The feast days of All Saints and All Souls are important days in the lives of Roman Catholics. These days help us to reflect on the lives of those who lived interesting lives on earth and are now with God, His Son Jesus, our Blessed Mother Mary and the angels in Paradise.
All Saints Day –November 1
The feast of All Saints may be better understood if we say that it is the feast of the Communion of All Saints. The word “Communion” helps us to see ourselves in communion with one another as well as with those who have gone before us. It is good for us to remember that we are in communion with the saints in heaven and with all of us here on earth. We are in communion with one another because of our common belief in Jesus Christ.
When we think of saints, we form a mental picture of men and women who lived extraordinary and impossible lives. This is not really so. Saints are people just like us. They lived ordinary lives and struggled with ordinary problems. What made them saints was not their unblemished lives but their unwavering focus on God and His people and their daily attempts to grow in faith, virtue and goodness. They are our brothers and sisters calling us to be like them.
Canonised saints made mistakes, failed, sinned, experienced discouragement, rejection and depression and struggled with relationships just like we do. What helped them through was their choice to pattern their lives on Jesus and the Gospels. They show us that we do not have to go far to find the path to holiness. It runs right through the circumstances of our daily lives. They teach us in words and actions how to look beyond human sins and weaknesses and see the Holy Spirit at work.
Saints who once lived on this earth and those who are living among us demonstrate that sainthood is more attainable than we think. They deal with others gently rather than violently, they share generously, they forgive others their failings, they suffer silently and often put others before themselves. Humility, willingness to work for justice, forgiveness and peaceful solutions are qualities they display.
As we commemorate the Feast of All Saints, let us give thanks to God for all our saints. We hope to join them one day.
All Souls Day –November 2
All Souls Day is the day when we remember the faithful departed. This feast day is observed principally by Roman Catholics, although Anglicans also celebrate it. Recalling our departed loved ones would bring us sadness. But as Christians, we know that this feeling should not overwhelm us as God is inviting us to put aside our sadness and share in God’s joy. Wisdom 3: 1-9 tell us that all those who have left this world in the friendship of God are in the hands of a loving Father.
We should not let this day pass by without taking some time to remember our family members, friends and acquaintances who are no longer with us. We should also take time to recall all the pleasant occasions spent together. Let us thank God for bringing them into our lives.
To commemorate this day, Roman Catholics and Anglicans light candles at home and at the cemetery in memory of the faithful departed. Relatives and friends also offer Masses and other prayers for those who may be in purgatory. As we pray for those who have passed on from this life, let us look and see whether we are being the kind of persons God yearns for us to become. It is a time to look around at the persons in our life and see if we have loved them well enough. It is a sobering time to remember that one day we too, will leave this life and travel on to the next.
All Saints and All Souls Days help us to pause and look at the way we live and see whether we are preparing for life after death.