Father Arthur Reflects on All Saints, All Souls Days
Today’s Gospel presents us with special program of life according to the eight beatitudes. Jesus truly lived according to the beatitudes: He was poor in spirit; He mourned; He was meek; He longed for righteousness; He was merciful; He was pure of heart; He was a peacemaker; and He was persecuted for the sake of righteousness. As Christians, we are called to imitate Jesus. But, we must admit that it is not easy to follow Him. It is not easy to accept persecution, to accept that during this life we will mourn the death of people and things. It is difficult to be merciful or meek. Yet, my brothers and sisters, we do not need to be discouraged. We do not need to give up, because we have a multitude of saints in Heaven who have gone before us and now intercede for us before Jesus Himself!
Today is the Feast of All Saints. It is the day that we joyfully celebrate all those who now see God face to face. The saints were just like us: ordinary people, who sought to follow Jesus in an extraordinary way. The saints were not perfect. They all struggled with particular sins, particular crosses, and particular difficulties just like us. But, they did not give up because of these difficulties. Instead, they asked Jesus for His grace and help. They all gave themselves totally to Jesus so that He could live the eight beatitudes in them. The saints know how we struggle. And today, we rejoice because all the saints of Heaven are waiting to intercede before God on our behalf, if we only just ask them!
The question that remains is this: Do you really desire to be a saint? Do you really wish to follow the eight beatitudes? Many people desire to be great, whether as sports stars, movie stars, in their businesses, political figures, financiers. But not many people today wish to follow the greatest path: the path to holiness. If there is a desire in your heart to be a saint, then do not be ashamed of it. Seek boldly to follow Jesus, and He will surely guide you and the saints will surely help you. If you discover that you do not desire to be a saint, then ask God for the grace to follow Him to the end, according to the eight beatitudes. For, no saint can avoid living according to the beatitudes, and no saint can avoid needing God’s help to do so.
Tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of All Souls. We remember and pray for all those who have died: our parents, grandparents, other family members, friends, those who contributed to the foundation of Our Lady of the Wayside, and all of the souls in Purgatory. The souls in Purgatory cannot pray for themselves, so they rely on our intercession to be relieved of their suffering and sped along their way toward union with God in Heaven. Our prayer for those who have died is a sign of our care, love, and unity as Catholics who believe in everlasting life. I would like to encourage you to recall these beautiful words of Blessed Fulton J. Sheen whenever you pray for the souls in Purgatory: “As we enter Heaven we will see them, so many of them coming towards us and thanking us. We will ask who they are, and they will say a poor soul you prayed for in purgatory.” And I would like to add: “A poor soul who, likewise, prayed for you.”
Yours in Christ,
Readings for the Solemnity of All Saints: Lectionary 667
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