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On the Feasts of All Saints' and All Souls'

"If you want to get wet, go out to where it is raining; If you want to be a saint, find one and hang out with him."

Peter Kreeft

On the Church calendar every year on November 1st and November 2nd, we celebrate the Feasts of All Saints' and All Souls', respectively. For those new to catholic traditions like Anglicanism, all this talk of saints might be new. One of the triumphs of the Reformation was to free the term from use for only the holiest of people and return it to speaking of Christians in general, just as we see in the New Testament. On these days especially, we revere and remember with awe those who, in every generation, have been the aroma of Christ in the world.

To be certain, every Christian is holy by virtue of being joined to Christ in the waters of baptism, by professing with the Holy Church of God a holy and sanctifying faith. This must not be doubted for one second, that you and I are saints, set apart by grace for the love of God and love of our neighbors. The Church has always taught that any sanctity in this life must be gained, not by our own strivings, but by the grace of Jesus, who takes our mortal nature and elevates it to glory. My point is this, that grace being grace, we ought not be surprised when the sanctity of a few men and women in every generation overflows the categories of ordinariness and shows us an extraordinary look into the high calling of the Gospel. C.S. Lewis once said something to the effect of the saints are the only people in this world who are truly different, quite unlike tyrants and dictators.

It is this outpouring of divine grace in the lives of those we properly call saints that we remember on All Saints' Day. We remember not only the ones whose memory we love and cherish, but even the anonymous ones, yes, even the ones that only the Lord knows about. The lives of the saints offer us not only an inspiration in this life, but a great help as well, for no gift of the Holy Spirit is ever given to one member of the Church only. It is given for the common good, in which we participate. Their gifts are our gifts, and we do well to know them. If you haven't, get to know the saints. Read their books. Study their martyrdoms and the witness they made to the Gospel. You might even put up some pictures of some saints in your house. We keep images Saint Francis and Saint Maximiliian Kolbe on our mantle to remind us as a family to live our life for the sake of others, to pour out our lives in an offering to God.

On November 2nd, All Souls' Day, we remember the faithful departed, those who died with the faith on their lips and who now rest in the sleep of peace. We remember that someday, we too will join them in death, and in our charity, are recalled to pray for them. To pray for the dead is a supremely Christian act of charity that Christians have never really been able to put down. We ask that the Lord would receive them into the arms of His mercy and welcome them into His heavenly banquet.

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