Following next weekend we have two wonderful celebrations in the life of the Church—All Saints and All Souls. Since one immediately follows the other, I will touch upon the first one this week and the second next week. We begin, then, with the first and more solemn celebration, All Saints.
We are all familiar with specific feast days for people like St. Francis and St. Claire, St. Benedict and St. Dominic, St. Patrick or Mother Teresa. However, besides these well-known Saints, there are many lesser-known saints like Romaric of Remiremont or Darerca of Ireland. Even beyond the well known and less known saints, there are many other unknown saints.
What is an unknown saint? Anyone who is in heaven, but who has not been officially canonized by the Church. The reality of the unknown saints is good news for us. If you had to be officially canonized to make it into heaven, that would not bode well for our eternal destinies. Thankfully, the Church teaches that there are indeed many saints in heaven whose names are unknown to us and yet share in the beatific vision. Indeed, the feast of All Saints is one way that she teaches this truth.
Why do we celebrate the saints, known or unknown? Why would we be focusing on humans, even if they are really good ones, when we can focus on God? There are at least two reasons, both of which are beautifully expressed in a preface before the Eucharistic prayer on the occasion of a saint’s celebration. Toward the beginning of the preface we encounter these words: “For you are praised in the company of your Saints and, in crowning their merits, you crown your own gifts.” We see then, that in acknowledging and celebrating the saints, we are acknowledging and celebrating God because it is his own gifts that caused the saints’ merit and which lead them to glory.
Following this, the preface continues: “By their way of life you offer us an example, by communion with them you give us companionship, by their intercession, sure support, so that, encouraged by so great a cloud of witnesses, we may run as victors in the race before us and win with them the imperishable crown of glory, through Christ our Lord.” Here we see that saints are real and living people. Their companionship, example, and prayers are a true aid in our growth in holiness, helping us to obtain the glory of God’s kingdom, the place where they await us with joy!
This year, as last, part of our celebration of these saints will be our Halloween (All Hallows Eve = All Saints Eve) party. We invite all families to join us for 6 PM Mass at St. Patrick followed by pizza, games, treats, and festivities in the Blanchet Hall at St. Patrick Parish. Children are especially encouraged to celebrate in costume honoring saints, martyrs, angels or any other expression of our faith.
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!