Telford’s Menai Bridge from Anglesey, April 2015.
To become saints, John Paul I reminds us, means living in solidarity with family, co-workers and all our sisters and brothers. Today’s celebration opens a giddying perspective of co-responsibility for those who come after us but also to ‘those who have gone before us, marked with the sign of faith’.
The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in [the city], and his servants shall serve him. And they shall see his face: and his name shall be on their foreheads. Revelation 22:3-4.
John does not tell us when in history any of these servants of God died; all are together in one place, all carry his name on their foreheads, once they enter the eternal, heavenly city. And so we are one with our children’s children, but also with those of our ancestors who were far from perfect. The ‘sign of faith’ might have been very faint on their brows.
If we have inherited a tendency to sin – a great-grandparent’s crippling self-pity for example – we can strive and pray to overcome it for them as well as ourselves. If an infamous sinner yet had a gift to share with us, our using it is a way of praying for them; therefore I trust that each time I use Eric Gill’s beautiful typefaces, my gratitude weighs in his favour at the judgement seat.