All Saints Day | Reflection – The Celebration of Saints: Inspiration, Participation and Intercession
“We, the Christian community, assemble to celebrate the memory of the martyrs with ritual solemnity because we want to be inspired to follow their example, share in their merits, and be helped by their prayers.”
Against Faustus, 20, 21
Today is the Solemnity of all Saints. The Church celebrates the memory of the countless holy men and women from different origins and nationalities (cf. Rev. 7:9), heroes and heroines of Christian faith and witnesses of Christian charity through their lives.
Saint Augustine shares us three simple reasons why we do celebrate their memory: first, for inspiration from their examples; second, for participation in their merits and lastly, for the intercession of our prayers.
First, as an inspiration from their example and in the light of the gospel reading in today’s feast, the saints teach us to become real Christians and saints in the Kingdom of God in the making. The lives lived by the saints are not unattainable to us. By the fact they have passed through this life and bore the tests of this earthly exile, the saints tell us that we can remain faithful to God, who is our goal of this life, despite all the temptations. Jesus calls them “blessed” or “happy” because they remain to be on the side of God.
Secondly, the celebration of the saints is a participation of their merits. This is an article of our faith, the “communion of saints”. We are taught by our catechesis that our faith in the communion of saints is an ecclesiological reality that we do not only journey all alone on this earth. We participate in the goal reached by the saints in heaven. They who participate in the lumen gloriae, who is God, is also shared to us by their own prayers in that heavenly condition. This reality is described in the spirit of Christian hope. Saint John says that we shall become someday like Christ as we are eagerly awaiting for that moment in the future. We never lose hope therefore, because the glory of the saints is an assuring truth that someday we shall be like them, beholding the Holy Face of God.
Lastly, the saints pray for us. They are our intercessors. Saints pray for us because their position in front of lumen gloriae gives them an opportunity to include our condition in the valley of tears. The vision of Saint John in the first reading provides us a picture of this glorious state of heaven where the eternal praise and glory of God is being be held and sang. In the same book somewhere an angel offers our prayers and in this very symbolic incense burned as a sweet smelling oblation is being offered by the Church triumphant in front of the Blessed Trinity.
May we find the real essence of the celebration of the saints in heaven. May we start to move on this meaning and finding meaning in it, we find authentic Christian life. Amen. | Rev. Fr. Ric Anthony A. Reyes, OSA