Grace to you!
All Saints is the day we celebrate the lives of all the people who died and are in heaven; and whose names are not listed in the Church’s liturgical calendar. These could be our friends, relatives, parents or grandparents or colleagues at work who died in the Lord Jesus Christ, redeemed by God’s grace. We celebrate their lives.
Some may be wondering why do we celebrate their lives? Why not let the dead be at peace, why bother them?
There are many reasons the Church celebrates the lives of the saints in heaven. First, we believe that our friends and relatives who died in the Lord still have a spiritual relationship with us.
This is not one of those mere human logics of some theologians; it is sound theology, rooted in God’s Word. Scripture (Matthew 17) relates a powerful and beautiful story of the transfiguration of Jesus. Two people appeared to Jesus, namely Moses and Elijah. Those were men who died hundreds of years before Christ. The story shows that those who die in God live on, they are alive.
Another example I would love to share with you is when the Sadducees (Luke 20:37-38) questioned the authority of Jesus because he spoke about the resurrection of the dead. He replied, emphasizing that resurrection is real and that those who die in the Lord are alive, not dead. So you see, it is a biblical teaching that those who die in the Lord are alive.
The second reason why we celebrate the saints is because we want to model our lives after theirs; we want what they did to inspire our lives too. They become our spiritual mentors and heroes. Think of the honor guard to fallen soldiers during Veterans’ Day. We want to honor the fallen heroes, don’t we?
Third, the saints become for us realistic exemplars that we too can be saints. As Saint Augustine said: “What these ordinary women and men have done, why not me?” Why not you? Why not me?
Four, we can ask the saints to pray for us also, since they are with the Lord. They form part of that spiritual connection which the Letter to the Hebrews says is a great crowd of witnesses (Hebrew 12:1).
Five, finally, we can receive spiritual gifts from them; they act like our spiritual companions. In short, we are in communion with them, what the Catholic Church calls the Communion of Saints, a spiritual communion that exists between the saints in heaven, the Church on earth, and the Church in the state of purification, what is called purgatory.
Purgatory? This sounds like another big word that must be explained. I will do that tomorrow. In the meantime, it is a wonderful thing to have a good relationship with the saints of God because they are trusted friends, spiritual mentors and models for us.
It wouldn’t be a bad idea if you asked the saints to pray for you today for that need of yours you so crave.
I can’t wait to share with you again tomorrow about purgatory.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.