Solemnity of All Saints
Saint Margaret Mary – Wichita, KS
Revelation 7:2-4, 9-12; Psalm 24:1b-6; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12a
As you know, there are days throughout the year set aside for the commemoration of certain saints. December 12 is Our Lady of Guadalupe; October 16 is Saint Margaret Mary; October 28 is Saint Jude; October 1 is Saint Therese of Lisieux. And so while we have the tendency to use today, All Saints Day, to celebrate everyone who doesn’t get their own day—which is true!—this day has a much deeper significance for each one of us. It is our reminder of what is truly important in this life! So important, that it is a holy day of obligation! It is so important, that the Church calls all of us to celebrate this day so that we can be reminded of this each and every year. Remind us of what? Well, I think León Bloy said it best when he said, “The only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint” (Bloy, La femme pauvre, Paris, II, 27, quoted in Francis, Gaudium et Exultate, 34). We are called here today to remember our great calling: to be a saint.
For many of us, we can easily get caught-up in the day to day tasks of our lives. We get caught up in the many things that demand our attention: getting our kids to school, work, bills, food, sleep. But, at the same time, we forget what it is all about in the first place: our call to holiness, our call to be a saint, our call to one day be one of those unnamed saints that we celebrate today.
For myself, when I heard that I am supposed to be a saint, I would always laugh and say, “That’s nice, but…” I mean, yeah, I want to go to heaven and all, but that just sounded so abstract and out of my reach. After all, what does that look like? Day to day: what does it look like? Because, again, we all have those things which demand our attention each and every day. “I don’t have time to be a saint if that means I have to be at the church every day, or praying all the time, or going to mass all the time, or something like this.”
But that’s not it at all. “To be holy, to be a saint does not require being…a priest or a religious [or being at the church all the time].…We are all called to be holy [to be saints] by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves.…Are you married? Be holy by loving and caring for your husband or wife, as Christ does for the Church. Do you work for a living? Be holy by laboring with integrity and skill in the service of your brothers and sisters. Are you a parent or grandparent? Be holy by patiently teaching the little ones how to follow Jesus” (Francis, Gaudium et Exultate, 14). It is through these little gestures in our daily lives that we grow in holiness! It is that simple. Simple, yet extraordinary.
So what hold us back? Well, I think it is because we think being holy will make us less happy. We think, “In order to be holy, I can’t have any more fun,” or, “I have other goals in life, and being a saint…I’ll do that later.” So let me say this: “Do not be afraid of holiness. It will take away none of your energy, vitality or joy. On the contrary, you will become what the Father had in mind when he created you, and you will be faithful to your deepest self.…Do not be afraid to set your sights higher….[Again, as León Bloy said], when all is said and done, ‘the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint.’” (Francis, Gaudium et Exultate, 32 and 34)