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ALL SAINTS' DAY

I’ve often been asked about the number of those attending Masses. I usually reply with John’s vision of the saints "marked with the seal" in the book of Revelation 7: 2-4, 9-14 (first reading) “a hundred and forty-four thousand…out of every tribe of the children of Israel and “a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and the lamb in white robes…with palm branches in their hands.”  We are a communion (triumphant, militant and suffering) of saints. In the Mass, we join the company of those who have gone before us in faith, the company of Angels and Saints in heaven. And so, we glorify you with the multitude of Saints and Angels, as with one voice of praise we acclaim…"Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts…We are surrounded by a Cloud of Witnesses (Heb. 12:1)"  We're never alone...We worship with the gallery of the holy ones, with all the faithful who entered the worship environment.

The carved statues of saints and the stained glass windows in our parishes remind us of their continued presence. In our joys and sorrows, successes and failures, even in our laughters, they are one with us interceding for God.

The solemnity of All Saints is a special day honoring the canonized, the official, the known as well as the unknown whose lives have been singlehandedly devoted to Christ perhaps members of our families, relatives and friends who didn't simply teach us and left us inspiring words but showed us the example of Christian life, the stuff of Christianity. We put them on the pedestal and convince ourselves there's no way we can be like them as they existed at a stage in history unfamiliar and detached to many of us. But, it's the same scenario. Saints rise at difficult times. They step up to the plate and respond to the religious and spiritual needs of their times. That's exactly what we need at this juncture in the church’s era…the game- changers.

Although today, we celebrate both the official, whose biographies have been well-documented, famous lines quoted, and statues/images decorated on a pedestal and the unofficial (not even by loud acclamation) saints, what strikes me most is the effervescent, passionate desire of the countless, unnamed, unknown, anonymous, ordinary Christians who died for their faith as if their lives didn't matter, persecuted through the centuries to this day whose names never made it in the books.

If we dream of being counted in the communion of saints in the heavenly glory, of reaching into the eternal fulfillment Matthew 5: 1-12 which lays down the eight beatitudes, provides us with the roadmap to holiness. With all its grandeur, this feast all started with prayers and devotions honoring local martyrs. Perhaps, not in our generation and/or lifetime but we’re hoping with fingers crossed, one day, a saint will come out of Douglas/Pirtleville through the handing on of the tradition. Amen. 

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