01 November 2009

All Saints' Day

Today is All Saints' Day in the Roman Catholic Church, a holy day of obligation (although since All Saints' Day falls on a Sunday this year, the Mass for All Saints' Day will take precedence over the regular Sunday Mass).

This feast day is a beautiful one.  It gives the faithful the opportunity to celebrate all the saints we pray to every year.  From St. Therese of Lisieux to St. Anthony to St. Francis de Sales, there is someone in Heaven who can intercede for us in every area of our lives.

According to Catholic Online, All Saints' Day started as celebrations of martyrs of the Church.
In the fourth century, it was common practice to mark the anniversary of a martyr’s death at the site where he or she was martyred. But there were more martyrs than days in the year — and many were martyred together in groups. In order not to miss anyone, it became necessary to establish a general memorial. In the ninth century, Pope Gregory IV declared Nov. 1 as the day for the entire Church Militant (those on Earth) to honor all the Church Triumphant (those in Heaven).

My husband and I are going to an evening Mass today to celebrate the feast day, and I'm excited about it.  I pray to saints throughout the year, and this will give me an opportunity to thank them for praying for me and watching over me.

More than any other saint, I find myself praying to Mother Mary, especially since Bean was born.  She was a mom, and her life as a mom was much more difficult than mine will be.  If she could maintain her patience and grace in the midst of all she went through, I certainly can do the same in my life.

And as I've grown closer to Mary, I've learned why the saints are so important to so many of the faithful.

How you find the saint and connect with him or her doesn't matter too much (although I'm sure it does to you).  Sometimes it will be a saint whose life reminds you of your own.  Other times, it will be a saint who has qualities you admire.  Or perhaps a saint whose patronage or heritage is important to you.

Yes, they intercede for us and pray for us, but they also provide examples for us.  You find a saint you connect with, and strive to be like him or her.  The saint becomes a sort of spiritual advisor, a friend, and someone you can count on in your faith life.

I think saints are more "accessible," too.  Of course we pray to the Lord, but the saints were, at one time, just normal people.  That's encouraging to normal people like me.  Kind of the way people like to see celebrities in sweat pants with no make-up on, I guess.

What saints are you celebrating today?

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