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We’re Surrounded!

Note: Today is All Saints Day. In this blog, Sister Paula Damiano writes about her circle of witnesses she creates during this day.

One of my favorite images in Christian Scriptures can be found in the Letter to the Hebrews: “since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

A cloud of witnesses

The idea of being surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses is comforting to me. I picture women and men who have gone before me forming a circle around me. At times, it’s a protection circle; at other times, a wisdom circle; a joy circle on some days and sometimes it’s just a silent circle. I find comfort in the image and strength and reassurance.

During every Eucharistic Liturgy here at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, at the time of the general intercessions, we hear read aloud the names of the sisters and associates whose anniversary of death was on that date. We also are reminded to recall family members or friends who have run the race and kept the faith. They become my circle for the day. (And, as I get older, I recognize many of the names!) They are indeed, so great a cloud of witnesses.

Examples for living

These sisters, associates, family members and friends become an example of how to live the Gospel life. Sometimes I picture them cheering me on, encouraging me to lay aside whatever it is that holds me hesitant to live fully and completely for Christ, in Christ. If I’m going to run a race, I’d better not shackle myself to any hindrances — anger, hopelessness, ignoring the needs of others, destroying earth and on and on.

All Saints Day is today, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022. So, I’ve decided to make a real circle of witnesses today. I’ll put pictures around my room of my grandparents; my mom and dad; some of my dear friends, Sister Mary Alice Zander, Sister Camille Neubauer, Sister Sue Pietrus, Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, Thomas Merton, Martin Luther King Jr., Saints Joseph and Mary, Thea Bowman, Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Marie Gratia Luking will be there, too.

I’ll ask them to help me run with perseverance and to keep my eyes on Jesus, the Christ.

Why not consider making yourself a circle of witnesses this week? Who will be in that circle?

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Sister Paula Damiano

Sister Paula has been a Sister of Providence since 1967. She has ministered as a teacher, director of vocations, pastoral associate and as a General Councilor for the Sisters of Providence. She currently ministers as director of programs and retreats at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

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7 Comments

  1. Denise on November 1, 2022 at 6:33 am

    I love this idea, Paula. Simple and profound. Happy I read this early this morning; gives me time to assemble my circle.

  2. Marsha Speth on November 1, 2022 at 7:42 am

    A beautiful scripture and image to remember today and all month!
    Thank you, Paula!

  3. Mary Elizabeth Heins on November 1, 2022 at 8:22 am

    Yes, I too love this idea. To imagine each relative and friend in the circle around me! Very powerful! And I like your reminder that we must keep our eyes on Jesus, the Christ, putting aside all hindrances and encumbrances that hold us back in this race to love one another.

    • Connie SP on November 1, 2022 at 9:03 am

      Lovely tradition. My pictures are out for my delight today! Happy Feast!

  4. Mary Mundy on November 1, 2022 at 9:41 am

    I did this circle prayer early this morning and now shared this experience with a few parishioners after our 8:00 Mass. They also loved it and I suspect will gather their own circles before the end of the day! Thanks, Paula.

  5. Connie Schnapf on November 1, 2022 at 11:08 am

    I have always slipped my remembrance cards , from funeral home visitations, in my check book cover. It is getting more bulky as the years go by, but it is comforting to have them with me. I pray with and to them at various times, but especially today. I too will get them out and remember each with love and gratitude.
    I treasure them.

  6. Jeannie Smith on November 1, 2022 at 11:47 am

    Beautiful idea, Paula, thanks for sharing. I’m going to send it along to someone who shares many of the same folks in my own cloud.

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