Posted by: Fr Chris | May 26, 2013

Sunday of All Saints

The ranks of the Saints, around Christ with John the Baptist and the Theotokos in supplication

The Roman Rite observes All Saints Day on November 1, but Churches of the Byzantine Rite observe it today, the first Sunday after Pentecost.  Once I asked children what they wanted to be when they grow up, and one surprised us all when he said, “A saint.” Saint is from the French, and means holy, or holy one.  In German, the word is Heilig – again, holy.  English with all its borrowings obscures the meaning of the word by not using “holy.” If we were to say that the current pope seeks to imitate Holy Francis of Assisi, it would put a whole new view on it, wouldn’t it? We are baptized into the Holy Trinity with one goal: to live with God in eternity forever. Thus, to become a saint, a holy one.  That little boy knew his theology!

This comes from the meditations I wrote for the parish bulletin, with comments for this posting in italics.

All Saints is set on this Sunday to remember all those who have responded to the call of the Holy Spirit, given at Pentecost, and who achieved the fullness of the Christian life. This is the day to remember all those anonymous Christians, people who were humble or royal, monks and nuns or parents of children, workers, soldiers, doctors, farmers, tradesmen: every soul who now dwells in glory in Heaven. These people, from all nations and all ranks of life, see the full Beatific Vision, the revelation of the Holy Trinity.  Oh, what must that be like? To rest in God, to have eternal repose, and to see Him in all the fullness of absolute glory, absolute acceptance, absolute creating, absolute energy pulsing  with absolute love. 

From the Catholic Encyclopedia (1911) we read: Repeatedly St. Paul speaks of the one body whose head is Christ (Colossians 1:18), whose energizing principle is charity (Ephesians 4:16), whose members are the saints, not only of this world, but also of the world to come (Ephesians 1:20Hebrews 12:22). In that communion there is no loss of individuality, yet such an interdependence that the saints are “members one of another” (Romans 12:5), not only sharing the same blessings (1 Corinthians 12:13) and exchanging good offices (1 Corinthians 12:25) and prayers(Ephesians 6:18), but also partaking of the same corporate life, because “Christ holds it together and makes all of its parts work perfectly, as it grows and becomes strong because of charity” (Ephesians 4:16).

The Catholic Catechism of today writes:  “Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness. . . . They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus . . . . So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped.”

As Saint Therese of Lisieux said on her deathbed: “I want to spend my heaven doing good upon earth.”

 

Eternity would be immensely boring if it consisted of sitting around looking at a bright light, and resting all the time. We pray for the saints in the Divine Liturgy, which can strike one as absurd since we usually pray to the saints, not for them.  Why for them? There is the thought that the saints continue to grow in heaven, to change. Which of course must be true if the goal is to get ever closer to understanding the mystery of the Holy Trinity, and if one is to be answering petitions from those ‘down below’ on earth.  Again, it would be boring, and against the idea of God as life-giving and creating, were we all to graduate from here so as to just be.  God is Life as well as Love! 

It is a tremendous mystery – not one to be solved by Sherlock Holmes, but the mystery of God Himself, Who reveals Himself as Father and sent the Son while the Spirit breathes life into everything from tiny embryos in utero to the enormous whales who journey thousands of miles in the ocean.  On All Saints Day, let us beseech God for the gift of desiring Him immensely, of aching to be with Him, and let us ask our saints – our holy ones – to help us out ‘down below.’

I could not celebrate the Liturgy today –  I had such stabbing pains in my feet that they were jumping about and I was exclaiming. I received the Body of Our Lord from the tabernacle with the assistance of the pastor, and then came home to pray. No one stopped by after church, all presuming that I needed to rest.  But rest is not it is all cracked up to be a lot of times – it can be darned lonely “resting” and so actually an experience of another kind of pain. 

God in His infinite mercy comes to us in any and all situations when we open the door. And sometimes He blows the door down with the force of His Spirit when we’ve been dumb enough to lock it against Him for some fool reason that is not a reason.  The holy ones are the people who have responded to Him over the ages, before Christ and after Him. May I be one of them, dear sweet Lord, may I be one of them. 

 


Responses

  1. It is beautiful that God gives us the grace to ask for that “gift of desiring Him immensely”. I suppose this is why we pray for the Saints in the Byzantine Liturgy: so that they would have their desire ever more strongly fulfilled. Awesome post Father, it is so deep-such a mystery-thanks!


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