All Saints Day

I've always loved All Saint's Day. Of course, when I was younger it was because we got the day after Halloween off from school as a Holy Day (or a rest up after trick or treating day).

But as the years have gone by, I've truly appreciated this ritualized opportunity the Church presents to us as an opportunity for looking to the community of saints - past, present and future. We remember the likes of St. Francis and Oscar Romero (not yet canonized but still quite obviously a holy person). We remember our grandmother or first grade teacher. We look to our nieces and nephews and see the amazing people God wants them to be. And we have hope for our broken world.

One of my favorite quotes--which is actually quite challenging--is attributed to Dorothy Day. She was talking to a reporter who'd remarked that he'd never interviewed a Saint before. She said:

"Don't call me a saint - I don't want to be dismissed that easily."

I think what she was saying is that we can dismiss the lives and works of the saints as superhuman, special, and therefore unattainable. While in reality--and this I think is why we have the Church feast of All Saints--we are all part of the communion of saints. These Holy men and women journey with us. They are role models, yes, but they are also examples of what ordinary folks can do. They started out on their journeys exactly as we have. The difference between them and the average Joe or Josephine is that they took the challenge of the Beatitudes very seriously.


Eliza said...

I take great comfort in the idea that often one does not know one's own enlightenment.

So often the saints just did what they had to do... like writers who couldn't not write... the story just had to be told, they were just the physical vehicle.

So often we don't know the change that we bring into the world. It's the one person who sees us act Honorably in a difficult situation and uses that as a benchmark for themselves.

That, to me, is the way of the Saint... simply being what they can not help being... and by that Light giving all others around them permission to become that Light themselves...

Jim and Nancy Forest said...

I too find Dorothy's comment both helpful and challenging. No saint would campaign to be added to the church calendar. All of them would regard themselves as unworthy. The plus of putting someone like Dorothy on the calendar is that, for centuries to come, there will be people who will become interested in who she was and will discover the remarkable example she gave -- hospitality to people many of us go out of our way to avoid, activity for peace and social justice, etc. The danger is that officially recognized saints may be written off as people with different DNA than the rest of us.

Jim Forest
(a writer; one of my books -- Love is the Measure -- is a biography of Dorothy)