Dear Friends in Christ,
On November 1, the Universal Church celebrates All Saints Day. This Holy Day takes precedence over our regular Sunday celebration on the liturgical calendar. All Saints Day is also a Holy Day of Obligation, even when it is not on a Sunday – although this year, we are dispensed due to the pandemic. That the Church sees this wonderful feast as important is obvious, but the question is why? The answer is twofold. Firstly, because we praise and honor God for the lives and examples of all the holy women and men of every age who faithfully loved and followed Jesus. Be they officially canonized or not, we praise God for the glory of His love as manifested in the lives of all the saints throughout the ages. In the saints, we see God’s grace lived and His glory made manifest. A second aspect of this holy day’s importance is that it is a reminder that each of us is called to be a saint. Today, we are reminded that every Christian is called not simply to be nice or even good, but we are called to be holy. We are called to be saints.
Our call to holiness is a call to live our faith without compromise. Our call to holiness is not a call to be a cafeteria, casual or part-time Catholic, picking and choosing what parts of the faith we accept and live. We are called to live the totality and fullness of our faith at all times. Our vocation to sanctity in this life is a call to keep heaven always before us as our true and eternal home. To be a saint is to desire heaven and eternal life with God above all else. To be a saint is to live our faith in God and our relationship with Him as our most treasured gift. To be a saint is to know that our life is not our own but a gift from the Lord with the best yet to come.
Today, many people are abandoning and rejecting Christianity. The number of religiously unaffiliated (the “nones”) grows each year. In the U.S. the “nones” outnumber Catholics, Evangelicals and mainline Protestants. There are many reasons for this. I suspect that of those who are indeed abandoning the faith, many are rejecting something that they don’t really know or never truly possessed. In many instances, they are not rejecting a real relationship with God because for many they never had one to begin with. That is very sad. For many who reject Jesus, his Gospel and the teachings of the Church in their lives and choices, it is more a declining to embrace something they don’t really know or understand. They are unfamiliar with living in friendship with God. Because they don’t really know what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, the teachings of the Church and a life of holiness appear foreign, strange and even scary. For many of these folks who are former Catholics, they were “Catholics in Name Only”. For some their Catholicism was merely a cultural badge, something they put on and took off with ease. Their faith was nothing but a hereditary marker or family relic that no longer has any real significance or impact. Sadly, this type of Catholicism is acceptable in our society. To be a former Catholic or a bad Catholic, to be in opposition to the Church’s teaching is tolerated, acceptable and even lauded. However, to be a faithful, committed Catholic is seen as unacceptable. To be a faithful Catholic is to subject oneself to ridicule, attack and rejection. The kind of faith that influences our lives and guides our choices is a threat to many today. It always has been. Someone who seriously lives their Christian faith is viewed as a challenge/threat to others and their choices. The reality of heaven and God’s call to live for Him is a call to conversion (metanoia). This helps explain the open and widespread hostility of today’s secularists when they encounter the Christian faith lived authentically and without compromise. Increasingly, the tolerance and acceptance that is so espoused by contemporary society does not extend to committed and faithful Christians.
Sanctity and fidelity have always been powerful forces as they offer hope and eternal life. All Saints Day is our reminder that sanctity and fidelity are also our vocation and that heaven is our true home.
In pace Christi,