Happy All Saints Day, everyone! This feast was instituted to commemorate all the blessed in Heaven who don’t have their own particular feast day in the universal Church – after all, there are only 365 days in the year, and we’ve got a lot of saints!
Now, everyone in Heaven is a saint, but we simply don’t know who a lot of these folks are. The saints that the Church has canonized, who have their own feast in the calendar, have given evidence of their heavenly residence, via miracles wrought through their intercession. Checking into these things is part of the canonization process, natch. But the vast majority of saints in heaven are unknown. One could even say that today is the Church’s feast of “the unknown soldier”, as it were.
In all likelihood, should you and I find ourselves in Heaven, by God’s grace, this is going to be our feast day. Today, Nov. 1. The feast of All Saints. And this day should remind us that you and I are called to the very heights of holiness. We are called to be “canonizable” saints, worthy of our own feast day, even if we don’t get one of our own (and in Heaven, we won’t care about that one whit).
This is what our baptism calls us to. If you want to boil the Christian life down to its essence, we’re called to two things:
- Holiness (becoming a saint, the best version of ourselves); and
- Apostolate (or evangelism, whatever you want to call it – helping others to become saints).
That’s basically it! Of course, easier said than done. But if you want to, you can – with God’s help (in fact, God does pretty much all the heavy lifting).
One hears a lot of people saying things like, “I think I’ll probably get into heaven by the skin of my teeth”. Talk about setting a low bar! If that’s your goal, what happens if you miss? Safer to strive for greatness. Jesus was once asked about this very thing by his disciples in Luke 13:23-30:
And some one said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us.’ He will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!’ There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out. And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
In a day and age when many are questioning the existence of an eternal Hell (which the Church assures us does still exits), this is a sobering corrective. The opiate of the people is the thought that no matter what, wether I strive for sanctity or not, we’re all going to “get in” in the end. Jesus teaches us that our job is not to speculate about who’s eternally “in or out”, but to strive with all of our energy, counting on God’s help, to become the very best version of ourselves, for that essentially is what a saint is.
Besides, it’s not simply about eternal blessing after death. It’s about true happiness in this life as well. Every single one of us, even those who abhor God, do what they do in order to chase what they think will make them happy. Sinners think sin will make them happy. It won’t. The only thing that will truly satisfy us is God, and his righteousness (cf. Matthew 6:33). As St Josemaria once said, “If you want to be happy, be holy. If you want to be very happy, be very holy!”
So, happy feast day to all of us. Let’s go chase our destiny.