Feast of All Saints
November 1, 2013
By Rev. Lewis S. Fiorelli, O.S.F.S.
Today’s feast of All Saints and tomorrow’s feast of All Souls are two sides of the same coin. Today we celebrate the feast of all those men, women and children who are already in Heaven. Tomorrow we will celebrate the feast of those who have died and are now being readied for the eternal joys of Heaven. For me, these are two of the most beautiful feasts of the Church’s year. They are reminders to us, busy about many things, of the ONE THING that really counts: living today in such a way that one day we will join them in Heaven!
Towards the end of his Introduction to the Devout Life, St. Francis de Sales reminds us of the most important things about the saints and the lives that they led. He tells us, quite simply, this: “They were once what we are now.”
That says it all: “The saints were once what we are now.” They were husbands and wives; they were parents and children; they were teens, single people and widows; they were housewives and CEO’s; they served in the military or worked in an office. They worked hard to earn a living for their families; they loved deeply and showed that love in everyday ways; they were kind and caring towards others, readily forgiving hurts and slights, and willing to begin each day afresh. They suffered the diminishments of age and health with patience and grace. Like us, they confessed their sins, sought the grace of the sacraments and throughout the course of their lives tried as best as they could to develop and deepen their loving and filial relationship with God.
In every way and in all ways, the saints “once were what we are now.” And now they are saints in glory. They are urging all of us to persevere to the finish line, to keep our eyes focused on Christ, and to hear and heed the example of the saints and the voices of the angels.
another of his writings, Francis de Sales describes the saints in this way:
“What else is the life of a saint except the gospel put into practice? There is no more difference between the written gospel and the lives of saints than between music that is set down in notes and music that is sung!”
This is a very important insight. Even if we were to lose all of our four Gospels, we would still be able to reproduce them by studying the lives of the saints. For example, we would recover the poverty and simplicity of Jesus in the life St. Francis of Assisi. We would understand the gospel teaching on the love and service of the poor in the example of Blessed Theresa of Calcutta and her tender care of the poorest of the poor. We would appreciate the zeal of Jesus for sinners in the life and ministry of St. Ignatius of Loyola. We could recover the burning love of the heart of Jesus in the life and teaching of St. Margaret Mary. Closer to home, we would see Jesus’ self-sacrificing love for others in the countless sacrifices of parents for their children. The examples could be multiplied a thousand-fold but they would all say the same thing: “The lives of the saints are the gospel put into daily practice!”
On this feast of All Saints we learn the secret of Christian holiness. We become holy by living the spirit of the Gospel in the nooks and crannies of our daily lives with one another. Remember, the saints once were what we are now. So if we imitate their example in our lives now, we will one day become what they are now: saints!
One day this solemnity of All Saints will not only be a feast that we celebrate in hope. One day we will be among the saints who are celebrated on this feast All Saints!