Solemnity of All Saints recalls destiny God has for each of us
None of us is an only child. We all belong to an immense family. When we were baptized into the living Body of Christ, we became brothers and sisters with all who are members of the Church. Eucharistic Prayer II expresses this well: “Humbly we pray that, partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, we may be gathered into one by the Holy Spirit.”
When we express our faith in the Apostles’ Creed, after professing our belief in “a holy Catholic Church,” we add a profound reality, that we are part of “the comm of saints.” We are not only brothers and sisters with others who have been baptized on earth, but also with those who have died and are being purified for eternal glory and with those who now dwell with Christ, the Father, and the Holy Spirit forever in the glory of heaven. The Book of Hebrews calls them “a great cloud of witnesses” who constantly surround us and are in comm with us, praying for us and with us, urging us toward our final re with God and with them.
This Saturday, the entire Church celebrates the Solemnity of All Saints. While not a holy day of obligation this year, this Solemnity honors the holy men and women of the past, whether canonized or not, and recalls the destiny that God has for each one of us. The Preface for this Solemnity of All Saints captures the significance of our celebration on Saturday: “…we eagerly hasten as pilgrims advancing by faith, rejoicing in the glory bestowed upon those exalted members of the Church through whom you give us, in our frailty, both strength and good example.”
Besides interceding for us and modeling for us lives of faithful discipleship, the saints remind us that we are all called to their destiny. St. Paul often addressed his converts as “the holy ones.” Holiness is not limited to a few. It is within the reach of every one of us and it is the goal for each of us.
Jesus taught us that God is love. Jesus summarized all of the commandments in the two great commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, your whole mind, and all your soul. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Through His suffering, death, and resurrection, Jesus conquered sin and death. He redeemed us making it possible for us during our pilgrimage on earth to live in God’s life and love. He is the way, the truth, and the light for us now.
Our material and secular world distracts us from following Jesus. The saints kept their minds and hearts fixed upon Him as they strove to live according to God’s will. We can learn from them.
We do well to look to the Blessed Virgin Mary as a great inspiration through her total openness to God’s will. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta inspires us to respect all human life as a gift from God and to give ourselves in the service of the poor out of total love for God. We all have baptismal saints and saints we chose at the time of our Confirmation to be models for us, intercessors for us, and examples of virtues we might imitate.
Our Prayer after Comm at the Saturday morning Masses expressed our desire to attain the destiny now enjoyed by the saints: “As we adore you, O God, who alone are holy and wonderful in all your saints, we implore your grace, so that, coming to perfect holiness in the fullness of your love, we may pass from this pilgrim table to the banquet of our heavenly homeland. Through Christ, Our Lord.”
At all of the Saturday evening and Sunday Masses this weekend, we will celebrate The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed recalling their participation with the saints in heaven and with us on earth their participation in “the comm of saints.” In every Eucharistic Prayer, we not only honor the memory of the saints in heaven, but also pray for our beloved dead who are being purified in anticipation of eternal glory in heaven. The Prayer after Comm expresses the importance of our prayers and solidarity with our brothers and sisters in their purgation state: “Grant we pray, O Lord, that your departed servants, for whom we have celebrated this Paschal Sacrament, may pass over to a dwelling place of light and peace. Through Christ, Our Lord.”