Isn’t it just great to get the group together? The old saying “There is strength in numbers” still holds true, with many possible ways to understand the notion of “strength.”
Last weekend, the whole gang got together for our annual Fall Festival. It was great to see so many people out and having fun with one another, whether while watching their kids in the cake walk, or elbow-to-elbow in the frenzy of the bingo tent. Over in the Knights of Columbus tent, Redskins fans were even grazing peacefully together with Giants fans– that’s a real the lion shall lie down with the lamb moment!
We had very good weather this time, thank God, despite the iffy start to the day. I know we lost some participants when we rescheduled from three weeks ago because of that hurricane. But it was good crowd, great fun, and a splendid moment to meet the parish community for any of our neighbors who came by for the event.
Please join me in thanking those responsible for making it happen, especially Laura Irwin and Kristien Carroll who oversaw the whole thing. Along with Lauren Draley, a chairman emerita who apparently doesn’t believe in retirement, they really pulled together a beautiful festival – and they did it twice! Almost everything had to be changed, redone, restaffed, or reordered when we rescheduled. All the volunteers did a super job. Thank you so much.
This weekend, too, we are having an all-hands-on-deck gathering of a different sort. For the Solemnity of All Saints, we bring out all of our relics of saints to be venerated on our altar. We are privileged to have a large variety of saints represented in our collection. From Christ’s contemporary John the Apostle to Maria Goretti of the 20th century, the gang’s all here!
A relatively tiny sample of the denizens of heaven, it is nonetheless a representative sample. Like attracts like -- Saints Vincent de Paul, Louise de Marillac, and Catherine Labouré are grouped together in a “Vincentian” cluster indicating their link on earth. But differences are also overcome: Saints Francis of Assisi and Ignatius of Loyola, founders of radically different religious communities, now rejoice together in heaven, and their relics are side by side here in Silver Spring, too.
Any time one of your secular or Protestant friends tries to be hip and dismissive of our care for relics of the Holy Ones, feel free to point out how relics are woven into the very fabric of our (American) culture: remember when soldiers took a lock of hair from their beloved and wore it on a chain around their neck? More recently, how many people wait in line and pay money to visit Graceland, and touch the things of Elvis? Heck, I bet most folks have a tool or kitchen utensil treasured because it belonged to a beloved grandparent.
It was clear last Sunday was a good day when I saw several children weeping simply because the bouncy house was being deflated. They did not want it to end! And you know it is a good day when so much human evidence of Christ’s reconciling power throughout the ages is so clearly present right in front of us. The saints are people like us, friends and fellow members of the Body of Christ. Having shared a purpose on earth, they now share the fullness of communion in heaven. All Saint’s Day is how we celebrate that the very best gathering never ends.
Our relics are many, but the saints are many more – a number uncountable by us, since so many are unrecognized by us. There is strength in their numbers, and helping us to be numbered one day among them is the very best use of their strength. Saints of God arrayed upon the altar, and future saints arranged around it: isn’t it just great to get the group together?Monsignor Smith