For Sunday, November 1, 2015, All Saints
When we are young, we carry within us ambitious dreams for our future. We imagine what we may be one day-an astronaut, a doctor, a professional athlete. In our minds, nothing seemed impossible for us. There seemed to be nothing we could not achieve if we only had the opportunity.
With hard work and determination, many of us are able to realize the dreams of our youth. However, most likely, we came to understand that our goals were unrealistic or not what we really wanted. So we set our sights on other careers. Through our whole life we are always looking to the future, considering what seems good to us, and taking the opportunities to reach our goals.
Each of us knows in our hearts that we are called to something great. We often think of it only in earthly terms, in terms of a career or in terms of financial success. However, the greatness we are called to is not something that can be measured in money or power or fame or influence. Rather, the greatness we are called to cannot be fully realized in this life. It is something that can only be fully achieved once we pass from this life into the eternal life of heaven. We are each called to be great saints.
It is natural for us to feel a bit of trepidation when we hear that we are called to be great saints. We might think that we cannot be like Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Saint Francis, or the other great saints. And it is true, we cannot be like them. They served God’s plan in their own way and there will never be saints like them again. However, we are called to serve God’s plan in our own way, too, and there will never be saints like us again. Each of us is irreplaceable in God’s kingdom. Not even a Saint Francis could do what we alone are called to do. It may not seem like much, and no one may seem to notice us, but it is important and necessary in the eyes of God.
The founder of Opus Dei, Saint Josemaria Escriva, taught that each of us is called to be a saint right where we are. We do not have to move to another country, change our line of work, or live in a monastery. Rather we are called to radiate the love and goodness of God in our schools, in our places of work, in our homes, and in our communities. Many of us often fall into the temptation of thinking that we could be better Christians if only things were different in our lives. We would be better people if only we were not married or if only we were not surrounded by so many immoral people at work or if we lived in another part of the country. But those are all excuses that blind us to the work of grace that God offers us. God put us where we are to serve his purpose. And, no matter what difficulties we face, he will provide us with all we need to be great saints if only we dedicate ourselves to doing his will in all things and loving others in all circumstances.
On this feast of All Saints, we are not gathered to celebrate the lives of the saints we know about. They already have their own feast days. Instead today we celebrate all the unknown saints, all those who lived simple, quiet lives of charity and prayer. They went unnoticed for the most part, but God worked through them in ways that only he knew. They may be our parents, our teachers, our priests, deacons, or nuns who were examples of holiness to us.
Today we also celebrate the high calling we each have to be saints in our own right. God has called us to be his sons and daughters through baptism and has placed the Holy Spirit in our hearts so that we may know his will and do it through every minute of our existence. It is a matter of surrendering ourselves to his plan no matter how difficult it may be or how little sense it may make to us. Then we can lay hold of all the promises Jesus spells out for us in today’s Gospel-to find the comfort, the peace, the joy, and the glory that our hearts long for but that only God can give.
Douglas Sousa, STL
O 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.
-Michael Buckley, The Catholic Prayer Book.