The Feast of ALL Saints!
Happy All Saints Day! All Saints Day is one of the most exciting days of the year, since the Church celebrates all of the souls who are now in heaven….saints that are officially canonized as well as those who are not. Both categories of saints are equal in holiness, and I shall speak to both.
In my circle of acquaintances, I’m known as the “Saint Girl”….not because I’m in any way close to sainthood, but because I can randomly roll out of the top of my head the patron saints of numerous causes (for instance, Saint Chad is the patron of disputed elections). It’s not any surprise that I really enjoy helping my students who are preparing for confirmation pick out Saint names….although I’m waiting for one of the girls to follow my suggestion of Saint Scholastica. Indeed, Saints are the Church’s answer to the need for superheroes; the coolest part is that, unlike Superman or Wonder Woman, these are real people that had to deal with the same temptations and problems as us in order to live a life of extraordinary holiness. In his autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton describes how fun it can be to learn about the lives of the saints:
“It is a wonderful experience to discover a new saint. For God is greatly magnified and marvelous in each one of His saints: differently in each individual one. There are no two saints like: but all of them are like God, like Him in a different and special way. In fact, if Adam had never fallen, the whole human race would have been a series of magnificently different and splendid images of God, each one of all the millions of men showing forth His glories and perfections in an astonishing new way, and each one shining with his own particular sanctity, a sanctity destined for him from all eternity as the most complete and unimaginable supernatural perfection of his human personality.”
Since the process of canonization is a long and difficult journey (the cause of Servant of God Frank Parater is a case in point), even the holiest people may not ever become Saints (with a capital “S”). However, all saints in heaven are equal in God’s eyes and are no more or less holy than those who are canonized. Thus, while we may or may not be eventually canonized, we all can nonetheless aspire to sainthood and find saints in our everyday lives. This idea can best be described by a simple little hymn that I heard when I was a child:
I sing a song of the saints of God,
patient and brave and true,
who toiled and fought and lived and died
for the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor, and one was a queen,
and one was a shepherdess on the green;
they were all of them saints of God, and I mean,
God helping, to be one too.
They loved their Lord so dear, so dear,
and his love made them strong;
and they followed the right for Jesus' sake
the whole of their good lives long.
And one was a soldier, and one was a priest,
and one was slain by a fierce wild beast;
and there's not any reason, no, not the least,
why I shouldn't be one too.