Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Notes on All Saints Day.

Yet again, we come to the Feast of All Saints, the Church's collective remembrance of all the holy women and men that God has sent to bless us. Today we remember in a special way those saints who have no other place in the Church calendar - those whose good deeds have gone unnoticed and perhaps unrewarded, individuals who have not gone through the elaborate canonization process but who are nonetheless remembered, sometimes only by a few, as true saints. We've all known people who fall into this category, and today offers us an opportunity to remember them in a special way.

The kind of quiet recognition we give to the anonymous saints we've encountered in our own lives harkens back to Christianity's earliest days. For much of the Church's history, there was no formal process for investigating and authenticating individual claims to sainthood - saints were basically named by acclamation; in a real sense, the people knew a saint when they saw one, and they did not hesitate to make their feelings known. The much more rigorous process by which saints are recognized today - a process which actually dates back several centuries - is perhaps more suited to a skeptical age such as ours, but the old 'sainthood by acclamation' model still appeals to me.

Even today, the faithful know a saint when they see one. Apart from any pronouncement of the official church, the average Catholic can still spot the saints in any lineup. As I wrote above, we've all known saintly people - some of them we've known personally, and others we've only heard about. On reflection, I believe that any one of us can identify the saints who've impacted our lives - those who've brought God to us and who've brought us closer to sainthood through their good example. On this All Saints Day, let's take some time to remember the everyday saints who've graced our lives. AMDG.


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