The Feast of All Saints
We are here to honor all of God's saints. But please note this: All Saints is not devoted exclusively to the officially canonized saints. After all, they have their own feast days. On All Saints' Day we honor the vast uncanonized, unrecognized, and unnumbered multitude of saints that nobody ever heard of; for example, probably your own deceased mother and father. For what is a saint? Anyone who has died in the friendship of God. Anyone who may have sinned, but who has repented, and has been reconciled, and who finally passed away at peace with his Maker.
It is true that these people may not have been saints of towering holiness but these lesser people are saints in heaven and not reprobates in hell.
The feast of All Saints belongs particularly to them, not to St. Francis of Assisi or to St. Anthony of Padua or St. Theresa of Avila. It's the day for some anonymous St. Mary of Sierra Madre of some unrecognized St. Alice of Pasadena, or some obscure St. Maurice of La Mirada. Their halos were perhaps the eye-reflector of a surgeon, the part white cap of a nurse, the scarred helmet of a fireman, or the rumpled dust-cap of a housewife.
Some of them, in the catalogue of the saints, might be set down as hermits, only their cells were lonely rooms in the great wilderness of a sullen, hostile city. Others were martyrs, not bound to a glowing gridiron as St. Lawrence, but standing and bending, red-faced and weary, at their daily tasks. All of them were apostles or preachers of the gospel. Their churches were little corners of the world, where their silent sermons thundered over and over again one glorious text, namely, the quiet example of the good life they lived for God without thought of making any impression on anybody.
These are the people we talk about and think about on All Saints' Day. When alive, they got no recognition. Even the worldly world pauses at the shrine of the saint who cured sickness with miraculous power; but even the Christian world passes by the men and women who merely endured sickness with miraculous patience. The world lays its wreaths at the tombs of the great conquerors like Napoleon and Alexander the Great; but God lays His rose upon the grave of the people who have fought and conquered their rebellious passions upon the swaying battlefields of the soul.
All Saints' Day reminds us that the world is flooded with counterfeit ideas and ideals, but the man or woman who is not taken in by them, who is not lured off course by the bright lights of the world's pleasure, but who steers a course by the north star of the Church and faith, who keep the passport of their souls clean and ready because at any day they may find themselves at the custom borders of eternity - this is the man or woman who may be sitting beside us at a cafeteria or standing next to us in a crowded bus, and whose feast - believe it or not - we may be celebrating next year on the Feast of All Saints.
All Saints Day is the day of recognition and reward for the common Christian. It is the day that should start the bells of happiness and chimes of hope swinging in every Catholic heart. Down from the battlements of heaven come the smiles of those who have gone before us. They have made it; we can do the same! This is the triumphant call that comes ringing down to us, because, poor wavering sinners though we be, if we do not give up, if we go on with courage in our hearts, with God's grace in our souls, we can look forward to All Saints Day as our feast day too.
The saints were not quitters. No quitter ever got his or her name into the Litany of Saints. The saints motto was excelsior (higher), and their chief characteristic was rugged determination. Quit is a four-lettered word, and alas, so is hell. Heaven is something more.