Families Can Be Together Forever

In the light of All Saints Day, I began thinking about families in a different context. While we are familiar with our nuclear family (the expression is too much fun not to say) of our mother, father and siblings, we have come to think of our family in a broader context in today’s world. Today’s children are taught that anyone can make up your “family”. Perhaps this includes a grandmother, an uncle, a step-father, a cousin, or other relative. Whomever you include in your context of love and trust can be your family. Looking at family in this way helps me to understand the Communion of Saints, a community that is bound together by Love as well. This Love, if you want to get even grander and extrapolate this further, is God Himself. God is pure Love, and the Holy Spirit’s actions in this world and the next are the actions of Love.

On All Saints Day, we commemorate the holy ones who have gone on before us into the arms of God’s Love and who therefore make up the body of the Communion of Saints. Although not always having individual feast days, memorials or solemnities, these saints are honored both for their faith and as part of the loving bond which unites us. So on this special day, we think about and ask for the intercession of all of our family in Heaven. There is a phrase that I have kept with me from my time as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or Mormons. Part of their theology talks about how their “Families can be together forever.” Although their doctrine is more focused on the human nuclear family, both here on Earth and in relationship with one another after this life, I have come to realize that as Catholics we believe in this phrase too.

For us Catholics, “family” is much more than our group of blood relatives; we understand that we are all God’s children. We profess Jesus Christ as our brother, and everyone who believes in Him is a part of our family. The Communion of Saints is that larger family with whom we will spend eternity in God’s Love in Heaven. In other words, not only will we be with those whom we love in our nuclear family, but we will  be there with everyone who has professed God’s Love throughout the ages. From our brother Augustine, to our sister Mother Theresa, we will be with all of our family together in God’s presence, singing in praise and enjoying the pure happiness and goodness of God. And I thought my family reunions were big!

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