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Monday, February 2, 2015

A Cloud of Witnesses

"Brothers and sisters: Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith." Heb 12:1-2

Almost everyday I call on the cloud of witnesses to surround me as I go about my ministry of preaching, and on every extended retreat I begin with inviting the retreatants to surround themselves with all the people of faith in their lives, living and dead. More commonly called the communion of saints, the cloud of witnesses can be a powerful image for believers. Acknowledging with the first Preface in masses for the dead that "for those who believe life is not ended but only changed," we enter deeply into the great mystery of faith that assures we are the body of Christ, living and dead!

The letter to the Hebrews is clear. If we remind ourselves that we are surrounded by the cloud of witnesses, we can let go of many burdens, especially the ones that feel so heavy when we think of ourselves as carrying them alone. In truth, our faith asserts that we are never alone, that we are always in Christ, and that we have only to attend to this dimension of our faith to be comforted and strengthened. 

Today, picture yourself in the Great Cloud of Witnesses and pray.

Are their images from our Catholic faith that give you great comfort?

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