Today, we celebrate the Feast of All Saints and, in a special way, we remember them, canonized or not. We belong to the communion of saints – those in heaven and those on earth. One of my first memories of saints is from a book of saints for girls that I received as a child. I loved reading the stories over and over, especially about Saint Monica since we shared the same name. They were short stories, maybe a paragraph or two long, and included a picture/drawing of the saint, that seemed to look back at me with piercing eyes and with some type of symbol that represented their life or death. These women and men led ordinary lives yet showed extraordinary love for God.
Another memory of saints for me is that of my maternal grandparents, Mimi and Granddaddy. In my opinion, when I was growing up, they were the two holiest people I knew and I considered them next to God. They didn’t do anything extraordinary, but my grandmother was kind and loving and my grandfather was the perfect definition of a gentleman. Their faith was evident to me as I would see them each weekend for mass and on occasion spend the evening with them for supper. They both died when I was in high school but I still had my connection with them through prayer and the communion of saints. Their lives of holiness were, and still are, examples for me.
In the Gospel of Matthew 5:1-12 we hear the Beatitudes, perhaps the blueprint for sainthood.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”
May each of us today, recall those saints that influence our lives –those in heaven and those that still walk among us– and through their example may our lives be holy and influence those around us.