Communion of Saints

Briana Williams, the youngest member of Jamaica’s gold medal 4 x 100 metres women’s relay team at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics posted this on her Instagram:

Just got home and found out that my dear grandmother, who lived with us, passed away soon after I left for the Olympics.”  

Loop News reported that she had dedicated her gold medal to her grandmother.

Without seeking permission, my mind swiftly searched its catalogues for sports personnel who dedicated either their participation, victory or medals to deceased loved ones. My mind discovered numerous examples. In American Ninja, participants print names of deceased loved ones on T-shirts; at football matches goal scorers point up to the heavens to dedicate their goals to a deceased person; swimmers tattoo the names of the deceased on their bodies. I remember the feisty, tiny and speedy American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson dedicating her 100 metres victory at the American trials to her grandmother who had recently died.

What’s happening here? 

I don’t think many of these athletes are Catholics or would profess their belief in the Communion of saints. (The Communion of saints is a doctrine of the Catholic Church that speaks to the fellowship of believers (alive or dead) united in Jesus Christ in baptism.

But, their gesture in honour of their deceased loved ones points to the heart of this belief – we have an ongoing relationship/fellowship, not only with the living, but the dead. That relationship manifests itself concretely in statues of Saints, names of the deceased on T-shirts or in tattoos, or wall pictures in our houses. 

The end of our earthly existence does not mean the end of our relationships. 

Indeed for your faithful, Lord, life is changed not ended, and when this earthly dwelling turns to dust, an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven

(Preface for the Dead)

Big up, Brianna’s Grandmother and all grandmothers!

Briana Williams and her Grandmother

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