Today, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of All Saints.
Saints are a confusing notion outside, and at times, within the Church. Saints are men and women, who like us, lived on this planet. They made mistakes, they struggled, and they suffered.
What makes them special, and holy, was how they rose above these parts of life. They had a relationship with Jesus (God) that was intimate. Because of this, they lived a life in service to others. The suffering of life helped them understand the suffering of others. The joy of life allowed them to bring God to one another.
“A Saint is someone through whom we catch a glimpse of what God is like–and of what we are called to be,” said Religious editor and journalist, Kenneth Woodward.
There are Saints that are canonized, a fancy “Church” word, meaning they are officially recognized by the universal Church for the life they lived, and their place with God now.
There are also saints, known to a smaller number, typically family and friends. While they do not go through the official canonization process that the official Saints do, they are still holy. They give us a glimpse of God.
For many of us, it can be our parents and grandparents. Religious leaders and those we serve. They simply, but profoundly, reveal an aspect of who God is, and who we are called to be in this life.
On this holy day, people of all faiths and backgrounds, are invited to hear the challenge to be saints. We are called to live extraordinary lives.
And yes, while it is unlikely Churches will be named after us, or statues made in our image, we are called to be saints ( I believe that no “Saint” made their decisions to love to one day have a prayer card made in their image).
We are called to know God, not as this distant force in space, but a source of life that lives within each of us.
We are also invited to turn to the holy people who walked this planet before us. In the Catholic and Orthodox Christian tradition, there is this notion of intercession. This speaks to a spiritual reality that exists with our reality. These saints, now with God, support and guide us. They are not gods or idols. We do not worship them, as it is often misunderstood.
Rather, we recognize this community that guides and loves us, as many did when they lived here with us before.
The way you would ask a friend to pray for you before a doctor’s visit or job interview, you can ask those who have passed through to do the same.
As God lives within us, they are with God. As a result, they too, live within us. It is a spiritual mystery but one I truly believe in as a man of faith.
And we are too called into this place for others, both now as living, and one day, as deceased. We can support others, revealing God’s love and light to them.
This pathway to sainthood is not about Ego or fame. It is about service to one another. It is unconditional love.
So, on this day, we are invited to pause and reflect. We are invited to hit the “reset” button on our life.
Ask yourself these two questions:
This is what we are invited to do. The answers to these questions feed the other, supporting (or not supporting) this cyclical relationship of love.
Join me today, and everyday, to not live an ordinary life, but an extraordinary one.
Come to know God, and allow others to know God because of you.