The month of November begins with two of the greatest feasts of the Church. On Nov. 1, we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints, and on Nov. 2 we celebrate the Feast of All Souls.

Throughout the Church’s liturgical year, many saints are honored. But there are far more men and women whom the Church has proclaimed to be saints than there are days in the year. Some saints are celebrated in certain parts of the world, but not in others. For instance, St. Patrick is important to the people of Ireland, the US, and other Western countries, but he is not a significant figure in the Far East. There are saints from the Far East who have no importance to those of us in the West. So, each area and nation has its own list of saints. There are also those saints who are honored throughout the world, such as the Blessed Mother, Sts. Peter and Paul, etc.

A saint is someone whom the Church believes is in heaven, who has completed the spiritual journey and is now face-to-face with Christ in the Kingdom of God. There are those who have been formally recognized by the Church because she wants to hold them up as witnesses to the Gospel and as examples of holiness for us to emulate. In addition to these, there are millions of “anonymous” saints—men and women who lived lives of holiness, but who are not known to the world. This probably includes a number of your ancestors—perhaps a parent or grandparent, aunt or uncle, etc.

On All Saints Day we honor all of those who are in heaven. We look to them as our elder brothers and sisters in Christ. We look to them as models of holiness, and we turn to them for intercession on our behalf. In the Epistle of St. James, we are told, “The prayer of a holy person has great power.” So, we turn to those who are recognized as truly holy and ask that they pray with us and for us. 

The saints are our heroes. They show us it is possible to live a holy life in this world, in whatever state of life we find ourselves. Among the canonized (officially recognized) saints are popes and bishops, priests and deacons, founders of religious communities, sisters and brothers, martyrs, confessors (those who proclaimed Christ by their lives, lay women and men, singles, wives and mothers, husbands and fathers, elderly and young). On and on, we find those who in all forms of life embraced and incarnated the Gospel.

In the Epistle to the Romans, we are told that we are surrounded by a “cloud of witnesses.” One of the Church’s great teachings is the Communion of Saints. This doctrine teaches us that the Church is made up of those Christians living in the world today (the Church Militant), those in Purgatory (the Church Suffering), and those who are in heaven (the Church Triumphant). We are in this together. We are united in Christ. 

The Solemnity of All Saints is a Holy Day of Obligation. We will have Mass at 12:05 pm and at 6:30 pm this Tuesday, Nov. 1.
–Fr. Mike Comer