All Saints

Festívitas ómnium Sanctórum, quam in honórem beátæ Dei Genitrícis Vírginis Maríæ et sanctórum Mártyrum Bonifátius Papa Quartus, cum templum Pántheon tértio Idus Maji dedicásset, célebrem et generálem instítuit agi quotánnis in urbe Roma.  Sed Gregórius item Quartus póstmodum decrévit, eándem festivitátem, quæ váriis modis jam in divérsis Ecclésiis celebrabátur, in honórem ómnium Sanctórum solémniter hac die ab univérsa Ecclésia perpétuo observári.       

The Festival of All Saints, which Pope Boniface IV, after the dedication of the Pantheon, ordained to be kept generally and solemnly every year on the 13th of May, in the city of Rome, in honour of the blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and of the holy martyrs.  It was afterwards decreed by Gregory IV that this feast, which was then celebrated in many dioceses, but at different times, should be on this day kept by the whole Church in honour of all the saints.

– from the Roman Martyrology

Today the whole Church keeps the solemnity of All Saints, which is a holy day of obligation in many countries (including England). On this day the Church calls to mind and begs the prayers of all those in Heaven – the canonised saints whom we know and also those who have attained Heaven whose names are unknown to us. We beg the prayers of all the saints who have marked the history of our salvation; the patriarchs and prophets, the Blessed Virgin, the holy apostles and disciples of Our Lord, the martyrs who witnessed to Christ throughout the ages, the bishops, priests and all clerics of the Church who served Christ and His Church, the holy men and women who served God in the religious life and in the world and all those who took up their crosses and followed Christ in all things. All these, those canonised by the Church and venerated publicly and those who lived the Christian life in obscurity whose virtues and merits were known to God alone.

It is a good day to reflect on our own call, indeed the call of all men, to become a saint. So on this day let us pray that we may follow the path of Christ in all things, and so in the end merit to be with Him for all eternity. We should in particular beg the prayers of our heavenly patron whose name we have the privilege to bear, for the patron of our parish church, the patron of our country, the patron of our state in life. The saints help us to become saints.

“Every person that is born is called to be a Saint. Take it as most certain that you — no matter how unfitted your life may seem for holiness — are being given graces sufficient, if corresponded with, to bring you to sanctity. We have already seen that nothing beyond our strength is expected; neither is sanctity the exclusive property of any grade or manner of life. Among the Saints canonised by the Church are kings and beggars, and representatives of every trade, slaves, hermits, city people, mothers of families, invalids, soldiers, and persons of every race and colour.

As a canonised Saint is a pattern provided by God, it is evident that an invitation to become Saints is extended to men and women of every type. It is equally a fact that to those who seriously try to respond to His invitation, He gives help sufficient to carry them to the goal.” – Frank Duff, founder of the Legion of Mary


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