Reflection for the Vigil of All Saints
Jeanne d’Arc Kernion, OSB | October 31, 2022
Tomorrow, we joyfully celebrate the Feast of All Saints. Notice the “All.” When we think of saints, we often think of those with “Saint” before their names, whom we’ve long known about, perhaps for whom we have had some devotion, whose feast days the church celebrates by name.
Many of us learned about them either at home or in school. We learned that you pray to St. Anthony when you had to find something you’d lost, or to St. Jude for impossible cases. Some of us, from childhood, developed devotion to one or the other from our families. In my family, it was St. Anne, and whenever help was needed, as in a hurricane, the candle was lit in front of her statue and we prayed.
All of us here, as we grew, later developed devotion to other saints, and one day we even decided to live our lives according to the way of two of them: Benedict and Scholastica.
There are hundreds of these canonized saints, so well described in the first reading: “These are the ones who have survived the times of distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.” We honor them tomorrow and we pray to them.
But the feast is of “all saints,” not just those with saint before their names. This is the immense group of saints who have gone before us and have lived the Gospel, but in front of whose names the Church has not yet placed “Saint”. They are the ones perhaps best described in tomorrow’s Gospel when Jesus talks about the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful, the peacemakers. Think of the Sisters whose names are listed on the board outside this chapel or of your deceased parents and family, and the many whose lives touched and inspired you in your lifetime, millions and millions who lived their lives as People of God and are also saints. We pray both for them and to them.
And, lest we forget, there is yet another group of saints whom we honor today: a group easy to overlook as we go through our days, but perhaps the most important. These are the saints with whom we live and work, the people we meet every day.
Sometimes it hard to recognize them as saints. There is the sister in chapel who often makes noise getting Kleenex during prayer. There is the one who bores by talking about the same thing all the time. And on, and on, and on. How easy it is, as we go about our days in community, to remember that all of these, in their own way, are striving to live tomorrow’s Gospel.
Perhaps tomorrow, as we celebrate all saints, this is the group we need most to remember. No, they don’t have “Saint” before their names, nor have they gone before us in death. But, they are the ones with whom God has placed us as we strive to be His people. As the second reading says, “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.”
Tomorrow, as we celebrate as saints those who have been canonized and to whom we often pray, and those who have gone before us, to whom and for whom we pray, perhaps today we should especially celebrate those saints whom we meet daily. For them, we should pray and, daily, not just on all saints day, we should say, “Happy Feast.”
So to each, we say, “Happy Feast.”