The Feast of All Saints
Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14
1 John 3: 1-3
Matthew 5: 1-12a
On this Feast of All Saints the first reading assures us in visionary language and symbol that all the people of the Promise in the Old Testament will share God’s great glory in heaven. God has been faithful to His promises and the 12 tribes of Israel, each numbering 12,000 members, will be sealed with the mark of their loving God.
Then the Visionary goes on to tell us of all the countless numbers of Gentiles from all over the world who withstood distress of all kinds upon this earth and have been saved by the blood of Jesus, the Christ. Myriads upon myriads signed and sealed are now with their Lord, the Lamb of God
This Feast of All Saints has really been opened up by Vatican II. One of the most important messages of Vatican II, a truly foundational message, is that everyone is called to holiness. Everyone – not just bishops, priests, and religious – each member of the laity is truly called to be holy with the holiness of God. We are each of us called to be Christ. These are the saints that we celebrate today.
Robert Faesen, SJ, an authority on the spirituality of the Dutch Middle Ages, tells us that the common person is the woman or man who through a life of contemplative prayer and action, "is united with God and is an instrument of God." The common person is the woman or man who does not seek after power, position, privilege or prestige, but rather learns to live for God and God alone. These persons seek out and serve others in ordinary ways because they love God. He is the old man who answered the Cure d’Ars question about what he does sitting in the church, "I just look at Him and He looks at me." Or she is the woman who, like Dorothy Day, is kind and pleasant to the person she dislikes because she knows God loves and likes that person. The common person is an ordinary person who does ordinary things for the love of God.
Our new General Superior, Bro. Edward Driscoll, a former principal of St. Xavier High School in Louisville, KY, has suggested that we Xaverian Brothers celebrate this feast in the following way: "As we celebrate All Saints and All Souls Days, I invite you to spend time reflecting on the common women and men in your own life. The people who could easily be canonized but don’t need to be. What are their stories? How did they form you?"
I pass it on to you. For me it seems both comforting and enriching to sit and look at Him and let Him look at me, as we both, He and I, recall and thank each of those many common ordinary persons who influenced me and formed me for good in Him.
Br. Peter A. Fitzpatrick, CFX, a Xaverian Brother, is a Passionist Associate at Ryken House, across the creek from the Passionist Monastery, in Louisville, Kentucky.