From the Rector's Desk: Rediscovering "All hallows eve"
”After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne” (Rev. 7:9-10)
Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Peter's:
I wrote to you last week to encourage you to begin thinking about your preparations for the Season of Advent and how you and your family will make this “time of waiting” fruitful.
Today, I want to share a few thoughts about another approaching Solemnity in our Catholic Tradition: All Saints Day.
Part of the genius of the Catholic Church is in the way our Solemnities, Feasts and Holy Days are structured, with each one building upon the last and guiding us toward the next.
All Saints Day is one such Solemnity: calling to our attention both the heroically virtuous live of the saints and our own mortality as we begin to prepare our hearts to receive what God has in store for us at Christmas.
Unfortunately, the Solemnity of All Saints can be overshadowed by the cultural celebrations of Halloween. But All Saints Day, along with its vigil of All Hallows Eve (which was once just one of many public feasts surrounding holy days in the Catholic Liturgical Year) is deeply Catholic in origin and nature.
It’s time that we rediscover this important day in the life of the Church.
The practice of a festival to honor the whole communion of saints – as opposed to a single saint on a particular day – began around the year 609 when Pope Boniface removed the images of the Roman gods from their shrines in the Pantheon in Rome and dedicated the building to all the saints and martyrs.
On All Saints Day, we honor all those holy men, women, children, martyrs, and unknown others who lived lives of such holiness that upon their death they either entered directly into God’s presence in heaven or, after purifying their soul in purgatory, advanced into His presence. As John discloses in the book of Revelation, the saints we commemorate throughout the year such as Saint Augustine and Francis of Assisi stand shoulder to shoulder with those unsung men and women who lived lives of heroic virtue.
This Solemnity is an excellent reminder that each one of us is called by God to Sainthood. But what does this mean in practice? How can we shape our lives to realize this fundamental calling?
I offer a simple suggestion on how to start: read and learn about the saints. I personally reflect often on Saint John Henry Newman and how his writings and conversion story influenced my own journey to the Catholic Church and the priesthood.
There are a multitude of free resources online you can use to learn about and appreciate the saints. In your searching, find a saint whose life speaks to you – perhaps one who seems a bit like you - then choose one of their qualities or practices, write it down on a post-it note, and place it somewhere you will see it often. For example: “Saint Francis of Assisi – giving alms” or "Saint Therese of Lisieux - doing small things with great love." Then try to practice that quality in some way each day, letting the saints be your guide.
None of us can become saints overnight; it takes practice and endurance. When you face dark moments, think of the saint you’ve chosen; turn to them for help, ask for his or her intercession, and stay close to them in prayer.
The 19th Century French Catholic author Leon Bloy once wrote: “The only real sadness, the only real failure, the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint.” This season, let us set to work as a parish family to order our daily work and habits to answer God’s call to holiness and ultimately, sainthood.
God Bless you and your family,
Fr. Gary S. Linsky
The Very Rev’d Canon Gary S. Linsky, V.F.
P.S. The Solemnity of All Saints is this coming Monday, November first. Please join me at one of the Masses we'll celebrate - 8:30 AM, 12 PM, or 6 PM (followed by potluck and Saints Trivia!) - and offer the graces you receive to the Church Suffering in Purgatory, that they too – and our loved ones – may one day join the great communion of saints.