Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
– Collect for All Saints from the Book of Common Prayer
The Feast of All Saints will be celebrated on Sunday, November 1, 2009. The Feast of All Saints is one of the seven major feasts in the church year. It is the day when we remember, celebrate, and give thanks for the lives of “all saints,” known and unknown.
The saints are our spiritual ancestors. They have gone before us and now pray for, encourage, and guide us in our journey. They are an affirmation of the resurrection. To deny the saints and their work is, at some level, a denial of the resurrection. The saints are our spiritual guides and mentors. We build on the gift of their legacy and one day we will entrust that gift to others—those who came after us.
Many people find a particular saint’s life and his or her writings attractive and instructive. As we study and venerate a particular saint we begin to cultivate a spiritual friendship. They become our companion on the way.
We must remember, however, that saints are not necessarily saints because they were morally perfect. More often than not they were ordinary people who lived a heroic commitment to Christ. Too often we look at the saints and their lives and think, “That looks hard—too hard for me. They are more than I could ever be.” Instead, we should look at them and think, “How astonishing! Human lives can be like that. Behavior like that can be and is quite natural.” Perhaps that will lead us to wonder how we can find what they have found.The saints in some way mirror for us both who we already are and who we are to become. It is as if God sets before us the saints and says,
“Behold what you are; become what you see.”
Saints bear witness through their life, actions, and writings to the presence of Christ. It should encourage us to remember that the saints, like us, are first and foremost redeemed sinners in whom the risen Christ’s words to St. Paul come to fulfillment, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”