Homily — All Saints Day MMVII

Homily — All Saints Day MMVII

In the Preface of this Mass, before the Holy Holy, we say “Father, today we keep the festival of  Your Holy City, the heavenly Jerusalem, our Mother.”

And perhaps on All Saints Day, the Heavenly City of Jerusalem looks a lot like the earthly City of Boston did this past Tuesday.

Both sides of the streets of the Heavenly Jerusalem are lined with a great multitude which no one could count from every nation race people and tongue.

And parading down the middle of the street, in the heavenly duck boat, are this year’s winners:  all those men, women and children who over the past year entered Heaven straight from  Earth, without  having to pass through Purgatory.

Those Christians Martyred for the faith in 2007, those baptized children who went home to Jesus this past year before attaining the use of reason, and those recently deceased men and women and older children who in life exhibited what the Church calls “heroic virtue” — who were heroically faithful, heroically hopeful, heroically charitable

While few if any of them will ever be formally Canonized and honored by the Roman Catholic Church on earth, all of these newly minted Saints of 2007 are Canonized and honored by the multitude of citizens of the Heavenly City of  Jerusalem on this Festival Day.

And the parade ends at what you might call City Hall — it ends at the Thrones of the Risen Lord Jesus and His Glorified Virgin Mother.  And there, the new Saints of this past year take their places among the Saints of years and centuries and millenniums past.

This Feast Day should remind us that you and I are also called to be on that heavenly duck boat the November 1st following our death.  We must aim at becoming Saints, not just be aiming at getting into Purgatory.

Last week I was at a conference with half the priests of our diocese, and in the cafeteria at lunch, Bishop Tobin sat down right across from me.  Trying my best to make small talk, and knowing him to be a Pittsburgh native, I asked him how the Pirates were doing.   He said that for the past several years they’ve had a losing record — they lost more games in the season than they won.

Surely the Pirates aren’t trying to have a losing record, surely they are trying to win every game they play.  As followers of Christ, we must try to be Saints no matter what our past record has been.

Vatican II emphasized the Church teaching of the Universal Call to Holiness, which means that not just some special Catholics, but all of us are called to holiness of life by virtue of our Baptism.

So how do we become a saint?

First, we need to know who Jesus is.  We must have a knowledge of what Christ and His Church teaches, and then we must try to believe likewise and live according to this belief.

Second, we need to receive reverently and frequently the Sacraments Jesus left us, esp. communion and penance.

Thirdly, we need to have a daily prayer life, a  personal relationship to Jesus and his Mother.

And lastly, if we want to be a saint, we need to study the masters, we need to read the lives of the Canonized Saints of the Church.

We are called to be saints in unique ways, but this doesn’t mean that the saints of the Church can’t help us be the saint Jesus wants you or I to be.  Even those saints were inspired by other saints.

On this All Saints Day, let us enter into the celebration going on up in the Heavenly City of Jerusalem, and ask our Lord for the grace to one day be riding atop that Heavenly Duck Boat, being cheered on by the multitudes for winning the ultimate victory a human being can achieve.

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