In the beginning of November, the Church celebrates All Saints Day. Did you know that All Saints Day is a Holy Day of Obligation? Do you know why the Church finds this day so important that every single Catholic is called to attend Mass?
This special day gives us the chance to celebrate and honor the men, women, and teens who have been canonized by the Catholic Church. This day has been celebrated since the early fourth century. In fact, in some Catholic countries around the world, All Saints Day is observed as a public holiday. For us here in the United States, Nov. 1 is not a holiday; but it is a day that Catholics make the time to attend a Mass or service at their parish.
When you go to the Church on Nov. 1 for All Saints Day, you’ll hear the Gospel from Matthew that is called the Sermon on the Mount. It is in this Gospel passage where we hear The Beatitudes: the ways in which we are called to live so that our actions are aligned with the Kingdom of God. They are the blueprint to living a good Catholic life full of love and true happiness. The beauty of the Beatitudes is that they are meant for people of all ages and apply to all time periods; they can be relatable to anyone.
The Beatitudes are challenging at times because they move us past the status quo of our daily lives. They open us up to making connections with our neighbors and strangers. When we do our best to live out the Beatitudes, we contribute to building up the Kingdom of God here on earth. On All Saints Day, we pray in a special way to the saints so that they will intercede on our behalf and help us make good choices in our lives. We are praying with them to God; the saints boost our prayers to him. That’s what it means to live in communion with the saints.
How do you become a Saint?
There is a three-step process to becoming a saint in the eyes of the Catholic Church. First a candidate becomes “Venerable,” then “Blessed” and then “Saint.” The title “Venerable” is given to a person who has passed away that is formally recognized by the Pope as someone who lived a “heroically virtuous life” (USCCB) or was a martyr of the faith. To be considered “Blessed,” they must also have one miracle acquired through intercession. This means a miracle needed to have happened after someone prayed with them to God. For martyrs, however, a miracle is not required prior to beatification. Canonization and the title of “Saint” requires two miracles. It is good to note that the Pope may waive these requirements if he so chooses.
Living a life worthy of sainthood
Jesus gave us a blueprint to follow with the Beatitudes, and the Lord gave us the saints to help us along the way. It was St. Francis who prayed, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.” We ask the Lord to give us the gifts to be able to live a life of love and compassion. We are called to be an instrument of light and peace in our world. With the help of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the loving kindness of Jesus, the communion of saints and our lifelong learning, we too can become saints.
We need to make sure that we live our lives with the mindset that we all should “pray as though everything depended on God [but] work as though everything depended on [us]” (St. Augustine). It’s up to us to be the image of God in our own little corners of the world. We’re all just out here living our day to day lives as saints in training.
Lisa Ann Limongello is parish catechetical leader in the linked parish community of St. James, Pennington, St. Alphonsus, Hopewell, and St. George, Titusville, as well as in St. Luke Parish, Toms River.