I think of St. Padre Pio sitting in a confessional for up 16 hours a day, extending God’s forgiveness and grace to souls in need of God’s forgiveness and grace. Also, his incorrupted body that lies in a glass case in the chapel at San Giovanni Rotondo since his death in 1968.
I think of St. John Vianney, patron saint of diocesan priests, who also heard confessions in a hot and cold box – depending on the season outdoors – reading souls and bringing God’s mercy to thousands upon thousands.
I think of St. Catherine Siena, the 25th of 25 children, and her brilliance and fortitude, telling the Pope to pack up his bags in the 14th century, get his luggage together as he lived in fear in Avignon in France, and return to Rome where the Seat of Peter belonged, and don’t let them chase you out of town ever again.
I think of Mary Magdalene who waited outside of Jesus’s tomb after Peter and John returned to the Upper Room, where the door was double-bolted, with chairs, couches and televisions stacked against the door in fear of the Jewish leaders. Well, not really, but if they had such furniture, that’s how they would have used them at that moment in time. Mary’s loitering paid off. Jesus met her in the garden. She rejoiced.
I think of St. Augustine in the 4th-5th centuries; a wise-guy and a smart-aleck if there ever was one. Whose wisdom and smarts – through the grace of God alone – shifted from sinful choices to profound holiness. And whose homilies and theology have stood the test of 16 centuries.
I think of recently canonized St. John Paul II, a priest ordained underground because of Nazi threats; who brought into the open the incredible faith of a country named Poland; whose writings on marriage and the dignity of the human person will be around for centuries and centuries.
Who are these people? They are human beings, simple human beings whom God has used to accomplish some pretty amazing spiritual feats. They are just like us, open to God’s presence in their lives, who loved God with all their hearts, minds, souls, and beings. They are people who answered the bell that rang in heaven, and responded freely to dedicating their short, quick lives to God’s will. They are saints in the truest form of the word “saint.” And they belong to us.
Yes, they belong to God first. They are proclaimed by the authority and certainty of the Church to be in heaven, beholding the face of God for all eternity. But from their place in heaven, they also happily belong to us. It’s a serious business and responsibility they have until Jesus returns. But they love praying for us. And representing us to Jesus. They love their role. Their role is a natural continuation of what they did here; except there they converse with Jesus face to face.
As the Book of Revelation states today, “Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?” They are our dearest friends before the throne of God, and they come from our countries, our cities, our neighborhoods, and our homes.
They were poor in spirit, yet were rich in faith; they mourned for many whose lives were cheated by life, whether by terrorism, persecution, or some tragedy; they were meek and humble in their worldly service; they hungered for righteousness, for the kingdom of God to be established over the false and finite power of human beings; they were merciful and understanding, and compassionate to grieving souls; they were clean of heart, for they lived and embraced God’s purity over the world’s physical sins; they were peacemakers who stood in for the Prince of Peace, who went to the slaughter as an innocent Lamb; and, without question, they were persecuted in their respective eras for the sake of righteousness, for the leaders of this world, both Catholic and non-Catholic, have many times refused the true message of Jesus Christ.
They are All Saints, and today we commemorate their friendship.