Happy All Saints Day to all of the saints in heaven, the faithful departed, and to everyone on earth! The saints and the angels in heaven compose the Church Triumphant, because they have obtained the crown of victory. Through the “communion of saints,” a doctrine proclaimed in the Apostle’s Creed, the blessed in heaven assist those of us on earth and the faithful departed. We pray with the saints and angels so that they may intercede on our behalf before Our Lord. Remember, these incredible, courageous and wonderful individuals see God face to face. Indeed, they are the ultimate role models, heroes and heroines–people who chose to do extraordinary things with great love, or ordinary things with great love, and behaved always with serving Our Lord as their first priority in their lives, no matter what the cost. They were no different as human beings than we are, with faults, talents, proclivities towards temptation and bearing all qualities incident to human beings. What made them different were their choices, to serve God first above anything and everything. To put it more eloquently were the words of St. Thomas More on the day he was beheaded, wherein he stated, “I am the King’s good servant, but God’s first.”
“In the communion of saints, a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, the faithful departed and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, too, an abundant exhange of all good things. In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others. Thus, recourse to the communion of saints lets the contrite sinner be more promptly and efficaciously purified of the punishments for sin.” The Church refers to these spiritual goods of the communion of saints as the “Church treasury” to-wit: “This treasury includes as well, the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are truly immense, unfathomable, and even pristine in their value before God. In the treasury too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have made their lives holy and carried out the mission the Father entrusted to them. In this way, they attained their own salvation and at the same time cooperated in saving their brothers in the unity of the Mystical Body.”
The Communion of Saints strengthens the entire Church and all of the People of God. “For by reason of the fact that those in heaven are more closely united with Christ, they establish the whole Church more firmly in holiness, lend nobility to the worship which the Church offers to God here on earth and in many ways contribute to its greater edification. For after they have been received into their heavenly home and are present with the Lord, through Him and with Him and in Him they do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, showing forth the merits which they won on earth through the Mediator between God and man…”
St. Thomas More said, “We venerate the saints as God’s servants, as we would on earth welcome the servants of a great man we esteemed. If the goodness we bestow upon our poor brethren is considered by Christ as bestowed upon Himself, as He tells us (Mt 25:40), and if those, as He says, who welcome His apostles and disciples welcome Him (Mt 10:40), assuredly those who honor the saints are likewise honoring Christ. Our Lord Himself showed that He would have His saints partake in His glory when He promised the apostles that they would be seated at His side on the final Day of Judgment (Mt 19:28). Moreover, He promised that Martha’s sister, Mary (whom More identified as Mary Magdalen), would be honored throughout the world for her deed of anointing Him with ointment (Mt 26:13).”
As to whether or not the saints can either hear us or help us, St. Thomas More provides, “Yet how can we doubt whether they hear us? Their souls are not dead, and therefore as living souls the love and charity toward their fellowman that characterized them to this world cannot have diminished in the next. The closer one draws to heaven, the greater is his solicitude toward his brethren here on earth, as was the case with the martyr, St. Stephen, who after seeing heaven opened, prayed for his enemies who were stoning him (Acts 7:55-60). In view of this, is it conceivable that St. Stephen would not pray for those who honor him on earth, now that he is in heaven?” And the question is further posed, how can the saints in heaven help us? More reasoned that since “the saints were certainly able to assist others while on earth where their human nature was as weak as ours, surely they can do so in heaven.”
Have not you ever asked someone, “Please pray for my mother, she is very ill,” or “Please pray for me; I am about to make a very inportant decision that will affect my life.” Ergo, we pray with the Saints, the Church Triumphant, for their intercession, for their guidance that they receive from Our Lord Himself. If we ask those we know on earth for their advocacy and prayers, all the more reason to ask the Church Triumphant to enter our lives, to give us direction and to ask through them the Grace from God necessary to live our lives according to the Will of God, to the fullest extent, using all of our talents and gifts given to us by God. The saints are with us; we are foolish not to have camaraderie with them and to enjoy intimate and meaningful relationships. Our Lord gave them to us; let us get to know them, so that we might become like them. That is why on FOTM, we have a section on the angels and the saints, so that everyone can get to know some of them.
And, there are traits and virtues common to all saints, which are as follows: Love of God, Faith in God, Hope in God, humility, courage, patience, Fear of God, selflessness, truthfulness and generosity.
I end my communication to you today with a poem composed by Sister Mary Raphael, who was a Sister with Mother Mary Angelica, the foundress of EWTN and the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, as she was dying of cancer stated:
“What ecstasy awaits my path to You, Lord. I know I’ll find You when time ends for me. Then I will hear your Footsteps drawing near me. You’ll hurry to my arms, embracing me. Oh, all you Angels come to be my escort, arriving at my birth, through life till death. You lead me on, inspiring me with courage, and hope that I’ll arrive to meet my Love. To know my destiny, will ever be in His Blessed Company!”
This is indeed the prayer of the Saints, the Church Triumphant, as they share the Blessed Company of the Triune Supreme and Omnipotent God. Long Live the Saints, the Church Triumphant! Happy All Saints Day!
MAY OUR LORD ALWAYS BE FIRST SERVED!
All my Love, Joan
Holy Scriptures as cited (New American Catholic Bible)
Cathechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd edition (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2000)
James Monti, The King’s Good Servant but God’s First, The Life and Writing of Saint Thomas More (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997)
Sister Mary Raphael is Gone, But Not Forgotten! (Daily Catholic 2000, January 18, 2000, volume 11, no. 12)