Tomorrow is the feast of All Saints (also called Hallow Mass), which has always been one of my favorite feast days (remember, by the way, that it is a Holy Day of Awesome), a day which we remember all of the great saints of history, including and especially those who may be in Heaven but are not on the “official” Church calendar. The Church in her wisdom gives us this day because it would be impossible to commemorate everyone in Heaven on the calendar of the Church, so it is a day of all saints.
Tomorrow’s feast and the feast of the following day, All Souls, are a time to remember those who “died in Christ,” those who died with the hope of rising again on the Last Day, at the End of All Things. Inevitably, these special feasts can cause us to reflect on the lives of the people close to us who have gone on to their rest. I think of my grandparents, who I was close to, and whose memory is close enough in time for me to have very vivid recollections, but whose passing-one by one-has served as a very personal reminder to me that our time in this world is finite, and that our passage into the infinite cannot take place-unless the parousia should occur first-without the death of the body. In the words of St. Paul, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (cf. Phil. 1:21)
I also remember many others who have had an influence on my life over the years, clergy, teachers and professors, friends, people who have been personal examples of faith, good work, or proper Christian living, who have passed on. I’m sure that many of our readers do the same during these days and during the month of November, which has become a month of remembrance in many local parishes and dioceses.
The Church does not give us these days, however, merely to sulk in the desperate state of the affairs of the world and wish that we were with Christ as the saints are. We are given these days of reflection-for that is what they are truly intended to be-in order that we might recall and remember the lives of holy people who have touched our own in some way, reflecting a message of the Gospel in doing so. We are called to remember the holy people God put into the world to be examples to us and to others in order that we might have examples of how the Gospel that we profess and proclaim is to be lived for all to see.
As we celebrate the feasts of All Saints and All Souls tonight (the Vigil of All Saints) tomorrow, and Saturday, let us give thanks to God for those holy people, both those who are presently with us and those who have entered Eternal Life as we one day, by the Grace of God, hope to do. Let us especially remember those priests, deacons, and religious of the Church who have died in the past year as we remember all of the Saints of the Lord in these days
Let us sing and celebrate the Saints of God with gusto and fervor!