By Anni Harry
Growing up, I was the kid who could be found in the corner of any room or tucked into the desk, devouring her latest reading find. I wasn’t and still am not, athletically gifted in any of the graded classes for physical education. I was introverted and strove to learn as much as I could about my passion-subjects, particularly history. I was actively trying to be the “perfect” Catholic girl, reading any books I could get my hands on that discussed holy men and women who became canonized saints and spending hours in prayer.
As you can expect, my peers and I did not get along – I was a social outcast. I distinctly recall the day my personal beliefs collided with those of the secular world, as I stood up to bullies for the sake of another student in the class. That socially-miserable year found me reaching deeper into the faith that would, and decades later continues to sustain me.
All Saints Day
Today’s solemnity offers us a chance to get acquainted with the characteristics of the holy men and women who courageously shunned secular expectations in favor of chasing the true meaning of life. Whether they are known as canonized saints or not, each holy man and woman have taken to heart the main purpose of life: to know God, to love God, and to serve God.
But, knowing God, loving God, and serving God is not as simple as it sounds. Christ, Himself, warned His disciples that the path of discipleship would not be easy. Yet, the hardships and sufferings are not in vain; instead, they serve to pave our way for eternal life.
The balm that provided a sweet salve to my socially difficult childhood and youth was none other than today’s Gospel reading. Decades later, when faced with the same insecurities brought on by the childhood memories, I still gather strength when I hear the Beatitudes.
Countless saints are now enjoying eternal glory with the Father, but their time on earth was not easy, nor was it romantic. For those saints that we know have been canonized, most of them stood apart from their more secular peers. They didn’t quite fit in since their primary focus was living for God. Those three interconnected foci of knowing, loving, and serving God were the leading force with which the saints amended their lives.
God was placed firmly in the center.
Every single man, woman, and child is called to be saints. You, dear reader, and I are called to be a saint.
The end goal of sanctification extends to each of us through Christ’s suffering, death, and Resurrection. But, sainthood definitely requires us to think with an eternal viewpoint, rather than a worldly viewpoint. It requires us to believe in that which we cannot see. It requires us to forgo the secular world lures in favor of the Ultimate Reward.
It requires us to turn, time and again, toward the outstretched, saving hands of Christ as He beckons us to Him in the sacraments.
Hunger and thirst for righteousness…
Keep the faith…
Above all, love…
Keep God front and center in your life, and He will make sure you are rewarded in eternity.
Today’s solemnity reminds us of this faith that we profess – the Communion of Saints is real! We are all called to be saints in the living, present-day, and extend that to our Eternal Life.
Becoming saints won’t be easy, but we can find comfort and hope in those who have gone before us, showing us how to turn our struggles and challenges today into glory for the Lord. And, when all else fails, we have the Beatitudes to remind us of God’s love for each of us.
Today’s Final Question
Lean into Christ’s loving promises and let Him hold you close.
The final question to take away today is not which saint inspires you the most, although that is important! The final question is also not a right/wrong answer since answers will be individual.
Instead, the final question for today’s Solemnity of All Saints is: what can each of us do to know God, love God, and serve God better?