Today is the Solemnity of All Saints. This is the day we commemorate the entire communion of saints, of which we ourselves hope to have an eternal part. Today is an especially important feast for several reasons – the two that press on my mind right now are catechesis and intercession.
For catechesis, this is the day when best to explain to children or Christian neophytes just what we believe saints are. We do not believe they are a sort of pseudo-Christian pantheon, with patron saints merely replacing pagan gods. Saints are creations who have merited eternal life with God, through the grace of his sacrifice for us and the merit of their faith and love for him. Anyone and everyone who has died and is in heaven is a saint. Since we do not know the fate of everyone who has died, we have another feast tomorrow to pray that they may become saints. This is also a day to help us along through flagging faith, or weakening resolve. The words of the hymn For All the Saints are especially poignant, one of the best demonstrations of something good, noble, valuable and holy coming to the Catholic Church from the Anglican tradition. See the full lyrics here at wikipedia. I wish I could say more, but like any good hymn it is absolutely rich in catechetical material and will have to wait for its own post.
Now the more overlooked aspect of this feast: intercession. One of the most important things that we believe about saints is that they are expressly charged by Christ with the function of intercession. This does not mean that “we pray to St Anthony and then because St Anthony is the
god patron saint of lost stuff he goes and finds it for us”. Rather, the saints are souls of creatures beloved to God whose earthly lives have ended, and have gone to join him for eternity in the holiness and perfection of heaven. It is because they are there that we ask them to pray with us and for us to God, that he might hear and answer our prayers more quickly and with a greater abundance of grace. We believe that God does this for love of us, not because it was at all necessary for him to do so. Indeed, it is despite God’s capability to complete the work entirely alone that he allows his creatures to have some role in their own salvation.
Bearing in mind that this is the feast of all saints, it follows that today especially we seek the intercession of all of them. The Litany of the Saints is prayed at major sacred events (such as the ordination of priests) and for grave intentions (such as preservation from disaster and recovery from dire illness). Therefore, it seems sensible to use this Feast of All Saints to pray for truly profound intentions.
Might I suggest the preservation of the unborn? This week the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops began an urgent campaign to mobilise Catholics in the hope that they may preserve the current healthcare movement from the leeches of the abortion industry. Their campaign focuses on political activities (such as contacting elected representatives) but to be blunt, the saints are a LOT more powerful than any group of us living mortals can imagine. Why not get the whole host of them fighting with us for the lives of babies?
More importantly, this isn’t just about the US. Around the world the influence of America’s and Europe’s poisoned cultures are being felt. forcing the contraceptive-abortive machine on Asia and Africa. Please, pray to the saints that this anthropological disaster may be averted. Pray for the strengthening of Christian hearts, and the softening of others. Saints defend us!