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For All the Saints

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Oct. 29, 2014

The celebration we call All Saints Day (November 1) is a Solemnity of the Church, Solemnity being the first and the highest in rank of our five classes of liturgical celebration. All Saints Day is also a Holy Day of Obligation; meaning Catholics are obliged, under pain of mortal sin, to assist at Mass on that day, or on the vigil.

In many English-speaking countries, All Saints Day has become the center of an unofficial triduum: the Vigil of All Saints (Halloween), All Saints Day, and All Souls Day. On November 2, All Souls Day, we praise and thank God for His mercy, and we pray, offer Masses, do good works, and make sacrifices, all in petition that He speedily end the terrible purification of the suffering souls in Purgatory, and summon them home to Heaven.

 History of Veneration of Holy Men and Women

 In the early Church, that is, for roughly the first three centuries after Jesus’ Death and Resurrection, public veneration of Saints was restricted to martyrs, those who were killed because they were Christians. Later, confessors were included, then pastors, doctors, virgins, holy men, holy women, etc. These are the known Saints, the Canonized Saints, and they are but a tiny fraction of all those in Heaven who are pulling for us and interceding for us with Our Lord, Whose Will it is that all men be saved. We find the first reference to a celebration of all the saints, known and unknown, in the writings of Saint Ephrem the Deacon (306-373 AD).

 

Unity through the Communion of Saints

The radical unity of the Catholic Church is seen in the Communion of Saints. Traditionally, we say that the Church exists in three phases. First, those who are still fighting the fight against the world, the flesh, and the Devil, the Church Militant. The Church Militant is God’s Army, we who are struggling to detach ourselves from sin and too great a love of creatures, we who are shedding our vices and are growing in virtue and God s Life.

Second, the Church includes those friends of Jesus’ who have died, been judged, and have been found wanting, the Church Suffering. They are bound for Glory, but they haven’t arrived. The Church Suffering are our brothers and sisters whose venial sins, attachments to sin, love of creatures, and temporal punishment due to sin.  These souls are now being purified, purged in the flames of Purgatory.

Third, the Church includes those who have fought the fight and won, and who now reign in glory, peace, and absolute happiness with Jesus in Heaven. They are the Church Triumphant. And from that Place of Eminence, the Saints are nicely situated to be of maximum help to those of us still fighting and to those of us still suffering. 

Let’s agree to make the most of these three days. On October 31, Halloween, let’s ask our friends in Heaven to join us in praying for all of us presently waging spiritual warfare here on Earth, and especially those for those who are being persecuted and killed because they love Jesus. On November 1, All Saints Day, let’s ask our brothers and sisters in Glory to help the Church Militant and the Church Suffering to join them and Jesus soon in our Celestial Homeland, where every tear is wiped away. On November 2, All Souls’ Day, let us join our good works and sacrifices and prayers to the powerful intercession of all the Saints in Heaven, known and unknown, to petition Our All-Merciful Jesus that He may speed the release of our brothers and sisters, who are suffering right now in the purifying flames of Purgatory.

                                                          

 

    Special Helps

 Here are some friends, to help you out with particular needs and in special areas of your pilgrimage:

 For students and scholars - Saint Albert the Great, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Teresa of Avila

 For athletes - Saint Sebastian

 For pets, for all animals, and for those who love them - Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Rocco

 For dating couples and engaged couples - Saint Raphael the Archangel

 For brides and bridegrooms - Saint Nicholas of Myra 

 For fertility, safe pregnancy - Saint Gabriel the Archangel, Saint Ann, Saint Gerard Majella

 For soldiers and police officers - Saint Michael the Archangel

 For impossible cases - Saint Jude the Apostle, Saint Rita of Cascia

 For homemakers - Saint Martha

 For everything and for everybody - Mary Our Mother and Joseph her husband.      

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