The Elect

All Saints Fra Angelico

Apparently, there’s a state election coming up. We Virginia voters will choose a new governor, lieutenant governor, and other officials. May all of us who vote do so wisely, thinking first of the poor and the vulnerable.

In church, though, we focus on a different group of elected people. Elected by God, as His beloved children, His friends forever, the heirs of undying holiness.

God chooses His saints, the heavenly company. God starts the whole process, by His choice, His election. Then the saint co-operates. That’s the definition of a saint, I guess: Someone who blithely, lovingly, humbly co-operates with God. “Thy will be done.”

Pope St Gregory IIIWhen people with beautiful souls die, oftentimes those of us still on earth believe that the deceased person must be in heaven. The Church has an extensive process for verifying this. When the Pope canonizes a saint, he gives us the assurance that this particular holy person did certainly co-operate with God. The canonized saint can serve as our role model, and we can count on his or her heavenly assistance.

The Church has canonized thousands of saints through the centuries. We have this particular solemnity of All Saints on our calendar because the ancient persecutions produced so many martyrs that we couldn’t have a feast day for all of them. The Roman emperors who persecuted the Church and threw Christians to the lions gave us way more than 365 martyrs to venerate. The Pope declared this particular feast day, November 1, for all of them. And countless thousands more martyrs and saints have reached heaven since then.

So heaven brims with saints. God knows them all. We know who some of them are for sure, because the Church has certified it. Today we rejoice in the holiness with which all of them co-operated with the plan of God.

Pray for us, all you holy saints of God above, that we might have the grace to co-operate with God and become saints, too.

Everybody’s Holy Day

People say that Catholics have a hard time observing holy days in our thoroughly secularized culture.

But that is not exactly the case when it comes to keeping All Saints’ Day. Just about the entire American population observes this holy day—by doing something unusual the night before, be it dressing up, or giving out candy, or watching horror movies.

Continue reading “Everybody’s Holy Day”