The Solemnity of All Saints

allsaints

“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.’

PRAYER FOR THE WEEK

In Praise of the Saints

How shining and splendid are your gifts, O Lord

which you give us for our eternal well-being

Your glory shines radiantly in your saints, O God

In the honor and noble victory of the martyrs.

The white-robed company follow you,

bright with their abundant faith;

They scorned the wicked words of those with this world’s power.

For you they sustained fierce beatings, chains, and torments,

they were drained by cruel punishments.

They bore their holy witness to you

who were grounded deep within their hearts;

they were sustained by patience and constancy.

Endowed with your everlasting grace,

may we rejoice forever

with the martyrs in our bright fatherland.

O Christ, in your goodness,

grant to us the gracious heavenly realms of eternal life.

Unknown author, 10th century

OPENING PRAYER FOR THE MASS

God our Father,

source of all holiness,

the work of your hands is manifest in your saints,

the beauty of your truth is reflected in their faith.

May we who aspire to have part in their joy

be filled with the Spirit that blessed their lives,

so that having shared their faith on earth

we may also know their peace in your kingdom.

Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

READING I

Rv 7:2-4, 9-14

I, John, saw another angel come up from the East,

holding the seal of the living God.

He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels

who were given power to damage the land and the sea,

“Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees

until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”

I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal,

one hundred and forty-four thousand marked

from every tribe of the children of Israel.

After this I had a vision of a great multitude,

which no one could count,

from every nation, race, people, and tongue.

They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,

wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.

They cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne,

and from the Lamb.”

All the angels stood around the throne

and around the elders and the four living creatures.

They prostrated themselves before the throne,

worshiped God, and exclaimed:

“Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving,

honor, power, and might

be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me,

“Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?”

I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.”

He said to me,

“These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress;

they have washed their robes

and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 163 Faith makes us taste in advance the light of the beatific vision, the goal of our journey here below. Then we shall see God “face to face”, “as he is”.1 So faith is already the beginning of eternal life:

When we contemplate the blessings of faith even now, as if gazing at a reflection in a mirror, it is as if we already possessed the wonderful things which our faith assures us we shall one day enjoy.2

CCC 1023 Those who die in God’s grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they “see him as he is,” face to face:3

By virtue of our apostolic authority, we define the following: According to the general disposition of God, the souls of all the saints. .. and other faithful who died after receiving Christ’s holy Baptism (provided they were not in need of purification when they died,. .. or, if they then did need or will need some purification, when they have been purified after death,. ..) already before they take up their bodies again and before the general judgment – and this since the Ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into heaven – have been, are and will be in heaven, in the heavenly Kingdom and celestial paradise with Christ, joined to the company of the holy angels. Since the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, these souls have seen and do see the divine essence with an intuitive vision, and even face to face, without the mediation of any creature.4

CCC 1161 All the signs in the liturgical celebrations are related to Christ: as are sacred images of the holy Mother of God and of the saints as well. They truly signify Christ, who is glorified in them. They make manifest the “cloud of witnesses”5 who continue to participate in the salvation of the world and to whom we are united, above all in sacramental celebrations. Through their icons, it is man “in the image of God,” finally transfigured “into his likeness,”6 who is revealed to our faith. So too are the angels, who also are recapitulated in Christ:

Following the divinely inspired teaching of our holy Fathers and the tradition of the Catholic Church (for we know that this tradition comes from the Holy Spirit who dwells in her) we rightly define with full certainty and correctness that, like the figure of the precious and life-giving cross, venerable and holy images of our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ, our inviolate Lady, the holy Mother of God, and the venerated angels, all the saints and the just, whether painted or made of mosaic or another suitable material, are to be exhibited in the holy churches of God, on sacred vessels and vestments, walls and panels, in houses and on streets.7

CCC 1692 The Symbol of the faith confesses the greatness of God’s gifts to man in his work of creation, and even more in redemption and sanctification. What faith confesses, the sacraments communicate: by the sacraments of rebirth, Christians have become “children of God,”8 “partakers of the divine nature.”9 Coming to see in the faith their new dignity, Christians are called to lead henceforth a life “worthy of the gospel of Christ.”10 They are made capable of doing so by the grace of Christ and the gifts of his Spirit, which they receive through the sacraments and through prayer.

CCC 2345 Chastity is a moral virtue. It is also a gift from God, a grace, a fruit of spiritual effort.11 The Holy Spirit enables one whom the water of Baptism has regenerated to imitate the purity of Christ.12

CCC 2519 The “pure in heart” are promised that they will see God face to face and be like him.13 Purity of heart is the precondition of the vision of God. Even now it enables us to see according to God, to accept others as “neighbors”; it lets us perceive the human body – ours and our neighbor’s – as a temple of the Holy Spirit, a manifestation of divine beauty.

CCC 2772 From this unshakeable faith springs forth the hope that sustains each of the seven petitions, which express the groanings of the present age, this time of patience and expectation during which “it does not yet appear what we shall be.”14 The Eucharist and the Lord’s Prayer look eagerly for the Lord’s return, “until he comes.”15

CCC 2822 Our Father “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”16 He “is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish.”17 His commandment is “that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”18 This commandment summarizes all the others and expresses his entire will.

1 1 Cor 13:12; I Jn 3:2.

2 St. Basil De Spiritu Sancto 15, 36: PG 32, 132; cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II, 4, 1.

3 1 Jn 3:2; cf. 1 Cor 13:12; Rev 22:4.

4 Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336): DS 1000; cf. LG 49.

5 Heb 12:1.

6 Cf. Rom 8:29; 1 Jn 3:2.

7 Council of Nicaea II: DS 600.

8 Jn 1:12; 1 Jn 3:1.

9 2 Pet 1:4.

10 Phil 1:27.

11 Cf. Gal 5:22.

12 Cf. 1 Jn 3:3.

13 Cf. 1 Cor 13:12; 1 Jn 3:2.

14 1 Jn 3:2; Cf. Col 3:4.

15 1 Cor 11:26.

16 1 Tim 2:3-4.

17 2 Pet 3:9; cf. Mt 18:14.

18 Jn 13:34; cf. 1 Jn 3; 4; Lk 10:25-37.

APPLICATION

This vision of St. John is chosen for today’s reading in order to encourage us to persevere in our Christian faith. Firstly, those on earth (ourselves) have to be prepared to meet opposition in our Christian lives. From the very beginning Christ had his followers and opponents. Christ, the innocent lamb, was “led to the slaughter and opened not his mouth.” As our representative and Savior he saw that the perfect obedience which he was to give to his Father demanded that his enemies’ wicked plan should be carried out. Likewise, during the first three centuries of the Church thousands of his followers had to give their lives for his sake and for their faith. In the intervening centuries, up to and including our own day, thousands have been put to death because of their loyalty to Christ.

If not for most of us today, at least for many, it is not a quick martyrdom that is threatening us, but a subtle persecution which is trying to make us disloyal to Christ and to our Christian principles. Under various pretexts the enemies of Christ and of God are trying to undermine our faith. Open atheism is not the most dangerous of these enemies. Few sane men can be convinced that there is no God or nothing for man but the grave. That is the fate only of the dumb beast. The dangerous enemy is the one who, in theory, admits that there is a God and a future life, but that what we do in this life has no connexion with God or our future. We are free agents, they say. We can and should do what we like. Why should we accept any restrictions on our personal liberty? Why keep the commandments? Why control our natural instincts? We should get all the pleasure and wealth we can in this life and the next will look after itself.

Today, we are reminded that every Christian on earth and everyone who wants to go to heaven must face opposition. But St. John tells us that the followers of Christ are given the necessary graces to face and overcome this opposition. Their foreheads are imprinted with the seal of the servants of God. Try to remember this when the advocates of earthly pleasures, the agents of the powers of evil, are using their wiles to make you forget that you are God’s chosen servant. His grace is there for the taking. The Christian who perseveres is he who lives his daily life at peace with God and neighbor, drawing on the sources of God’s grace–prayer and the sacraments.

Another source of encouragement for us today, on this the feast day of all of God’s saints, is the countless numbers John saw in heaven. These countless numbers were men and women of flesh and blood like ourselves. They had the same weaknesses, the same human inclinations, the same faults and failings in many cases as we have. They never forgot God, they never gave up trying to live the Christian life. They died at peace with God and so went to heaven. Many good-living Christians would almost laugh if they were told that they will be saints. Yet, that is what they will be. The reason why they would laugh at this statement of fact is the wrong idea that some spiritual writers have given us of the essence of a saint. The few saints who are canonized by the Church, and whose lives are written to encourage and inspire us, were exceptional individuals. We have no written lives of the ordinary men and women who were not exceptional in any way but who lived in God’s friendship and died in his grace. They now are saints in heaven.

Christ died to save all mankind. His death on the cross was not for St. Paul or St. Augustine or St. Francis only. It was for plain Mrs. Murphy and Franz Allesmanner and Signora Benvenuta also. They didn’t work miracles or do anything extraordinary, but they fully lived the very ordinary, humdrum daily Christian life. Thanks to God’s infinite mercy and thanks to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, there are countless saints in heaven today. One day soon you and I, please God, will increase their number. There are close relatives of each one of us in heaven. Let us ask them and all the other millions today to intercede for us. We are anxious to get to heaven and we are anxious to do the things that will get us there. Each day we have to meet much opposition. This will obtain for us God’s grace and “we shall overcome.” We too will be saints in heaven praising and thanking the good God who brought us there.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

PS 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;

the world and those who dwell in it.

For he founded it upon the seas

and established it upon the rivers.

Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?

or who may stand in his holy place?

One whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,

who desires not what is vain.

Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,

a reward from God his savior.

Such is the race that seeks him,

that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.

Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

READING II

1 Jn 3:1-3

Beloved:

See what love the Father has bestowed on us

that we may be called the children of God.

Yet so we are.

The reason the world does not know us

is that it did not know him.

Beloved, we are God’s children now;

what we shall be has not yet been revealed.

We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,

for we shall see him as he is.

Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure,

as he is pure.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 163 Faith makes us taste in advance the light of the beatific vision, the goal of our journey here below. Then we shall see God “face to face”, “as he is”.1 So faith is already the beginning of eternal life:

When we contemplate the blessings of faith even now, as if gazing at a reflection in a mirror, it is as if we already possessed the wonderful things which our faith assures us we shall one day enjoy.2

CCC 1023 Those who die in God’s grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they “see him as he is,” face to face:3

By virtue of our apostolic authority, we define the following: According to the general disposition of God, the souls of all the saints. .. and other faithful who died after receiving Christ’s holy Baptism (provided they were not in need of purification when they died,. .. or, if they then did need or will need some purification, when they have been purified after death,. ..) already before they take up their bodies again and before the general judgment – and this since the Ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into heaven – have been, are and will be in heaven, in the heavenly Kingdom and celestial paradise with Christ, joined to the company of the holy angels. Since the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, these souls have seen and do see the divine essence with an intuitive vision, and even face to face, without the mediation of any creature.4

CCC 1161 All the signs in the liturgical celebrations are related to Christ: as are sacred images of the holy Mother of God and of the saints as well. They truly signify Christ, who is glorified in them. They make manifest the “cloud of witnesses”5 who continue to participate in the salvation of the world and to whom we are united, above all in sacramental celebrations. Through their icons, it is man “in the image of God,” finally transfigured “into his likeness,”6 who is revealed to our faith. So too are the angels, who also are recapitulated in Christ:

Following the divinely inspired teaching of our holy Fathers and the tradition of the Catholic Church (for we know that this tradition comes from the Holy Spirit who dwells in her) we rightly define with full certainty and correctness that, like the figure of the precious and life-giving cross, venerable and holy images of our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ, our inviolate Lady, the holy Mother of God, and the venerated angels, all the saints and the just, whether painted or made of mosaic or another suitable material, are to be exhibited in the holy churches of God, on sacred vessels and vestments, walls and panels, in houses and on streets.7

CCC 1692 The Symbol of the faith confesses the greatness of God’s gifts to man in his work of creation, and even more in redemption and sanctification. What faith confesses, the sacraments communicate: by the sacraments of rebirth, Christians have become “children of God,”8 “partakers of the divine nature.”9 Coming to see in the faith their new dignity, Christians are called to lead henceforth a life “worthy of the gospel of Christ.”10 They are made capable of doing so by the grace of Christ and the gifts of his Spirit, which they receive through the sacraments and through prayer.

CCC 2345 Chastity is a moral virtue. It is also a gift from God, a grace, a fruit of spiritual effort.11 The Holy Spirit enables one whom the water of Baptism has regenerated to imitate the purity of Christ.12

CCC 2519 The “pure in heart” are promised that they will see God face to face and be like him.13 Purity of heart is the precondition of the vision of God. Even now it enables us to see according to God, to accept others as “neighbors”; it lets us perceive the human body – ours and our neighbor’s – as a temple of the Holy Spirit, a manifestation of divine beauty.

CCC 2772 From this unshakeable faith springs forth the hope that sustains each of the seven petitions, which express the groanings of the present age, this time of patience and expectation during which “it does not yet appear what we shall be.”14 The Eucharist and the Lord’s Prayer look eagerly for the Lord’s return, “until he comes.”15

CCC 2822 Our Father “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”16 He “is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish.”17 His commandment is “that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”18 This commandment summarizes all the others and expresses his entire will.

1 1 Cor 13:12; I Jn 3:2.

2 St. Basil De Spiritu Sancto 15, 36: PG 32, 132; cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II, 4, 1.

3 1 Jn 3:2; cf. 1 Cor 13:12; Rev 22:4.

4 Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336): DS 1000; cf. LG 49.

5 Heb 12:1.

6 Cf. Rom 8:29; 1 Jn 3:2.

7 Council of Nicaea II: DS 600.

8 Jn 1:12; 1 Jn 3:1.

9 2 Pet 1:4.

10 Phil 1:27.

11 Cf. Gal 5:22.

12 Cf. 1 Jn 3:3.

13 Cf. 1 Cor 13:12; 1 Jn 3:2.

14 1 Jn 3:2; Cf. Col 3:4.

15 1 Cor 11:26.

16 1 Tim 2:3-4.

17 2 Pet 3:9; cf. Mt 18:14.

18 Jn 13:34; cf. 1 Jn 3; 4; Lk 10:25-37.

APPLICATION

We are celebrating the Feast of all Saints, that is, of the millions of men and women who are today in heaven. St. John’s words are intended to help us to persevere in our heavenward journey. The great, encouraging thought that John puts before us is the fact that God the Father has already placed us more than half-way on our road to heaven by making us his adopted children through the incarnation.

No father can forget his children. He is ever ready to protect, help and guide them. Could the heavenly, all-powerful, all-loving Father forget his children? Their adoption caused the humiliation of his beloved Son in taking human nature and the sacrifice of that same beloved Son on the cross of Calvary.

A human father can be inhuman and desert and neglect his human children. God can never be ungodlike. He cannot change his nature which is Love itself. He cannot forget us, his adopted children. This is surely an encouragement for us. At times we may find the uphill climb to heaven hard. But if we remember the all-loving, omnipotent Father who is watching over us, we can never despair, no matter how dark our nights of struggle and sorrow may seem.

We must never forget that a loving father may have to appear severe at times in order to be truly kind. The human father has to correct his child at times. He has to make him learn obedience, to do things necessary for his health and soundness of body. If he is to prepare him to face life and earn his living he has to make him study his lessons, a thing most children would gladly avoid. Most of this discipline can appear cruel to the unthinking child. Instead it is true love and kindness.

So it is with our heavenly Father’s dealings with us. We would all love to be free from all temptations, free from all anxieties, free from all physical pain but our loving Father sees otherwise. He sends us these messengers of his love in order to prepare us to face our true life and earn for ourselves an eternal living in the future. When we are looking down from heaven on the troubles and misfortunes that we thought no kind God should let us suffer, we shall see their purpose. We shall heartily thank God for having provided them to help us on our way to heaven.

The reward for a few years of very limited suffering here on earth will be an eternity of happiness in the company of God and all his saints. As St. John says, we have only a limited revelation as to the nature of our existence in heaven, but we have enough knowledge of heaven to make us exert all our endeavors to get there. We shall be in the presence of God, the source and author of all that is good and enjoyable. We shall see the Son of God in his human nature. In him we shall understand the love of God for us which brought about the incarnation and all that it entailed for Christ of humiliations and sufferings for our sake. We shall be in the company of our blessed Mother and all our fellow human beings who will be intimately united with us in singing the praises of God, our common Father. Added to these joys will be the certainty that this state of happiness will last forever. Never again shall anxiety or suffering enter our lives. Pain, death and separation from those we love will never again cast a shadow on our existence. We shall feel safe with God for all eternity.

God grant that every one of us will meet in this happy state some day in the future!

GOSPEL

Mt 5:1-12a

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,

and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.

He began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the land.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the clean of heart,

for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,

for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you

and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.

Rejoice and be glad,

for your reward will be great in heaven.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 520 In all of his life Jesus presents himself as our model. He is “the perfect man”,1 who invites us to become his disciples and follow him. In humbling himself, he has given us an example to imitate, through his prayer he draws us to pray, and by his poverty he calls us to accept freely the privation and persecutions that may come our way.2

CCC 544 The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to “preach good news to the poor”;3 he declares them blessed, for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”4 To them – the “little ones” the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned.5 Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation.6 Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.7

CCC 581 The Jewish people and their spiritual leaders viewed Jesus as a rabbi.8 He often argued within the framework of rabbinical interpretation of the Law.9 Yet Jesus could not help but offend the teachers of the Law, for he was not content to propose his interpretation alongside theirs but taught the people “as one who had authority, and not as their scribes”.10 In Jesus, the same Word of God that had resounded on Mount Sinai to give the written Law to Moses, made itself heard anew on the Mount of the Beatitudes.11 Jesus did not abolish the Law but fulfilled it by giving its ultimate interpretation in a divine way: “You have heard that it was said to the men of old. .. But I say to you. ..”12 With this same divine authority, he disavowed certain human traditions of the Pharisees that were “making void the word of God”.13

CCC 764 “This Kingdom shines out before men in the word, in the works and in the presence of Christ.”14 To welcome Jesus’ word is to welcome “the Kingdom itself.”14 The seed and beginning of the Kingdom are the “little flock” of those whom Jesus came to gather around him, the flock whose shepherd he is.16 They form Jesus’ true family.17 To those whom he thus gathered around him, he taught a new “way of acting” and a prayer of their own.18

CCC 1454 The reception of this sacrament ought to be prepared for by an examination of conscience made in the light of the Word of God. The passages best suited to this can be found in the Ten Commandments, the moral catechesis of the Gospels and the apostolic letters, such as the Sermon on the Mount and the apostolic teachings.19

CCC 1716 The Beatitudes are at the heart of Jesus’ preaching. They take up the promises made to the chosen people since Abraham. The Beatitudes fulfill the promises by ordering them no longer merely to the possession of a territory, but to the Kingdom of heaven:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

Rejoice and be glad,

for your reward is great in heaven.20

CCC 1720 The New Testament uses several expressions to characterize the beatitude to which God calls man:

the coming of the Kingdom of God;21 – the vision of God: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”22

entering into the joy of the Lord;23

entering into God’s rest:24

There we shall rest and see, we shall see and love, we shall love and praise. Behold what will be at the end without end. For what other end do we have, if not to reach the kingdom which has no end?25

CCC 2305 Earthly peace is the image and fruit of the peace of Christ, the messianic “Prince of Peace.”26 By the blood of his Cross, “in his own person he killed the hostility,”27 he reconciled men with God and made his Church the sacrament of the unity of the human race and of its union with God. “He is our peace.”28 He has declared: “Blessed are the peacemakers.”29

CCC 2518 The sixth beatitude proclaims, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”30 “Pure in heart” refers to those who have attuned their intellects and wills to the demands of God’s holiness, chiefly in three areas: charity;31 chastity or sexual rectitude;32 love of truth and orthodoxy of faith.33 There is a connection between purity of heart, of body, and of faith:

The faithful must believe the articles of the Creed “so that by believing they may obey God, by obeying may live well, by living well may purify their hearts, and with pure hearts may understand what they believe.”34

CCC 2546 “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”35 The Beatitudes reveal an order of happiness and grace, of beauty and peace. Jesus celebrates the joy of the poor, to whom the Kingdom already belongs:36

The Word speaks of voluntary humility as “poverty in spirit”; the Apostle gives an example of God’s poverty when he says: “For your sakes he became poor.”37

CCC 2763 All the Scriptures – the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms – are fulfilled in Christ.38 The Gospel is this “Good News.” Its first proclamation is summarized by St. Matthew in the Sermon on the Mount;39 the prayer to our Father is at the center of this proclamation. It is in this context that each petition bequeathed to us by the Lord is illuminated:

The Lord’s Prayer is the most perfect of prayers. .. In it we ask, not only for all the things we can rightly desire, but also in the sequence that they should be desired. This prayer not only teaches us to ask for things, but also in what order we should desire them.40

1 GS 38; cf. Rom 1 5:5; Phil 2:5.

2 Cf. Jn 13:15; Lk 11:1; Mt 5:11-12.

3 Lk 4:18; cf. 7:22.

4 Mt 5:3.

5 Cf. Mt 11:25.

6 Cf. Mt 21:18; Mk 2:23-26; Jn 4:6 1; 19:28; Lk 9:58.

7 Cf. Mt 25:31-46.

8 Cf Jn 11:28; 3:2; Mt 22:23-24, 34-36.

9 Cf. Mt 12:5; 9:12; Mk 2:23-27; Lk 6:6-g; Jn 7:22-23.

10 Mt 7:28-29.

11 Cf. Mt 5:1.

12 Mt 5:33-34.

13 Mk 7:13; cf. 3:8.

14 LG 5.

15 LG 5.

16 Lk 12:32; cf. Mt 10:16; 26:31; Jn 10:1-21.

17 Cf. Mt 12:49.

18 Cf. Mt 5-6.

19 Cf. Mt 5-7; Rom 12-15; 1 Cor 12-13; Gal 5; Eph 4-6; etc.

20 Mt 5:3-12.

21 Cf. Mt 4:17.

22 Mt 5:8; cf. 1 Jn 2; 1 Cor 13:12.

23 Mt 25:21-23.

24 Cf. Heb 4:7-11.

25 St. Augustine, De civ. Dei 22, 30, 5: PL 41,804.

26 Isa 9:5.

27 Eph 2:16 J.B.; cf. Col 1:20-22.

28 Eph 2:14.

29 Mt 5:9.

30 Mt 5:8.

31 Cf. 1 Tim 4:3-9; 2 Tim 2:22.

32 Cf. 1 Thess 4:7; Col 3:5; Eph 4:19.

33 Cf. Titus 1:15; 1 Tim 1:3-4; 2 Tim 2:23-26.

34 St. Augustine, Defide et symbolo 10, 25: PL 40, 196.

35 Mt 5:3.

36 Cf. Lk 6:20.

37 St. Gregory of Nyssa, De beatitudinibus 1: PG 44, 1200D; cf. 2 Cor 8:9.

38 Cf. Lk 24:44.

39 Cf. Mt 5-7.

40 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II, 83, 9.

APPLICATION

The eight Beatitudes are a resume of the Christian charter. They are the boundaries within which the Christian life is successfully lived. We are celebrating today the Feast of All Saints, that is, of all those who have lived their Christian life according to the ideals that Christ placed before them in the Sermon on the Mount. They have succeeded. They have reached heaven because they followed the rules which Christ laid down for them. They loved God and they showed that love in their daily living. They kept his commandment not only according to the letter but in spirit and in truth.

They bore the trials and troubles of life patiently, as part of God’s plan for their sanctification. They loved their neighbor and proved it by their deeds of charity and mercy. They forgave those who persecuted and injured them. They lived in peace with God and with their neighbor. They helped to promote peace among their fellowman wherever and whenever they could.

Some of the saints whose feasts we are celebrating today were outstanding in their sanctity. They lived their lives of mortification far beyond what was required of them. They loved God with an intensity that is not expected of ordinary mortals. They served their neighbor with a life-long dedication. They set an example and made an impression on the life of their contemporaries which will never be forgotten. God be thanked for such noble examples of saintly Christians!

But there are millions of others in heaven, saints of God also, who did nothing except their ordinary Christian duties. They did them sincerely and willingly. Their names are not inscribed in the Church’s Martyrology but they are written in the “Book of Life” in heaven. Most of us can only admire the first group from afar and thank God for the graces which their very saintly lives obtained, and are still obtaining, for the Church of God. However, we can all feel a little more confident today because of the lesser saints. What they did, we can do. Where they succeeded we too can succeed. With the help of God’s grace and the assistance of the major and minor saints in heaven we will and we shall succeed.

Heaven is the eternal home that God has planned for all men of goodwill. It was to raise us up to sonship with God that Christ came down and lived and died as a man on earth. It was to help us on the way that he founded the Church and gave her the sacraments that sinners and weak mortals would need on their road to heaven. God knows the material of which we are made. He knows too how to make something far greater out of that same weak material. He has done so already with millions of very ordinary human beings. He is doing it daily and will continue to do it.

All that is needed is that we put ourselves in his hands. That he fashioned Adam out of a lump of clay may be a fact or a poetic description. What he can and will make out of me is a saint, a citizen of the kingdom of eternal happiness if only I will let him. May God give me the sense and the grace to do just that, so that when I close my eyes in death, I shall see God and become one of the millions of saints whose feast I am honoring today. So be it.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan OFM and used with permission of Ignatius Press.

BENEDICTUS

The great feasts that structure the year of faith are feasts of Christ and precisely as such are ordered toward the one God who revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush and chose Israel as the confessor of faith in his uniqueness. In addition to the sun, which is the image of Christ, there is the moon, which has no light of its own but shines with a brightness that comes from the sun. This is a sign to us that we men are in constant need of a “little” light, whose hidden light helps us to know and love the light of the Creator, God one and triune. That is why the feasts of the saints from earliest times have formed part of the Christian year. We have already encountered Mary, whose person is so closely interwoven with the mystery of Christ that the development of the Christmas cycle inevitably introduced a Marian note into the Church’s year. The Marina dimension of the christological feasts was made visible. Then, in addition, come the commemorations of the Apostles and martyrs and, finally, the memorials of the saints of every century. One might say that the saints are, so to speak, new Christian constellations, in which the richness of God’s goodness is reflected. Their light, coming from God, enables us to know better the interior richness of God’s great light, which we cannot comprehend in the refulgence of its glory.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Almighty God,

your saints are one with you

in the mystical body of Christ:

give us grace to follow them

in all virtue and holiness

until we come to those inexpressible joys

which you have prepared for those

who truly love you;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who is alive with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God now and for ever.

Amen.

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About Benedicamus Domino

Let Us Bless The Lord - A Benedictine oblate's weekly study of the Catholic Church's Sunday Sacred Liturgy. I hope that families and friends will benefit from this as a prayerful way to prepare and actively participate in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
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