Readings & Reflections with Cardinal Tagle’s Video: Solemnity of All Saints, November 1,2017

Readings & Reflections with Cardinal Tagle’s Video: Solemnity of All Saints, November 1,2017

“To become saints means to fulfill completely what we already are, raised to the dignity of God’s adopted children in Christ Jesus…. The saints bring to light in creative fashion quite new human potentialities…. The saints are themselves the living spaces into which one can turn…. There is no isolation in heaven. It is the open society of the saints and, consequently, also the fulfillment of all human togetherness… One might say that the saints are, so to speak, new Christian constellations, in which the richness of God’s goodness is reflected. Their light, coming from God, enables us to know better the interior richness of God’s great light…. Nothing can bring us into close contact with the beauty of Christ himself other than the world of beauty created by faith and light that shines out from the faces of the saints, through whom his own light becomes visible” (Pope Benedict XVI).

AMDG+

Opening Prayer

“Lord, increase my hunger for you and show me the way that leads to everlasting peace and happiness.  May I desire you above all else and find perfect joy in doing your will”. In your Name, I pray. Amen.

Reading I
Rev 7:2-4, 9-14 – I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people and tongue.

I, John, saw another angel come up from the East,
holding the seal of the living God.
He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels
who were given power to damage the land and the sea,
“Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees
until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”
I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal,
one hundred and forty-four thousand marked
from every tribe of the children of Israel.

After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne,
and from the Lamb.”

All the angels stood around the throne
and around the elders and the four living creatures.
They prostrated themselves before the throne,
worshiped God, and exclaimed:

“Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving,
honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me, “Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?” I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.” He said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.”

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6
R. (see 6) Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
One whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

Reading II
1 John 3:1-3 – We shall see God as he is.

Beloved:
See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure,
as he is pure.

The word of the Lord.

Gospel
Mt 5:1-12a – Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.

Bishop Robert Barron’s Homily – What does it mean to be a saint? click below:


When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:

“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.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection 1 – Solemnity of All Saints

Dr. Scott Hahn’s Reflection click below:

The first reading focuses us for today’s solemnity. In the Book of Revelation, St. John reports “a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue” (Revelation 7:9).

This is Good News. Salvation has come not only for Israel, but for the Gentiles as well. Here is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, that by his seed all the nations of the world would bless themselves (see Genesis 22:18).

The Church celebrates many famous Christians on their individual memorials, but today she praises God for all His “holy ones,” His saints. That is the title St. Paul preferred when he addressed his congregations.

Divinized by baptism, they were already “saints,” by the grace of God (seeColossians 1:2). They awaited, however, the day when they could “share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:12).

And so do we, as the Scriptures give us reasons for both celebration and hope. In our second reading, St. John tells us that to be “saints” means to be “children of God”—and then he adds: “so we are”! Note that he speaks in the present tense.

Yet John also says that we have unfinished business to tend. We are already God’s children, but “what we shall be has not yet been revealed.” Thus we work out our salvation: “Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as He is pure” (1 John 3:1-3).

We do this as we share the life of Christ, who defined earthly beatitude for us. We are “blessed,” he says, when we are poor, when we mourn, when we are persecuted for his sake. It is then we should “Rejoice and be glad, for [our] reward will be great in heaven” (Matthew 5:12).

Until then, we pray with the Psalmist: “Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.” Salvation has come through Abraham’s seed, but it belongs to all nations. For “the Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it’ (Psalm 24:1).

Reflection 2 – Feast of All Saints

The Catholic Church established feast days to enable believers to come together to celebrate our oneness in faith. And one of them is All Saints’ Day, which we are celebrating today.  We celebrate that every martyr and holy man recognized by the church as saints are now with the Father. But the celebration does not stop there as we likewise celebrate and believe that every believer who has gone on to the next life have been sanctified in Christ Jesus and are also in our Father’s heavenly kingdom. Indeed, we are celebrating our destiny as Christians!

In Christ, we have all been made acceptable and sanctified. Upon His return, we will be glorified, not having any wrinkle or spot or any such thing but will be found holy and without blemish.

Today, God reminds us that the process of sanctification starts the very moment we give our lives to Him. According to Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount, our sainthood begins when we give our total trust in God. When we strive to be meek and humble, when we hunger for righteousness, when we are merciful to others, when our hearts are pure and holy, when we seek peace and harmony, when we accept persecution for not only for righteousness sake but for Christ’s sake, then we are able to live the life of Christ and live heaven on earth. As such, God is able to portray through us the true image of an ideal citizen in Christ’s kingdom.  Effectively, with God’s Mighty Spirit, we allow God to transform us and lead us towards sainthood.

The way to sainthood may be difficult but with God nothing is impossible. All He asks of us is to continue to follow Jesus and to always be ready to die to ourselves and set aside our will for His.

Rejoice!  “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure.”

My faith tells me that in Christ we have all been transformed to be saints. We have all been-redeemed, sanctified and upon His return will be glorified!

Do you believe that today is every man’s day?  It is for you and me and even those who have passed into the next life.

Today being, “All Saints Day” is the day for all of us to celebrate the calling God has for all men – to be saints. Today our Lord is trying to open our hearts to His true plan for all of us. He is reminding us that to be a saint is exactly His plan for all of us. Our Lord wants all of us to be saints- no less. He exults today with exceeding joy as He contemplates the glory of His children who are faithful to Him and will be with Him till the end of time.

“After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue.” Revelation 7:9

Our God does not play favorites and the race to sainthood is open to every man. It is not reserved for a chosen few or one special group.  Every man in every continent, every race, color and tongue can be a saint.

Who are the men who can be glorious saints?  These are men who have lived upon earth and have known how to live their miseries, difficulties, trials and struggles and all their joys for God. Most of them continue to be anonymous and are entirely unknown to the world. They are humble people who live obscurely in the accomplishment of their vocation, their duties to God and neighbor.  They are quite inconspicuous in their lives and in their servanthood. But our Heavenly Father is acknowledging their work having proven their fidelity.

These are believers of Christ who have endured through time. These are workers unknown to the world yet known in the heavenly kingdom for the degree of love they have for God and their neighbor and which can only bring them God’s glory and render them eternally happy.  Because they have believed, repented, changed and followed God through Christ they will have salvation.  “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne and from the Lamb.”  Revelation 7:10

Let us pray to God and persevere in our life with Christ that we may be counted as among the saints. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.” Matthew 5:12a

Direction

Live for Christ. Start by serving the least of God’s brethren or by resolving to pursue a specific apostolate.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, teach me to live my life solely for You through Christ. In Him I live, hope and pray. Amen.

Reflection 3 – True Happiness Is Being with God

Blessed Mother Teresa was once asked by a journalist: “Mother Teresa, what do you feel when you hear people calling you ‘The Living Saint’?” Mother Teresa just answered casually: “Nothing. I feel nothing at all. That, in fact, is what we should be: living saints!”

St. John the Apostle is very clear about this in the second reading today: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called children of God. Yet so we are! Beloved, we are God’s children now!” (1Jn 3:1). That is why, Jesus urged us: “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48).  In short, as God’s children, we are expected to be saints! Pope Benedict XVI said: “To become saints means to fulfill completely what we already are, raised to the dignity of God’s adopted children in Christ Jesus.” To be sinners does not belong to our original dignity as God’s children. To be saints is what we are called to be.

Today we honor all the saints. They are the men and women, just like us, who have faithfully followed Jesus and have shared in his victory. In the vision of Saint John, he described them as a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands” (Rev 7:9). Their names are not in the liturgical calendar, they are not the popular ones, but they are all written in the Book of Life. They constantly behold the face of God. This is the main and only reason for their endless and perfect happiness – they see God face-to-face, the so-called beatific vision of God. In other words, being with God, standing in the presence of God, is the key to real and lasting happiness now being enjoyed by all the saints and angels in heaven.

In the Gospel today, Jesus gives us the road map to holiness and happiness. It is the Beatitudes. At first glance, we may find this teaching rather strange. How can the poor be blessed? How can the sorrowing be happy? How can the hungry and the thirsty and the persecuted be considered fortunate? But the answer is simple. Going back to the saints, their happiness consists in being in complete union with God.

For those who have riches, those who are rejoicing and those who enjoy worldly pleasures, God is most likely far from their minds and hearts. They do not feel the need to pray for they have money. They do not feel the need to turn to God, for in their abundance, they are busy with leisure and entertainment. They are too occupied with worldly affairs that they have no time to think about God. These are the people who cannot find true happiness. In fact, they are insecure and paranoid because the things they are enjoying now will disappear so suddenly any time. In St. Luke’s version of the Beatitudes, Jesus calls them miserable: “Woe to you who are rich…woe to you who are filled now…woe to you who laugh now” (Lk 6:24-26).

On the other hand, the people mentioned in the Beatitudes are blessed and happy because in their moments of need and difficulties, they have no other recourse but to turn to God. And God never fails. He will always come to the aid of His children in need. And more importantly, they become closer to God. That is what should give them happiness, much like the happiness of the saints enjoying the beatific vision of God.

Let us not be misled. Let us not listen to what the world is telling us. Having more money does not guarantee happiness. Having more possessions, more friends, more honor and popularity, more power, and more of everything in this world will not make us happy. It is not in having more, but in having God that will make us truly happy. True happiness only comes when we are with God. If we want to verify this statement, we have to ask the saints. Their lives on earth are clear witness to this truth. They are our models and heroes who tell us how to become truly blessed and happy.

It is really sad that the world is giving us a totally contrary picture of what we should become. Instead of giving us the stories and pictures of the saints, we see vampires and horrible creatures in movies and television. And every year the whole world celebrates Halloween, which, although it literally means the Eve of the Hallows, now means and is being portrayed as the night of the monsters, demons and perverts. Parents take pride in dressing up their children like monsters and witches. Isn’t it strange that many parents find it easier and more realistic to convince their children to become like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman or Harry Potter, while they find it uncomfortable and embarrassing to convince them to become like one of the saints?

All Saints Day reminds us that it is possible, and it is natural, to become saints, for that is who we really are as God’s children. The saints are not fictional characters and magical heroes. They were men and women just like us. Where we are now, they used to be; where they are now, we hope to be someday. As we are always reminded, “every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.”
And the Beatitudes give us a simple formula to help focus our lives on God, the only source of real and lasting happiness here on earth and finally in heaven (Source: Fr. Mike Lagrimas, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Palmera Springs, Camarin Road, Novaliches, Caloocan City 1422).

Reflection 4 – What makes a Saint?

The people whom we honor on All Saints day are not self-made people. They have been made holy by God through their cooperation with his grace. They became like Christ who is the model of all holiness. God the Father’s plan for all of us is that we should become conformed to the image of his Son. St. John wrote, “See what love the Father has bestowed on us in letting us be called children of God! Yet that is what we are.”

But not all saints are the same. Since no single saint can possibly reflect all the wonder which is Jesus Christ, each saint tends to specialize in one of his characteristics. Examples are rather easy to think of. St. Francis of Assisi, the poor man, reflects Jesus who was so poor that in his missionary journeys he had no place to lay his head. St. Teresa of Avila was a mystic who is recognized by the Church as a doctor of prayer. She was like Jesus who went off and spent whole nights in prayer.

St. John Chrysostom, the patron of preachers, continued the mission of Jesus who declared that he was sent by the Father to preach the good news to the poor. St. Vincent de Paul was like Christ in his great concern and affection for the needy and the outcasts of society.

St. John of the Cross was true to his name and like Jesus endured great suffering for God. St. Damien the Leper as his name suggests was like Jesus who reached out to touch and cure those who were afflicted with the most feared disease of his time.

The saints tell us, “It can be done. Mere human beings can by the grace of God become holy.” The saints in heaven are not few in number. They are “a huge crowd which no one can count from every nation, race, people, and tongue.” The saints are like us “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb” through the sacrament of baptism. This great sacrament is our initial conformity to Christ. It makes us children of God and heirs of heaven. It is the beginning of our journey on the way to holiness.

We – like the many women, men, and children who have gone before us in faith – can become saints. Here’s a challenging story of a young woman who died at the age of twenty-four. She had never traveled from her home in a small French village except once when her father took her at the age of sixteen to Rome. She was not a great missionary. She was not a martyr. In fact, she did nothing at all which seemed extraordinary. And yet she is St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower. How did it happen? She determined to do everything, even the most insignificant thing, out of pure love for God. It was her way, her little way of spiritual childhood. She was a child of God who became like the Son of God in her simplicity.

What is our way? How are we to live like Christ? Each of us must determine that for ourselves. But we must remember that saints are not self-made. Our power comes from the Holy Eucharist. When we receive the body and the blood of the Lord, we receive the grace to become like Christ, each one of us that it can be done. Through Christ we can all become truly holy.

Reflection 5 – The Church Honors Her Exemplary Saints

Today is the Solemnity of All Saints, the great holy day on which the Church praises God by honoring all his saints in Heaven, that “great multitude,” which “no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue,” who have achieved their life’s goal, the blessedness that consists of seeing and possessing God in the Kingdom of Heaven. Throughout the liturgical year, the Church honors her exemplary saints, whom she canonizes for our admiration and imitation so that we, too, can make our way to Heaven with their assistance.

However, today the Church greatly enlarges our vision to focus on all the saints in his Kingdom, that immensely greater “multitude” who are also marked with the seal of God, holding up their palms of victory, and wearing their white robes of holiness. This great feast of All Saints is given to us precisely to stir up our admiration for this greater communion of saints, and to kindle our hope to one day be among their number.

At times, the exemplary saints we honor throughout the year, the virgins and martyrs, the confessors and others marked by great sanctity already in this world, may, perhaps, seem too elevated for us to hope to be like them. So today, the Church honors all God’s saints, most of whom we can recognize as more like us in our weaknesses and failings, but gloriously triumphant nonetheless. We gain hope when we confess that these human beings, who were much like ourselves, by clinging to God, and cooperating with his grace, have triumphed over their weakness and sin to become glorious members of that great body of saints who prostrate themselves before God, and cry out eternally, “Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

It is that great victory and blessedness that must truly be our life’s directing goal. We were created for that happiness, and by our Baptism, we have been made children of God, destined for that eternal joy. And for that reason, and today especially, we also need to ask ourselves if that heavenly destiny is in fact our personal goal, or are we, too, caught up in, and distracted by, the worldby its promises, by its earthly goods and pleasuresto actually live for Heaven as the true motivating goal of our life?

Now, we know for sure that the saints in heavenall the saints from the greatest to the least, sooner or later in their livesdefinitely made heaven’s glory, union with God, their life’s quest. It may not have been in a dramatic moment of conversion, as we see in the lives of certain saints, but there had to be a turning point, a conscious turning toward God that was reflected in the practical way they lived in this world.

Today especially, then, we should ask ourselves this question: “What does God see in my heart as the driving goal of my life?” What does my life, when viewed objectively, reveal to God, if not to me, about the true nature of my final purpose in life? Does God see me taking aim at heaven and living accordingly, or does God see me living primarily for this world; that is, does God see that the world is too consuming for me to give him much more than lip service day by day.

For instance, if I am too busy to give God the worship due his name on Sunday, or do it only grudgingly, if I consider that obligation too trivial to take it seriously, what does that attitude indicate about my life’s goal? Can it possibly indicate that HeavenGod and God’s Kingdomis really the driving force of my life on this earth?

Or if I rarely pray, but spend countless hours consumed in sportsh and other forms of entertainment, or if I rarely bother getting to confession, or if I rarely read or do anything for the purpose of nourishing my soulis this not a good indication that this world is more important to me than my relation to God, my destiny in God?

Objectively, by baptism, you and I are already members of the Communion of Saints, and the heavenly saints firmly wish to help us, to join with us in every act of prayer or worship, every act of charity, if we but make the effort. They certainly pray for us constantly; but do we often pray to them? How can we honestly think that Heaven is our driving goal, if we unthinkingly ignore the company of Heaven while here on earth?

Hopefully, sooner or later, a lax Christian will be jolted into seeing that life is more than eating and drinking, entertainment, the pursuit of wealth, whatever is of this earth. And often that jolt will be some form of suffering, the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a personal setback. Such experiences can be a moment of grace, can make the indifferent think differently about what life is really all about, what true happiness really is, what is really worth pursing as the goal of life.

To repeat: you and I have been made God’s children by our baptism. We all, as St. John says in today’s second reading, are God’s children now, who should hope to be with God, to see God face to face, to enjoy God, with the heavenly saints, forever. Any other final goal but this is unworthy of a true child of God.

So we must all long for heaven, where our victory song will be eternal, and will be based upon the fact that we have “survived {the test} the time of great distress; have washed … {our} robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.” And already here on earth, and especially on All Saints Day, we should already rejoice as Jesus commands; “Rejoice and be glad…!” And why rejoice? “For your reward will be great in heaven.” That is our true life’s goal and true hope, and nothing less will do for creatures with such a destiny. Source: http://www.hprweb.com/2015/10/homilies-for-november-2015/

Reflection 6 – Growth in Holiness

Have you thought much about why this day in honor of saints called “All Saints”? Why the “All”? Not only because we do not know the names of all those in heaven, but because no one could count ALL saints! And because ALL of us are called to be saints!

I think we remember the slogans “No Child Left Behind” and “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” We still occasionally hear them on TV. “No Child Left Behind” became a law in 2001 as President Bush sought to improve our educational system. “A mind is a terrible thing to waste” encouraged support for the United Negro College Fund. Both slogans express obvious truths. It is a pity to allow children to be deprived of a decent education and to waste a mind. It is a tragedy to the person so victimized.

Today’s feast reminds us that it is much worse when a person if left behind in pursuit of holiness and when his chance to become a saint is wasted. When this happens we all suffer and unfortunately no one is to blame but the one who freely chooses to let it happen to him or her.

People are often confused about the meaning of sanctity or holiness. Some are just disinterested, others are actually afraid of it. Holiness seems to be something out of this world, naiveté or burying one’s head in the sand – or the clouds! Those who try to be holy are called hypocrites. More often than not, the name-callers are the real hypocrites!

When Moses fled to the desert to escape the wrath of Pharaoh he saw a burning bush, a fire but not consumed. He tried to look at it more closely. God warned him, “Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground” (Ex 3:5). Ground can be holy! People should be. After the miraculous catch of fish on the Lake of Gennesaret, Peter fell at the knees of Jesus saying, “Leave me, Lord. I am a sinful man” (Lk 5:8). Peter was attracted to our Lord’s holiness but was aware of his own sinfulness. Sin is the opposite of holiness, and so turning from sin is necessary before there can be turning to holiness.

When we profess our faith in the communion of saints we express our conviction that we can find the means to holiness in the Catholic Church and that her members do in fact live holy lives. They are rewarded even in this life and eternally in heaven. This article of our faith first points to the common sharing of all the members of the Church in holy things – faith, sacraments, charisms and to her spiritual gifts – and then refers to the communion among holy persons – on earth, in purgatory and in heaven. Today’s first reading (Rev 7:2-4, 9-14) gives us an idea of the number of saints in heaven and their glory.

Holiness comes to us first through the baptism. The Holy Spirit comes into our lives and brings sanctifying grace. This makes us holy. Holiness is thus properly ascribed to us because we are created in the image of God and are destined to be recreated in his likeness through grace. Sanctifying grace renews our friendship with God and draws us closer to him. Life in the state of grace was described by St. Gregory Nazianzen, speaking of his friendship with St. Basil: “We wanted to withdraw from this world before we departed from it… We ordered our lives and all our actions with this end in view. We followed the guidance of God’s law and spurred each other on to virtue” (Liturgy of the Hours I, 1286). Here we see that a holy person habitually looks on this world through the eyes of faith. He is a true realist; to view it otherwise results in my myopic vision.

Pope Benedict XVI said in the General Audience of January 31,2007: “Holiness increases with the capacity for conversion, repentance, willingness to begin again, and above all with the capacity for reconciliation and forgiveness…. Thus, what makes us holy is not never having erred, but the capacity for reconciliation and pardon. And all of us can learn this road to holiness.” This is evident since Christ died for all and wished all to be saved.

It stands to reason that a person grows in holiness. St. Josemaria Escriva reminded us, “Conversion is a matter of a moment. Sanctification is the work of a lifetime” (The Way, 285). Perhaps we can understand holiness better by considering its stages of growth. The unbaptized child is innocent, made to the image of God, but not yet holy because it was born with Original Sin. The baptized child is not only innocent but holy because of sanctifying grace. From the age of reason to death a person engages in the struggle to grow in holier life, and the Church prays: “Grant that where sin has abounded, grace may more abound, so that we can become holier through forgiveness and be more grateful to you (Lord)” (Liturgy of the Hours, III, p. 96). Pope Benedict XVI also emphasized, “Every form of holiness, even if it follows different paths, always passes through the Way of the Cross, the way of self-denial” (Homily on Nov 1, 2006).

We soon discover however, that a great threat to growth in holiness is indifference and lukewarmness. Christ’s word spoken to St. John in a vision concerning the Church of Laodicea immediately come to mind: “I know your deeds; I know you are neither hot nor cold. How I wish you were one or the other” (Rev 3:15)! This ever-present threat remains only a temptation as long as we do not succumb to it.

The secret of holiness is thus friendship with Christ and faithful obedience to his will. He, the Good Shepherd, leads us through life’s dark valleys. He knows the way through the night of death and never abandons us until he leads us into the green pastures of “light, happiness and peace.”

Today we not only honor saints but ask their help. Pope Benedict XVI describes a saint in these words, “The saint is the person who is so fascinated by the beauty of God and by his perfect truth as to be progressively transformed” (Homily on Oct 23, 2005). Be transformed in holiness – this is our goal in life. We know this takes courage and determination because Original Sin in us and in those around us poses challenges to virtue, as the Beatitudes in today’s gospel shows. They also promise eventual victory and fulfillment for all who persevere. The Kingdom of God will be perfectly realized on Judgment Day. In the meantime we have our Eucharist Lord to help us – and the prayers of the saints. (Rev. George M. Franko, “Homilies on the Liturgies of Sundays and Feasts,” Homiletic & Pastoral Review. Vol. CX, No. I. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, October 2009, pp. 33-35; Suggested reading: Catechism of the Catholic Church, 526, 897, 1129, 2003, 2012-2016).

Reflection 7 – The Hidden Path to Beatitude

Purpose: The Beatitudes are principles which Christ gave us in order to encourage us to aspire to true happiness. True happiness is found in God alone.

Today we remember the great multitude of saints who have gone before us and are in heaven, interceding for us before the throne of God. In this life, the world did not know them. But God knew them and cared for them. They are his children. In heaven, they see him as he is, and in seeing him as he is, they know the fullness of the joy and happiness, that he has prepared for us.

We too are the children of God, and the world does not know us. Sometimes, we do not even know ourselves. We became children of God at our baptism. We call God our Father, because that is who he is. We call ourselves his children, because that is who we are. God adopted us, and called us his own. We washed our robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.

The great question that presses in on every Christian is how to live our baptism. What does it mean to live like a child of God? Our older brothers and sisters in heaven have shown us how to do it. Their lives are our guide here below. They come from every nation, race, people, and tongue. Many of their lives were filled with great distress. But they took God at his word, and lived their lives in the hope of heaven. We too have this hope, and everyone who has this hope makes himself pure, as the first letter of John exhorts us.

The Beatitudes, which Christ taught us, tell us how to make ourselves pure. They speak to our hearts, and tell us how to live our baptism. They mark the hidden path to true happiness in this life and the next. They tell us what actions and attitudes are characteristic of the Christian life. They invite us to purify our hearts, and to seek the love of God above all else. They teach us that true happiness is found, not in riches, fame, or power, but in God alone. They give us hope in the midst of trials and tribulations. They proclaim the blessings and rewards that God wants all his children to receive.

The Beatitudes have been lived by all the saints in every time and place. The lives of the saints, in every age and culture, are full of these timeless truths. Even before Christ came, many holy people lived them out through the baptism of desire. Our Christian art and literature are filled with the Beatitudes. Our great Christian artists and writers have handed down to us these basic principles, in the teaching of Christ, as the path for us to follow. It is a humble path, unnoticed by the world, a small, hidden path of little things, done with great love, the path of self-sacrifice and self-denial that can be lived out in imitation of Christ in any state of life.

We might consider, for instance, the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, who taught the Beatitudes by telling us the story of Frodo the Hobbit. Frodo inherits a magic Ring. It turns out to be a thing of great evil. It has the power to turn him into a slave of Sauron, the fallen angel who desires to plunge all of Middle-earth into eternal darkness. The Ring must be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom in order for Sauron’s dominion to be broken. This is an astonishing and alarming revelation, but Frodo accepts it. He realizes that he is the one ordained to carry the Ring up Mount Doom, and destroy it for the salvation of Middle-earth. As the Ring-bearer, he must firmly resist the lust for the power of the Ring.

The creature Gollum, by contrast, is someone who lives under the merciless tyranny of the lust for the power of the Ring. He cannot keep himself from trying to kill Frodo in order to take the Ring for his own delight. Frodo, however, shows great pity and great mercy toward Gollum. Frodo recognizes that he and Gollum are suffering from the same curse, and he gives Gollum every opportunity to repent.

In a laborious act of daily self-sacrifice, Frodo puts up with Gollum, and carries the Ring to its final destruction, expecting to pay for this victory with the price of his own life. In the end, the lust for the power of the Ring conquers even Frodo. Standing at the edge of the fires in Mount Doom, he finds that he cannot dispose of it. He cannot resist the desire to keep it for himself.

The salvation of Frodo and Middle-earth comes about only through the mercy of God at the last minute, when Gollum violently takes the Ring from Frodo and falls into the fires, perishing with it forever and ending the evil reign of Sauron. The moral of the story is clear. If Frodo had not shown mercy to Gollum, but instead had killed him, the Quest to destroy the Ring would have failed, and the outcome would have been far worse than death.

The teaching of Christ informs the imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien, as it does every disciple of Christ. The story of Frodo teaches us the Christian Beatitudes. It is, in fact, the one true story of all the saints. It is the story of our lives as well. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” In order to live like children of God and receive our inheritance, we must make ourselves pure through the practice of mercy and self-sacrifice. In the end, mercy is received by those who are merciful. In the end, true happiness is obtained by those who live a life of small, hidden acts of love and self-sacrifice for others. That is the way of Christ. That is the way of all the saints. (Source: Homelitic and Pastoral Review). Suggestions for Further Reading: Catechism of the Catholic Church §1716-1729

Reflection 8 – The Beauty of Beatitude

What makes for a happy childhood? Our first, best inclination is to assert that it is not things, not possessions, or toys, or vacations to the mountains, or the latest technological wonders, but the personal peresence of loving parents. An absent father who works long hours so his children can have everything they desire, a mother who toils at a job and keeping the house but is too tired to enjoy time with her children – these are not the models of parents with happy children. Ask the children themselves, and they will happy do without almost anything to know and experience the loving presence of their parents.

Of course we cannot call a childhood happy if the parents are present but do nothing to make the lives of their children better. Among their many duties, parents are just supposed to cure ills, soothe aches, defend against the injustice and cruelty of others, celebrate accomplishments, and even on occasion shower their children with unmerited but nonetheless desired gifts. To be present but not to work for the good of another is at least as painful to a child as to be absent even while toiling away for his good.

What we say about a happy childhood can just as truly be said about all human relationships of any age. Simply put, a life is not happy without love, and love is always made up of a trinity: to love, we must desire union with the beloved, and to love we must benevolently will the good of the beloved.

This is precisely what Christ means by beatitude, the lasting, eternal happiness that arises from God’s love for his beloved. On the one hand, this blessedness is a present reality arising from God’s personal presence, and especially for this presence in the lives of those who have no earthly motive for happiness. With the Holy Spirit dwelling in the baptized not simply as Lord and Giver of life, but most crucially as Friend, for the poor in spirit and for those persecuted for the sake of righteousness, theirs not simply will be but even now is the kingdom of heaven.

This was the case with the faithful remnant to whom God spoke through the prophet Zechariah. They had suffered, both from the evil of others and from their own waywardness of heart, and on the face of it, there was little earthly cause to hope for any glorious future for God’s chosen people. Nonetheless, in the midst of their humiliation, there is the joy of God’s abiding presence, the joy that drives out bent acts and broken speech, the joy that comes from knowing, even now, that no one will disturb our daily endeavors because the Lord is there is a shelter and refuge.

The Church in Corinth was no less aware of the happiness coming from God’s presence even in the midst of earthly want. The calling which the Corinthians had received had not altered in any visible way their lowly state in this world. They remained powerless, of low birth, foolish, and despised. Yet, even in all of this, indeed because of all of this, they know all the more the justifying, sanctifying, redeeming power of Jesus Christ, the wisdom of God, present in the midst of them.

All the same, God will not leave his beloved without relief from what burdens them. As beatific as it is to know God’s presence in our lowliness, we are all the happier to know that he is at work in setting right what is crooked, healing all that ills, giving comfort to the mourning, and slaking the thirst for justice. We can be happy now in large part because we know that the Lord will do all these things, and countless more undreamt of, in the New Creation of God’s everlasting kingdom. (Source: Fr. Dominic Holtz, O.P. “Homilies for Sunday Liturgies and Feasts,”Homiletic & Pastoral Review, Vol. CXI, No. 3. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, December 2010, pp. 39-40; Suggested reading: Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1716-29; 1829-32).

Reflection 9 – The Beatitudes proclaimed 

Matthew invites the reader to listen to the beatitudes proclaimed by Jesus with a rich concentration of details. First he indicates the place where Jesus proclaims his sermon: “Jesus went onto the mountain” (5:1). That is why exegetes call this the “sermon on the mount” even though Luke places this sermon on level ground (Lk 6:20-26). The geographic location of the “mountain” could be a veiled reference to an episode in the OT quite like ours: that is, when Moses proclaims the Decalogue on mount Sinai. It is possible that Matthew wishes to present Jesus as the new Moses who proclaims the new law.

Another detail that strikes us is the physical posture of Jesus as he proclaims his words: “when he was seated”. This posture confers upon him a note of authority in the legislative sense. The disciples and the “crowd” gather around him: this detail shows what Jesus had to say was for all to hear. We note that Jesus’ words do not present impossible matters, nor are they addressed to a special group of people, nor do they mean to establish a code of ethics exclusively for his inner circle. Jesus’ demands are concrete, binding and decisively radical.

Someone branded Jesus’ sermon as follows: «For me, this is the most important text in the history of humankind. It is addressed to all, believers and non, and after twenty centuries it is still the only light still shining in the darkness of violence, fear and solitude in which the West finds itself because of its pride and selfishness» (Gilbert Cesbron).

The word “blessed” (in Greek makarioi) in our context does not say “softly” but cries out happiness found throughout the Bible. For instance, in the OT, those called “blessed” are those who live out the precepts of Wisdom (Sir 25,7-10). The prayerful person of the Psalms defines “blessed” as those who “fear”, or more precisely those who love the Lord, expressing this love in the observance of the precepts contained in the word of God (Sal 1,1; 128,1).

Matthew’s originality lies in adding a secondary phrase that specifies each beatitude: for instance, the main assertion “blessed are the poor in spirit” is clarified by an added phrase “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. Another difference with the OT is that Jesus’ words proclaim a saving blessedness here and now and without any limitations. For Jesus, all can attain happiness on condition that they remain united to Him.

The first cry concerns the poor: “How blessed are the poor in spirit, the kingdom of heaven is theirs”. The reader may be shocked: how can the poor be happy? In the Bible, the poor are those who empty themselves of themselves and above all renounce the presumption of building their own present and future alone, and thus leave room for and focus on God’s project and his Word. The poor, always in the biblical sense, is not someone closed in on himself, miserable, negative, but someone who nurtures being open to God and to others. God is all his/her treasure. We could say with St.Teresa of Avila: happy are those who experience that “God alone suffices!”, meaning that they are rich in God.

A great modern spiritual author described poverty as follows: «As long as one does not empty one’s heart, God cannot fill it with himself. As you empty your heart, so does the Lord fill it. Poverty is emptiness, not only in what concerns the future but also the past. Not a regret or memory, not a worry or wish! God is not in the past, God is not in the future: He is in the present! Leave your past to God, leave your future to God. Your poverty is to live the present, the Presence of God who is Eternity» (Divo Barsotti).
This is the first beatitude, not just because it is the first of many, but because it seems to encapsulate all the others in their diversity.

“Blessed are those who mourn; they shall be comforted”. One can mourn because of a great pain or suffering. This underlines the fact that we are dealing with a serious situation even though the motives or the cause are not mentioned. If we wish to identify today “those who mourn” we could think of all the Christians who hold dear the demands of the kingdom and suffer because of many negative aspects in the Church; rather than focus on holiness, the Church presents divisions and lacerations. They may also be those who suffer because of their sins and inconsistencies and who, in some way, slow down their conversion. To these, only God can bring the news of “consolation””.

“Blessed are the gentle, they shall have the earth as inheritance”. The third beatitude is about gentleness. This is a quality that is not so popular today. Rather, for many it has a negative connotation and is taken for weakness or the kind of imperturbability that knows how to control calculatingly one’s own emotions. What does the word “gentle” mean in the Bible? The gentle are remembered as those who enjoy great peace (Ps 37:10), are happy, blessed and loved by God. They are also contrasted with evildoers, the ungodly and sinners. Thus the OT gives us a wealth of meanings that do not allow for one single definition.
In the NT the first time we meet the word is in Matthew 11:29: “Learn from me because I am gentle and humble of heart”. A second time is in Mt 21:5, when Matthew describes Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and cites the prophet Zechariah 2:9: “Behold your servant comes to you gentle”. Truly, Matthew’s Gospel may be described as the Gospel of gentleness.
Paul too says that gentleness is an identifying quality of the Christian. In 2 Corinthians 10:1 he exhorts believers “I urge you by the gentleness and forbearance of Christ”. In Galatians 5:22 gentleness is considered one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in the heart of believers and consists in being meek, moderate, slow to punish, kind and patient towards others. Again in Ephesians 4:32 and Colossians 3:12 gentleness is an attitude that is part of the Christian and a sign of the new man in Christ.
Finally, an eloquent witness comes from 1 Peter 3:3-4: “Your adornment should be not an exterior one, consisting of braided hair or gold jewellery or fine clothing, but the interior disposition of the heart, consisting in the imperishable quality of a gentle and peaceful spirit, so precious in the sight of God”.
How does Jesus use the word “gentle”? A truly enlightening definition is the one given by the gentle person of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini “The gentle person, according to the beatitudes, is one who, in spite of the fervor of his/her feelings, remains docile and calm, not possessive, interiorly free, always extremely respectful of the mystery of freedom, imitating God in this respect who does everything with respect for the person, and urges the person to obedience without ever using violence. Gentleness is opposed to all forms of material or moral arrogance, it gains the victory of peace over war, of dialogue over imposition”.
To this wise interpretation we add that of another famous exegete: “The gentleness spoken of in the beatitudes is none other than that aspect of humility that manifests itself in practical affability in one’s dealings with the other. Such gentleness finds its image and its perfect model in the person of Jesus, gentle and humble of heart. Truly, such gentleness seems to us like a form of charity, patient and delicately attentive towards others” (Jacques Dupont).

Reflection 10 – The Blessing Of Persecution

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. –Matthew 5:10

Persecution, even martyrdom, has been the cost of discipleship for Christians down through the centuries. In many lands believers still suffer imprisonment and death for their uncompromising devotion to their Savior. Even in nations that have religious freedom, a person with a bold witness for the Lord may become the target of ridicule.

When we experience hardship because of our Christian commitment, no verse of Scripture is more comforting than the beatitude spoken by our Savior, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 5:10).

At one time in his life, British preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon was so intensely criticized that he became deeply depressed. So his wife printed that beatitude along with the other seven on a large sheet of paper and placed it above their bed. The first thing Spurgeon saw in the morning and the last thing he read at night was our Savior’s glorious promise.

Are you discouraged because you are suffering for your Christian testimony? The antidote is this one sustaining promise: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.”  — Vernon C. Grounds

The consecrated cross I’ll bear
Till death shall set me free,
And then go home, my crown to wear,
For there’s a crown for me. –Shepherd

If you live for God, you can expect trouble from the world (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).

Reflection 11 – The Challenged from the Beatitudes

Are you discouraged of your Christian witness because you are suffering of the ridicule from others? The antidote is the beatitude of Christ (Mt. 5:1-12). Pope Benedict XVI encourages us: “The Beatitudes express the meaning of discipleship… What the Beatitudes mean cannot be expressed in purely theoretical terms; it is proclaimed in the life and suffering, and in the mysterious joy, of the disciple who gives himself over completely to follow the Lord… With certainty and conviction we, ‘the humble of the earth,’ from the stance of our utter nothingness ‘seek the Lord.’ For it is due to him that we are in Christ Jesus – through his gaze on the mountain we become like him.”

From our Catechism, “the Beatitudes teach us the final end to which God calls us: the Kingdom, the vision of God, participation in the divine nature, eternal life, filiation, and rest in God. The beatitude of eternal life is a gratuitous gift of God. It is supernatural, as is the grace that leads us there. The Beatitude confront us with decisive choices concerning earthly goods; they purify our hearts in order to teach us to love God above all things. The beatitude of heaven sets the standards for discernment in the use of earthly goods in keeping with the law of God.” (CCC:1716-1729). The Beatitudes are at the heart of Jesus’ preaching with His example, crucifixion and resurrection. For the last two thousand years, many become saints by heartily practicing the beatitudes.

Let us be challenged by St. Theresa of Avila. She wrote: “Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you. All things pass: God never changes. Patience achieves all it strives for. Whoever has God lacks nothing, God alone satisfies.” Is God enough for you? God offers us the greatest good possible – abundant life in Jesus Christ (Jn 10:10) and the promise of unending joy and happiness with God. Let us be challenged by St. Thomas Aquinas. He said: “No one can live without joy. That is why a person deprived of spiritual joy goes after carnal pleasures.” Do you know the happiness of hungering and thirsting for God alone?

Reflection 12 – Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven

What is the good life which God intends for us? And how is it related with the ultimate end or purpose of life? Is it not our desire and longing for true happiness, which is none other than the complete good, the sum of all goods, leaving nothing more to be desired? Jesus addresses this question in his sermon on the mount. The heart of Jesus’ message is that we can live a very happy life. The call to holiness, to be saints who joyfully pursue God’s will for their lives, can be found in these eight beatitudes. Jesus’ beatitudes sum up our calling or vocation – to live a life of the beatitudes. The word beatitude literally means “happiness” or “blessedness”.

God gives us everything that leads to true happiness
What is the significance of Jesus’ beatitudes, and why are they so central to his teaching? The beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness that God has placed in every heart. They teach us the final end to which God calls us, namely the coming of God’s kingdom (Matthew 4:17), the vision of God (Matthew 5:8; 1 John 2;1), entering into the joy of the Lord (Matthew 25:21-23) and into his rest (Hebrews 4:7-11).  Jesus’ beatitudes also confront us with decisive choices concerning the life we pursue here on earth and the use we make of the goods he puts at our disposal.

Jesus’ tells us that God alone can satisfy the deepest need and longing of our heart. Teresa of Avila’s (1515-1582) prayer book contained a bookmark on which she wrote: Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you. All things pass – God never changes. Patience achieves all it strives for. Whoever has God lacks nothing -God alone suffices.

Is God enough for you? God offers us the greatest good possible – abundant life in Jesus Christ (John 10:10) and the promise of unending joy and happiness with God forever. Do you seek the highest good, the total good, which is above all else?

The beatitudes are a sign of contradiction to the world’s way of happiness
The beatitudes which Jesus offers us are a sign of contradiction to the world’s understanding of happiness and joy. How can one possibly find happiness in poverty, hunger, mourning, and persecution? Poverty of spirit finds ample room and joy in possessing God as the greatest treasure possible. Hunger of the spirit seeks nourishment and strength in God’s word and Spirit. Sorrow and mourning over wasted life and sin leads to joyful freedom from the burden of guilt and spiritual oppression.

God reveals to the humble of heart the true source of abundant life and happiness. Jesus promises his disciples that the joys of heaven will more than compensate for the troubles and hardships they can expect in this world. Thomas Aquinas said: “No one can live without joy. That is why a person deprived of spiritual joy goes after carnal pleasures.” Do you know the happiness of hungering and thirsting for God alone?

“Lord Jesus, increase my hunger for you and show me the way that leads to everlasting peace and happiness. May I desire you above all else and find perfect joy in doing your will.” – Read the source: http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/nov1.htm

Reflection 13 – “The Solemnity of All Saints Is “Our” Feast because God’s Holiness Has Touched Our Life”

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning and happy feast! The Solemnity of All Saints is “our” feast, not because we are good but because God’s holiness has touched our life. The Saints aren’t perfect models, but persons run through by God. We can compare them to the windows of churches, which let the light enter in different shades of colors. The Saints are our brothers and sisters who received the light of God in their heart and transmitted it to the world, each one according to his own “shade.” However, they were all transparent; they struggled to remove the stains and the darkness of sin, so as to have God’s kindly light pass through. This is the purpose of life:  to have the light of God pass through, and also the purpose of our life.

In fact, today in the Gospel Jesus turns to His own, to all of us, saying to us “Blessed” (Matthew 5:3). It’s the word with which He begins His preaching, which is “Gospel,” Good News because it is the way of happiness. He who is with Jesus is blessed, is happy. Happiness doesn’t lie in having something or in becoming someone, no. True happiness is to be with the Lord and to live for love. Do you believe this? True happiness doesn’t lie in having something or in becoming someone: true happiness is to be with the Lord and to live for love. Do you believe this? We must go forward to believe in this. Then, the ingredients for a happy life are called Beatitudes: blessed are the simple, the humble that make room for God, who are able to weep for others and for their own mistakes, they are meek, fight for justice, are merciful to all, guard purity of heart, always work for peace and remain joyful; they don’t hate and, even when they suffer, they answer evil with good.

Behold the Beatitudes. They don’t require glaring gestures; they aren’t for supermen, but for one who lives the trials and hardships of every day, for us. Thus are the Saints: like all, they breathe the polluted air of evil that exists in the world; however, on the way they never lose sight of Jesus’s trace, that indicated in the Beatitudes, which is like the map of Christian life. Today is the feast of those who have reached the end indicated by this map: not only the Saints of the calendar, but so many “next door” brothers and sisters, who perhaps we have met and known. It’s a family feast, of the many simple and hidden persons that in reality help God to send the world forward. And there are so many today! There are so many. Thanks to these unknown brothers and sisters that help God to take the world forward, who live among us. We greet them with a hearty applause!

First of all – says the first Beatitude – they are “poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3). What does it mean? <It means> that they don’t live for success, power and money; they know that one who accumulates treasures for himself is not enriched before God (Cf. Luke 12:21). They believe, instead, that the Lord is the treasure of life, love of neighbor the only true source of earnings. Sometimes we are unhappy about something we are lacking or concerned if we aren’t considered as we’d like; let us remember that our Beatitude isn’t here, but in the Lord and in love: only with Him, only by loving does one live as blessed.

Finally, I would like to quote another Beatitude, which isn’t found in the Gospel, but at the end of the Bible, and it talks about the end of life: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord” (Revelation 14:13). Tomorrow we will be called to accompany our dead with prayer, so that they will rejoice forever in the Lord. We remember our dear ones with gratitude and we pray for them.

May the Mother of God, Queen of the Saints and Gate of Heaven, intercede for our journey of holiness and for our dear ones who have preceded us and are now part of the celestial homeland. – Read the source: Pope Francis’ Angelus Address   https://zenit.org/articles/angelus-address-solemnity-of-all-saints/

Reflection 14 – Your own sainthood

YOU are a saint. Don’t argue with me, I know you’re a saint, because a saint is anyone who’s either in heaven or on their way to heaven by following Christ. In the Apostle’s Creed we say, “I believe in the communion of saints….” That includes you! It’s the whole community of Christ-followers.

As followers of Christ, we have been redeemed from the power of sin. We have been reborn as “saints” and are no longer “sinners.” Yes, we do sin every day; we have not yet perfected our sainthood. So we grow in holiness by becoming more and more who we truly are. This is life as an earthly saint.

Look at today’s first reading. We could see this as a huge prayer meeting in heaven, but it’s not just about the after-life. You, right now, are part of that “great multitude” when you worship God enthusiastically. Every time we praise God, we’re joining ourselves to the whole communion of saints, including our loved ones who left earth in the Lord’s arms.

We’re also united to them after our sins are absolved in the mercy of God through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, for then we, too, have “washed our robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Until the next time we sin, we’re on the Lord’s mountain, standing in a holy place, because our hands are sinless, our hearts are clean, and we are not desiring what is vain (as the responsorial Psalm says).

The same unity occurs when we receive the Eucharist after making a heartfelt journey through the prayers of repentance and requests for forgiveness that the Church provides during each Mass. (Oops, until we get mad at the guy in the parking lot who briefly blocks our escape from church into the world.)

As the second reading points out, we are saints because we are God’s children. The saints in heaven have the advantage of being free from evil, while we live in a sin-filled world. But notice how we become pure: The hope (i.e., belief in God’s promise) that eventually we’ll behave like Christ all the time should energize us to purge our lives of unholiness now. This hope is based on knowing that Christ redeems us from sin, the Father forgives us, and after death, whatever clean-up still remains to be done, it will be accomplished thanks to purgatory.

The Gospel reading reminds us that we are saints because we are blessed. Isn’t anything that God blesses made holy? Therefore, any person whom God blesses is made holy by his love: the poor in spirit, those who mourn and receive the Holy Spirit’s comfort, the meek who submit to God’s will, and so on down the list of beatitudes. Meditate on each blessing and notice your sainthood and the challenge to become more saintly by improving how you live the truth of each beatitude.

The Church canonizes saints so we can have role models and so we know they’re available for prayer support to assist us on our journey to heaven. We should not compare our lives to theirs, however, for we all have different circumstances in which to grow in holiness. We can only compare ourselves to what we used to be like. Meanwhile, we can pray with the saints and accept their spiritual guidance.

Questions for Personal Reflection:
How have you grown in holiness over the years? Choose one way to grow in holiness this week.

Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
Who is your favorite Saint in heaven? Why? Name someone you know who is a good model of saintliness. What is holy about that person? – Read the source: http://gnm.org/good-news-reflections/?useDrDate=2017-11-01

For further reflection on the Beatitudes, read the Good News WordByte
“Living the Beatitudes” at wordbytes.gnm.org/spiritualgrowth-living-the-beatitudes/.
And for a printable copy or for distributing it to others, please go to Catholic Digital Resources: http://catholicdr.com/faithbuilders/beatitudes.htm

Reflection 15 – Solemnity of All Saints

The earliest certain observance of a feast in honor of all the saints is an early fourth-century commemoration of “all the martyrs.” In the early seventh century, after successive waves of invaders plundered the catacombs, Pope Boniface IV gathered up some 28 wagonloads of bones and reinterred them beneath the Pantheon, a Roman temple dedicated to all the gods. The pope rededicated the shrine as a Christian church. According to Venerable Bede, the pope intended “that the memory of all the saints might in the future be honored in the place which had formerly been dedicated to the worship not of gods but of demons” (On the Calculation of Time).

But the rededication of the Pantheon, like the earlier commemoration of all the martyrs, occurred in May. Many Eastern Churches still honor all the saints in the spring, either during the Easter season or immediately after Pentecost.

How the Western Church came to celebrate this feast, now recognized as a solemnity, in November is a puzzle to historians. The Anglo-Saxon theologian Alcuin observed the feast on November 1 in 800, as did his friend Arno, Bishop of Salzburg. Rome finally adopted that date in the ninth century.

Comment:

This feast first honored martyrs. Later, when Christians were free to worship according to their consciences, the Church acknowledged other paths to sanctity. In the early centuries the only criterion was popular acclaim, even when the bishop’s approval became the final step in placing a commemoration on the calendar. The first papal canonization occurred in 993; the lengthy process now required to prove extraordinary sanctity took form in the last 500 years. Today’s feast honors the obscure as well as the famous—the saints each of us have known.

Quote:

“After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands…. [One of the elders] said to me, ‘These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’” (Revelation 7:9,14).

Related St. Anthony Messenger article(s) 

The Feast of All Saints: God’s Glorious Nobodies, by Kathy Coffey

Read the source: http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1186

 Catholic saints are holy people and human people who lived extraordinary lives. Each saint the Church honors responded to God’s invitation to use his or her unique gifts. God calls each one of us to be a saint. Click here to receive Saint of the Day in your email.

THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS


by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  November 1, 2017

Catholics believe in the Church Suffering and the intercession of the saints

On the Feast of All Saints, Catholics celebrate the union of the blessed in Heaven, the faithful on earth and the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Protestants, however, deny the existence of the Holy Souls in Purgatory, the intercession of the saints in Heaven and the struggle for salvation fought by the Church Militant on earth.

The unity of the Communion of Saints is scriptural. In 1 Corinthians 12:27, St. Paul said, “[Y]ou are the body of Christ, member for member.” In Colossians 1:18, St. Paul affirmed, “[H]e is the head of his body, the Church.” The saints are called the Bride of Christ in Ephesians 5:28–30 which reads, “He who loves his own wife, loves himself. … as Christ also does the Church, because we are members of His body.”

The spouse of Christ is composed of members found in three stages of perfection: the Church Triumphant in Heaven, the Church Militant on earth and the Church Suffering in Purgatory.

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Saints in Heaven are crowned for their triumph over sin while on earth. They reflect the grace of God in Heaven to the degree which they grew in virtue on earth. Saints on earth are called “militant,” as they’re still fighting to love God and neighbor while resisting sinful temptations from the world, the flesh and the devil. Saints in Purgatory or poor souls are suffering as they’re being purified of the guilt accrued by their venial sins, and as they willingly atone for whatever temporal punishment remains from all the sins, which they committed during their earthly lives.

The three aspects of the universal Church are also in communion with one another because they profess the same faith, obey the same authority and assist one another with their prayers and good works. The Church Militant honors the members of the Church Triumphant, strives to imitate their virtue and benefits from their prayers. The Church Militant also assists the Holy Souls in Purgatory with prayers, fasting, good works, alms and indulgences. The Poor Souls, in return, can benefit from the intercession of the saints in Heaven and pray for the living on earth.

Protestants, with their understanding of Soli Deo Gloria, don’t believe that the saints in Heaven are given any special honor for their triumph over sin. They believe in Sola Gratia, so they hold baptized Christians are in a state of total depravity and just dung heaps covered in snow.  They also, therefore, hold that saints in Heaven don’t reflect God in the degree in which they grew in virtue while on earth.

Protestants believe in Solus Christus, so they deny the intercession of the Saints. They don’t believe the Saints in Heaven are aiding the Church Militant on earth with their prayers. As they deny the existence of Purgatory, neither do they believe the members of the faithful on earth aid the poor souls in the Church Suffering or the poor souls in return aid the members of the Church Militant.

Watch the panel discuss the loving unity of the threefold Church in The Download—Communion of Saints.

Read the source: https://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/protestants-deny-the-communion-of-saints

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Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th. is a staff writer for ChurchMilitant.com. Follow Bradley on Twitter: @BradleyLEli

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What is purgatory? Purgatory  is the state of those who die in God’s friendship, assured of their eternal salvation, but who still have need of purification to enter the happiness of heaven (CCC: 1030-1031, 1054).

How can we help the souls being purified in purgatory? Because of the communion of saints, the faithful who are still pilgrims on earth are able to help the souls in purgatory by offering prayers in suffrage for them, especially the Eucharistic sacrifice. They also help them by almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance (CCC: 1032).

In what does hell consist? Hell consists in the eternal damnation of those who die in mortal sin through their own free choice. The principal suffering of hell is eternal separation from God in whom alone we can have the life and happiness for which we were created and for which we long Christ proclaimed this reality with the words, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire” (Matthew 25:41; CCC: 1033-1035, 1056-1057).

Death does not put an end to life with loved ones in Christ. It actually enhances Life. “What is the Church if not the assembly of all the saints? The communion of saints is the Church” (CCC: 945). “Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness… They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus…. So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped” (CCC: 956). “In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the very earliest days of Christian religion, has honored with great respect the memory of the dead; and because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins she offers her suffrages for them (2 Macc 12:45). Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective” (CCC: 958).