|Russian Icon of All Saints|
1 John 3:1-3
Throughout the liturgical year Mother Church celebrates the lives of a great number of men and women whose heroic virtue and example of holiness stand as a witness to us all of the power of God's grace in the soul of even a single person. We honor these men and women as saints of God, affirming that they are in fact in Heaven with the Lord interceding on our behalf. In addition to the many who are canonized saints, that is officially recognized by the Church, there are surely thousands upon thousands whose names are not known to us but are nonetheless inscribed in the Book of Life. Today, as we honor all of the saints in heaven, we are given the opportunity to ask once again for the prayers of all the saints and angels, as well as to reflect on their lives.
It is important to reflect on the lives of the saints because by doing so a number of things occur. First we are given the beautiful witness of those who lived the Christian life well. By this witness we are able to look at our own life and be encouraged to continue to strive for holiness and model our lives after these saints who endured many of the same trials as we endure and were triumphant. More than this, we are reminded that this life is not the end but that much more and much greater things lie in store for those who are faithful to the ways of the Lord. For all eternity, the saints stand before God in praise and adoration. When we reflect on the gift that they have won in their salvation, we are inflamed with a great desire to attain that same gift and share with them in the joy of beholding the face of God. Who would not desire this?
Another great gift, mentioned above, is to be reminded that the saints in heaven are not just the several thousand who have been canonized by the Church but consists of many thousands - probably millions or even billions - of holy souls who successfully ran the race and receive the heavenly crown. The vast majority were common men and women like you and I, souls who simply went about their daily work and sought to grow in holiness and glorify the Lord by our lives and in our prayer. This, for me, is the greatest encouragement. That so many humble, unknown souls have crossed into the heavenly banquet and are praying that you and I would soon join them at the feast. God grant that we may we be open to that transforming grace that will bring us all to be saints of God. And may all the saints of heaven pray for us today and always!