Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Celebrating All the Saints (for All Saints Day - Nov. 1st)

On All Saints Day, we take a moment to remember all of those up in heaven who have gone before us to where we hope to go. Most of us have at least a nodding acquaintance with the famous saints – people like St. Peter and St. Paul, St. Patrick, and St. Francis, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Siena, and St. Therese of the Child Jesus, to name just a few. Yet heaven is populated with “everyday” saints. Some may be people we were privileged to know here on earth: loved ones who passed on before us; teachers who opened our eyes to the mysteries of the world; doctors; good priests and religious; storekeepers and accountants; indeed people from all walks of life. There are many others whose names we may never know, but we can rest assured that they too offer models of holiness.

The doctrine of the Communion of Saints is one of the most comforting in the Church. We are all in this together. We are all part of the Body of Christ. Whether one walked alongside Jesus in 1st century Palestine or toiled in the Middle Ages or is trying to make his way amidst the challenges of 21st century America, we are all connected. We are here to support each other both in this life and the next. The saints up in heaven have achieved the summit and stand ready to help us climb the mountain. Just as we pray for each other here on earth, they are eager to pray for us up in heaven. We can lean on them for support and encouragement.

And so, on this day we celebrate the “everyday” saints, the ones who have no feast day on the liturgical calendar. We think of the people who lived their lives in relative anonymity, the way most of us do. We remember the mothers and fathers who raised their children to the best of their abilities, the people who went to work every day and did an honest day’s labor, the women and men who practiced works of mercy whenever they could, and the people who prayed for others on a daily basis.

We may look at the lives of the famous saints and think that we could never be like them, but there are as many paths to holiness as there are people on earth. We can look to these unknown saints for inspiration when the days get hard. God calls each of us in our own way. Whether we are doing the dishes, helping our children learn to read, doing data-entry in an office, managing a staff of hundreds, caring for a sick parent, or sitting in a Church praying, if we are doing what God wants of us, we can be sure we are on the right path. God is found in the details of our daily life, just as God was found in the details of the lives in the saints that went before us. They are waiting for us with outstretched arms, eager to welcome us to the promise of eternal life.

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