Soon we will close the time in the Liturgical Calendar, known as Ordinary Time. Before we move into the Advent Season, however, we have the opportunity to celebrate two very important feasts in the life of the Church. On November 1, we celebrate what is commonly known as the Feast of All Saints and on November 2, we commemorate what is known as the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls Day.) As Catholics our relationship to saints has been criticized because some might think we are worshipping them. Only God is worshipped and we understand that. What is true is that we venerate the saints. We honor them. Why might this be important?
We live in a culture where many people are lonely. Perhaps this sense of loneliness is true because people often live in isolation. The concept of community is not always understood as necessary. People brag of countless friends on social media but they might not have intimate friends with whom they can share thoughts and ideas. We do need companions. Fr. James Martin, S. J. in an article in Give Us this Day, a book for daily prayer based on the readings of the day points out that we often ask people we know to pray for us. He makes the point, why not ask people of faith who have gone before us to pray and intercede for us as well. Learning about the lives of the saints can be very helpful because we begin to understand that they are often ordinary people who have dedicated themselves to the way of Jesus Christ. They are not without faults but they have with the help of God become examples for how we are to live in the way of Jesus. It would seem almost foolish not to ask them for assistance, to ask them to pray for us as we struggle with the challenges of daily life. We can also ask those who have gone before us for help as well although they may not have been recognized as saints. Why not venerate and ask for the intercession of parents, grandparents, spouses or friends who have gone before. There is a safety in numbers. The more saints both recognized and unrecognized that we make a part of our community, the richer our lives will become.
If possible, celebrate these two days in our Liturgical Calendar. November 1, the Feast of All Saints, and November 2, the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls Day.) We cannot feel alone when we come to know the many who have gone before us struggling to live in the best way, the way of Jesus Christ. If you need a source to help you learn about saints, I highly recommend, Give Us this Day, a publication by Liturgical Press. www.litpresws.org.
~by Helen Ackermann