a race where perseverance is the key to victory. As St. Paul reminds us at the end of today’s reading, “do not grow despondent or abandon the struggle.”
- Fr. Carl