In the liturgical calendar, the month of November begins with the Solemnity of All Saints. The saints are men and women who, while on earth, lived exemplary lives in holiness. They responded to God’s call, bore witness to the faith, and remained faithful to the end. Now, they enjoy their eternal reward in heaven. This important feast is not only a celebration but also reminder for all of us of what we are all called to become: Saints.
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, a French Carmelite Nun, once said, “I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth.” Saints remind us that our life here on earth is not futile but has purpose, and therefore, has meaning. The Gospel reading proper to this feast is taken from Matthew 5:1-12, and it talks about the Beatitudes. The Saints, by their example, show us the way to a blessed life. For example, Saint Francis of Assisi, by embracing a life of radical simplicity, showed us what it means to be poor in spirit. Saint Monica and Saint Rita of Cascia showed us that those who mourn shall be consoled. Saint Maria Goretti, the young virgin and martyr of Italy, showed us the virtue of meekness. Saint Vincent de Paul, in his numerous works of charity, hungered and thirsted for righteousness. Saint Teresa of Kolkata, known for her care for the orphans, the sick, and the dying, showed us the meaning of mercy. Saint Pope John XXIII was himself a peacemaker during the cold war. Finally, Saint Oscar Romero was persecuted for the sake of righteousness because he advocated for the Salvadoran people against the crimes and abuses of their government.
Yes, the saints were holy people but they were also very human people. They were not perfect human beings—they were faithful Christians. Ultimately, it was not the greatness or the plenitude of their works that truly mattered—it was their faithfulness, their love, their steadfastness in living the beatitudes—the blessed qualities described in Matthew’s Gospel—that makes them truly saints. Each Saint whom the Church honors were men and women who were faithful to the Lord until the end.
One of my favorite quotes comes from an unlikely source—Étienne de Grellet du Mabillier, a French-American Quaker missionary. M. de Grellet once wrote: “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall never pass this way again.” These words of M. de Grellet complement those of St. Thérèse. As we reflect on the Solemnity of All Saints, may we open our ears and our hearts to hear and heed God’s call to holiness. May we recognize and seize every moment while we live to do good, to show kindness, and to manifest the virtues that each circumstance we find ourselves in calls forth. May we be steadfast in living the beatitudes in our daily lives, so that we too may one day join the company of those whom we honor today, and be counted among them as Saints in heaven.