The Feast of All Hallows

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

The Feast of All Hallows or the Solemnity of All Saints is upon us once again. This celebration goes back to the first millennium and the Emperor Charlemagne who decreed, at the urging of the Pope, that all citizens of his realm were required to attend the Eucharist on this date. The first day of November was chosen simply because it was on this date that the Roman Pantheon, a church dedicated to the memory of the Blessed Mother and all the Martyrs, was dedicated on this date. The day celebrates the fact that we believe that there is a spiritual communion between those who have attained the Beatific Vision and those of us who remain in this world striving to reach the same goal.

The readings for this day all point to the fact that we live in the hope that one day we will spend eternity with God. The Book of Revelation uses one of the visions of the sacred author to illustrate the fact that a vast throng of faithful disciples of Jesus, the Lamb of God, stand around God's throne as they worship the one who died for them. They are dressed in white, the baptismal garment. They have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, saved by his death. They have survived the great trial, the persecutions that were a part of the apostolic era.

The reading from the First Letter of St. John reminds us that we are "children of God." As children we inherit the legacy of Jesus.

Finally, the Gospel reminds us that in Jesus, the expected or worldly idea of happiness is turned upside down. The so-called Beatitudes inform the disciples of Jesus that what the world considers happiness is false and that conversely what the world considers to be misfortune is actually the way to eternal bliss. In this society which was driven by honor and shame, those are considered happy who bear the cross, who defer their happiness and embrace the ignominy of poverty, sorrow, humility, and injustice for the sake of the name of Jesus. In other words, the wisdom of this world is but folly to those who follow Jesus.

Let me conclude by reminding all of us that the only difference between a saint and a sinner is that a saint has died. All believers are sinners like the rest of humankind. However, all believers are destined to find themselves in the midst of the great throng singing God's praise if we persevere to the end.

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