Today is the high holy day of the Feast of All Saints. It is wonderful to be Catholic and live the years that are packed with feasts and sacred seasons. I love this day, so packed with the remembrance of men like Padre Pio and Pope John Paul II and John Bosco and with women like Hildegard of Bingen and Theresa Benedicta and Catherine of Siena and little Therese of Lisieux.
Yet, our religious celebrating often feels anemic, confined to Holy Mass and, perhaps, eating special foods with our families. I dream of a culture in which a Catholic feast day is an actual day of feasting, similar to the way we celebrate Christmas and Easter. On those two holy days, society celebrates with us, and our joy seems to overflow onto the very streets. Christmas songs play over loudspeakers at the mall. Cheesy rabbits and wreathes bedecked with eggs decorate lawns and porches. It is commercialized, I know, because our greedy capitalist economy seeks to turn everything lovely into money-making schemes; but, even Hallmark’s rosy glow does not diminish the true goodness of these ancient festivals that we Catholics are still allowed to celebrate publicly.
But, imagine. Imagine, on this day of joy wherein we remember all the saints who cried and laughed and loved and died for Jesus, if we had neighborhood parades with the children dressed up in saint costumes and they tossed (most of) their Halloween candy to the onlookers. Imagine if we had bonfires where we burned effigies of the devil. Imagine if we had friends over for saint-themed dinners; I’m not so crafty, so I’m not good at thinking of actual saint-themed foods, but I’m sure one of you would love to plan such a menu. Imagine if we closed off Main Street and had a dance under the moon with live music and contra dancing and a home-brewed beer contest and the parish priest blessing everything and everyone with Holy Water. Wouldn’t it be wonderful?
Our faith is wondrously rich, gathering up beeswax and grapes and wheat and water and salt as an offering to the Thrice Holy God, who unites it with the Person of Jesus Christ and offers us in return Paschal candles, Precious Blood, Sacred Body, Holy Water, and Blessed Salt. It is our task, dear precious ladies, to introduce society at large to that incarnational beauty. Our is the work of demonstrating to society that we are not narrow-minded nor living with our heads in the clouds, that we are not sticking our heads in the sand. We have the great mission, dear ones, to evangelize through our feminine genius such that our culture becomes again a place where joy overflows and where it is easy to be good.
On this day, enjoy these rousing words from the Doctor of Grace. “Blessed are the saints in whose memory we are celebrating the day they suffered on; they have received an eternal crown, immortality without end, in exchange for temporal well-being; in these solemn celebrations they have left us lessons of encouragement. When we hear how the martyrs suffered, we rejoice and glorify God in them, nor do we grieve because they are dead. Even if they hadn’t died for Christ, would they still be alive today? Why should confession of faith not do what sickness would eventually do in any case?” – St. Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 273 (Date: 396)
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