All Saints (November 1, 2017)
The raising of individual saints was a hallmark of the papacy of John Paul II (who, just this year, was canonized himself). More saints - folks who have lived extraordinary lives - have been canonized, that is, put into the list of saints, during his pontificate than all the other canonized saints in 2000 years put together.
On this day, we celebrate another, much larger group of people. These are the ones who have lived ordinary lives, extraordinarily well. Each of us has his own list of those we have known and loved -- and whom we know to have lived their ordinary lives, extraordinarily well.
We gain direction for living our lives by gaining spiritual strength from the stories of their lives. When we stay firmly linked to those who have remained faithful to the Lord, we find ourselves blessed in abundance.
It was St. Francis de Sales who spoke of God’s call to each of us to do the best we can with what we have. At the Second Vatican Council, this became known as the universal call to holiness. It defines us as God’s own. Faith in our God gives rise to hope -- that openness to surprise that brings us light in the face of darkness.
The feast of all saints is not a feast about the accomplishments of any human being. It is the affirmation of the gratuitous activity of the Father.