Church Celebrates All Saints

The galaxy of holy men and women who are honoured as saints in the Catholic Church is truly astounding.

They come from all ages and cultures, and belong to all temperaments and characters. Some are well known and popular, honoured the year round in shrines and churches; others are obscure and venerated only locally.

First among the saints is the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Mother of God; and following her are the apostles, the men chosen by Our Lord himself to carry on his mission.

Then come the martyrs, the first witnesses of the faith in every local Church. We find numerous women among them, virgins foremost; but there are also the mothers of families, founders of religious groups, and queens and noblewomen as well.

Then there are the doctors of the Church, those learned saints whose teachings have influenced, and whose lives have inspired countless generations. Missionaries, pastors and confessors, the list goes on and on.

Today, November 1st, is the day to remember them.

This feast goes back to the 4th century, when the Syrian Church honoured its martyrs. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon, an early Roman temple, to Our Lady and the martyrs in Rome. Gradually, the feast grew in universality, until its present date in the calendar.

Today “sainthood” has a bad press, and the young as well as the old feel that the saints led curious lives, sacrificing human joy and creativity for some kind of crippling obedience to God’s call. People protest with embarrassment that “they aren’t saints,” repressed and mortified, but “regular human beings”.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

To be holy is to discover and cherish the truth of one’s life, and to express it with joy and courage. In an age which promotes ‘copycat’ living, the saint is the genuine, authentic article. That’s why no two saints are similar, whereas most celebrity lives are boringly so.

Today we draw inspiration from the men and women of all times who had the courage to follow their star.

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