It’s “All Saints Day”. It’s the day we honor the heroes of our faith …. those who have made it home to heaven…. the “Heavenly Hall of Fame” …. those we hope to be like in our life on earth and one day join in heaven.
With the recent passing of some very dear and holy friends, our gaze has shifted upward, into the heavenlies. I wonder what heaven is like. Have our friends met some of our heroes… St. Paul, Augustine, the Little Flower, Mother Teresa, John Paul II. What was it like to see Jesus and receive the great welcome, “well done good and faithful servant”. We all have a lot to look forward to … let’s stay on our “spiritual toes”.
Let me relate a few lines on the saints from a homily by Pope Benedict IV back in 2006.
“The Saints are not a small caste of chosen souls but an innumerable crowd to which the liturgy urges us to raise our eyes. This multitude not only includes the officially recognized Saints, but the baptized of every epoch and nation who sought to carry out the divine will faithfully and lovingly. We are unacquainted with the faces and even the names of many of them, but with the eyes of faith we see them shine in God’s firmament like glorious stars…. a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues” (Rv 7: 9).
This people includes the Saints of the Old Testament, those of the New Testament, the numerous early Christian Martyrs and the Blesseds and Saints of later centuries, to the witnesses of Christ in this epoch of ours. They are all brought together by the common desire to incarnate the Gospel in their lives under the impulse of the Holy Spirit …. the Saints have no need of honour from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs…. but I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning” (Disc. 2, Opera Omnia Cisterc. 5, 364ff.). This, then, is the meaning of today’s Solemnity: looking at the shining example of the Saints to reawaken within us the great longing to be like them; happy to live near God, in his light, in the great family of God’s friends. Being a Saint means living close to God, to live in his family. But how can we become holy, friends of God … to be a Saint requires neither extraordinary actions or works nor the possession of exceptional charisms. It is necessary first of all to listen to Jesus and then to follow him without losing heart when faced by difficulties. The example of the Saints encourages us to follow in their same footsteps and to experience the joy of those who trust in God, for the one true cause of sorrow and unhappiness for men and women is to live far from him. Holiness demands a constant effort, but it is possible for everyone because, rather than a human effort, it is first and foremost a gift of God, thrice Holy (cf. Is 6: 3).” (Pope Benedict XVI, Nov. 1, 2006)
As we honor the saints in heaven today, let’s know that they are praying for us and cheering us on. They are calling us to keep going and to not quit. They are saying “if you could see what it’s like beholding the face of God and enjoying heaven, you would double and triple your determination to give all in serving the Lord. So, dear brothers and sisters, let’s follow their admonitions and seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be yours as well.”(Mt. 6:33)…. and all will be well with our souls.