I was a young Anglican priest and, from my Evangelical background, still learning about the communion of the saints, All Saints’ Day and All Souls. I found myself in a high church Anglican parish and for All Souls Day the choir always sang the Faure Requiem.

I was at the altar with the parish priest, concelebrating. I was aware that he was deep in prayer. As the choir sang the offertory I was praying and I suddenly ‘saw’ a kind of family tree. Drawn in black and white it was all straight lines with names with more straight lines going up and up until I couldn’t count the names of my ancestors anymore. Then suddenly I ‘saw’ red fluid flowing down through the family tree. It was as if the blood of Christ was flowing back down through all the generations in my family of ‘black and white’ puritanical Protestants. Good people and people with faith, but largely legalistic and often harsh and judgemental. I was quite moved and overwhelmed with the emotion of what I saw, for I had been praying for the healing of my family tree.

The offertory ended. The Mass went on. When we were finished, and were in the vestry disrobing the parish priest (who was also a former Baptist) said to me, “You know, I had an amazing experience at the altar during the offertory.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“I felt like God was cleansing my entire family tree through the blood of Jesus. Amazing!”

I smiled…”Funny you should say that.”