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All Saints – All Souls

All Saints – All Souls

November 2, 2019

Chapter Talk – All Saints – November 1, 2019 

“O God, keep us faithful to the gift which they received with such joy and handed on at such cost.” This is an excerpt from a prayer for the feast of the apostles Simon and Jude.  The gift they received was their ‘mission’, their mission of proclaiming the gospel, and this they handed on with the cost of their lives.  For the solemnity of ‘All Saints’ why am I beginning with these very moving words?  When I heard this prayer, I thought immediately that it expresses what saints do. They receive their call from God with joy, and they live it to the end, until the day when they hand it on to others, and with such cost.  Is this not what we are to do as well if we desire to be in ‘communion with all the saints’ that have gone before us?  Is this not how a life is fruitful till the end, not perfect, but always returning to the ‘gift’: receiving it with joy, living it as best we can, and then passing it on when that moment comes…And it is passed on with all the suffering and sacrifice that has been part of living a God-centered life, a life where we strive to love and do God’s will as Jesus did, a life where an on-going conversion of heart is essential, if we are to live the ‘gift’ with integrity and in truth.

So, who are the ‘saints’ that are celebrated today?  Pope Francis in his ‘Angelus’ talk in 2017 said this solemnity “is ‘our’ celebration: not because we are good, but because the sanctity of God has touched our life.”  All Saints then is our celebration because inherent in this solemnity is a call to each of us, a call to holiness.  As Pope Francis said in another ‘Angelus’ talk: “Holiness is a vocation for everyone” (November 1, 2013).  The sanctity of God touches each human life; and in this encounter ‘with the sanctity of God’ comes a demand to ‘work out our salvation’.  For Thomas Merton this means the following: “For me to be a saint means to be myself.  Therefore, the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self” (New Seeds of Contemplation, p.31). Basic to any mission or vocation is the discovery of our true self; this on-going self-discovery roots our lives in God and opens us wide enough to receive the gift of God, the gift of grace upon grace to fulfill the ‘mission’ entrusted to each one of us.  How we serve, the choices we make, our whole orientation towards life has its foundation in this call to holiness, which is also a call to become our true selves.


(Fr. John blesses the graves of our deceased sisters.  Sr Kathy reads the prayer for All Souls.)

On this solemnity we have at the Eucharist the gospel reading of the ‘Beatitudes’.  The Beatitudes, says Pope Francis, “are a map of Christian life” (November 1, 2017).  They chart the way to holiness, to finding our true and most authentic selves.  For Pope Francis, the ‘map’ for a fulfilled life is the ‘Beatitudes’: “blessed are the simple, the humble who make room for God, who are able to weep for others and for their own mistakes, who remain meek, fight for justice, are merciful to all, safeguard purity of heart, always work for peace and abide in joy, do not hate and, even when suffering, respond to evil with good.  These are the Beatitudes.  They do not require conspicuous gestures; they are not for supermen, but for those who live the trials of every day, for us.  This is how the saints are: like everyone, they breathe air polluted by the evil there is in the world, but on the journey they never lose sight of Jesus’ roadmap…” (November 1, 2017).  The Beatitudes are ‘Jesus’ roadmap’ and in Christ they are our roadmap. They give us practical direction of how to pray and how to live, of how to work out our salvation and to fulfill our mission on this earth.

There are many, known and unknown ‘saints’ who have given us hope as we have witnessed in very ordinary ways how they lived their call to holiness: in simple gestures of loving kindness for their neighbor, in service where the cost was never counted, who knew how to forgive as they were forgiven, who dashed their hate onto the ‘rock’ of Love, Christ, who always had time for the ‘other’, whose heart was wide open to the stranger, who always kept guard over their own hearts so that healing love would transform the dark impulses of hate and self-righteousness.  Let us link our lives with these saints, asking their help so that we may be ‘faithful to the gift’ given, to receive it with joy and to hand it on at such cost, which is the offering of our very lives.

Sr Kathy DeVico, Abbess

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