All Saints Day: A Day of Great Hope and Hope we Need!

“There is no saint without a past. There is no sinner without a future.” St Augustine

I love All Saints Day. I love exiting from Mass and watching the traffic pass by. I always think, “it’s so cool that while the rest of the world is scurrying about its worldly business, we take time to remember our spiritual ancestors” — to connect to that Cloud of Witnesses within the Communion of Saints; to ask them to pray for us; to use their lives as an example of hope to keep us going as we fail, and fall, and get up and start anew. Just as they did.

It’s hard to feel hopeless when you have such a variety of examples before our eyes, of men and women — lay, religious, monastic and clerical — who fell and fell as they lived.

With that in mind, I really like Tony Rossi’s post today which reminds us that no one is too far gone, for God:

A conversion experience is not magic; it is only the first step in a lifetime of striving to grow in virtue and conform one’s unruly, rebellious will to the will of God. All that is hard to do. But the history of our world is full of sinners who turned their lives around to become saints officially canonized by the Church — and people who, with the help of God’s grace, managed to climb out of the downward spiral toward which their lives and souls were heading.

Some of the examples are well known. There’s St. Paul, who was responsible for the murder of many early Christians before his dramatic conversion experience on the road to Damascus. And St. Augustine of Hippo led a life of arrogant pride and sexual immorality before offering his mind, heart and soul to God, thanks in part to the Letters of St. Paul and the prayers of his mother, St. Monica.

There are also many dramatic stories that are little-known, but that give powerful witness to a person’s ability to change.

You’ll want to go read some of his examples. It’s good stuff.

On a different kind of homeletic ground, Father Dwight says he wanted to write something great on a favorite hymn, but Msgr. Charles Pope beat him to it:

Salvation and the living of a holy and courageous life is only possible by the grace of God. Only if God be our rock, our defender and our strength can we stand a chance in the battle of this earthly life. Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing.” (Jn 15:5) St. Paul taught that the ancient Israelites made it through the desert only by Christ for he wrote: they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them in the desert, and that rock was Christ. (1 Cor 10:4). So Jesus is a rock in a weary land, a shelter in a time of storm! Only in Christ and by his light could they have the strength for the battle and win through to the victory.

I like Deacon Greg’s piece, too:

The simple but reassuring fact is that nobody is born a saint. It’s something you have to become.

Consider St. Margaret of Cortona. As a teenager, she was the mistress of a young nobleman. She lived with him for nine years, even had a son with him, hoping at some point her lover would marry her. He never did. When he was finally murdered, the shock caused Margaret to re-evaluate her life. She went on to take vows a Franciscan. Her son also joined the order. She was canonized in 1728.

Nobody is born a saint. It’s something you have to become.

Sometimes those who become saints aren’t the ones we expect. They may be the filthy, the rejected, the outcast, the homeless. People like Benedict Joseph Labre.

He grew up the son of a prosperous shopkeeper, but felt called to give up everything and follow Christ. He spent his life wandering from church to church in Rome. He rarely bathed, never washed his clothes. Some people were repelled by him. But the purity of his devotion and his love of God moved and inspired those who saw him day after day. When he died at the young age of 35, priests of Rome preserved his filthy clothes as relics and they buried him in one of the churches he loved. Today, he is the patron saint of the homeless.

Nobody is born a saint. It’s something you have to become.

Or, as Saint Catherine of Siena said, “If you are what you should be, you will set the world on fire!”

And this is a great book for the day!

Happy All Saints Day!

About Elizabeth Scalia