As the liturgical year draws to a close, we celebrate the Feast of All Saints Day this Sunday. The Feast of All Saints does more than just celebrate all of the saints in heaven who do not have a specific feast day. The Propers of All Saints Day champion the very concepts that make sainthood a reality. What follows will be a brief reflection on those qualities.
There’s this popular misconception about the saints in heaven. They are often presented as superheroes that had extreme holiness. That’s the case with some of them no doubt. We celebrate feast days in honor of their heroic witness for Christ. Yet even they were often just ordinary people. What every saint has in common is the first principle: as the Introit tells us, they “rejoice in the Lord.” While this could be taken to mean being in heaven, it is also true that for the saints, Christ was their source of happiness.
Do we think of Christ as the source of our happiness today? To think in such a way is simply to realize that Christ is the source of our joy. We should always be of cheer, even in dark times, because Christ has overcome the world. We should never give into despairing, because Christ is our hope. We should cling to the doctrines of Holy Mother Church as a source of great liberty and freedom, because they put the words of Christ into practice. To do that is to rejoice in the Lord.
One of the reasons for that joy is covered in the Gradual and the Alleluia. The Gradual tells us that to them that fear God, they have no wants. All of our needs are provided for if you place yourself in God’s trust. This might often seem like an odd message. Christianity has often been the religion of the poor and downtrodden. Were their needs covered? Oftentimes those material needs were not provided for. So how could they be without want? In the souls of those saints, there was always a generosity, even in the poor. Why? Because their eternal salvation was provided for! Once their eternal salvation was provided for, they found themselves able to be generous in the things of this world, even when they were lacking. That spirit is available to us, if we want it.
While that spirit is available to us, it is up to us to foster it once we have it. This is where the saint is truly made by God’s grace. They are given the same grace everyone else is, they just have adopted a lifestyle where that grace finds fertile soil. That fertile soil is the Beatitudes mentioned in the Gospel. The Beatitudes are often translated today as a self-help gospel of pious platitudes. Be meek and humble, and you will be holy. That’s not necessarily true. The Beatitudes instead are practices which open us up to Christ’s transformative grace. Someone who is meek and humble is likelier to listen to God’s advice. Someone who is not too attached to the world is more likely to cherish the things of heaven. All of the practices Christ mentions are gifts which He bestows upon us. When we practice them, we open our hearts to Him. When we practice these Beatitudes, we also become His instrument of Evangelization in this world. The Saints are one of God’s most powerful forms of evangelization, right next to the liturgy and catholic doctrine which form them. The saints practiced these Beatitudes because they viewed them as duties a citizen in God’s kingdom would perform.
Yet that duty, like everything else, is borne out of love. That’s what makes the Saint: love of God. It is love of God that gets us through not only the tough times this world gives us, but through the tough times our own sins give us. It is love of God that helps us seek out the confessional when we fall short of his standard. It is love of God that ultimately drives us to charity for others. It is love of God that seeks him out in the quiet of Adoration, where we can forget about the world for just a second, and encounter him in silence. As we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints, let that love transform us.