Today, All Saints, is a big day in the Church calendar. I wanted to write a post, but came up with nothing yesterday. Then in the true spirit of “When all else fails, read the instructions,” I turned to the Catechism (CCC).
Paragraphs 946 to 962 focus on the Communion of Saints. In particular, 948 states, “The term ‘communion of saints’ has two closely linked meanings: communion ‘in holy things (sancta)’ and ‘among holy persons (sancti).'” The examples include communion in faith and sacraments, communion in charity (if one suffers, all suffer; if one is honored, all rejoice); and the intercession of and communion with the saints.
Pope Benedict XVI quotes Hans Urs von Balthasar “that the saints constitute the most important message of the Gospel, its actualization in daily life, and therefore represent for us a real means of access to Jesus.” (from the November, 2008 column, Me? A Saint?, of The Pope’s Corner, a regular feature of the Madonna House newsletter)
This “access to Jesus” is what the saints have already learned. In today’s Office of Readings, St. Bernard says, “Calling the saints to mind inspires … a longing to enjoy their company … to share in the citizenship of heaven … let us at length spur ourselves on. We must rise again with Christ, we must seek the world which is above and set our mind on the things of heaven … When we commemorate the saints we are inflamed with another yearning: that Christ our life may also appear to us as he appeared to them and that we may one day share in his glory.”
So exactly how does one do that? Today’s Gospel gives us a clue in the Beatitudes:
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.”
To return to Pope Benedict XVI’s catechesis: “May this also happen for us. Let us therefore permit ourselves to be attracted by the supernatural fascination of holiness. May Mary, Queen of all saints, Mother and Refuge of sinners, obtain this grace for us!”