October 2021 Ritual: “Becoming Saints of Love and Justice for All Saints’ Day

October 19, 2021 WATERritual

“Becoming Saints of Love and Justice for All Saints’ Day”

By Diann L. Neu and Liza Johnson

 “Let us never forget that if we wish to die like the Saints we must live like them.”

–Saint Mother Théodore Guérin

Listen to the audio recording of the October 2021 WATERritual here.

Preparation

Have nearby a candle and photo(s) of those in your life, living or dead, who you consider to be saints.

Call to Gather

Welcome, Saints of Love and Justice. This is the season to honor ancestors. It is the time when the veil between the living and the dead, the worlds of here and hereafter, is very thin. The feast of All Saints Day, All Souls Day, and Samhain commemorate all the ancestors, both known and unknown, across all generations.

Saints of love and justice…
Women and non-binary people…
Those who are pushed to the margins…
Immigrants…
Trans people…
Queer persons…
Children of mixed races…
People who are differently abled…
Those who are brave… Those who are scared…
Prophets…
Protesters… Marchers…

On this day we rejoice that we sit around the zoom altar with courageous pioneers, and with them, we take our place in the communion of saints.

Saints are those people who are recognized as being holy, in a close relationship to God, the Divine Holy One. They are exemplary models, extraordinary teachers, wonder workers, and sources of benevolent power who have left too soon.

We bring saints to our liturgy through photos of people who are special to us and those who have gone before us, our family and friends. Hold up photos of your saints.

Song: Leaving Too Soon, Ann Reed
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKJ4nSMk0dU&ab_channel=AnnReed-Topic

I don’t mind the stretches of bitter-cold days
They’ll soon live in memory and then
Persistent young dandelions yellow in May
I don’t really find them a pest.
I had come to accept you would always be late
A flower forgetting to bloom.
I do mind the fact that you’ll never come back
I do mind you leaving too soon
I do mind you leaving too soon.

I don’t mind the detours the long way around
Surprise on the winding side streets
Holes in the roads and bridges fall down
I’ll end up where I need to be
But I now must confess you were part of the map
Routes that were safely assumed
It isn’t all right to walk off with your light
I do mind you leaving too soon
I do mind you leaving

Too soon… too soon… too soon.

I don’t mind some mystery a few grains of doubt
Ride with the ebb and the flow
Wrestle with questions, they never run out
I don’t mind the answers don’t show
But I’m certain, quite sure of the one precious place
Reserved in the world just for you
Sometimes I could swear you’re standing right there
I do mind you leaving too soon
I do mind you leaving too soon.

Reading: “Song,” May Sarton, Collected Poems 1930-1973 (New York: W.W. Norton, 1974), 70.

Now let us honor with violin and flute
A woman set so deeply in devotion
That three times blasted to the root
Still she grew green and poured strength out.

Still she stood fair, providing the cool shade,
Compassion, the thousand leaves of mercy,
The cherishing green hope. Still like a tree she stood,
Clear comfort in the town and all the neighborhood.

Pure as the tree is pure, young
As the tree forever young, magnanimous
And natural, sweetly serving: for her the song,
For her the flute sound and the violin be strung.

For her all love, all praise,
All honor, as for trees
In the hot summer days.

Song: Sisters, Now Our Meeting is Over, Libana
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8Nqoisf4EA&ab_channel=Libana-Topic

Sisters (Friends), now our meeting is over
Sisters (Friends) we must part
And if I never see you anymore
I will love you in my heart
Yes, we’ll land on the shore
Yes, we’ll land on the shore
Yes, we’ll land on the shore
And be safe forever more.

Quotes About Sainthood

 “A saint is simply a human being whose soul has … grown up to its full stature, by full and generous response to its environment, God. (She) has achieved a deeper, bigger life than the rest of us, a more wonderful contact with the mysteries of the Universe; a life of infinite possibility, the term of which (she) never feels that (she) has reached.”

–Evelyn Underhill, Concerning the Inner Life (1926)

 “Don’t call me a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed that easily.”

–Dorothy Day, in Robert Ellsberg, ed., By Little and By Little (1983)

 “The world needs saints who have genius, just as a plague-stricken town needs doctors.”

–Simone Weil, Oppression and Liberty (1955)

“The wonderful thing about saints is that they were human. They lost their tempers, got hungry, scolded God, were egotistical or testy or impatient in their turns, made mistakes and regretted them. Still they went on doggedly blundering toward heaven.”

–Phyllis McGinley, “Running to Paradise,” Saint-Watching (1969)

Litany of Saints (Sung)

Response: ALL YOU HOLY SAINTS OF LOVE, STAY WITH US (x2)

Miriam and Sarah
Brigit, Kwan Yin, and Mary
Deborah, Ruth, and Esther
Martyrs of Salvador

Hildegard of Bingen
Catherine of Siena
Teresa of Ávila
Thérèse of Lisieux

Response

Joan of Arc
Rosa Parks and Dorothy Day
Mother Théodore Guérin
Sojourner Truth

Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz
Virginia Woolf, Tekakwitha
Sadako Sasaki
Harriet Tubman

Response

Maya Angelou
Rachel Carson, Audre Lorde
Katie Geneva Cannon
Helen Keller

For those remembered
at WATER
Carolyn and Patricia
Nicki, Sally, and Donna
Those in our hearts

Response

Reflection | Sharing

Think about sainthood– yours or someone else’s!

Who is someone you consider a Saint? What saintly quality does this person possess? How can you be a Saint?

After a quiet time, let us share our reflections with one another in small groups.

Add your thoughts, or more names, in the chat.

Sung Response:

All you holy saints of love, stay with us (x2)
(Spanish) Santas de amor, quédense con nosotras
All you holy saints of love, stay with us
(Swedish) Alla kärlekens heliga, stanna hos oss
All you holy saints of love, stay with us
(French) Les saints de l’amour, restent avec nous
All you holy saints of love, stay with us
(Swahili) Kaa nasi, watakatifu wa upendo
All you holy saints of love, stay with us

 Blessing All Saints

 Look around the zoom screen and notice the faces. Notice the Communion of Saints in which you are gathered. You are a saint of love and justice. We are saints of love and justice together. Raise your hands and bless these saints.

            Divine Creator of All, we image you. Bless us, and continue to surprise us with the sacred in            our own lives, in the lives of our ancestors, and in the lives of those we meet. May we bless            others as we struggle, laugh, dance, and stumble toward the new creation.
           Amen. Ashe. May It Be So.

Take Action

Let us put our prayers into action. Here are some possible ways:

~ Tell a young person a story of a “saint” who lives in your community: someone who works against racism, sexism, classism, trans-phobia, bi-phobia, and the intersection of all -isms.

~ Take an elder out to dinner and thank them for their justice work.

Sending Forth

Let us go forth to act as Saints.
May the currents of love and justice flow through us.
May we not rest until all stones of injustice have been rolled away.
As we go forth, let us proclaim boldly,

Together: We are Saints of love and justice.

Song: Swimming to the Other Side (Emma’s Revolution)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xPfOcw-nLo&ab_channel=BobMantin

Chorus: We are living ‘neath the great big dipper
We are washed by the very same rain
We are swimming in this stream together
Some in power and some in pain
We can worship this ground we walk on
Cherishing the beings that we live beside
Loving spirits will live forever
We’re all swimming to the other side

I am alone and I am searching
Hungering for answers in my time
I am balanced at the brink of wisdom
I’m impatient to receive a sign
I move forward with my senses open
Imperfection, it be my crime
In humility I will listen
We’re all swimming to the other side (Chorus)

On this journey through thoughts and feelings
Binding intuition, my head, my heart
I am gathering the tools together
I’m preparing to do my part
All of those who have come before me
Band together and be my guide
Loving lessons that I will follow
We’re all swimming to the other side (Chorus)

When we get there, we’ll discover
All of the gifts we’ve been given to share
Have been with us since life’s beginning
And we never noticed they were there
We can balance at the brink of wisdom
Never recognizing that we’ve arrived
Loving spirits will live together
We’re all swimming to the other side (Chorus)

© 2021 Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER), adapted from Stirring WATERS: Feminist Liturgies for Justice by Diann L. Neu, dneu@hers.com