The Solemnity of All Saints has always impressed me as one of the most important days of the year for a contemporary disciple of Jesus. While we duly remember and learn from the saintly women and men of the past whose feast days we recall throughout the liturgical year, I think this day has a unique message for each of us now alive. We are never likely to be raised up for the pious admiration of other Christians in ages to come. However, we are already bonded in the Holy Spirit to that “communion of saints” which has gone before us in faith.
We are the spiritually battered, the emotionally bruised, the ordinary faithful who hear the same Sacred Scriptures at church which jolted a Francis of Assisi out of his affluent revelry into a life of selfless poverty of spirit for the sake of the least members of society in thirteenth century Italy. We quietly read the same First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians whose chapter 13 convinced Therese of Lisieux that one thing alone was necessary to be a saint, no matter what one’s life situation was. She wrote in her autobiography, “In the heart of my mother the Church, I will be love, and thus I will be everything!”
Our Sacred Scriptures of this solemn feast nourish us like a Thanksgiving banquet. The Beatitudes invite us to bear fruit through the variety of virtues which the Lord can form in us if we are open to Him in simplicity. Likewise, we all need to be reminded that we are children of God, especially if life has tested us to the limit. We need to recall again that nothing that happens to us is beyond the loving gaze of our God. The Book of Revelation reinforces our faith that the saints now enjoying eternal glory in the presence of God stand with us today. They are a great throng of witnesses assuring us that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, which is already our inheritance and will also be our future.
We know how Holy Communion of the Eucharist joins us to one another in the Body of Christ. On this Feast, we celebrate that Holy Communion of Saints, which joins us and those yet to be born, to that great family of God with all the gifts of Spirit that we need and will receive if we ask.
(Father Paul Zilonka, C.P. is a Member of the Passionist Preaching Team of St. Paul of the Cross Province).