Today our Church celebrates All Saints Day. Yesterday was All Saints Eve or All Hallow’s Eve which in turn has become Halloween. Tradition tells us that many years ago folks dressed up to honor their patron saints. That may well indeed be the origin of Halloween costumes. Most European towns and many American cities have Patron Saints. Many towns and cities are even named after saints – Saint Louis, Saint Paul, San Francisco, to name a few. Even today most Catholics of a certain age bear a saint’s name. There are also patron saints of occupations, afflictions, animals, hobbies, students, mothers, fathers, soldiers, even pawnbrokers.
Why this obsession and fascination with saints? Maybe it’s just hero-worship but I suspect it’s something more. Saints give us an example to live by. Saints give us hope. Saints remind us that we can be “saintly” too. Some saints weren’t always so saintly – Paul for instance or Augustine. Some were poor and simple – San Juan Diego and some were rich and powerful – King Louis of France. But all saints followed the call of Christ. Each in their own way. We can too.
Of course the Church has officially recognized thousands of Saints but what of those who have passed before us that we know in our hearts to be saints? Many of us have beloved parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and cousins who have walked with Jesus and have been a shining example of His love. Catholic tradition tells us that we can (and should) ask the saints to pray for us; to intercede on our behalf. I find tremendous comfort in knowing that a loving aunt or grandparent might pray for me; might actually be in the presence of God and speak my name.
I honor the Saints today – my patron Denis and Joseph the patron of fathers but mostly I ask the saints with whom I’ve shared my life; those whom I’ve loved; to remember me on this day and every day.
This week our granddaughter’s first grade class held a special prayer service in honor of All Saints Day. Anna was Saint Anne, mother of Mary, grandmother of Jesus. Watching her process down the aisle with all the other “saints” in her class was nothing short of miraculous – a beautiful reminder of the bounty of love and faith in our midst. And once again I was blessed…